Attached above as a downloadable Word document is my own transcription (laboriously completed by me, by hand) of a journal kept by my great-grandfather Henry Thomas Handy (1845-1916) on a whaling voyage in 1868-1869. Also included are notes and commentary about Mr. Handy’s voyages, prepared by me. Henry T. Handy was my mother’s maternal grandfather.
My great-grandfather’s first voyage, in July 1866, sailing from New Bedford, Massachusetts, was as an ordinary seaman.
On his second voyage, in July 1868 on the bark Morning Star (also out of New Bedford), he was appointed boatsteerer. The boatsteerer sits in the bow of the whaleboat and functions both as the steerer of the boat and the harpooner. Mr. Handy kept a journal of this voyage, which is posted here.
The photo below is of the bark Morning Star. My great-grandfather rose to the position of First Mate on that ship, on a later voyage.
My great-great grandfather’s whaling journal was copied by me by hand at the home of a distant relative in Pocasset on Cape Cod around fifteen to twenty years ago. She was in possession of it. It had been in the possession of one of my mother’s cousins. He had cleaned out my mother’s aunt’s belongings from her Boston apartment when my mother’s aunt passed way in the early 1970’s. My mother’s aunt (daughter of my great-grandfather, the whaler) had inherited and preserved the whaling journal.
Under the terms of my mother’s aunt’s will, it appears that the journal should have been bequeathed to my mother. However, my mother was ill at the time, and had no knowledge of this. My mother’s aunt was the main preserver of family lore.
The distant relative living in Pocasset, the widow of my mother’s cousin, who (the widow, that is) was not a blood relative, jealously guarded access to the journal. She did not appear to have much interest in it, other than as something of potential monetary value, for sale.
I was treated inhospitably by the widow of my mother’s cousin. Sensing that I was not welcome in her home (which she made clear was the case by her demeanor and various indications of being unhospitable), I was pretty certain that I would not be allowed to return. So, I copied the entire journal by hand in one sitting. My wrist ached and I felt as if my hand was going to fall off.
I asked her if I could take it to a nearby motel and copy it there, bringing it back the next day. She said absolutely not. She did not trust me. I was determined to stay until I finished copying the entire journal because I felt that it was unlikely that I would get access to her house again.
I subsequently typed and edited the diary and did considerable work on it. I looked up many of the places my great-grandfather visited in the South Pacific (using his place names and longitudes and latitudes). I looked up contemporary reports of shipping activity and crew lists in the New Bedford Public Library to verify info on some of his voyages.
The library research was extensive, time consuming, and rewarding. The New Bedford Public Library is an indispensable repository of information accessible nowhere else about the nineteenth century whaling industry as well as the genealogy of settlers in Southeastern Massachusetts. My maternal grandmother grew up in New Bedford, and she had New Bedford ancestors going back several generations.
The Whalemen’s Shipping List is an index card file at the New Bedford Public Library. The cards were compiled and entries typed by Works Progress Administration (WPA) employees during the 1930’s. A card reads:
Handy, Henry, bark Stella, N.B. [New Bedford]
lost Foggy Is., Cal., Aug. 11, 1867
1/150 [lay, the seaman’s share of the voyage’s profits]
The first entry in Mr. Handy’s journal reads:
Wednesday, July 1, 1868 – “Went on board this morning at Clarks Point and got underway and beat down the Bay in company with the Oliver Crocker Capt. Fish[er]. 5 P.M. the Pilot and land sharks left and went ashore. Afterwards the Mate called all hands and the Officers chose their boats crews. … it fell to my lot to steer the Mate Mr. Lewis.”
Beat is a nautical term meaning to tack back and forth across the desired direction of advance to gain distance against an unfavorable wind. Land sharks were shore agents who procured greenhorn whalemen and outfitted them. Their methods were unscrupulous.
During the month just ended, I took a trip to Massachusetts to attend the American Literature Association’s annual conference in Boston, and also to take photos of personal interest from the point of view of my personal history and also from a genealogical angle.
I grew up in Massachusetts, in the Greater Boston area.
Practically all of my relatives came from Massachusetts. My father’s ancestors, on his father’s side, emigrated from Scotland to Boston in 1872. His relatives on his mother’s side emigrated during the colonial period and lived mostly in Essex County, north of Boston, and subsequently in the Greater Boston area.
My mother’s relatives were originally mostly from Cape Cod; some of my relatives continue to live there.
The following is a trip itinerary with photographs.
I went to Danvers, Mass., which is where my mother grew up and photographed the house and block where she lived. Danvers was originally an outlying area of Salem; it was known as Salem Village. The Salem witchcraft trials arose from incidents that took place in what is now Danvers.
My mother lived at 19 Braman Street from around 1920 through 1940. The house looks shabby now.
From Danvers, I headed south, in the direction of Boston. Although my focus was mostly family history, it occurred to me, why not make a stop in Winchester, Mass., where the world famous Russian émigré sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin, one of my heroes, lived?
Sorokin, his wife, and their two sons resided at 8 Cliff Street in Winchester. (Sorokin died in 1968. One of his sons still occupies the same residence.) I was interested not only to see the residence of a world renowned scholar and writer, but also to see the house because it was famous for its grounds: a garden developed and maintained by Sorokin himself, for which he had won awards from horticultural societies and of which he was proud.
I drove up the block, which was on a steep ascent, using GPS to guide me. The GPS system advised me that I had arrived at my destination, 8 Cliff Street, on my left. I saw 6 Cliff Street, but where was number 8? Number 8 was shrouded and hidden by a profusion of flowering bushes. It reminded me of the Forest of Thorns in “Sleeping Beauty.”
Pitirim A. Sorokin residence, 8 Cliff St., Winchester, MA. Photographs by Roger W. Smith.
Next, I drove to Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett, Mass., which was close by — a beautiful cemetery where my Scotch ancestors are buried — and photographed gravestones. This required a return visit a couple of days later because a cemetery worker suggested I have one of the gravestones, for my great-great grandfather and great-great grandmother, cleaned, at the cost of seventy-five dollars.
Gravestone of my father’s paternal grandmother Jennie H. (Wright) (Smith) Simpson and her 2nd husband, Capt. George F. Simpson. Marjorie (Smith) Farrar (my father’s aunt) was her daughter. Elva Farrar, who died in infancy, was Jennie’s granddaughter.
I then drove all the way, heading south, to New Bedford, Mass., which was a flourishing city in the nineteenth century but now has a depressing look and feel to it. My maternal grandmother grew up there. I took photographs of the house where she was born in 1894. The house is on South Sixth Street. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Wing Street in New Bedford. I intended to photograph the house, but it is no longer standing.
120 South Sixth St., New Bedford, MA. My maternal grandmother, Annie Congdon (Hart) Handy, was born there in 1894.
I drove to New Bedford again early Thursday morning to visit Rural Cemetery, an old cemetery where many burials occurred in the nineteenth century. There, I located the grave of my mother’s great-grandfather, John Congdon Hart. He died in 1883. He had two wives and thirteen children. His gravestone reads “J. C. Hart / 5th Mass. Batt’y.” No dates are carved on the stone. John C. Hart was a Civil War veteran. The inscription on his gravestone clearly indicates that he was proud of his Civil War service.
Section of Rural Cemetery, New Bedford, MA where John Congdon Hart (1829-1883), my maternal grandmother’s paternal grandfather, and his family are buried.
From New Bedford, I drove to Cape Cod, a drive of about 45 minutes. I went to Cataumet Cemetery in the town of Bourne (Cataumet being a section of that town). It is a small cemetery across the street from a Methodist church where many ancestors on my mother’s side worshiped. Many of my mother’s ancestors, surnamed Handy, are buried there.
United Methodist Church, Cataumet, MA
Gravestone of Henry Thomas Handy, his wife Lydia Perkins (Ellis) Handy, and three of their children, two of whom died in infancy, Cataumet Cemetery, Cataumet, MA. Etta H. Handy was my mother’s aunt and a close relative. Henry T. Handy pursued a career as a whaler in his early adulthood and later became a farmer on Cape Cod.
Gravestone of my maternal grandparents, namely Ralph Ellis Handy (1894-1946) and Annie C. (Hart) Handy (1894-1972), Cataumet Cemetery, Cataumet, MA. Also named is Clifton Edward Handy, my mother’s younger brother, who died in infancy.
Another view of my maternal grandparents’ gravestone, Cataumet Cemetery, Cape Cod.
I then drove to Pocasset, also on Cape Cod, which is right next door. I photographed the beautiful house and grounds where my mother’s uncle Robert S. Handy lived. My mother and her cousins spent many enjoyable times during summer vacations there. One can’t miss the house from the street, although it is set back and is fronted by an extensive greensward. It is a neighborhood landmark.
The late Robert S. Handy’s residence, County Road, Pocasset. Robert Handy (1881-1972) was my mother’s uncle.
From Cape Cod, I drove to Dorchester, Mass., to the section known as Mattapan. Dorchester is part of Boston. It took me a long time navigating local traffic to find 67 Woolson Street in Mattapan, a modest house where my father, Alan Wright Smith, was born in 1917. I had never seen the house before.
67 Woolson St., Mattapan (Boston), MA. My father was born there in 1917.
Friday was a total change of pace: the American Literature Association (ALA) annual conference at the Westin Copley Place hotel in Boston. I attended a few lectures and the annual meeting of the International Theodore Dreiser Society.
Attendance at the Dreiser Society meeting was sparse, but I was very glad to be able to participate. I had the opportunity to meet noted Dreiser scholars such as Thomas P. Riggio, Renate von Bardeleben, Yoshinobu Hakutani, and Miriam Gogol, all of whom I already knew (not necessarily well) from prior acquaintance. Professor Hakutani made some very interesting observations comparing a work of Richard Wright’s (he is an authority on Wright), Black Boy, to an autobiographical work of Dreiser’s. I made a mental note to purchase and read Black Boy.
Other scholars present include Ashley Squires, a professor from Moscow who gave a fascinating presentation on the reception of Theodore Dreiser in Russia, where he has been for a long time — and is still — very popular. Being seated right next to her, fortuitously, I struck up a conversation. “For a Russian, you speak awfully good English,” I said. It turned out that she’s one hundred percent American and grew up in the heartland. It just so happens that she is teaching in Moscow.
I had a very enjoyable conversation with a graduate student from Oklahoma who delivered a paper on Dreiser. It was a pleasure to experience for a few minutes her sincere commitment to her studies and enthusiasm for them. A male companion was with her. They are both rabid baseball fans and were very excited about the prospect of attending their first game ever at Fenway Park that evening.
In the afternoon, I had an enjoyable get acquainted chat with a noted American literature scholar, Jerome Loving, a biographer of Whitman, Twain, and Dreiser. He was interested in talking with me about the Chester Gillette murder case, upon which Theodore Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy was based. I have done extensive research on the case.
On Saturday, I went back to Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett and photographed the gravestone of my Smith Scotch ancestors, which had been cleaned.
Gravestone of my Smith ancestors, Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett, MA. They included Thomas Smith, my father’s great-grandfather (who was born in Scotland); Thomas’s wife Jane (Gilchrist) Smith (also a native of Scotland); their son Thomas, Jr., my grandfather’s father (also born in Scotland); and Wlliam G. Smith, an uncle of my grandfather. (He was born in Boston just after his parents emigrated in 1872.)
I then drove to Cambridge, Mass., where I lived until age twelve. I photographed the house on Mellen Street, a ten or fifteen minute walk from Harvard Square, where we lived. The house is in excellent condition and looks the same, except that the back yard where we used to play has been paved over. Lesley College (now Lesley University) bought the house from my father in the 1960’s, and the section of Mellen Street on which the house stands has been made into a private way and renamed.
27 Mellen Street, Cambridge, MA. I lived there from birth until 1958.
27 Mellen St., Cambridge, rear view; the fire escape is still there.
I went over to the next block, Everett Street, where my best friend, Francis Donlan, lived. I photographed the apartment complex at 11 Everett Street where he lived. It looked the same, which is to say it sort of “reemerged” into my visual memory/consciousness — I had forgotten. Francis’s father was the janitor there. Parking in Cambridge must be notoriously difficult. Everett Street was one way, and restricted/no parking signs were everywhere.
Apartment house on Everett St. where my best friend Francis Donlan lived.
My last stop in Cambridge was Oxford Street, where I photographed my old elementary school. I walked right past it. Remembering the order of the streets, I was sure I had missed it, but how? I was looking for the familiar old building and schoolyard. I asked a middle aged man in a playground with two children, “Is there an elementary school near here?”
“Yes,” he replied, “the Baldwin School,” pointing in the direction which I had come from. The school, which I had inadvertently passed, was a block away.
The school when I attended it was named the Agassiz School. I always liked the sound of the name; it sounded distinctive. It was also hard for an elementary schooler to spell.
The school was named in honor of Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (1807-1873), a world renowned Swiss-American biologist and geologist who was a professor of zoology and geology at Harvard University. The school’s name was changed to the Maria L. Baldwin School in 2002, due to objections to the theories of Agassiz, which have been characterized as racist. Maria Louise Baldwin (1856 -1922), an African American educator and civic leader, was principal of the school from 1889 until 1922.
I didn’t recognize the school building, and the playground where I used to play kickball was gone.
Maria L. Baldwin School (formerly Agassiz School), Oxford St., Cambridge, MA. Photographs by Roger W. Smith.
Oxford St., Cambridge, MA
The theories of Agassiz that have led to his being discredited are based on polygenism, the idea that races were created separately, that they could be classified on the basis of specific climatic zones, and that they were endowed with unequal attributes. It appears that the attribution of racism to Agassiz is not such an open and shut case. He did not support slavery, for example. In general, the renaming of buildings and monuments to conform to changing views makes me uncomfortable. A couple of former classmates whom I have mentioned this to feel, on the contrary, that the change of the school’s name was entirely appropriate.
Leaving Cambridge on Saturday morning, I drove as fast as I could to Oak Grove cemetery in Falmouth, Mass., on Cape Cod, wishing to arrive there before the cemetery supervisor, who works a half day on Saturdays, left. I got stuck in a traffic jam of holiday travelers crossing the Bourne Bridge, which spans the Cape Cod Canal.
At the cemetery, I found quite a few ancestral graves in the same section. I never would have found them without the cemetery supervisor’s help. My mother was born in Falmouth. Her maternal grandparents are buried there, as are several of their ancestors.
Gravestone of William Hewins (1801-1893) of Falmouth, MA and his wife Love (Handy) Hewins (1804-1884), as well as two of their sons. William and Love were great-grandparents of my maternal grandmother Annie C. (Hart) Handy on her mother’s side.
Gravestone of John Swift, 2nd (1806-1864) of Falmouth, MA. He was my maternal grandmother’s great-grandfather on her mother’s side.
Gravestone of Frances Lincoln (Weeks) Swift (1807-1868), wife of John Swift, 2nd, my maternal grandmother’s great-grandmother on her mother’s side.
Gravestone of Llewellyn Russell Hewins (1834-1908) of Falmouth, MA. He was the grandfather of my maternal grandmother, Annie (Hart) Handy, on her mother’s side. The birthdate on the stone is off by a year.
Gravestone of Arabella F. (Swift) Hewins (1834-1868), first wife of Llewellyn Russell Hewins of Falmouth. She was the grandmother of my maternal grandmother.
From Falmouth on the Cape, I turned around and drove right back, heading north and west, to Arlington, Mass., a town adjacent to Cambridge and only six miles northwest of Boston. It was practically a second home town for me in my youth. I photographed the big, stately house on a hilltop on Cliff Street in Arlington Heights where my paternal grandparents, T. Gordon and Esther (Whittredge) Smith, lived in the 1930’s and ’40s, which I remember visiting.
Views of 18 Cliff St., Arlington, MA,where my paternal grandparents lived during my early childhood, and of Cliff Street itself. Photos by Roger W. Smith.
And, the house on Wellington Street, near Arlington Center, where my grandparents lived in the 1950’s and ‘60s. I used to take the streetcar from Cambridge to visit them at the latter residence.
37 Wellington St., Arlington Heights, MA
It was adjacent to Spy Pond, which I photographed, and there was a baseball field across the street where I would sometimes watch games with my grandfather. I photographed that too.
Spy Pond, Arlington, MA
baseball field in park across street from my grandparents’ house
I then drove to East Boston, where my Smith Scotch ancestors lived and where my paternal grandfather, Thomas Gordon Smith, was born and raised. My great-great grandfather, Thomas Smith, settled there in the 1870’s after emigrating with his wife and children from Scotland. I found the house where my paternal grandfather was born and the house he moved to with his widowed mother and siblings when he was about ten years old. I found the residences where his grandfather, my great-great grandfather, lived at 606 and 635 Bennington Street. They are in good condition. The latter residence is owned and occupied now by the Salesians of St. John Bosco, a religious order.
606 Bennington St., East Boston, MA. The family of Thomas Smith, my great-great grandfather, lived their briefly in the 1880’s.
Photos of 635 Bennington St., East Boston. My great-great grandparents lived there for over 20 years. Photographs by Roger W. Smith.
I left East Boston at around 7 p.m. on Saturday evening and drove northward, hoping that I could perhaps reach Crane Beach on the North Shore before it got dark. The beach is located in the town of Ipswich. I remember going there with my parents in the 1950’s. My mother knew the beach well. It is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Massachusetts.
View of countryside, Essex County, MA, near Crane Beach. Photograph by Roger W. Smith.
Crane Beach, Ipswich, MA. Photograph by Roger W. Smith.
Crane Beach, Ipswich, MA. Photograph by Roger W. Smith.
A main objective of mine on this trip was to photograph ancestral sites and graves. Graves are very difficult to find; it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But, I succeeded beyond my expectations. Not only in finding graves, which are invaluable as genealogical sources, but also in finding and photographing ancestral residences and streetscapes and, most importantly, the houses, hitherto unknown, where my father’s father and mother’s mother and also my father were born.
I decided to share this information with as many descendants as I could, emailing them photographs with commentary.
Their response, in most cases lack of response, was much worse than I could have anticipated — disappointing, and in, a couple of instances, not just disappointing, but inconsiderate and mean spirited. Hardly anyone bothered to acknowledge having received the photos.
Worst of all was the response of some of my relatives (I shared photos and pertinent information only with descendants of the ancestors whose graves and houses I had photographed) who actually COMPLAINED, saying that because I emailed the photos and information to them, they found it to be a nuisance. It had taken me about to week to go through the photos, select the best ones, tweak them, identify them correctly, and write commentary so that my relatives would know whose grave or house it was and how that individual was related to us.
I wrote back to the disgruntled respondents, my relatives, merely saying: “This has involved a great deal of time, effort, and expense on my part.” I mentioned, in replying to them, the time, effort, and expense merely for purposes of comparison: what went into the project versus what would be required for someone to open emails, read them, and download what was perhaps a total of 25 photos. (I do not recall the exact number.) Considerable effort over several days (not counting the spade work, planning, organizing, and dissemination of the materials) versus a few minutes of one’s time for each email.
Regarding the supposedly great inconvenience of being bombarded with emails, what the pros and cons are, it’s not worth discussing here, but I would have thought that someone could have overlooked this (despite whatever their preferences are) in consideration of receiving hitherto unavailable photos and information that were obtained at great effort and considerable expense, and which were available nowhere else, that they would never have known about or had access to otherwise. I am talking about things such as gravestones and homesteads of people such as my nineteenth century ancestors, my ancestors from Scotland, the houses were my father and two of my grandparents were born, and so on. (When, say I “my,” I mean also “their,” that is, our relatives.)
I felt it incumbent upon me to share these materials with as many relatives as I could think of contacting and had the email addresses of, hoping that they would disseminate them among their children and grandchildren. I thought they would be appreciative of this and was taken completely by surprise.
It seems to me that it’s a matter of weighing in the balance what one would rather have: the “inconvenience” (as they conceive it to be) of having a few additional emails (of course, they will say, “what do you mean, a few?,” as if they were greatly imposed upon, put out, inconvenienced; choose your participle) within the space of a couple of days in their inboxes, and having to download a photo or two with a simple click, versus the thought, which does not seem to occurred to them, of what goes into ascertaining the facts thorough prior research (such as, where was such and such ancestor buried? where were my father and grandparents born? where in Boston, at exactly what address, did my great-great grandfather and his children live?). Using those facts to locate materials, planning such a trip, driving to various locales not necessarily close to one another, locating the actual graves and houses, and so on. It would seem that the favor and services done for them far outweigh the “inconvenience,” as they perceive it. But, people seem to take things for granted. The last thing they would ever do is look up such stuff themselves. When it is handed to them on a silver platter, they don’t appreciate it but instead complain, vent, and find cause for fault.
I enjoy such projects and find them rewarding, despite the effort involved. And, it is my credo that such materials should be disseminated as widely as possible among parties to whom they would not, presumably, be of no interest or relevance. But, I have experienced such lack of appreciation and inconsiderateness in the past. From persons who have made inquiries of me and requests for information and materials related to scholarly or genealogical research. I always go all out to respond and share what I have. It is incredible how often people don’t even bother to acknowledge receipt or say thanks.
In the 1912 World Series, the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Giants four games to three, with one tie.
The eighth and final game was played on Wednesday, October 16, 1912, at Fenway Park in Boston. The attendance was 17,034. The location of the game was determined by a coin toss, which the Red Sox won.
In the game, Boston rallied for two runs in the tenth inning to win the game and the Series, thanks to two costly Giants fielding misplays.
In the fifth inning, Giants second baseman Larry Doyle hit a long drive to right but was robbed of a possible home run by Red Sox outfielder Harry Hooper, who made a great running catch in front of the low fence.
My paternal grandfather, Thomas Gordon Smith, witnessed the catch, as he told me years afterward.
Hooper’s catch was described as follows by Red Sox pitcher Smoky Joe Wood, their ace (who pitched in the game in relief), in an interview for the classic book by Lawrence Ritter (who “moonlighted” as a finance professor at the New York University school of business) The Glory of Their Times:
Larry Doyle hit a terrific drive to deep right center, and Harry ran back at full speed and dove over the railing and into the crowd and in some way, I’ll never quit figure out how, he caught the ball — I think with his bare hand. It was almost impossible to believe, even when you saw it.
Red Sox center fielder Tris Speaker, one of the greatest outfielders of all time, called Hooper’s “running, leaping catch,” as he described it, “one of the greatest catches I ever saw.”
This accords with what my grandfather told me. “I was at the World Series game when Harry Hooper caught the ball and fell into the stands,” he said.
To return to the overall game, and its dramatic denouement.
Smoky Joe Wood, who had taken a pounding on the mound the day before, entered the game in the eighth inning in relief of the Boston starter, Hugh Bedient. Christy Mathewson was pitching for the Giants.
The game went into extra innings with the score tied at 1-1. The Giants scored a run in the top of the tenth inning, making the score 2-1 in their favor. They were three outs away from a World Series victory.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, the Red Sox rallied for two runs to win the game.
The last half of the tenth featured a famous misplay, “Snodgrass’s muff.”
Red Sox pinch hitter Clyde Engle (batting for Smoky Joe Wood) led off with an easy fly ball to Fred Snodgrass in center field. Snodgrass dropped the ball, and Engle reached second base. The next day’s New York Times described the play as follows: “And now the ball settles. It is full and fair in the pouch of the padded glove of Snodgrass. But he is too eager to toss it to [left fielder Red] Murray and it dribbles to the ground.”
The next batter was the above mentioned Harry Hooper, he of the miraculous fifth inning catch. He flied out to deep center — Snodgrass making a fine running catch, right after his error — but Engle advanced to third.
Red Sox second baseman Steve Yerkes was walked by Mathewson, putting the winning run on base.
The next batter was center fielder Tris Speaker (a future Hall of Famer). He lifted a foul popup on the first base side, but Giants first baseman Fred Merkle, pitcher Mathewson, and catcher Chief Meyers allowed the ball to fall untouched in foul territory. Snodgrass later claimed that Red Sox bench jockeys had disrupted the players’ timing.
Given new life, Speaker singled home Engle to tie the game 2–2, Yerkes advancing to third. Mathewson walked the next batter, left fielder Duffy Lewis, intentionally, loading the bases.
The next batter, Red Sox third baseman Larry Gardner, flied to Josh Devore in right field deep enough for Yerkes to tag up and score, and the Red Sox won the game and the Series.
The Boston outfield consisted of Duffy Lewis, left field (famous for “Duffy’s Cliff”); Tris Speaker, center field; and Harry Hooper in right. It is considered one of the best outfields of all time.
(How is it that the Red Sox seem to usually have great outfields? They had a pretty good one in the fifties when I was a young fan: Ted Williams in left; Jimmy Piersall in center; and Jackie Jensen in right. Then, later, there were the outfields comprised of Red Sox stars such as Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, and Dwight Evans, in various combinations.)
Fred Snodgrass’s error went down in history as “the $30,000 muff”, a reference to the difference in the winning and losing shares, $29,514.34. (Note: this figure was calculated with respect to the total amounts of the two teams’ shares.) After the series, Snodgrass tried to explain, saying “I didn’t seem to be able to hold the ball. It just dropped out of the glove, and that was all there was to it.”
Christy Mathewson later wrote that “As I look back upon the 1912 series, when we lost to the Boston Red Sox, I see it was the same. Pitchers, outfielders, the whole team collapsed under the strain.”
My grandfather was age 27 at the time of the final game of the 1912 Series. He was employed as a bank teller in Boston. See photo below.
Harry Hooper’s catch is not often written about, but it was one of the all time great catches.
I would like to mention two of my favorites.
Opening day at Yankee Stadium on April 14, 1967 pitted the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox. Rookie Billy Rohr was the Red Sox starter; it was his first Major League game. He was pitching a no hitter through eight innings.
In the bottom of the ninth, left fielder Tom Tresh led off for the Yankees. He hit a long drive to left field. Left fielder Carl Yastrzemski, who was playing shallow, made a remarkable over the shoulder, tumbling catch to preserve the no hitter.
Yastrzemski’s catch is viewable on YouTube at
Unfortunately, Rohr lost the no hitter when the next batter, Elston Howard, singled.
Then there was the catch that Dwight Evans made in Game Six — game six of the 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds, that is.
In the top of the eleventh, with Ken Griffey on first, Joe Morgan hit a deep drive to right field that looked to be headed over the fence. Evans, however, made a spectacular catch near the visitors’ bullpen to rob Morgan of a homer, then he made one of his herculean throws to double Griffey off first. The first baseman was none other than Carl Yastrzemski.
My ancestor William Handy was born on August 15, 1762 in Sandwich, Massachusetts, a town on Cape Cod, and died in Sandwich on February 8, 1852 at the age of 89.
Mr. Handy served in the Continental Army under George Washington during the Revolutionary War when he was eighteen years old.
It is astonishing to me to realize the following: Mr. Handy was my mother’s great-great grandfather. That means he goes back only four generations from my mother, Elinor H. Smith (1918-1973; nee Elinor Congdon Handy).
My mother was the daughter of Ralph E. Handy (1893-1947). Her grandfather was Henry T. Handy (1845-1916). Her great-grandfather was Henry Handy’s father, Joshua Handy (1813-1877). Joshua Handy’s father, my mother’s great-great grandfather, was the above mentioned William Handy.
Here’s a very interesting fact, among several, about William Handy. His Revolutionary War service required him to travel to New York State. Presumably, this would have been on foot. During his service, he was present at the execution of Major John André (1750-1780), the British Army officer who was hanged on October 2, 1780 in Tappan, Rockland Country, New York as a spy during the Revolutionary War for assisting Benedict Arnold’s attempted surrender of the fort at West Point to the British.
An account of Major André’s hanging indicates that a large crowd was assembled for the hanging, including many troops.
The hanging is described as follows in an eyewitness account by James Thacher, M.D., a surgeon in the American Revolutionary Army (in his The American Revolution: From the Commencement to the Disbanding of the American Army Given in the Form of a Daily Journal, with the Exact Dates of all the Important Events; Also, a Biographical Sketch of the Most Prominent Generals):
The fatal hour having arrived, a large detachment of troops [italics added] was paraded, and an immense concourse of people assembled; almost all our general and field officers, excepting his excellency [Washington] and staff, were present on horseback; melancholy and gloom pervaded all ranks, and the scene was affectingly awful.
In his History of Cape Cod, vol. II (1862), Rev. Frederick Freeman, who knew Mr. Handy personally, writes:
During the revolutionary period, at a time when it was most difficult to obtain men for the war, he volunteered and served in several campaigns. He was present at the execution of Andre, a scene the incidents of which he related at the very close of his life, not only with nice accuracy but with an exhibition of fine sensibilities and generous feeling.
The full account of Rev. Freeman is as follows:
Capt. William Handy was, in some respects, a remarkable man.
During the revolutionary period, at a time when it was most difficult to obtain men for the war, he volunteered and served in several campaigns.
He was present at the execution of Andre, a scene the incidents of which he related at the very close of his life, not only with nice accuracy but with an exhibition of fine sensibilities and generous feeling.
Endowed with an iron constitution, of good judgment and most determined will — fearless, resolute, and full of energy, his earlier life was chiefly devoted to maritime pursuits — first in the merchant service and then in whaling.
After one whale voyage as mate, he was for many years in command of some of the best and most successful ships engaged in that business, making repeated voyages from New Bedford, and also from Dunkirk in France in pursuance of an arrangement made first by Tupper with Bonaparte when First Consul and afterwards by Rotch with the Consul as Emperor.
Captain Handy’s ability, integrity, and success were proverbial, securing unlimited confidence. Retiring from the seas, he engaged still in maritime affairs, establishing a ship-yard near his house on Buzzard’s Bay and becoming largely a ship-owner.
He sent forth from his own yard the ship Rebecca, the brig Fame, schooners Resolution, Nancy [named after his daughter], Sophronia, Love [named after his wife], Acsah Parker [named after his daughter Acshah Handy, who married Calvin Parker], and sloops Betsy [named after his daughter], Nancy [named after his daughter], Deborah, and other smaller vessels designed for the Long Island Sound trade during the war of 1812. These last smaller vessels were, for greater security against the ravages of the enemy, built near his door at a distance from the shore, and then without great difficulty launched across fields to their intended element.
Capt. H. suffered greatly from French spoliations, as well as from the war of 1812; but cherished faith in the tardy justice of his country to the very last of life.
When more than 60 years old he resolved, to replenish his coffers and “to show the boys how to take whales,” to adventure one more voyage. His purpose was no sooner known in New Bedford than eminent merchants and ship-owners were ready to further his views. Put in command of the Com. Decatur in 1821, he accomplished in 15 months a most successful cruise to the admiration of all.
He had an utter repugnance to public life, and yet was elected Selectman, and commissioned as Jus. Pac.
Anecdotes might be related of him … showing the energy and daring of the man; and one … would be of thrilling interest — that of a rencontre by himself and one other with a white polar bear, engaged upon the ice and snows without firearms. The contest was desperate; but the bear weighing more than 500 lbs. labored under the disadvantage of breaking through the snow-crust, whilst his assailants were supported by it and finally conquered.
William Handy married Love Swain (ca. 1779-1857), who was born on Nantucket. Love Swain Handy was a descendant of the first settlers of Nantucket, including Peter Folger (ca. 1618-1690), Benjamin Franklin’s maternal grandfather.
The couple had nine children, the youngest of whom was Capt. Joshua Handy (1813-1877), our mother, Elinor H. Smith’s great-grandfather.
Love (Swain) Handy, William Handy’s widow, applied on April 14, 1855 for a pension based on her husband’s service in the Revolutionary War.
Posted here is a photograph of a portrait of James Bunker Congdon (1802-1880), a leading nineteenth century citizen of New Bedford, Massachusetts in its heyday.
Also posted here is a photograph of Mr. Congdon from the archives of the New Bedford Free Public Library.
The Congdon portrait currently hangs in the New Bedford city council chambers. It belongs to the New Bedford Free Public Library, where it was originally hung (and where I saw it some 15 years ago).
The painting was commissioned by the library in 1868 by several prominent members of the community and presented to the library. Joseph Eaton, a noted New York painter whose students included William Merritt Chase, was the portraitist.
James Bunker Congdon is of interest to me because – while not a direct ancestor – he was an illustrious member of a New Bedford, Massachusetts family from which my mother, Elinor Smith (nee Elinor Congdon Handy), was descended.
My maternal grandmother, Annie Congdon Handy (nee Hart; 1894-1972), was the great grandniece of James B. Congdon.
Here’s how the descent works.
James Bunker Congdon was the son of Caleb Congdon (1767-1832), a hatter and whaler.
Caleb Congdon’s daughter Lydia Congdon (1793-1830) married Gamaliel Hart (circa 1791-1834), who was the great-grandfather of my maternal grandmother, Annie Congdon (Hart) Handy.
Caleb Congdon and his wife, Susanna (Taber) Congdon, had ten children. Besides a daughter, Lydia – mentioned in the above paragraph – their children included their third son, James B. Congdon.
James B. Congdon (my maternal grandmother’s great-granduncle) held numerous important positions in adulthood:
— He was the first cashier of the Merchants Bank.
— He served as city treasurer and collector for many years.
— He was named registrar of the Acushnet Water Board upon its establishment.
— He was the first president of the New Bedford Gas Light Company and afterwards its clerk and treasurer for a quarter of a century.
— He served as sectary and treasurer of the New Bedford Railway and Wharf Company.
— He was treasurer and one of the directors of the Acushnet Iron Foundry.
Mr. Congdon held government posts as Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, City Treasurer and Collector of Taxes, and member of the school committee for eleven years.
He was dedicated to civic causes:
— He was recording secretary of the New Bedford Anti-Slavery Society.
— He was president of the New Bedford Society for Aiding Discharged Convicts.
— He was a vice president of the New Bedford Society of Natural History.
Mr. Congdon was instrumental in the founding of the New Bedford Free Public Library and was chosen as one of its trustees.
Mr. Congdon also attained distinction as a writer. In an obituary, it was stated that he “was a writer of good ability, well versed in local history, and prepared reports, historical sketches and other publications of the many institutions of which he was an officer. The appendix of historical details in the `Centennial of New Bedford,’ published in 1876, was edited by him.”
His obituary states that James B. Congdon “was at his death probably the best known citizen of New Bedford, and enjoyed the general respect of the community.”
Thank yous are due to Janice Hodson, Curator of Art, Special Collections Department, New Bedford Free Public Library, who sent me a photograph of James B. Congdon’s portrait and the photograph of him; and to Marsha Parham, who responded to an initial inquiry by me and also sent me a photograph of the Congdon portrait. Ms. Perham’s husband, James Perham, a former City Auditor of New Bedford, is a Congdon descendant.
Jane (Gilchrist) Smith, wife of Thomas Smith (1837-1902), was my great-great grandmother.
She was born in December 1834 in Paisley, a town in Renfrew County, Scotland which is close to Glasgow, a distance of about seven miles.
Her parents – my great-great-great grandparents — were John and Agnes (Christie) Gilchrist. John Gilchrist was a boiler maker.
As a young woman, including early during her marriage to Thomas Smith — whom she married in Glasgow in July 1859 — Jane Gilchrist was employed as a winder of cotton. Paisley, her birthplace, was a center of the weaving industry.
Jane and her husband Thomas Smith emigrated to Boston with their five children in June 1872. Jane died in Boston on August 1, 1907 at age 72.
Jane was the mother of nine children, two of whom died in infancy. The five other children born in Scotland emigrated with Jane and her husband, Thomas. Two other children — William and Edward Smith, my grandfather’s uncles — were born in Boston in 1873 and 1875, respectively.
Jane could not read or write. She signed birth certificates for her children and her will with an “X.”
My great-great grandfather, Thomas Smith, was born on May 25 1837, almost certainly in the village of Milton in the County of Dumbarton in Scotland. (One source confuses things by indicating that he was born in Glasgow; this appears to be an error.) His father, John Smith, was a weaver.
Thomas Smith, his wife Jane (Gilchrist) Smith, and their five children – ages one to ten years old – emigrated to Boston (taking passage on a steamer from Liverpool) in June 1872.
Thomas was a laborer; his occupation was brass finisher. In Boston, he found work at William T. Foster & Company in East Boston, who, in an advertisement in 1886, described their business thusly: “brass founders, ship plumbers, and metal dealers; ship bells, water closets, side lights, steerers, and every description of ship fastenings and trimming.”
Thomas and his family lived on Bennington Street in East Boston. Bennington Street is in the section known as Orient Heights, which is where my grandfather, Thomas Gordon Smith, was born. Orient Heights is on the Blue Line, which goes to Logan Airport, and is quite close to the airport.
The elder Thomas Smith, my great-great grandfather, died in Boston on October 16, 1902 at age 65.
Thomas Smith and Jane Gilchrist were married in Glasgow in 1859. They lived for a couple of years on James Street in the Bridgeton section of Glasgow.
In around 1863, they moved with their two young children to the city of Greenock. One of these children was Thomas Smith, Jr. (b. 1861), my great-grandfather.
The family lived for about ten years on Duncan Street in Greenock before emigrating.
I visited Greenock in 1999. It’s a nice town on a human scale. Its population is around 44,000. Many of the buildings are old. The town does not appear prosperous, quite; on the other hand, it does not seem to be gloomy or run-down.
Addendum: One additional fact of some interest. It is noted above that the father of my great-great grandfather Thomas Smith (1837-1902) was John Smith. The maiden name of Thomas Smith’s mother, my great-great-great grandmother, was Gordon. This is noteworthy because people in earlier times were more accustomed than they are now to use family surnames in naming their children. My grandfather, Thomas Gordon Smith’s (1885-1967), middle name was Gordon.