ancestryink fisherman

Monday, April 20, 2015

Woods Hole Model Boat Show: Small in Size, Large in Historical Significance

I look for excuses to spend any amount of time in Woods Hole which, next to Menemsha on Martha's Vineyard,  is my favorite small fishing village around.  I say "fishing" but there is a lot going on in this tiny place: WHOI and MBL. The ferry to the Islands. An awesome Aquarium and Exhibit Center, Zumba classes, good food, a long  Just the way I like it!

Model boats in the WH Community Center

I have been fantasizing lately about selling my very nicely appointed home on the far side of Falmouth, and taking up residence in one of the many, small and funky wood-shingled shacks that...oh come on...would anyone really notice someone living in their boat shed?  Or garden shed?  Or better yet - house boat? And then of course, taking a small job at the Marine Biological Labs - you know:  anything at all, but preferably history related.

Okay I digress, but note that "small" is the key word here.

I have some nice photos to show you of this past weekend and a very special small event that brought a lot of interesting people - and boats - together.

Saturday and Sunday was the Woods Hole Model Boat Show hosted by the Woods Hole Historical Museum.   Every two years,  model ship makers exhibit their work throughout the village of Woods Hole in different locations.  Remote controlled model sail boats race in Eel Pond and there are a host of great events too numerous to mention, for all ages.

The Races in Two Days:

Saturday was a picture perfect day for the Men's race:

Starting Line Eel Pond

Light winds

The ship owners stood on the dock, controlling their boats in light winds.  Heading out to the buoys was a lot quicker than heading back in.

Sunday was the Ladies Regatta.   The wind had kicked up and temperatures were a bit chillier and there were far fewer boats.  I got to town early and had breakfast at my favorite place: The Woods Hole Market.  Off to the right, you can see some practice runs going on.

Back deck of Woods Hole Market- Eel Pond
Ladies Regatta
The Models in Two Days:

Saturday morning, I made the rounds of the exhibit rooms and there were some extremely impressive ship models created by folks from all over New England.

After a really stimulating discussion with one model ship maker, I learned all about the kind of "coaster" my great-grandfather may have sailed from Canada to Pennsylvania during his seafaring life of delivering lumber and coal and fish.

He also knew of the Arethusa, a rum-runner of old, which I happen to know my g-grandfather sailed on in the early 1900's.  I'm sure I took up way too much of this man's time, but I had fun swapping our genealogical info and how it related to maritime life and ships  back in the 1800's.  My only regret was that I did not get his name!

Next, I had a very special surprise.  Ray Crean, a retired teacher from Beverly and renowned model ship maker, was displaying a model of the US Coast Guard Cutter Duane. It rang a bell.  I told him I thought my father (now deceased)  had been on that ship in WWII.

When I got home from Woods Hole Saturday afternoon, I located my father's Coast Guard documents amongst our family memorabilia,  and sure enough - there was Dad's discharge paper listing CGC Duane as one of the ships on which he served.  It was wonderful to see a model of the ship.

Copy of father's CG discharge papers - Pharmacist's Mate

The ships we heard about the most in my family, and of which we have actual photos, were the  Forsyth and the USS Covington.  Dad was stationed on the Covington near Greenland and Iceland.  He rarely talked about the War, but he always talked with awe about the beauty he saw there.

Sunday morning, I dashed back to Woods Hole (ok, for the aforementioned breakfast, but also...) with a copy of the discharge papers in hand to share with Mr. Crean.  Alas, though checking back frequently for an hour or so,  he was away from his table probably taking in the show and races,  and I never got the chance to show him the papers.  Mr. Crean certainly knew his history and ships.  The knowledge I came across in this show was only rivaled by years of meticulous work of the model makers.

There were so many other model ships to talk about, too.  The amazing model of the Charles W. Morgan, the more modern remote controlled boats...too many to include here. I wish I had more time on Sunday to go back and see everything a second time.

Last but not least to mention here, the Historical Society and their friendly volunteers really made wandering around the village to see the show an easy and totally pleasurable experience!

I heard a rumor that this year's Model Boat Show was the last for Woods Hole. I certainly hope that is not true.

All photos property of the author.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Guilty! And Sentenced to Hand Burning

This week marks a somber anniversary - that of the Marathon Bombing.  As we approach the second Boston marathon since the bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev awaits sentencing:  life in prison or - death.

Two choices: prison or death.  It has me wondering what manner of sentences were meted out around the 1600's-1700's.  Researching one of my own previous blog postings about Harvard University's collection of crime broadsides (to find this post, use my search box on right), led me to this wonderful source:

From the website of "The Proceedings of the Old Bailey"

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913 

*A collaboration between the Universities of Hertfordshire and Sheffield and the Open University, this project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Big Lottery Fund.

This intriguing and valuable online database publishes criminal proceedings between 1674 and 1913, at London's central criminal court.  There is a wealth of historical information on this site, and grateful acknowledgement must be given for the creation of this archive.  (To read more about the project, please visit the website directly.)

The home page features a search box for the investigation of crimes and their sentences.  Insert a few keywords, and you can view the original court document listing the crimes, the peoples involved, witnesses, and ...the punishment.

One of the most heinous crimes in this time period was the theft of a horse.  I typed "Theft of horse" into the search window and received a list of results.  This one held no mercy for one man:

On October 14, 1674:  "One was Indicted, together with a Youth, for Stealing of a Horse, the Man was found Guilty, and received Sentence of Death, the Boy Acquitted.

The stealing of silver ale cups from local taverns appeared to be a common crime, also.  One scurrilous group of no-good-doers received their sentences.  For the stealing of silver cups?  Burnt hands.  For the stealing of the horse?  Death!

October 10, 1677:  In all, seven persons (women included) burnt in the hand for their crimes.  One was ordered to be whipped for stealing, and ultimately five ne-er do-wells sentenced to death:  two "highway-men" (apparently those who robbed travelers), two Horse-stealers, and one thief.

Burning of the hands was a common punishment for first time or lesser crimes.  Kind of a gateway punishment for execution, however.  It seems many repeat offenders are recorded to have previously been "burnt or branded" in the hand, thus propelling them quickly to their final punishment: death.

May 16 1678:   Ten people sentenced to Death.

"There were in all Ten persons that received Sentence of Death, viz. Seven men, one for Murder, three notorious High-way men for several Robberies, two upon five several Indictments for Horse-stealing, a young man for a Felony, having been before burnt in the hand since Christmas last; and Three women, one for robbing her Master of goods to a great value, the other two ( whereof one was an old notorious offender) for several Felonies committed under presence of taking Lodgings, thereby having ruined divers honest poor people."

One longs for the punishment of being burnt in the hand or whipped, when execution was carried out by "being burned to ashes" or "hanging in chains".

On October 24, 1679 a grand total of 13 people were sentenced to death for crimes ranging from robbery and horse-stealing to treason.  A Mr. Ordinary met with each and every prisoner, to examine their souls before being transported to the here-after.  He lamented their flaws of consciene in the following way:

"He found them generally lamentably ignorant of the Principles of Religion, as if they had been born in Africk, and bred up amongst the Savages of America, rather than in England, that Goshen of Gospel-Light. But he endeavoured with his utmost pains, both to inform their Understandings of the mysteries of Salvation, and perswade their stubborn Wills to submit to the Yoak of Christ, and accept of him upon his own Evangelical Terms.

Apparently being born in Africa, or brought up with savages in America was as far a fall from grace as humanly possible!  The roots of religious bias and intolerance run very deep, and in many different directions.

105 Catholics Executed at Tyburn Gallows

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Archaeology of American Cemeteries and Gravemarkers

This book was brought to my attention through my B.U. Genealogical Forum for alumna of the research program. Though published in August of last year, (University of Florida Press) it is about the archaeology of cemeteries, and is worth bringing to your attention now.  This is not a guidebook for the cemetery-roving genealogist, however.
 It is about, to my best understanding,  the history of burial traditions and practices,  and an exploration of the human need for remembrance, in America.  From information in the introduction (full disclosure: I have not yet read the book so relied upon Amazon's content and the BU Forum for enlightenment), it addresses the sacred and profane in burial practices. 
 An example:  the practice of White settlers, to bury, with not regard, their own dead on top and within sacred Indian burial grounds, and the many years that passed before these sacred burial grounds became nationally preserved and protected.  
 It is remarkable, I think, that with all the thousands of years of changes: wars, grappling for territories, technological advances, religious observances, class struggles, and our ever-determined, forward-slanting stride into the future - we still bury our dead.  Maybe locations and graves are new, but the need to in some degree immortalize ourselves, seems as strong as ever.