Cushman Monument

Cushman Monument

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Cushing, Oklahoma

Cushing is a city in Payne County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 7,826 at the time of the 2010 census, a decline of 6.5% since 8,371 in 2000. [5] Cushing was established after the Land Run of 1891 by William "Billy Rae" Little. It was named for Marshall Cushing, private secretary to U.S. Postmaster General John Wanamaker.

A 1912 oil boom led to the city's development as a refining center. [6] Today, Cushing is a major trading hub for crude oil and a price settlement point for West Texas Intermediate on the New York Mercantile Exchange [7] and is known as the "Pipeline Crossroads of the World."

Wright and McKenrick Families

Ira was a well respected man within his Community and circle. In his book , A Historical and biographical genealogy of the Cushmans: the descendants of Robert Cushman, the Puritan, from the year 1617 to 1855 Henry Wyles Cushman stated:
" He always maintained the character of a gentleman and an honest man, whatever might have been his failings. He was noted in the circuit where he practiced law, for his wit and repartee. Many of his remarks have become proverbial in that region. He was an active, engergetic (sic) business man, of an impetuous temperament and somewhat disposed to ideal schemes, which did not always prove to be of the most enduring and productive character.
Such men are usually valuable to the public but not so much so to themselves. Without them our country would have prospered much less than it has. They are, therefore, to be ranked among the useful members of the community."

Tombstones of Clark and Caty Grout Cushman, Passumpsic Cemetery,

Clark Cushman was a Farmer and Innkeeper in Barnet, VT. He is buried in the Passumpsic Cemetery. According to Histor y of Barnet, Vermont, from the outbreak of the French and Indian war to present time with genealogical records of many families, by Frederic Palmer Wells, Clark made the bricks used to build his home and other buildings in Barnet. He was the son of Paul Cushman (6) (1741-1808) and Anna Parker(1747-1822) , of Charlestown, Sullivan New Hampshire. The Parkers came to the Colony of Massachusetts around 1640, just 20 years after the Separatists. (Pilgrims). Most likely, they were Puritans, certainly they were Calvinists. Anna Parker's mother was Anne Morse(1681-1707), whose family gave birth in 1791 to Samuel of Morse Code fame.
Puritans of New England, Massachusetts Bay Colony
Marriage record Paul and Anna Parker Cushman 14 Oct 1776

According to Henry Wyles Cushman, Paul was a blacksmith. Also states that during the Indian Wars, he traveled to Canada with an Expeditionary force to bring Captives back to the Colonies. He and Anna had ten children surviving to Adulthood.

The parents of Paul Cushman were Joshua Cushman (5) (1708-1764) and Mary Soule (1711-1750). Mary was the great great Granddaughter of George Soule (1601-1679), a Mayflower Passenger and Signer of the Mayflower Compact. Although the Cushman family ancestors did not arrive on the Mayflower-the 1st ship, they were and we are descended from 8 Men, Women or Children who were passengers. Furthermore, Mary Soule was the Great Granddaughter of John Soule (1632-1707)and Ester Delano (1640-1735), thus connecting us to the Delano Family and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Headstone of Joshua Cushman in Mayflower Cemetery, Duxbury, Mass. It reads "Here lies Mr. Joshua Cushman who died March 25, 1764."
The parents of Joshua were Robert Cushman (4) (1664-1757) and Persis Lewis(1671-1744) . Robert Cushman lived to be 92, marrying for the second time at 80. His parents were ( Thomas Cushman (3)( 1637-1726) and Ruth Howland (1637-1726) . By the Marriage of Thomas and Ruth, we are directly descended from The Howland and Tilley Mayflower Lines. Her Father was John Howland (1593-1672), a Mayflower Passenger who married Elizabeth Tilley (1607-1686) also a Mayflower Passenger. Elizabeth was accompanied on the Ship by her parents, John Tilley (1571-1621) and Joan Hurst Tilley (1568-1621). They both died in the 1st difficult winter after arrival.
This shows the loss of life during the 1st year in New England

Thomas was fined a fee of 5 pounds prior to their marriage for having carnal relations with Ruth before marriage but after Contract. This was not unusual in that day and age and did not seem to tarnish either Party's reputation.

Thomas was the son of Elder Thomas Cushman (2) (1608-1691) who arrived with his Father, Robert, on the Fortune in 1621-the 2nd Ship and Mary Allerton (1616-1699 ) who as a child was a Mayflower Passenger. Her parents, Isaac Allerton (1683-1658) and Mary Norris Allerton (1581-1621) were also Passengers. Mary died the 1st winter when 45 of the 102 Passengers died.


I have apologies for you, if you’re interested. It is ironic that the Friday the 13th post did not come through, but I have a good reason for it. Not that it was Friday the 13 and this is one of the creepier monuments and biggest “WTF?” moments of all our headstoning experience, but because I got a new laptop computer! (“squee,” as the youngsters these day say, I think?) And last week, the files weren’t all transferred yet. So I didn’t have any pictures and it made it hard to work on this. I will give you more than I have been–our ulterior picture site is still in the works–but this cemetery ended up being so incredibly WTF that I can’t pass it up.

Woodstock is yet another tiny unincorporated settlement in northern Champaign County. It was an unplanned stop made by Lincoln’s funeral train, though, before it went through the aforementioned Cable and down to popular Urbana, Ohio. But to be perfectly frank with you . . . I am skipping directions for the time being because I don’t exactly remember how we got to the cemetery. It was pretty obvious, though, although definitely an awkward turn. We weren’t planning to get out because by this time we were getting kind of cold and tired, but as we drove along we began to exclaim, “What is that? WHAAAT is that?” And that which I am about to show you definitely deserved some face time. The following is what happens when your relative is an amateur scuptor and aspiring geneaologist and someone has told him he is really good at either. And yes. It has its own glass canopy. Hey, wouldn’t want all that “lovely” sculpting work to be marred by the elements, would we?

Creeptacular or just bizarre?

This is the memorial of . . . well, about 50 people. The Cushman, Hewitt, and Gifford families are memorialized here with bas relief and statuesque forms of themselves done in, ah, cement. Apparently. Whatever this stuff is, it’s rough. Names are identified in marble strips or squares attached to the, um, main . . . structure, with epitaphs like “Grandma Cushman,” “Auntie Jackson,” and “Sister Lucy Hewitt,” and the far less informative “Scott” and “Charlotte.”

Instantly Recognizable . . . as People!

The marble plates at the top detail the entire life story and history of the Cushmans and their arrival to Ohio. But wait! There’s more! If you haven’t had enough of inexplicable statues, lists of names, and vaguely creep bas relief busts of people with indeterminate names, walk around behind the, ah, monument.

Now, this is perhaps really inexplicable, as there is another tombstone dedicated to listing this selfsame roll of honor. But I guess he was out of Cushman history to put on there and really wanted this thing to have four fully covered sides. (Around the base of this thing, incidentally, apart from the names of the three families, are the names of wars I presume they were involved in, and that the sculptor wasn’t simply listing wars off the top of his head.) Nice Fedora on the guy in the bottom center, though.

Sister Lucy, oh the time has come . . .

Oh, yeah, I said “four sides.” In all, there are six larger-than-life sculptures flanking the ends, and sixteen of the little bust sculptures surrounding the bottom. Some of the large statues even deserve lengthy descriptors in marble. Now, while I agree this is a really clever way to combine cemetery memorialization and family history, unfortunately, this is . . . well, look, I’m going to be really honest about it, okay? This is really ugly. And not particularly well sculpted. Or whatever you do with cement. I would have chosen another medium, personally. And perhaps not weighted it down so much with some twenty-four, twenty-five people on it. But that’s what you get, you know. But enough suspense. Let’s meet our intrepid artist.

Ah, yes, the late great Warren S. Cushman! Huh? Who? Well, according to the very useful website AskArt, he was a native of Woodstock, Ohio, who remained chiefly in this area, lingering around Springfield and Urbana. The description also notes that he was “largely self taught” (you’re kidding! I never could have guessed) and that painting was his chief forte although he did embark on some photography. And that’s pretty much all of the description I can see without getting an account. But it does seem to indicate this man at least sold some paintings! I hope he was a good painter the, uh, sculpture isn’t doing it for him. But it was nice of him to include a self-portrait on his tombstone. And whoever that is next to him–he got so carried away with the image, he forget to put a name on it anywhere. If you can’t see those dates, he was born in 1845 and died in 1926. Apparently he was “known for” monumental sculpture, but I hope this is the only example. (I’m sorry! If you think I’m being mean, I am really sorry, but this thing is darn ugly! Do you really think it isn’t?)

The rest of the Woodstock Cemetery is actually extremely pretty and worth a look. There is a historic marker memorializing Woodstock as a stop for the Lincoln Funeral Train, and the area is nice, rather well kempt, and sports some great views. The unique and unusual is also pretty standard stuff here, and for as many odd stones as there are, there are also some really pretty ones. Incidentally, some of the Cushmans have some more standard stones, and among these are some great examples of proper restoration very tastefully done.


In my latest two posts (here and here ) I have shared reflections on Kirk Cameron’s 2012 feature-length documentary, Monumental. If you haven’t seen the documentary, it takes its title from a massive granite sculpture in Plymouth, Massachusetts known as the National Monument to the Forefathers. The dramatic high point of the film comes during a fifteen-minute segment when Cameron and co-producer Marshall Foster walk around the base of the monument and discuss its message to Americans today. (You can view the segment here. ) They contend that the monument illustrates the Pilgrims’ “formula for success.” If we will heed the teaching of “the tiny band of religious outcasts who founded this country” (in 1620?), then America will once again be truly a land of civil, economic, and religious liberty.

I had the privilege of visiting the same monument when I was doing research on the Pilgrims several years ago, and I walked away with a very different set of reflections than those of Cameron and Foster. Rather than try to paraphrase them now, I offer below an excerpt from my book The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us about Loving God and Learning from History (Intervarsity Press, 2013):

National Monument to the Forefathers, Plymouth Massachusetts

In 1889, the townspeople of Plymouth dedicated a memorial to the “forefathers” who had settled there two hundred and sixty-nine years earlier. I sought it out when I visited Plymouth a few years ago. It stands a bit off the beaten track, in the midst of a residential area perhaps a mile northwest of the tourist district around Plymouth Rock. Known as the National Monument to the Forefathers, the memorial rises eight stories above the surrounding neighborhood.

Sculpted from three hundred tons of New England granite, it features a massive octagonal pedestal surmounted by a thirty-six-foot tall female figure labeled “Faith.” Reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty, she faces Plymouth Harbor with a Bible in her left hand, her right hand pointing skyward to symbolize the Pilgrims’ hope of heaven. Seated in a circle around the pedestal are four other immense figures, each classically draped (think “togas”) and bearing the names Liberty, Law, Education, and Morality.

[The sculpture] is an impressive artistic feat, and in its own way, inspiring. Yet, as a historian, as I stood there I couldn’t help thinking of the monument as a metaphor for how we sometimes approach the past. We prefer our heroes larger than life, uncomplicated and unflawed. Thus, without ever doing so consciously, we often refashion the real but flawed heroes we encounter into the very embodiment of the virtues we seek to uphold. When we’re finished, “sons of Adam” have become Greek gods.

In truth, there is much to admire about the “company of plain Englishmen” who disembarked from the Mayflower almost four centuries ago. They were men and women of deep conviction, uneasily daunted, willing to suffer for principle’s sake. They exhibited enormous courage, and they persevered in the face of unspeakable hardship and loss. They loved their children, they loved the body of Christ, and they abandoned everything that was familiar to them in order to serve both.

There is an expression of sacrificial love here that both humbles and inspires. If in a sense the Pilgrims are our adopted ancestors, then they have bequeathed to us an invaluable Christian example of belief, action, and endurance, and we do well to remember it.

And yet the human frailty that [Pilgrim Deacon] Robert Cushman alluded to is an important part of the Pilgrims’ story as well. They argued among themselves. They were too trusting, frequently duped both by strangers and purported friends. They were ethnocentric and sometimes self-righteous.

They struggled with their finances. (It took them twenty-eight years to repay the Merchant Adventurers.) They came to America as “tenderfeet,” unprepared to succeed as fishermen, expecting a climate like that of the French Riviera, and thinking that they had settled on an island for more than a year after their arrival. They were frightened by wolves. They got lost in the woods. (Shortly after first going ashore, William Bradford was caught by an Indian deer trap and dangled helplessly upside down, but to my knowledge there is no monument commemorating that.)

In years to come, they would have a hard time keeping a pastor, their elder’s son-in-law would embezzle from them, and many of their number would move away in search of larger farms, prompting William Bradford to speak of the Plymouth church as “an ancient mother grown old and forsaken of her children.”

But why mention these latter things? Why not just concentrate on the positive? Years ago I spoke at a luncheon sponsored by a national patriotic organization, and during the meal my host, who was himself a Christian, asked me just that. I wasn’t prepared for his question and I stumbled in my reply. If we could repeat that conversation today I would offer three reasons why a balanced approach is preferable.

The first is a simple commitment to honesty. As Christian scholar Ronald Wells points out, honest history “means more than merely telling the truth in factual terms but also telling the truth in all its complexity and ambiguity.”

Second, in acknowledging the frailties of history’s heroes we’re also conveying a more accurate representation of human nature. “Monumental” history—history that glosses over human weaknesses and shortcomings—is not just inaccurate. It teaches bad theology, leaving no room for the lingering effects of sin in the hearts of the figures we admire. It’s particularly ironic when applied to the Pilgrims, for they were steeped in a Reformed Protestant worldview that mocked all pretensions to perfectibility.

“Can those who are converted to God perfectly keep [His] commandments?” asked the Heidelberg Catechism, a Protestant confession popular in Holland when the Pilgrims were in Leiden. “No,” came back the answer “but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience.” In even stronger language, John Calvin had insisted that Christians carry the “remains of imperfection” to the grave. Let the “holy servant of God” ponder the action in his life “which he deems most excellent,” Calvin wrote in the Institutes, and “he will doubtless find in it something that savors of the rottenness of the flesh.”

When Paul and Barnabas learned that the pagans at Lystra wanted to offer sacrifices to them, they tore their clothes and cried out, “Why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you” (Acts 14:15). I think many of the Pilgrims would have reacted similarly to the National Monument to the Forefathers.

Third and finally, when we make room for our heroes’ frailties in our narratives of the past, we at the same time make greater room for God’s glory. Remember the Lord’s words to Paul: “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). As one contemporary Christian author has commented, it is not our weakness that inhibits God’s working in us so much as our “delusions of strength.”

The Pilgrims had no such delusions. “Our voyage . . . hath been as full of crosses as ourselves have been of crookedness,” Deacon Robert Cushman confessed, “but God can do much.” “How few, weak, and raw were we at our first beginning,” Pilgrim Edward Winslow recalled, “and yet God preserved us.” “What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace?” Governor William Bradford asked in wonder. Throughout his history [Of Plymouth Plantation] Bradford seems to glory in the Pilgrims’ weakness, but his object in doing so is clear:

. . . that their children may see with what difficulties their fathers wrestled in going through these things in their first beginnings and how God brought them along, notwithstanding all their weaknesses and infirmities.

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The term obelisk was used in the American colonies and early Republic to refer to a slender shaft or pillar with four faces that diminished in width from the base to a pyramidal top. Obelisks were generally made of wood, granite, marble, or, as Jefferson prescribed for his tombstone, “coarse stone” (view text). According to Batty Langley in New Principles of Gardening (1728), they could also be made of trellis work and covered with climbing plants to give the effect of a living obelisk (view text). Some obelisks were placed upon pedestals that were cube or temple forms others rose directly from the ground.

In the designed landscape, the obelisk served two functions: as a garden ornament and as a monument with emblematic significance. Obelisks were important in the designed landscape or pleasure garden because they punctuated the vista or provided a place from which to gain a view. In order to serve these purposes, treatise authors recommended placing obelisks on elevated sites, although this treatment was not always used. Obelisks, which varied in size, were placed either in the center of open spaces or at the terminus of circulation routes. In both cases, they served as focal points. They often appeared in openings where radial sight lines were clear, as indicated by Hannah Callender in her 1762 description of Judge William Peters’s estate, Belmont, near Philadelphia, where she wrote that the avenue “looks to the obelisk” (view text). Ώ]

In 19th-century America, the obelisk was utilized on a monumental scale in public landscape design. Some examples were built as hollow shafts that could be ascended by means of an internal staircase leading to interior lookout platforms or external galleries, allowing the visitor a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. ΐ] Solomon Willard’s Bunker Hill Monument in Boston was the earliest obelisk of this type, dating from 1825 [Fig. 1]. Α] Monumental obelisks were also striking landmarks in the relatively low urban skylines of the first half of the 19th century. Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, designed several monumental obelisks that served both as observation towers and civic displays [Fig. 2]. Β]

The obelisk’s rich antique associations imbued it with symbolic significance. Its origins in Egypt, prominence in the Roman world, and, since the Renaissance, use in gardens and parks lent a vocabulary of the exotic and the historic to American landscape design. Several collected treatise citations recount the best-known examples of ancient obelisks, many of which have survived into the modern period. Excavations in Rome during the 17th century, for example, revealed dozens of Egyptian obelisks that were re-erected throughout the city. At the same time, modern obelisks ornamented French gardens such as Versailles. Many great gardens in Britain in the 18th century also featured obelisks: Castle Howard, Chiswick House, Holkham Hall, and Montacute House, to name a few. Γ] With the French invasion of Egypt in 1798, the taste for Egyptian statuary and styles increased and obelisks appeared more frequently as props in gardens. Δ] Thus the tradition of obelisks in European gardens and public spaces transmitted via literature, European designers, and American visitors abroad, was a significant influence on American garden practice. Both Ephraim Chambers (1741–43) and Noah Webster (1828) described the use of hieroglyphic inscriptions on obelisks that expressed the historic tradition from which the form derived.

In America, the choice of the obelisk for political commemoration in public spaces was recorded in the revolutionary period at Williamsburg, Virginia, where the monument was intended to honor those who opposed the Stamp Act. The repeal of that act was celebrated by the erection of a temporary obelisk in the Boston Common, as illustrated in a print by Paul Revere [ See Fig. 6]. After the War of Independence, Pierre-Charles L’Enfant specified obelisks as decorations in the new capital city that would memorialize the heroes of the Revolution. His plan of 1792 indicated these monuments embellishing the public squares of the new capital [ See Fig. 8]. The association with republican Rome, the site of many obelisks, was a frequent iconographic reference in early federal decoration and rhetoric. The obelisk was a popular public and political monument, as Robert Mills argued, not only because of its association with antiquity and republicanism, but also because its surfaces allowed inscriptions that could particularize the memorial function. He described, for example, how the ornamentation on his design for the Bunker Hill obelisk symbolized the states' formation of the federal union (view text).

The Egyptian obelisk was appropriate for the expression of early national symbolism because of the equation of the newly formed United States with another “first civilization.” Freemasonry also fostered the link with ancient Egypt. The obelisk exemplified “cubic architecture” preferred by the Burlington circle of Freemason architects, derived from Palladio and James Gibbs and practiced in America by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Henry Latrobe. It was seen as a repudiation of baroque eclecticism, as well as colonial red-brick Anglo-Dutch architecture. For American Freemasons, building took on a political cast that extended into the garden. Ε]

Robert Mills pointed out that its diminishing width made the obelisk lighter and more graceful than another popular monument form, the column. Solomon Willard preferred the obelisk to the column, the latter being too “splendid” (view text). It was both the picturesque effect as well as the historical significance of the obelisk that motivated J. C. Loudon’s recommendation of it in the garden (view text).

The wave of monument building and civic improvement that marked the early Federal period carried with it an increasing number of obelisks. Belmont, the Baltimore estate of Charles François Adrien le Paulmier, le Chevalier d’Annemours, featured an obelisk built in honor of Christopher Columbus [ See Fig. 9] and Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina, displayed one in memory of Lt. Gov. William Bull [Fig. 3].

The visual and textual evidence surrounding Charles Willson Peale’s obelisk represents a clear correlation between usage, treatise citation, and image based on early American primary sources. Peale noted his reliance on George Gregory’s definition in the Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1806–7, 1816) in building an obelisk in his garden at Belfield. Gregory’s description gave the proportions and dimensions of the “truncated, quadrangular, and slender pyramid” that Peale sketched in his letters and inscribed on an obelisk [ See Fig. 10]. The emblematic significance of this obelisk was also suggested in Gregory's treatise description of the obelisk built to memorialize Ptolemy Philadelphus, the ancient Egyptian who built the great obelisk lighthouse and library at Alexandria, and after whom Peale of Philadelphia may have been modeling himself (view text).

Jefferson and Peale's garden obelisks served private but also commemorative purposes as both men planned to use the forms garden features that would eventually become their tombstones. In each case, these public figures mixed political and private associations in their choice of inscriptions. In addition to the political significance, the use of the Egyptian obelisk for funereal ornamentation was well established in America. The discussion surrounding the designs for Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, conveyed the popular interest in Egyptian-style monuments and architecture in early rural cemeteries. Defenders of the plans for the cemetery called it an “architecture of the dead” because nearly all surviving Egyptian architecture or monuments had a funerary purpose. Ζ] The Egyptian practice of placing the tomb “in the midst of the beauty and luxuriance of nature” Η] was also cited as justification for this new garden type [Figs. 4 and 5].

The obelisk had a long and continuous tradition in American landscape design that began in the colonies and lasted well into the 19th century. The feature was utilized in both public and private gardens ranging in scale from a few feet to the tallest edifices in American architecture until the advent of the skyscraper. Obelisks persisted over time despite changes in garden styles, finding a place within the Anglo-Dutch landscapes of Williamsburg, Virginia, in the mid-18th century, as well as in the picturesque landscapes of rural cemeteries one hundred years later.

Cushman Monument - History


The Story of the Robert Cushman Park
Fairhaven, Massachusetts

Gift of
OCTOBER 28, 1908
Material Researched and Integrated
This Research Project
is gratefully dedicated
who graciously stand ever ready
to augrnent
research with warm and personal recollection.

The very first Fairhaven settlers erected their dwellings in two specific areas. One cluster lay in the vicinity of the Sconticut Neck entrance the other in the Oxford district. Where Fairhaven center now stands, there was, in early years, only shore with heavy woodland running down to the waterside. Communication between the two occupied localities was initially furnished by a rough road – known today as the “back road.” Nearly a hundred years later, for easier access to the expanding neighborhoods, a second road was hacked out of wooded terrain. This was parallel to the first, but considerably west of it, and it has become known as Adams Street.

As the two hamlets grew ever more populous, dwellings and early commercial building spread heavily west toward the Acushnet River from the Neck settlement. A populous core village developed, and there was need for another more direct road which would follow the river shore and link this central neighborhood with the homes of Oxford.

Thus, on May 6, 1795, the citizenry decided to lay out such a road. This access, once accomplished, came to be known as Main Street, but in developing their shore road – severe problems of construction were to confront the amateur engineers.

Just north of the central village, an area of some ten or more acres was occupied by a body of water, partly fresh, partly tidal – which would present problems to construction of a continuous access road to Oxford, for a wide and winding tidal creek had eaten its way for years into the land area between present Spring and Bridge Streets. It had pushed mightily in a north-easterly direction, feeding tidal waters deep into reedy marsh and swamp land. Moreover, a little natural stream known as Herring River, meandered from the swamps in the north district. It surfaced down until it hit the approximate site of Huttleston Avenue, where it ducked underground and provided fresh water springs to reinforce the ebb and flow of the tidal creek. Thus, a pond occupying some ten or more acres had been formed. The great bite of the tidal creek had made a snug if unorthodox little harbor and since there were only two good wharfs in town one the Old South Wharf in the lower area, and John Allen’s Wharf in Oxford – the creek cleavage was extensively used as a snug winter lay-up for vessels. At times, several would be drawn up, end to end, and anchored to the shore at about the point where Main Street now passes between Spring and Bridge Streets. Historic witness assures that vessels of 38, 45, and 70 tons were wintered in this haven.

Then, there was a little wharf near the south side of the pond to which scows tied up when they carried sea-weed and mud for the farmers to use on their land. This wharf was said to have been owned by William Rotch, and from it navigable water stretched up to what is now Bridge Street one particular section being nine feet deep.

When, therefore, the shore highway was built, and the creek bridged, it had to be closed for vessels having masts but the scows still operated under the bridge poling up to the little Rotch Wharf.

Vincent’s Mill

In the late 1700’s, after the Main Street span had been completed, an enterprising miller named Abner Vincent constructed a tidal mill alongside the bridge, and by building gates under the span, he forced the tidal water to pass out at two openings, thereby securing water power for his wheel. In 1815, a great gale undermined the mill, and it hung precariously over the water for some time. During the same storm, water over-ran the roadway and washed the bridge away except for the stone work so that a town meeting had to be called to mend it. Vincent’s mill, when repaired, continued an erratic career for some years – with unpleasant citizen feuds regarding riparian rights. It was sold ultimately to James Wing who operated it under conditions of similar community disgruntlement. By 1902 the old relic had been turned into a quahog market! Yet the name “Mill Pond” clung tenaciously to the odoriferous and slimy mud hole, rampant with sedge grass and hungry eels, which in 1900, constituted a dissident nucleus for Fairhaven’s rising public buildings, gracious homes and pretty cottages.

By 1904 Henry H. Rogers had built in his home town, six memorable units: a well-equipped grade school a town hall of extraordinary utility a guest manor a library of grace and charm and a magnificent complex of church, parish house and manse. For his own family uses, he had constructed a country mansion ringed by commodious verandas and graced by conservatories and smooth greensward. He had paved Fairhaven’s streets and edged them with trees given her a splendid water system and sponsored a mill for her people’s economic welfare.

His heart and hopes, to a remarkable degree, seemed centered in the town where boy had become man and in the “Kanawha,” he sailed into Acushnet waters whenever his vast enterprises allowed. There is little doubt, then, that Mr. Rogers had been seriously envisioning for some time a new Fairhaven High School to replace the rather primitive building from which he himself had graduated nearly fifty years before.

Moreover, it will be remembered that when the “new” New Bedford-Fairhaven bridge had been built (1893-1902), Mr. Rogers had exerted mighty influence to have its point of entry changed. The old bridge had entered town in an untidy crooked thrust from Pope’s Island to Bridge Street. Mr. Rogers wished entry of the new span to lead straight and undiverted into a wide boulevard, which came later to be known as Huttleston Avenue. This was a more costly plan, and many citizens were for retaining the old pattern. Mr. Rogers and his forces won in a town vote, and later, he acquired north and south of the finished bridge two fine pieces of land which he had graded and planted, and then presented to the town.

There are few towns with avenues of access more attractive than that which now leads from the bridge to the site where Fairhaven High School stands. It is reasonable, then, to suppose that by 1900, plans for the school in this particular spot had already been seriously considered. There can be little doubt that Mr. Rogers deprecated the dreary and decrepit Pond area which lay between his other gift buildings and the new one which was to grace the very entrance to the town. There must be change! And so an engineering feat of great magnitude was undertaken.

In 1903, astonishing rumors flew, and to the people of Fairhaven hardly yet convinced of the glittering realities which had constantly been taking place in Fairhaven center it was announced that the Mill Pond disaster was to be eliminated! Mr. Rogers planned to create in its place a central sylvan area core to a larger, more embracing park system which would extend beyond Bridge Street to the new bridge entrance itself, and ultimately provide elevated frontage foundation for a $1,000,000 Fairhaven High School!


This immense and intricate engineering feat was conceived in the same atmosphere of secrecy which was characteristic of all of Mr. Rogers’ innovations. Work was commenced in August, 1903, and Joseph K. Nye, eminent Fairhaven planner and engineer, with contractor, W. B. Munroe, sought first to analyze the problem of drainage which confronted them, and which threatened to tax every ounce of initiative and engineering skill they possessed.

It was necessary first to divert the little Herring River still sporting down from the northern swampland still feeding its fresh water springs productively into the Mill Pond. This, then, was the initial problem, and its solving alone took about a year!

A force of one hundred Italian laborers was employed to divert the stream. These men were quartered in some old ice houses in the Huttleston Avenue area. For nearly a year, they labored mightily by day and lived a life of true Bohemian liberation by night! There were numerous fights, work stoppages and genuine strikes and many, many hours of grinding labor, as an enormous conduit of cement was fashioned. This was to run underground from the vicinity of Green Street, parallel with Huttleston Avenue, and end north of the New Bedford-Fairhaven bridge. The Herring stream, thus diverted, would pour its waters directly into the Acushnet River.

This conduit was built six feet wide and five and a half feet high. Mr. Audell Monk remembers well as a youngster, entering the conduit with his friends, and standing upright within its cement confines.

Bridge Street Dilemma

Once the little river had been diverted, the work of filling in could proceed, but it was necessary to acquire land from some home owners whose property abutted the project. Claims were solicited, and about a hundred were processed for land taking. Mr. Nye handled expeditiously and diplomatically all these matters. Indeed, there was minimal objection to any of this work or land taking. Rather, abutters, who had withstood the negative conditions of Mill Pond over the years, seemed vastly relieved that the unsightly area was to be eliminated. There was, therefore, extraordinary cooperation, even by those house holders who suffered extensive inconvenience.

For instance, when surveying for fill-in, it was discovered that Green Street at that point where it crossed Bridge Street, was three or four feet lower than Main Street, so there was a back flow of surface drainage. Indeed, the eastern portion of Bridge Street was actually below high water mark! It was, therefore, deemed necessary to raise the grade of Bridge Street some two or three feet. This meant a complete rebuilding of the street and the elevation of twenty-five houses which had to be furnished with new underpinnings! All of this expense was absorbed in the cost of the project, and assumed by the promoter.

During the inconvenience of uncertain living conditions provoked by these circumstances – only a few house holders complained, although one or two did, indeed, institute suits for damages!

The FAIRHAVEN STAR tells us that the first house to be “raised” on Bridge Street was that of Louis N. Baudoin. Mr. Baudoin was a town fire fighter, a doughty fellow, known to all citizens, and admired for his excellent writing involving the history of Fairhaven fire fighting and the mechanics of the science in general. With equanimity, Mr. Baudoin seems to have weathered the experience of “elevation” with great good humor. Henry Perry’s house at 27 Bridge Street was “raised” two and a half feet. and John Telford’s at No.25 was elevated eighteen inches.

The actual water area of the pond exclusive of the swamp and slimy edges, proved to be about five and one half acres. It was estimated that 75,000 tons of fill would be needed. The earth was brought down from a gravel hill on upper Bridge Street, leaving behind a vast hole. It was rumored that this pit would be transformed ultimately to a festive skating pond – but it seems, instead, to have providentially furnished room for the Town Dump!

A little narrow-gauge railroad was constructed, leading from the digging area to the project. This road was about a mile in length, and a steam shovel at the “dig” loaded the cars. As the “journey” began, the toy-like engine, drawing the string of loaded cars, was preceded by a guard waving a red flag, as thirteen trains a day with fifteen cars to a train, carried 487 cubic yards of earth to be deposited in the pond every day for two years.

A reporter from the NEW BEDFORD EVENING STANDARD speculated on January 6, 1906, regarding the enormous cost of the fill-in enterprise alone. He discovered that, during the entire three years of the filling phase, an average of fifty men a day had been employed. These fifty men received an average of $1.50 a day in a period of 900 working days. Their wages alone would amount to $67,500. Added to this sum, superintendence and over-sight would swell the total of labor alone to $80,000! And this was just one phase of the whole tremendous engineering feat!

As the vast maw of the pond sucked in more and more of the fill, it was realized that projected amounts had been absurdly underestimated. It had been initially decided that the entire thirteen acre project would absorb about 70,000 cubic yards of earth, but the final amount, in process of absorption, swelled to more than 200,000 cubic yards. It was discovered that the pond had a pocket of mud completely overlaying its lower surface this seemed to consume inordinate amounts of earth. It was remembered then, by Fairhaven’s older citizens, that Mill Pond once furnished anchorage for ships and when Main Street was constructed across its lower end, thus partially closing it the pond had become choked and gradually filled with mud.

This mud accounted, too, for the ubiquitous eels which had always been profligate habitants of the pond. During process of fill-in, scores of these creatures surfaced, some of astounding proportions. “One was captured by James A. Corson,” commented the FAIRHAVEN STAR -“which measured six feet in length?.”

Because the entire project was constant subject to the vagaries of climate, work had to be very largely suspended during stormy periods and during the winter seasons, it was brought to complete halt.

There were numerous incidents accompanying the cast feat some of them humorous some serious some merely illustrative of human foible. The FAIRHAVEN STAR started with weekly reports on progress – but as the work was delayed or suspended, Editor Waldron made fewer investigative visits to the site. However, when drama erupted in any part of the project, he was alert to carry it in his columns. For instance, we had the sad story of the horse working in the filth of fill-in. Its master had contracted for levelling and was using his animal in shifting. The horse slipped in the mire, and could not regain footing. The master fastened a raw chain around the animal’s neck. and using another horse, literally hauled the creature to its feet. The animal was virtually strangled, and when protesting by-standers interfered it was discovered that the beast was covered with sores from previous rude treatment. The owner was taken to court by protective personnel, and fined for his practices.

Then, there was the winter when lanterns – lighted each night to outline the perils of construction – disappeared by the score, as miscreants made off with them. Apparently, no one was ever caught in the act, even though Fairhaven Constables Shook, Delano and Barney were of very special detective calibre!

Moreover, workers at the gravel pit on Bridge Street caused great anxiety as they were careless about lighting fires to boil their coffee. In one instance, a fire got completely out of hand, and burned over ten acres with a total loss of around $800!

There came the day when a special town meeting had to be called to petition the legislature to allow a further period of two years beyond February 27, 1906 the date fixed by initial legislative act for final completion of the project.

Plan Expansion

Plans amplified considerably as Fairhaven High School, in process of construction, began to lift its proud towers adjacent to the pond project. Furthermore, other low areas in the district, bounded northerly by Linden Avenue easterly by Adams Street southerly by Bridge Street and westerly by Main Street added to the original plan of fill-in and grading.

Pleasant little Park Street was designed to face the granolithic approaches to the magnificent school, and the north and south approaches to the bridge were graded and gently molded to conform to a charming pattern of entry.

Thus. the great plan snow-balled. hut the beneficence of the promoter never failed. The expense for all this must have been enormous. but figures were never revealed. At last the day came. When the doughty little narrow gauge engine which weighed fifteen tons was hauled by six horses and put aboard railroad cars. The black loam had been spread and graded. Fine trees had been planted grass was rooting thick and green the driveway from Main Street was macadamized and side paths were paved with crusher screenings. The slime, sedge grass and eels had gone with the old Mill Pond and in their place, was a fragrant, breathing area for reaching and relaxing. All this was ringed by lovely buildings in an extraordinary gift of affection by a man to his home people. This was Henry H. Rogers’ last gift to his town, for he died less than a year later – on May 19, 1909.

Acceptance and Naming

Acceptance of the park took place on October 28,1908 – after nearly six years of immense labor, inspired planning and untold expense. A special town meeting was held in the Banquet Hall. Lyman C. Bauldry, chairman of the Park Commissioners, spoke eloquently, outlining the magnitude of the project, and expressing the gratitude of the townspeople.

In the deed of conveyance, Mr. Rogers made known his wish that the park should bear the name of Robert Cushman who was a leader among the Puritans in England and an organizer and director of emigration to America. The naming was particularly fortuitous since Robert Cushman was ancestor to both Henry H. Rogers and Warren Delano of this town. Mr. Delano, donor of the Riverside Cemetery, had also given to the overall Mill Pond project – valuable property between Middle and Main Streets. He had had it filled and graded as a pleasant extension to the western boundaries of the new park.

For years thereafter, a pleasant green area and fine tennis courts delineated Mr. Delano’s gift – but unhappily, the land has now been sold to private parties for commercial uses – and has become an ugly expanse of black-tarred parking lot.

The Park Today

Cushman Park itself in 1979 shows signs of decrepitude and neglect. The western entrance from Main Street has been depleted by rutted strips for casual parkers. Trees have fallen, and there has been scant re-planting. Walks are broken and neglected! After a period of rain, there is heavy flooding in specific areas, and it is apparent that ball courts have been laid out and play areas black-topped without sufficient elevation, fill-in and drainage survey.

It is true that hurricanes have tumbled water and rubble over the park confines, and vandals have roamed. It is true, too, that Cushman Park must be a “working park” now. It must cater to summer youth programs and ball playing and band concerts. For times have changed, and Fairhaven has grown. Yet, repair, re-planting, general restoration and individual citizen caring should become at once a sincere concern of those who value Cushman Park for what it was meant to be a neighborly meeting place for fun, recreation, and friendliness. It is well to remember that this pretty place, so hardly re-claimed, could once again become an area of neglect and unhealthy activity.

Restoration of the park would provide a perfect project for volunteerism. Young people, now largely beneficiaries of the park facilities, could be of vast help in restoration. Under the direction of experienced park personnel and aided by older citizens of good will, the young could replant, lay gravel, grade uneven sections, and possibly create special garden areas where more reflective pursuits might again be enjoyed.

wrote on January 6,1906:

“In giving Fairhaven this breathing space, and in taking from the heart of the town a mud hole and a large sized incubator for multitudinous germs, Fairhaven’s most public spirited citizen has performed a service to his fellow townsmen that is well nigh inestimable and has erected a monument to himself that will outlive all the other gifts which he has bestowed upon his native town.”

Then there is a delightful story which Mr. Rogers used to tell of himself. As a boy he was one day walking over Mill Bridge. He leaned on the railing and abstractedly began to throw stones into the pond just to hear them splash.

An old townsman named Jabez Sherman, coming upon the lad in this pre-occupation, droned:

“Young man, whose boy art thou?”
Little Henry replied:

Whereupon, old Jabez ejaculated with spirit:

“Roland Rogers’ boy ought to know better than to throw stones into Mill Pond!

“For thee will fill it up!”

Howland, Ellis L.
Article: “Fairhaven’s Mill Pond”


Article: “An Engineering Fear of Magnitude”


These pages and their contents are the property of the Millicent LibraryNetscape 3 enchancedCreated by Carolyn Longworth, Library DirectorNovember 16, 1996

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Cushman (Independence County)

Cushman, established in 1886 as the result of an accident, was an important shipping and trade center for the next seventy-two years. The center of the tremendously valuable manganese mining industry, Cushman also served as a shipping point for businesses and farmers in northern Independence County and most of Izard County.

William Einstein of St. Louis established a mining operation on what is now known as Polk Southard Mine, near what is now Sandtown Road, in about 1866. At the time, this was just a wild wooded area. In 1885, the Keystone Mining Company, an Andrew Carnegie company, began operations on Southard Hill. Shortly thereafter, the St. Louis Mining Company came to the area and began operations near Polk Southard. This marked the beginning of significant mining in the area.

The Batesville Manganese District is an east-west belt about two miles north of Batesville (Independence County). The belt is twenty-four miles long and four to eight miles wide, with Cushman near the geographic center and closest to the richest deposits. Originally, the mines were shafts and tunnels with some surface prospects, though in the 1950s, earthmoving equipment converted the operations to strip mining. Manganese has long been an important alloy agent in the manufacture of steel.

A small village grew around the mining activity and shortly became known as Minersville. A rather large quantity of ore was being shipped from the area, hauled by wagon and ox cart to Batesville or to Penter’s Bluff (Izard County) on White River for shipment by packet ship to world markets. Owners of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad were very much aware of the importance of this mining industry. The Iron Mountain Railroad, as the company was generally known, built a rail line from St. Louis to Little Rock (Pulaski County) by way of Newport (Jackson County). Shortly thereafter (about 1873), they began construction of a branch line to the mining fields. Their objective was the rich mining area near the tiny village of Minersville in northern Independence County. About one and one half miles from their destination, while blasting through very difficult terrain, a worker was accidentally killed. The contractor was sued, and construction halted. The railroad company decided to terminate the rail line at that point and build shipping facilities at end of track.

J. M. C. Southard, a local civic leader, surveyed and laid out lots, blocks, and streets in the town he called Minersville, near the new rail terminus, on December 9, 1886. Henry and Elizabeth Newman, who owned the land, dedicated these streets on May 17, 1888. The terminus, about a half mile from the village, was named Cushman in honor of a railroad vice president and operating officer. Minersville changed its name to Cushman when it was incorporated in 1906.

The first passenger train arrived on December 29, 1886. The train made daily runs from Cushman to Newport and returned to Cushman for the night, where a turntable had been built in 1886 to turn the engine around. The train crew was required to spend the night at the terminus. A depot and other buildings were built in what is known as the turntable hollow.

A post office was established on July 7, 1887, with William Riggs as postmaster. In 1889, Cushman had a population of sixty, with fourteen businesses. Ninety-six mining employees and a number of farmer/contractors contracted their wagons and teams to freight the ore from the mines to the rail terminal. In 1899, records show Cushman with a population of 200. At this time, Cushman had three doctors and two hotels. The town was officially incorporated on March 12, 1906.

Cushman’s estimated population during the World War I years was in excess of 2,000, with many more in the area adjacent to Cushman. The shortage of labor for the mines was of national concern. The shortage was so serious that Italy, an American ally during the war, sent 900 soldiers to Cushman to mine ore. Manganese is essential to the manufacture of strong steel, especially the kind of steel needed in the production of war machinery such as tanks.

With the end of World War I, the demand for manganese dropped greatly. The economy of the area became based on farming and timber. Cattle pens were built alongside the railroad, and a lumber yard was established. During the next twenty or so years, hundreds of carloads of fruit, cattle, sheep, and lumber were shipped from Cushman. Cushman was once famous for its peaches. A cotton gin produced baled cotton to be shipped. Manganese was still being mined but only in small amounts.

In addition to freight moving out of the terminus, Cushman was an important incoming freight terminal for northern Independence County and southern and eastern Izard County. Freight was shipped to Cushman to be off-loaded and hauled by wagon to such places as Mount Pleasant, Lunnenburg, Melbourne, Franklin, Violet Hill, LaCrosse and many other communities in Izard County.

Freight was not the only commodity brought to Cushman by the railroad. Many “drummers” (traveling salesmen) came to Cushman on the Cushman Local, the regular Iron Mountain train serving Cushman and points on the rail to Newport and back. After spending the night at one of the hotels, they rented buggies at the local livery stable and left for points north on their route, returning to Cushman on the way back to their home base.

The Depression years saw mining decrease to very low levels, with farming and timber remaining the major activities. World War II brought back manganese mining and boomtown activity to Cushman, but at the end of World War II, mining again decreased considerably.

Filmmaker Montgomery Pittman set his 1956 movie Come Next Spring in a fictional version of Cushman. He also claimed to have lived there, though his name does not appear on any census reports for the area.

In 1952, the U.S. government established a strategic program to stockpile manganese, which was considered a strategic and critical material. The program was to terminate on January 1, 1961, or when 28 million long ton units of manganese had been purchased. In 1956, more than $2 million worth of ore was shipped from the Batesville Manganese District. In 1958, Cushman shipped 286 carloads of ore valued at more than $1 million. On August 5, 1959, the government purchased the last ton of ore, as prescribed by the program. Domestic production of manganese ore came to an end, and the mines in Cushman closed. Brazil, Gold Coast Africa, and others were putting manganese ore on American docks for less than the freight cost of domestic mines.

Cushman has made the transition from a booming mining town to a quiet bedroom community, with many residents working in Batesville. The Cushman schools were consolidated with Melbourne’s for the 2007–2008 school year, and then with Batesville schools in 2008–2009, being closed completely in 2010. The town has a community water system and local law enforcement. A school and community homecoming and Miner’s Day celebration are held each year on the last Saturday in June.

For additional information:
Hewett, D. F. “Manganese Output in Arkansas District Affected by Labor Shortage.” Engineering and Mining Journal 104 (November 24, 1917).

Shiras, Tom. “Manganese Mining in Arkansas.” Engineering and Mining Journal 105 (December 22, 1917).

Sims, C. C. “The Story of Cushman.” Independence County Chronicle 2 (April 1961): 8–13.

Smith, Jim, and Becky Wood. Cushman, Arkansas: The Boom Town That Wouldn’t Die. N.p.: 1994.

———. The Cushman Manganese Mines and the Batesville Manganese District Arkansas. N.p.: 1995.

Spier, William. “A Social History of Manganese Mining in the Batesville District of Independence County.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 36 (Summer 1977): 130–157.

Widner, Amy. “Cushman School Can Go out with Pride.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 15, 2009, pp. 1S, 4S.

Burial Hill Cemetery:

After the fort was abandoned, the colonists began to use the hill as a cemetery.

In 1681, the oldest headstone was placed when Edward Gray died. It is believed that there are older graves in the cemetery but they were marked by wooden markers that have since deteriorated.

The majority of the headstones are from before 1850. About 1,400 of the headstones are made of slate, sandstone or schist, which were the primary material for headstones prior to 1820, while about 750 are marble or granite. The earliest headstones are about 2 feet tall and made of purple or gray schist.

Early burials were primarily near the top of the hill. The cemetery originally had a series of rough dirt paths that led to these early graves at the top of the hill.

In 1770, a brick powder house was built in the northwest corner of the burial ground to house the town’s arms and ammunition supplies.

In December of 1778, the brigantine General Arnold wrecked on a sandbar off the coast of Plymouth and 72 sailors froze to death and were buried in an unmarked mass grave somewhere on Burial Hill.

By the early 1800s, marble headstones became more common in Burial Hill cemetery.

In 1835, a monument to William Bradford was erected in the cemetery. The monument is an 8 foot-tall marble obelisk on a granite and marble base with an inscription that reads:

“Under this stone rest the ashes of Willim (sic) Bradford, a zealous puritan & sincere Christian. . .”

It is debatable whether Bradford is actually buried at Burial Hill but some historians, such as 19 th century historian James Thatcher, believe he is.

By the 1850s, the number of new burials in Burial Hill had greatly declined because Plymouth residents preferred to be buried in the newer cemeteries. The burials that did occur took place in family lots that had already been established around the perimeter of the cemetery.

In the 19 th and 20 th century, a number of monuments were erected in the cemetery.

The first was the Cushman Monument which was erected in the cemetery in 1858 in honor of Robert Cushman, his son Thomas Cushman and Thomas’ wife Mary Allerton Cushman who was the last surviving Mayflower passenger when she died in 1699. Robert was instrumental in arranging the Mayflower voyage and Thomas had served as the ruling elder of Plymouth colony for 43 years. The monument is a 25-foot-tall granite obelisk set on a multi-tiered base. It is the tallest monument in the cemetery and is located near the summit.

By 1870, a wide gravel path was constructed from the main entrance to the top of the hill.

In 1880, the brick powder house was demolished because it had deteriorated.

By 1892, the path system was expanded as the cemetery grew and secondary entrances were established on Church Street, School Street and South Russell Street. The paths are now paved with asphalt.

In the 1890s, new gates and granite steps were constructed for the main entrance. The gates are Romanesque-style and were designed by landscape architect Ernest W. Bowditch.

In 1897, the John Howland monument was erected at the supposed location of his grave. The monument is a purple-slate monument with an image of ship at full sail at the top with a scallop shell on each side.

John Howland had died in 1673 and, since there are no headstones dating back that early, it is uncertain whether he is actually buried in the cemetery. His ancestors placed the monument there assuming that since his descendants were buried there, he must have been buried there too.

During the 19 th century, a group of granite tombs and brick tombs were constructed in the cemetery.

Sometime in the late 19 th century the Judson Monument was erected at the head of the main path of the cemetery in honor of Baptist missionary Adoniram Judson who died at sea. The monument is a large slab of white marble placed horizontally on six columns resting on stones and enclosed by a wooden fence.

Also by the late 19th century, polished granite headstones became more popular in Burial Hill and the headstones became more standard in design.

In 1914, the cemetery began using special markers to denote the graves of military veterans.

In 1920, the new powder house was constructed on the site of the old powder house to celebrate the town’s tercentenary events. A bronze plaque on the powder house reads:

“The Old Powder House was built here in 1770. This building erected in 1920 is dedicated to those descendants of the Pilgrims, by birth or by spirit, who helped establish American independence. — Massachusetts Society of the American Revolution.”

A marble plaque by stone carver William Coye, which was originally on the outside of the old powder house, is now located on the inside of the new powder house to protect it from the elements.

In 1921, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Monument was erected on the site of the original fort in honor of the fort’s history. The monument consisted of two cannons and a bronze plaque on a concrete platform built into the hillside. The cannons eventually deteriorated though and had to be removed.

In 1923, the James Warren Monument was erected at the Warren family plot by the Sons of the Revolution to honor James Warren, the President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. The monument is a low relief bronze bust in granite surround.

In 1926, the Scammel Monument was erected on the eastern edge of Burial Hill in honor of Alexander Scammel, a Plymouth schoolteacher who joined the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and was mortally wounded at the Battle of Yorktown. The monument is a boulder with a low-relief bronze portrait plaque.

In 1930, the John Alden House Monument was erected on the eastern edge of Burial Hill at the former site of John Alden’s house. The monument consists of a boulder with a bronze plaque that reads:

“Site of the House where John Alden lived while in Plymouth”

The last two burials at Burial Hill were for Stephen Spooner, who died in 1954, and Anna Klingenhagen, who died in 1957, both whom were buried next to family members.

Burial Hill was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

In April of 2019, the Plymouth Select Board voted in favor of requesting permission from the Massachusetts Historical Commission to excavate a section of the cemetery where it is believed the mass grave from the wreck of the General Arnold is located. It is not clear if or when excavation work will begin.


TEN days to Thanksgiving and counting. As an alternative to the ubiquitous countdown to Black Friday, each weekday between now and Thanksgiving I will be posting brief essays on the history of the First Thanksgiving and its place in American memory. So far I’ve focused mainly on some of the ways we have mythologized the Pilgrim story over the years. This week I want to contextualize the First Thanksgiving as accurately as I can, beginning with the storied voyage of the Mayflower.

This nearly exact replica of the original Mayflower is permanently docked in Plymouth Harbor, not far from where the original vessel first dropped anchor in December 1621.

Although the legendary “voyage of the Mayflower” is now enshrined in national lore, we actually don’t know much about it. William Bradford summarized the voyage in a couple of pages in his History of Plymouth Plantation, and almost everything we know about it comes from that brief account. We do know that the voyage of the Mayflower began as the voyage of the Mayflower and the Speedwell. Whereas the 180-ton Mayflower had been chartered by the London merchants who were financing the Pilgrims’ undertaking, the 60-ton Speedwell actually belonged to the Pilgrims, who had purchased it with an eye to using it for a fishing boat once they had relocated to America.

On August 5, 1620 the Speedwell and Mayflower weighed anchor and headed west from Southampton, England. They carried perhaps as many as 150 passengers, a combination of “saints” (mostly Puritan Separatists from northern England who had relocated years earlier to Leiden, Holland) and “strangers” (individuals recruited by the London financiers who were bankrolling the journey). In one of history’s great anticlimaxes, the Speedwell began to leak “as a sieve” almost before clearing the harbor, and within a few days both vessels were forced to put in at Dartmouth, a mere seventy-five miles along the coast.

After some minor mending they again put out to sea, but after sailing two hundred miles or so beyond the westernmost tip of England, the Speedwell sprouted leaks so severe that her master swore that they must return to port or go to the bottom. This time they put in at Plymouth, some fifty miles west of Dartmouth, where they wasted several more days scrutinizing the hull for leaks. Finding none, her master, a Captain Reynolds, concluded that the culprit was “the general weakness of the ship” and that continuing with the vessel was out of the question.

Although they didn’t know it at the time, there is reason to suspect that the Pilgrims were being dealt with falsely by pretended friends. According to William Bradford, members of the crew later confessed that Speedwell had been sabotaged—by order of its own captain, no less. In refitting the ship before leaving Holland, they had supplied her intentionally with masts that were too large. Whenever these were “too much pressed with sail” the stress on the hull was more than it could withstand and the ship would leak reduce sail, and the leaking would immediately cease.

Bradford attributed this “cunning and deceit” to the captain’s desire to get out of his commitment. Seeing that the ship was poorly provisioned and fearing that the “victuals” would run out before his contract did, the captain had “forgot all duty” and ordered every inch of sail unfurled, with the result that he soon had the excuse for turning back that he wanted. Years later, Bradford’s nephew would hear rumors of a different motive, namely that the Dutch, who wished to undermine English efforts to settle near the Hudson River, had “fraudulently hired” the captain to effect “delays while they were in England.

Whatever Captain Reynolds’s motive, this much is sure: his duplicity, if duplicity it was, had enormous consequences. By wasting a month of fair weather and delaying the Pilgrims’ final departure until the end of summer, he had multiplied the dangers they would face, both during the voyage and after their arrival. He had also greatly reduced the size of the exodus, for his sabotage of the Speedwell forced between a fourth and a third of the intended passengers to turn back. Actually, “forced” is not the right word. Bradford reported that “those that went back were for the most part such as were willing so to do.” According to Pilgrim deacon Robert Cushman—who would be among those waving goodbye from the dock—a number of the passengers had already begged to abandon the voyage when the ships had been at Dartmouth.

It was not just the dangers of the voyage ahead. With every day of delay they were eating up provisions intended to sustain them after they arrived. The postponement was reducing their already slim chances of erecting shelters before the onset of winter, and it was also affording them ample time to realize just how divided and disheartened they really were. “If ever we make a plantation,” Cushman wrote to a friend, “God works a miracle.”

And so “they made another sad parting,” as Bradford pithily put it, and on September 6th the Mayflower sailed away alone, after first taking on board as many of the Speedwell’s passengers and as much of her stores as they could cram in. Although Bradford was stingy with details, we can be sure that the journey was miserable. By modern standards the ship was tiny, an estimated 113 feet long from the rear of the poop deck to the bowsprit. (For context, that’s less than the distance from home plate to second base). It was only sixty-four feet long at the keel (barely home plate to the pitcher’s mound), and no more than twenty-five feet across at her widest point. In the best case scenario, the crew of twenty or so may have given up a portion of their space, but then that was minimal to begin with. This means that for the next sixty-five days the vast majority of the 102 passengers—including eighteen married couples and thirty-five children and teenagers—would have made their “quarters” in the “tweendecks” area just above the hold.

At first the weather was fair, but after “a season” they encountered adverse winds, followed by a series of storms so severe that they tossed the Mayflower like driftwood and cracked one of her main beams. Often “the winds were so high and the seas so fierce” that the crew was forced to strike the sails and let the storm carry the vessel where it would a good barometer of the horrific conditions is the fact that the Mayflower averaged but two miles per hour over the entire voyage.

In such violent tempests a “landlubber” took his life in his hands in venturing above deck. Indeed, a servant named John Howland was swept overboard when he came topside, although he was miraculously saved when “it pleased God” for him to catch hold of a topsail rope that had worked loose and was trailing in the water. The moral was clear—stay below if you would stay alive—with the result that the passengers spent the preponderance of the voyage in the close confines below deck.

For the better part of two months, in other words, the 102 passengers ate, slept, worshipped, and played in an area scarcely larger than a good-sized school bus. (Elizabeth Hopkins even gave birth there, presenting her husband with a son he appropriately named Oceanus.) What the conditions were like we can only begin to imagine. No privacy. No privies. No baths. Minimal ventilation. Plenty of foul odors—from each other and from the chickens, pigs, and goats on board. And seasickness, lots of it, with all of its consequences. No wonder the Pilgrim writers preferred to skip over the voyage.

Nor should we marvel that they “fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven” when they finally sighted land near daybreak on the 9th of November. Not only had God delivered them from the angry North Atlantic, but He had also spared them from the deadly diseases that so commonly ravaged such voyages. Only two individuals had perished during the crossing, a servant named William Button and “a proud and very profane” sailor who had taunted the passengers when they had first become seasick.

But this, too, was an anticlimactic moment. The land on the horizon was not their intended destination near the mouth of the Hudson River, but rather the coast of Cape Cod, some 220 miles to the north. And so, after a brief deliberation, they tacked about and headed south until treacherous shoals along the eastern shore of the Cape blocked their path. At this point they reversed course yet again and sailed back around the northern tip of the Cape into Cape Cod Bay. From there they commenced six agonizing weeks of frigid exploration, as various landing parties combed up and down the shore of present-day Massachusetts in search of a viable location for settlement.

To compound their discouragement, the land they had reached was nothing like they had anticipated. Massachusetts is actually more than six hundred miles south of London, on the same line of latitude as Madrid, Spain. Furthermore, the European explorers and fisherman who had visited the area—and there were many before the Pilgrims—had typically visited during the summertime. These facts had led to the belief, as one English explorer proclaimed as late as 1622, that New England’s climate was similar to that “of Italy and France, the gardens of Europe.” Thus the travelers had been dreaming of a lush landscape and a temperate climate, only to encounter “a hideous and desolate wilderness” at the onset of a “sharp and violent winter.”

Making matters more dismal, “scarce any” of them “were free from vehement coughs,” thanks to the “cold and wet lodging” on the Mayflower, and in an ominous foreshadowing of things to come, four more of the party would die before they had settled on a location. One of these was William Bradford’s wife, Dorothy, although the cause in her case was no “vehement cough.” Dorothy Bradford drowned in the harbor while her husband was exploring the coastline, and the fact that she fell overboard from a ship anchored in shallow water has caused speculation ever since that she might have committed suicide. What Bradford felt at the news about his “dearest consort” can only be imagined. Writing ten years after the tragedy, he could not bring himself even to mention it.

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The Paiutes are said to have an oral tradition that told of red-haired, white, cannibals about 10 feet tall who lived in or near what is now known as Lovelock Cave in Nevada. It is unclear whether this “oral tradition” about the so-called Sitecah giants existed or if it was an exaggeration or distortion of their legends made after the Paiutes were mostly killed or dispersed in 1833 by an expedition by explorer Joseph Walker.

Brian Dunning of Skeptoid explored Paiutes legends and found no mention of the Sitecah being giants. It seems there was, however, a people who practiced cannibalism and who lived in Lovelock Cave. Human remains have been found there, and a few of the human bones had the marrow removed, suggesting the marrow was eaten. Cannibalism seems to have been a rare practice among these peoples, however.

The remains do have red hair, but this may be because black hair can turn red with time.

Lovelock Cave (Bureau of Land Management/Public Domain)

The Humboldt River near Lovelock, Nevada, where the Sitecah people were said to live. (Famartin/CC BY-SA)

Miners unearthed the artifacts in 1912, leaving them in a pile before eventually contacting the University of California. Anthropologist Llewellyn L. Loud traveled from the university to the site to investigate. It is commonly agreed that excavation of the site was not handled well and certainly not up to modern standards. But some proponents of the Sitecah giants theory say researchers have deliberately covered up any giant remains found there.

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Watch the video: The Most Incredible Archaeological Discovery Of 2021 (June 2022).


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