I have to admit it, but I had trouble getting around to writing the following posts in a timely fashion. Sometimes I had connectivity issues. For a while I had trouble with the website itself and that took some time to resolve. In any event, I am doing my best to get caught up almost a month an a half later.
My next destination was Lexington. I had hoped to get to Concord the same day, but sometimes the day just slips away.
I made my way to Lexington, fighting the usual never-ending traffic. I took me a while to worm my way into the heart of town. Not only were there busloads tourists…
…there was a craft show in the center of town.
It took me a while to find a place to park. Even Google Maps failed me, as one of the churches in town blocked one off the side streets for an event. I ended up having to back Bart up a steep, narrow street until I could find a place to turn around.
I got back into the center of town and found a FREE place to park. Not having to pay to park almost put me back in the mood to be a tourist. I headed back toward the Battle Green. Before I got there, this sign caught my eye.
“Ye Old Burial Ground” Hmm. Well, it was worth a look. I headed down the road that looked more like a driveway than a public thoroughfare.
Sure enough, it was a graveyard that was filled with slate headstones.
Slate seems to be a superior material for headstones – well, superior to limestone, at least. In spite of the fact that these headstones are more than 150 years old, the carvings are crisp and easy to read.
I like to check out all sides of things, so I walked around to the other side to see what the back looked like.
I was surprised to see that they hadn’t smoothed off the back. I wonder if it was just a labor-saving technique, which would make the headstone cheaper, or if the extra material added structural integrity. I guess I’ll put that question on the list of things I want to find out someday.
I made my way back out to the street and I discovered that Ye Old Burial Ground was behind the First Parish in Lexington.
It was a Unitarian Universalist church and this building was erected in 1847.
They had a plaque under the portico that outlined the history of the building and its additions.
I like their practical approach to things. They modify buildings to suit their needs and take good care of them so that they last. I am a little surprised that the church was only destroyed once by fire in its long history.
By the time I got back to the Battle Green, the bus tourists had moved on, so I got to see what I was looking at. This monument marks the place where the remains of the people who died in the Battle of Lexington re-interred. They had been hastily buried in Ye Old Burial Ground after the battle, for some reason that wasn’t clear to me. From what one guide told me, it sounds like they had been buried in a mass grave. They were re-interred here in 1835, which was the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington.
I headed toward the other side of the Battle Green, where there was tourist information.
I discovered another busload of tourists around the statue of the Minute Man.
I stopped into the Buckman Tavern, and the enthusiastic and sincere women in the giftshop/ticket area convinced me that it was worth it to buy a three-building pass for the most important places in town.
My first stop was the Hancock-Clarke House. This was the home of Reverend Jonas Clark, and John Hancock and Samuel Adams were staying there on April 18, 1775, when Paul Revere and William Dawes made their famous Midnight Ride to warn that the Regulars were coming.
This is an important building in the Nation’s history, but it is pretty miraculous that it survived. It turns out that the house ended up being acquired by the next-door neighbor, who always hated it. The historians managed to convince her not to tear it down, but they had to move it across the street. When she finally died, they were able to move it back and put it on the original site.
Anyway, back to April 18, 1775.
According to the guide, Hancock and Adams actually sat at this table and planned. That is a good thing about thrifty families. They hold on to things and pass on the stories of their possessions.
The guide told us that these tiles around the fireplace that Hancock and Adams used were replacements.
Originally, they were the blue-and-white Delft tiles that were present at some of the other fireplaces in the house. The biblical themes were most appropriate for the Reverend Clarke.
Upstairs were the family’s sleeping quarters. This was the master bedroom. Just across the hall was the room for the children.
They had several sets of these trundle beds in the room,
along with other child-sized pieces of furniture.
When they were moving the house back to its original site, the found one of these caches of shoes and possessions in the wall. This was an old superstition designed to bring good luck to the house. I find it just a little odd that this tradition would have been followed in the house that the Reverend Clarke built.
Withe the first tour completed, I headed off to the second tour of the trifecta: Buckman’s Tavern.
Buckman’s Tavern was the main gathering place in town, and the headquarters of the Minute Men.
It also changed over the lifespan of the building. I guess that the building in illustration D would have been the way the tavern looked in 1775.
They had numerous rooms in the tavern. Some were dedicated to displays and others were set up as they would have been at the time of the Revolution.
This was the women’s room. Naturally, the menfolk wouldn’t want to spend time with the women. I suspect that the women preferred this arrangement, too.
The men had a room in the front of the building.
I walked past the front door of the tavern. I remember thinking, “This looks old, but it sure seems to be in good condition.” Well, not exactly.
This was the door to the tavern in 1775. It is mounted beneath plexiglass to the right of the current door. Do you see that little yellow arrow? That is pointing out a hole caused by a musket ball during the battle.
Upstairs were some displays. It seems that Lexington and Concord battled each other fiercely for the right to say that the first battle of the Revolution took place in their towns. Concord put down Lexington because they said that the Minute Men in Lexington pretty much didn’t put up any opposition to the Regulars – that they mainly retreated.
The people of Lexington say that they deserve the title because the first fatalities of the war happened there. Eight men died and ten were wounded.
At the end of the arguments, they asked us to vote. I chose Lexington.
There were also a few artifacts. This 40 foot long linen banner was made by the citizens of Lexington to honor Lafayette’s visit in 1824.
I wish I had started a running tally of all the Lafayette sites and memorabilia I have seen in my travels.
This is the original slate from the Obelisk monument that is in the Battle Green. It was erected in 1799, but replaced with a marble plaque in 1835 as part of the rededication and reburial of the eight men who lost their lives in during the 1775 battle.
This plaque was “lost to the ages” until it was discovered years later in Ye Old Burial Ground. It had been repurposed as the door to the Munroe Family tomb, with the inscription facing inside.
Speaking of the Munroe family, the last stop on the tour was the Munore Tavern.
It is located on the road between Lexington and Concord. It has two special significances to the revolution. The first is that it was used as a hospital and headquarters by the Regulars on their retreat from Concord.
This is another family that held on to things tenaciously. This is the tavern sign that hung outside at the time.
I was on the last tour of the day, and the costumed guide took care to point this out to me. I think it was on the ceiling, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it is. However, I liked the photo, so I offer it to you for your perusal.
The other claim to fame was that George Washington ate here in 1789. According to the family lore, this is the actual furniture that was used. In consideration for Washington’s privacy, the family cleared out an upstairs bedroom and set up a dining room where he wouldn’t be disturbed by people staring in the window trying to catch a glimpse of him.
This is the chair that Washington sat in. According to family lore, the mother made each child sit in the chair immediately after Washington left and then told them that they were unable to lie and had to live up to Washington’s greatness. That became a family tradition, and you can see the result of generations of kids’ bottoms on the seat of the chair.
They also preserved all sorts of mementos related to Washington. This is the tea bowl and spoon he used at the dinner.
Any guesses about why this artifact was preserved?
Well, according to the label next to it, oral tradition holds that George Washington hitched his horse to this staple, which was attached to a tree outside the tavern.
By then, the guide and the ticket taker were getting ready to close up shop, and I was ready to head back to the trailer. The road took me back through Lexington
Finally, the busloads of tourists headed back to Boston and I could get a clear shot of the Minute Man.