Author Archives: Allan Crawford

Charlestown Preservation Society Historic House Tour

house frontage

Come tour some of Charlestown’s wonderful historic houses on Saturday, September 20 from 11am to 4pm at the 2014 CPS Historic House Tour, followed by a Lemonade Reception from 4 to 5pm.

The tour starts at Memorial Hall, 14 Green Street opposite the Boys and Girls Club, where you can buy tickets and pick up your tour booklet and where the lemonade reception will be held.

Tour-goers can travel the tour on foot or by a complimentary shuttle van. There will shuttle stops along the house tour route.

Take a chance on a 50/50 Raffle to support preservation in Charlestown.  You can buy raffle tickets for $5 at Memorial Hall on tour day.  The winner will be announced during the reception, and you don’t need to be present to win.

Get a discount on your tour ticket when you join the CPS or renew your membership. 
You May Purchase Your Tickets Online At:

Or Purchase tickets at Charlestown florists, real estate offices and retailers, or at Hammond Residential in Charlestown, our Official Tour Sponsor, and on tour day at Memorial Hall.

Tickets In Advance
CPS Members     $23
Non-Members     $28

Tickets on Tour Day
CPS Members     $28
Non-Members      $33

Carl Zellner Memorial Service

A memorial service and celebration of Carl Zellner’s life will be held at the Bunker Hill Museum 43 Monument Sq. Charlestown on September 7, 2014 at 2 pm. 

carl zellner

ZELLNER, Carl A. 78, of Palmyra, FL, formerly of Charlestown, MA, passed away Sunday, 29 June, at Cape Cod Hospital, Hyannis, MA, with family at his side.

Carl was born 4 October 1935 to Gladys and August Zellner in Oklahoma City, OK. There he graduated Classen High School. His further education included: Principia College, BA degree, University of Washington, MA degree and his doctoral work at Harvard.

Carl’s career as a city planner spanned many decades and impacted the layout of many cities, towns, and highways. He also spent a few years in the US Coast Guard, active duty in Alaska, before joining the USCG Reserves where he rose to the rank of Captain, O6, before retiring.

He was preceded in death by his first wife Beverley, 1934-96.

His legacy: son Charles Zellner and wife Susan, Lehighton, PA., Carla Smith and husband Jeff, Wellfleet, MA., Danielle Cahill and husband Bill, Nashville, TN. His legacy of grandchildren include: Matthew Zellner, Mark Zellner, Nicole Zellner, Amber Wirth, Beverley Cahill, and Marina Smith. Great grandchildren: Gabriel, Aubrey and Hannah Wirth, and Gloria Zellner. Carl is also survived by his cousin Merrilee Zellner of Newport, RI.

Carl was a longtime resident of Boston and Charlestown. A retired city planner for the city of Boston, he was in part responsible for design of the Big Dig and many roads and parks in the city. He had been retired and living in Palmyra, VA with his current wife, Virginia Foster, for the past 10 years.

As an avid Boston historian, he had been doing research on a variety of subjects, followed by a visit to his daughter in Wellfleet, MA at the time of his passing.A memorial service and celebration of Carl’s life will be held at the Bunker Hill Museum on 7 September. Call for details.

Donations in his memory can be made to Charlestown Historical Society, PO Box 291776, Charlestown, MA 02129.

Carl, due to his research and love of Charlestown history, was responsible for a historical marker noting the landing site of Paul Revere’s boat being moved to its current and correct location.

For online condolences, please visit


Published in The Boston Globe from July 9 to July 10, 2014.


The Game’s A-Foot !

On Sunday, June 8th, the CHS will host a Charlestown Trivia Treasure Hunt – a 2 hour walk around Charlestown in search of answers to questions about local history and landmarks. 

The event begins at 1:30PM at the Battle of Bunker Hill Museum, in the lower Auditorium where teams will be given a packet of instructions (see below for advance info), the route they will follow, and some materials for making ‘rubbings’ of some engravings along the way.  

It will end with a social gathering at 3:45PM at the Warren Tavern. 

There is $10 per person entry fee, which includes a donation to the USS Constitution Museum.

Sign-up with a team of 2-4 people, or sign-up as an individual and we’ll form teams at the event.  The ideal team will include a maths expert, history buffs specializing in the Revolutionary War and 20th Century Warfare, and a relative of Sherlock Holmes – or just Fred, Nancy, Walter and Paul.

In order to manage the event to reasonable numbers, please Register your team at the following email address, include your name, the number in your team and your Team Name.  Register early to avoid disappointment, as the event is expected to be heavily over-subscribed.

(If this link does not open your email service, it will be necessary to fall back on the old Copy-Paste routine.  You can also Register by using the Inquiry form at the bottom of this page: enter Hunt as the Inquiry Subject)

There will be prizes will be given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, with the 1st prize being $100. 

It’s social.  It’s fun.  It’s history!

You will need cash to register and possibly buy water along the route.

There is a Rain Date set of June 22nd.

The Game is A-foot – literally

1:   The Aim of the Game – to use written, visual and context clues to follow a route around Charlestown, gathering answers to ‘Clues”. It may be necessary to decipher a clue to find the next location on the route.   Use your team mascot/symbol to identify your team in all camera shots.

You will be looking for information plaques, inscriptions, memorials and all kinds of possible items to photograph and assist you in giving answers to the clues.

CT Gate Little Tree

2:  Timing – the event starts around 1:30 pm – team dispatches may be staggered to spread them out along the route.  The event is timed to take 2 hrs at a brisk walking pace, so finishes around 3:30 pm, but 120 mins from your teams start time.

If a team has not completed the route within the 2 hrs, they should cut short their walk and head to The Warren Tavern with what they have achieved so far.

At around 3:45, a buffet will be available at the Tavern, this will enable the Hares to catch their breath and the Tortoises to catch-up.  The Tavern has kindly offered to host the end of the event, and is providing the appetizer plates.

3:  The Hunt:

–       Do try not to cheat – obvious, but to win at any cost can be tempting!

–       Do not assume that you can follow another team, they may have been given a different set of clues and a different route.

–       No use of phones or Google etc. to seek assistance

That’s the obvious negatives … now,

–       The route passes through two National Parks, where Park Rangers are available to offer assistance and also there may be volunteers/docents in some locations.  Strange as it may seem, you can communicate directly with them, without Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in etc …

–       Clues have their value in points listed, most are just one point, but if the point count is higher, it is an indication of difficulty.

–       If there is a ‘*’ in the Clue number, it means there is a Clue contained within the Clue.

–       Bonus Questions: do not count towards the score, but will be used as tie-breakers between teams with equal points.

–       Bonus Routes: there are two ‘bonus routes’, these add more distance and time, but score more points.  Teams will need to assess where they are on the route and whether they can ‘risk’ taking the additional time to score more points – should they split up their team and send a hunting party on the bonus route? – true to American ideals, this game is highly competitive, but do you have good judgment?  (If a team does split-up, all answers must be submitted on one form.)

The basic route is 75 mins of brisk walking and 45 mins of clue finding.

–       The team with the shortest finish time will score 3 extra points, second shortest time, 2 points third shortest time, 1 point.  Time taken is just Start to Finish, inclusive of any Bonus Loops.

–       Concentrate on keeping your team moving, and not overly focused on trying to answer every clue.

–       Generally, there is a 1-3 minute walk between Clues – a few exceptions are identified in the text.

–       You have materials to make ‘rubbings’ of certain items along the route – don’t loose them.

–       Teams should hand in their results to the CHS President – he stops your Team’s clock

–        There will be 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes.

Remember this is just a game, have fun, enjoy working with family and friends – the CHS is not responsible for resultant feuds !!!


Now you’re wondering just what does Greek architecture have to do with a Treasure Hunt ………..

4:  Bathrooms:  facilities are located at: Bunker Hill Museum,    USS Constitution Visitors Center, Ironside Grill, Old Sulley’s,  Sulley’s,  99 Restaurant, Warren Tavern.

5: Early Finish & Assistance – if you wish to cut your route short and still participate in the end event, head to the Warren Tavern.

(Note on bar courtesy: the Tavern has kindly offered to host the end of our event, so should you end up in the Tavern early, please do not just sit and occupy space – spend your money and tip the staff !)

6: The Start!  Head-up into the Museum – take a moment to reflect on the game and you might want to make some notes.

The Charlestown map is provided in case you get lost.

Dry Dock 2

Dry Dock 2#, not obvious to some, as it is full of water …

This pdf file provides the start of the game – basically what you have read above:

CHS Hunt

Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life of America’s First Poet

For many, Anne Bradstreet’s name is familiar from the early pages of anthologies of American poetry or from John Berryman’s famous tribute to her. But few know that she was the first published poet—male or female—to emerge from the wilderness of the New World, or that her slim volume of verse was a runaway bestseller. Now, in this illuminating biography, Charlotte Gordon reveals Anne Bradstreet to be an electrifying personality at the center of one of the most fascinating periods in our country’s history.

Transplanted from England to the New World in 1630, eighteen-year-old Anne was among the first waves of settlers on the unwelcoming shores of what would one day be Massachusetts. Arriving just a decade after the Pilgrims, Anne quickly had to transform herself from educated gentlewoman to frontier wife and mother. Of course, she was not alone: with her came her new husband, Simon Bradstreet, her imperious father, Thomas Dudley, and a powerful clutch of Protestant dissenters whose descendants would become our founding fathers.

Though a pious and prominent member of her Puritan community, Anne was also a rebel of sorts, flouting the image of seventeenth-century women as too intellectually weak to tackle the male realms of law, science, and what was considered most challenging of all: poetry. But even as she lived through extraordinary hardships—near-starvation, illness, isolation, and the deaths of friends and loved ones by disease and Indian massacres—she was determined to write verse.

In a fresh, spare style, Anne not only recorded her own experience, but also commented on the political and religious upheavals of her day, casting light on the hypocrisy of Old England and the promise of the New. Bradstreet’s story, like her poetry, is full of drama and surprises, among them a passionate marriage, intellectual ferment, religious schisms, and the constant threat of violence.

This is the gripping story of a woman and poet of great feeling struggling to find a language to describe the country in which she finds herself. It also offers a rich and complex portrait of early America, the Puritans, and the trials and values whose legacy continues to shape our country to the present day.

Planned Events on the 2014 CHS Calender

Historic Homes and Sites in Charlestown,

by Carl Zellner

Historian of the Charlestown Historical Society

Tuesday April 8, 2014 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Bunker Hill Museum, Auditorium. 

Carl A. Zellner has created and presents this fascinatingl visual tour of Charlestown.

383 years old, Charlestown is full of history. It was the first capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and due to it’s small size, it is great place to walk and explore.

Carl begins with the rich history of City Square. Learn where the plaque is located that commemorates Elizabeth Foster Goose, who wrote ‘The Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe’.  The tour goes to the Paul Revere and Galvin Memorial Park. You will learn about the memorial to the Charlestown victims of 9/11 as well as the plaque for Nathaniel Gorham, a signer of the U.S. Constitution. Discover the oldest House on Monument Square and much more.

Carl shares the history of Charlestown churches as well as the schools and important architecture. See the Salem Turnpike House as well as many other houses built in the late 1700’s and 1800’s to replace the complete destruction of Charlestown by the British.

The pictorial tour also includes the Navy Yard and the odd octagonal building. The tour goes up Harvard St to see the former Harvard School and the Harvard Mall.

Carl reveals the history of many interesting homes often owned by famous residents of Charlestown, and also introduces famous commercial properties such as the Charlestown Bank, and the Schrafft’s Candy Building.

Share his 30 years of history and research. Do not miss this chance to see every important park, memorial, church, school, cemetery and home in Charlestown – without having to actually Walk the Walk !!

Light refreshments will be provided.

Archaeology Walking Tour: From Bunker Hill Monument through the Big Dig to City Square

May 3, 2014 11am to 12 noon.

The Walking Tour will be led by Joe Bagley, City of Boston Archaeologist. The tour will point out the locations of past excavations and the significance to Charlestown today. The CPS, CHS, Friends of City Square and Friends of the Training Field will co-host the event.

The event will end at City Square, and then proceed to the Training Field for a Lunch hosted by the Friends of the Training Field.

Archaeological Investigation and Preservation of Training Field Park in Charlestown’s Winthrop Square

May 13, 2014 at 7:00-8:00 pm. Bunker Hill Museum

Joe Bagley City of Boston Archaeologist will speak for 45-50 minutes followed by questions. The talk will discuss the results of the recent eight new archaeological dig sites on the Training Field Park and how these findings explain the significance of the Training Field, as part of Charlestown’s History.

The Event will be included on the City Calendar and promoted by the CPS, CHS and Friends of the Training Field, to all their members. Snacks and coffee will be served.

Community Appreciation and Open House at the Bunker Hill Museum, The Bunker Hill Monument, and the Lodge.

May 21, 2014,  4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Bunker Hill Museum.

The National Park Service, Charlestown Militia and the CHS are co-sponsoring this event. It will appeal to both new and old families in Charlestown, especially Charlestown residents who have not been to the Battlefield, the Monument and the Museum.

Charlestown Scavenger Hunt

June 9, 2014 (Subject to Change) 1:30-3:00

Beginning at the Bunker Hill Museum, teams will set off into the Town, guided by devious clues, a map and hopefully their wits, to discover for themselves some obscure facts and stories about Charlestown’s history.

This activity is still in the cooking pot, but place a mark on your calender!

It is intended as a light hearted competition, and winners will be determined by a complex formula of clues found, locations photographed and items identified as well as completion time. Side treks will enable tie-breaking bonus points to be accrued.

There will be an entry fee per team, and the hunting packs will come to rest at a local watering hole where prizes will be presented – a few may even down a well earned libation – or two, or …..

Charlestown 1629-1692:From Deference to Defiance, by Roger Thompson, Author

June 24, 2014, (Subject to Change) 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Bunker Hill Museum.

Roger Thompson has spent thousands of hours researching the history of Charlestown in the 17th Century.   Learn about the colorful history of the town’s settlement and governance, its relationship with land and sea, the church, local crime, violence and the role of women.

The presentation reveals the deeds and misdeeds of Charlestown’s early residents including merchants, mariners, heretics and holy men.

The Story of First Lieutenant P. Marion Holmes

Civil War Soldier and Son of Charlestown

Carl Zellner

To paraphrase Ecclesiasticus, “Let us now praise valiant men.”  We are now in the midst of the Civil War Sesquicentennial observance lasting from 2011 to 2015, marking 150 years since that tragic conflict was fought that sundered the Union, pitted fellow Americans against each other, ravaged cities, towns and farms, and produced a horrendous toll of nearly 620,000 dead and 476,000 wounded.

As Historian of the Charlestown Historical Society the writer frequently handles public requests for Charlestown-related historical information. One of the most interesting inquiries received involved an artifact of the Civil War, a 19th Century revolver inscribed on its ivory handle with these words: “Presented to P. M. Holmes, May 25, 1861/By the Bunker Hill Club, Charlestown, Mass.” Figure 1 shows the pistol and its inscribed handle. The gun’s owner, Wilfred Doe of Dowling Park, Florida, wanted to know the story behind the inscription. Who was P. M. Holmes? What was the Bunker Hill Club? And what occasioned the club to make the presentation of the revolver?

Figure 1 - PMH Revolver

The results of the writer’s research are here recorded. They tell the story of a patriotic and valiant young Charlestown man who answered President Abraham Lincoln’s call to colors in the opening days of what would be a 4-year bloody and traumatic Civil War. As we observe the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of that war, let us look back with gratitude and respect upon the gallant men of Charlestown who bore the battle, suffered the wounds, and, in many cases, gave, in Lincoln’s words, “the last full measure of devotion” to the Union Cause.

And a Great Cause it was: First, the preservation of the Union of States established in the blood and sacrifice of the 6-year Revolutionary War that ended “four score” years previously. And second, the abolition of the inhumane and despicable practice of slavery that violated the core principles upon which our great Republic was founded: “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Charlestown’s Training Field, site of the training and parading of the town’s Militia since its earliest years, became the appropriate site of the community’s Civil War monument dedicated in 1872 to the soldiers and sailors of that conflict. The statue, seen in Figure 2, depicts a victorious “America” crowning a Union soldier and sailor with laurel wreaths.

Figure 2 - Civil War Monument

Over the 4-year period of the Civil War over 4,000 men of Charlestown answered the call to arms. They represented an extraordinary 16 percent of the town’s total population of about 25,000. From that vast field let us consider one exemplar who epitomizes the caliber of men Charlestown produced and sent to fight in the terrible crucible of war. By coincidence, this year marks the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the battlefield death of that man, P. Marion Holmes.

Named for his father, Peter Holmes, Marion preferred to be known by his middle name. His father and mother, Elmira Cobb Holmes, were residents of Kingston, a seaside South Shore town just north of Plymouth, prior to migrating to Boston in the 1840’s. By 1845 Peter Holmes had established a cork dealership on Blackstone Street near Faneuil Hall. The Holmeses lived on Stillman Place in the North End.

Figure 3 - Cork AdBy 1855 Peter had moved his cork business to larger quarters a block north on Blackstone Street. Figure 3 shows an advertisement for the enterprise as it appeared in a Boston City Directory. The family home was now on N. Margin Street, still in the North End. Sadly, Elmira died that year when Marion, born in 1840, was only 15 years old. She was mourned both by Peter and Marion and by her birth family, the Cobbs, a prominent Kingston family. Elmira’s younger brother, Philander Cobb, was a well-known merchant and politician, serving on the Democratic state central committee and as delegate to national party conventions. He also served terms in various Kingston town offices and as a State Representative.

Figure 4 - Holmes ResidencePeter remarried in 1856. With his business prospering, he and new wife, Sarah, moved into a fine townhouse at 4 Adams Street in Charlestown facing the Training Field, as pictured in Figure 4.

By 1860, Marion had finished school and was working in his father’s cork business. Living in the shadow of the Bunker Hill Monument and within steps of the tablets listing those fallen in the battle and the venue for training the town’s militia, Marion seemed inspired by the example of those intrepid men fighting and dying for freedom and independence.

He also apparently reserved special admiration for the battle’s leading casualty, Provincial Congress President and patriot leader, Joseph Warren, killed by a shot to the head in the waning moments of the battle. So inspired, Marion became a Private in the Charlestown City Guard, the town militia, at his first opportunity. He also joined a young men’s civic organization known as Figure 5 - BH Bankthe Bunker Hill Club with meeting rooms in an upper floor of the Bunker Hill National Bank building facing City Square. As seen in Figure 5, the building is decorated for a patriotic holiday.

Marion was a month short of his 21st birthday when the Civil War began in Charlestown’s southern namesake, Charleston, South Carolina with the shelling of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Within a week of the war’s beginning, the City Guard was mobilized in response to an urgent request from Washington that the Governor send militia units to defend that city. The City Guard became a component of the Fifth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Militia on April 19. Two days later, the Fifth was on a train to Washington. When the regiment arrived there on May 1, it was first assigned to guard the Treasury Department building.

The Fifth was later called into camp at Alexandria, Virginia. During that period, the Charlestown City Guard had its picture taken in front of the Marshall House seen in Figure 6 with Marion identified by an arrow. Figure 6 - Charlestown City GuardOnly it wasn’t the real Marshall House but a prop created by the photographer by putting a Marshall House sign on another building. The actual Marshall House in Alexandria, shown in the Figure 6 inset, was then famous for being the site of the first combat blood spilled in the Civil War outside of Fort Sumter.

Union Col. E. E. Ellsworth, leading a patrol of the nearly empty streets of Alexandria, observed a large rebel flag flying atop an inn known as the Marshall House. Returning from the roof after tearing down the flag he was confronted by the proprietor, James Jackson, who shot him dead with a shotgun. Jackson, in turn, was killed on the spot by one of Ellsworth’s men. Both men became martyrs for their respective causes.

On July 16, the Fifth Regiment joined other regiments in advancing on Manassas, Virginia to confront an approaching Confederate army. The Regiment participated in the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21. After the battle, they resumed guard duties in Washington until the completion of their three-month obligation. Ordered to Boston on July 29, they were mustered out on July 31. The Charlestown City Guard returned to a jubilant welcome in Charlestown.

It is likely that it was during these celebrations that Marion received the gift of a revolver from the Bunker Hill Club whose members apparently held Marion in high esteem. Inscribed on the revolver’s ivory handle was Marion’s name and the date, May 25, 1861.  It is possible that the revolver was intended as a birthday gift to mark his 21st birthday on May 28. It also may have represented the Club’s confidence that Private Marion’s next military assignment would be as an officer allowed to carry a side-arm.

Marion could have ended his war service at the point he was mustered out on July 31, 1861. Instead, in the spring of 1862, eager to rejoin the fight to preserve the Union and abolish slavery, Marion recruited a company of Charlestown volunteers that took the name of an earlier town militia, the Warren Phalanx, named for Marion’s hero, Joseph Warren.Figure 7 - Muster List The Phalanx’s initial muster list appears in Figure 7 as printed in the Charlestown Advertiser of August 30, 1862.

On his uniform Marion wore the insignia of his new rank of Second Lieutenant and also the golden badge of the Bunker Hill Club depicting the Bunker Hill Monument encircled by the words of the Roman poet Horace quoted by Major General Joseph Warren before joining the Battle of Bunker Hill as a frontline Private: “Dulce Est Pro Patria Mori.” “It is sweet to die for one’s country.” Warren’s death at battle’s end made the words prophetic. The badge appears in Figure 8.

Figure 8 - Badge of BH Club

The Warren Phalanx was assigned to the 34th a three-year enlistment. The 34th was organized at Worcester on August 1, moved to Washington, D.C. aboard the steamer Merrimac on August 15, and encamped at Arlington Heights, Virginia until August 22. On that date the Phalanx was reassigned to the 36th Regiment Massachusetts Infantry.

The 36th Regiment began a highly active series of assignments that kept it on the move and engaged in several significant battles. After duty in Maryland in October the Regiment was moved to Virginia in November and participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 12 to 15, 1862. In February 1863, the Regiment was moved to Newport News, Virginia and, in March, to Lexington, Kentucky and other locations in that state.

On May 2, 1863, Marion was promoted to First Lieutenant at the beginning of a march to Mississippi where the 36th supported General Ulysses S. Grant’s Siege of Vicksburg during June and July. When Vicksburg fell on July 4, they proceeded east to Jackson, Mississippi, the state capital, and laid siege to that city until it also fell on July 16.

The 36th then returned to Kentucky where Marion’s gallantry and proficiency as an officer earned him command of the Warren Phalanx. In his new post he increased the respect and admiration received from his superior officers and the affection of the men under his command. After various movements, the 36th Burnside for operations in East Tennessee. At the Battle of Blue Springs on October 10, Lieutenant Holmes was severely wounded by a ball in the ankle but refused to leave the field until the battle was over. Taken to the hospital, where he might have lain for weeks, after a short recuperation period he insisted on returning to duty to be with his men.

The next march was to Lenoirs, Tennessee. Marion, limping and in pain, proceeded on the march with difficulty but with fortitude. Pressed by a large Confederate force under General James Longstreet, Burnside began withdrawing toward Union-controlled Knoxville and the safety of its fortifications.

The two armies, on parallel roads, raced for a junction known as Campbell’s Station on the road to Knoxville. Longstreet hoped to arrive first and interrupt Burnside’s retreat before he could reach Knoxville. Burnside made it through the junction first, then arrayed his forces along a ridge beyond the junction to blunt the Confederate advance and protect his retreat. After a late-day battle, in which the Union line held its ground, ceased at nightfall, Burnside, under cover of darkness, completed the withdrawal of his forces to Knoxville. During the brief clash of forces at Campbell’s Station on November 16, 1863, Lieutenant P. Marion Holmes was felled by a rebel’s musket ball to the head, a fate identical to that of his hero, Joseph Warren.

At considerable risk, Marion’s men attempted to rescue his body but were unable to do so. Placed in a marked grave, the body was later exhumed by two Charlestown men and returned home for interment. His funeral service at the First Parish Church on Town Hill, on January 18, 1864, was attended by a large throng including family members, the Mayor and other city officials, Naval officers from the Navy Yard in full uniform, returned members of the Warren Phalanx, and members of the Bunker Hill Club.

The Rev. J. B. Miles, in his eulogy, paid tribute to Lieutenant Holmes’ “remarkable patriotism, heroic conduct and undaunted bravery, which had made him the idol of his command.” One of his men sent these praiseful words, “Poor Marion! He was a splendid man, a good soldier, kind and attentive ever to the wants and condition of his men. He died a noble death. May his memory long endure.” On his tombstone in the Holmes family plot in Kingston’s Evergreen Cemetery, Marion’s father had engraved these words, “An affectionate son and brother, a true friend and brave soldier.”

Figure 9 - ObitThe sentiments of the men whom Marion led in battle perhaps reveal best the high regard in which he was held for his qualities as a leader, a patriot and a caring and considerate human being. The Resolutions of the Warren Phalanx Association appearing in the Charlestown Advertiser of January 16, 1864 express those sentiments as seen in Figure 9.

Finally, his brother members of the Bunker Hill Club, whose golden badge Marion wore proudly on his uniform, unanimously resolved as follows:

“Whereas, by the death of Lieut. P. Marion Holmes (who fell while gallantly defending his country on the field of battle), the members of this Club have to lament the loss of one of its most valued members, they cannot willingly consent to this separation from their beloved companion, without paying that deserved tribute, which words can feebly express, to the noble and generous qualities, manly bearing, and devoted patriotism, which won for him the love and respect of all associated with him in civil life, and endeared him to those brave comrades in arms, who, like him, were ready to give up all, even life itself, to support the Constitution and Laws of the nation, maintain its existence, and sustain the supremacy of its glorious flag.”

During this Civil War Sesquicentennial observance, let us recall with prayerful gratitude Lieutenant P. Marion Holmes and the 4,000 other Charlestown men who fought, suffered and died to preserve for us all, “…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


SOURCES: Bunker Hill Club, A Brief Memorial of Lieut. P. Marion Holmes of 36thReg. Mass. Vols. (Charlestown: Watsons’s Press, 1864); Charlestown Advertiser of August 30, 1852 and January 16, 1864; Boston Daily Globe of November 5, 1894; James Edward Stone, Register of the Charlestown Men in the Service During the Civil War 1861-1865 (Boston: Old School Boys Association, 1919); A Committee of the Regiment, History of the Thirty-Sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, 1862-1865 (Boston: Press of Rodewell and Churchill, 1884); Massachusetts Civil War Research Center, Fifth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Militia Infantry and Thirty-Sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (; Battle of Campbell’s Station, 16 November 1863 (; The Marshall House. (

Charlestown Redware

Redware Industry in Charlestown (1640-1790)

7:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday November 19th 2013

Battle of Bunker Hill Monument Museum, Auditorium.

Redware bowl 1

Earthenware was a major industry in New England. It was produced in all six states after the American Revolution, but Charlestown was the dominant supplier before 1775.

At least 40 potters worked in Charlestown between 1700-1775. Charlestown was a good source of clay, which was used by potters as well as by the Charlestown and Medford brick makers.

Joe Bagley, City of Boston Archaeologist and Justin Thomas, Scholarly Researcher and Redware Expert will discuss the history, growth and disappearance of redware production in Charlestown.

Bring pieces of pottery or other earthenware, if you would like to learn more from the experts.

Redware shards 2

Redware shard 1

The talk is sponsored by the Charlestown Historical Society and is open to the public at no charge.

The Burning of the Charlestown Ursuline Convent and School

Woodcut of convent and school

Woodcut of convent and school

Woodcut of convent ruins

Woodcut of convent ruins

The history of what happened almost 180 years ago can often become unclear.  People write books and articles with conflicting information. What we know about the burning of the Charlestown convent and school, is that on August 11, 1834 a group of 50-200 men with painted faces, burned the convent and school to the ground.

There are reports that 2,000-4,000 spectators including a number of fire companies watched the fire.  On August 12, 1834 the men returned to destroy the gardens, orchards and fences.

The convent was run by the Ursuline nuns who came from Montreal, Canada. The primary purpose of the convent was to educate young women. The Charlestown Convent was used mostly by the daughters of the Protestant upper classes. At the time the convent had 41 Protestant girls and only 6 Catholics girls.

There are a number of possible reasons that this riot and fire happened. Many believe that the men who attacked were primarily workers in the brick factories, who were being displaced by Irish Catholics. Some believe the strong willed Mother Superior, may have fueled the rioters, when she was heard “Telling the rioters that 20,000 Irishmen were going to burn the roofs over their heads.”

Her direct threat did not have the desired result.

There were also conflicting reports that a girl named Rebecca Reed was held in the convent against her will and a second report that Sister Mary John, a nun teaching at the convent came upon Edward Cutter asking for help getting to West Cambridge. Cutter reported that the nun was agitated, so the following day he went to the residence to ask why Mary John had left the convent. He was informed she had returned to the convent. Mr. Cutter went to the convent and spoke with Mary John, who said she could leave anytime. The rioters seemed convinced that a mysterious lady was being held against her will by the catholic nuns.

Learn more about what happened on a hill overlooking Charlestown behind Sullivan Station 180 years ago.

Plaque on the site of the convent

Plaque on the site of the convent

What happened to the ring leaders?

Why wasn’t the Convent and school rebuilt?

What happened to the Mother Superior?

Attend the presentation by Nancy Lusignan Schultz, author of Fire & Roses: The Burning of the Charlestown Convent, 1834, on Tuesday October 15, 2013 at the J. W. Conway Bunker Hill Post 26 of the American Legion, 23 Adams Street at 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Cover of Fire & Roses

Cover of Fire & Roses

Sponsored by the Charlestown Historical Society.