New England’s Yellow Day of 1881: A Saffron Curtain Descends

In summer's waning days in 1881, New Englanders read about hope for President Garfield's recovery from a gunshot wound suffered two months earlier, an imminent rising of the Apache Nation in the West, and a baseball game between the "Bostons" and the "Worcesters", where unfavorable weather "kept away all spectators" and worries that Pike, the center…Read more New England’s Yellow Day of 1881: A Saffron Curtain Descends

Past Occupations: Ice Cutters in Massachusetts

In the days before refrigeration, ice was a valuable winter cash crop for enterprising businessmen.  Ice was a year-round staple in most households, and many families would give up food before they would give up ice.  As a region, New England was well-known for its quality ice.  The region's severe cold coupled with its deep ponds produced…Read more Past Occupations: Ice Cutters in Massachusetts

The Valentine’s Day Storm of 1940.

The Valentine's Day Storm of 1940 crossed Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts within just a few days in February 1940.  Locals said it was the biggest storm to hit the region since the New England Hurricane of 1938, some 15 months before.  The first flurries started on the morning of Valentine's Day, before progressing into…Read more The Valentine’s Day Storm of 1940.

A Train Accident in Lowell – 1928

Few people living today remember the 1920s - let alone the specifics of travel during the era.  Luckily, New England's commitment to preserving its history makes it relatively easy to envision the region as it appeared in decades past.  This becomes obvious during any ride through many of its cities.  The YouTube video below shows the…Read more A Train Accident in Lowell – 1928

If Ancestors Could Talk: The Words of Nineteenth-Century New England

Eastern Massachusetts has its own way of saying things. Whether you're drinking a tonic, or slurping a frappe, or quenching your thirst with water from a bubbler, you know you're near Boston when the letter "r" starts migrating within sentences (think 'supah idear').  To linguists, New England breaks into two dialect regions:  Eastern New England…Read more If Ancestors Could Talk: The Words of Nineteenth-Century New England

1918: Spanish Flu, Attitudes toward Housekeeping, and a Little Bit about Linguistic History

One of the more interesting aspects of writing a blog is seeing which topics attract the most interest.  In mid-December, I wrote a post about the Spanish flu (link below) and its spread across Massachusetts in 1918 and 1919.  Since then, it's been one of my most popular posts (placing fourth most popular of the…Read more 1918: Spanish Flu, Attitudes toward Housekeeping, and a Little Bit about Linguistic History

The Great White Hurricane – New England’s Blizzard of 1888

During New England's Blizzard of 1888, also known as the Great White Hurricane, over four feet of snow fell in Connecticut and Massachusetts.  The storm dumped as much as 40 inches of snow in New York and New Jersey.  In a world before road salt and snowblowers, the Great White Hurricane suspended communication and travel…Read more The Great White Hurricane – New England’s Blizzard of 1888

Abraham Lincoln’s Visit to Lowell, 1848

If you spend a considerable amount of time reading turn-of-the-(twentieth)-century editions of the local papers of Lowell, Massachusetts, you'll soon come across the name of Samuel P. Hadley, who presided as a Justice for the Lowell Police Court for close to three decades.  In fact, I think a few of the people I've researched for…Read more Abraham Lincoln’s Visit to Lowell, 1848

Turkey Drovers – Traditions from Thanksgiving Days Past

It turns out that wild turkeys are incredibly difficult to move across long distances.  In the days before refrigerated travel, a national roadway system, and even railroads, driving turkeys across long stretches of land was the province of men called turkey drovers.  From 1790 to about 1830, turkey drovers walked turkeys to market, literally, at a…Read more Turkey Drovers – Traditions from Thanksgiving Days Past

The Etiquette of Eating Olives – Victorian-Era Table Manners

There's a story about the rather richly named Armand Jean du Plessis that circulated throughout Victorian-era New England during the 1880's.  The story goes that du Plessis, better remembered by the world as the 17th-century Cardinal Richelieu of  France, once exposed an impostor pretending to be a nobleman by the way the man ate his olives.  Those watching this spectacle,…Read more The Etiquette of Eating Olives – Victorian-Era Table Manners