August 31, 2010
The photo above is not that of Peleg Tallman. As a matter of fact this stone is not at Forest Hills Cemetery, either. [click on picture for better view]
Three reasons for showing this stone is that  the ship carved on it is the USS Trumball,  Tallman served on board this ship in 1780 and  Mr. Tallman never sat for his portrait to be painted. His stone at Forest Hills is rather worn and I need something in this space to catch your attention.
This photo which I took is of the gravestone of Lt. Jabez Smith Jr. of the US Marines who died of injuries during fighting against a British ship on board the USS Trumball and he is buried at The Granary Burial Ground in Boston. During that same action Tallman was severely injured. More about that later.
First, let me make you aware that this will be one long post. So if you're up to it get a snack, a cup of tea, or, if you're not up to a long post, maybe, find something else to do.
All of that said let me tell you about Peleg Tallman. [Pronounced: Pell-leg, I think.]
Born in Tiverton, RI on July 24, 1764, his name Peleg was a popular one among pious people of that area. Taken from the Old Testament, Peleg was one of the two sons of Eber and it's meaning is a watercourse. Quite descriptive of one whose life would be so connected to the sea.
Peleg's mother died when he was just 8 years of age. Four years later his father, Peleg Sr., remarried and it would seem that he would never receive the Father of the Year Award. At the age of 12 Peleg Jr. was left to fend for himself. The year was 1776 and Peleg did what so many boys who had no trade did, he went to sea.
The American Navy was non-existent at this time so privateers began running out of American ports all along the East Coast to capture British ships [or at least try to]. Any ship that could carry a few guns made the attempt.
Peleg served on board one of these privateers the sloop Beaver and they were able to capture a few British merchant ships. He next served on board the privateer Rover which was captured by the 64 gun HMS Reasonable. Very reasonable to expect a 64 gun ship to capture a sloop, I guess. He along with his ship were taken into Halifax and he was obliged to serve on board British ships for some time. He managed to escape near Penobscot, Maine while with a work party on shore. He walked back to Boston. You must realize that this was a boy of about 14, at the time.
He was soon on board another privateer the Rattlesnake which, also, was outgunned. This time it would be 2 British men-of-war and they ran the Rattlesnake ashore. Peleg managed to jump overboard and escape. The ship was burned by the British. Again, walking and this time from New Jersey.
Peleg, reached New London where he went on board the USS Trumball. This ship was one of the first 6 ships built for the US Navy.
The year is, now, 1780 and unlike the privateers Trumball carried 28 guns. And our Peleg was a seasoned sailor who stood out among the "green" hands on board.
Trumball ran the British blockade of New London and on June 2nd spotted the British privateer Watt of 36 guns. In what has been described as the most intense sea battle of the Revolutionary War one that lasted for almost 3 hours, the American ship was not defeated. Didn't win but did leave the Watt a wreck floating away from the scene of battle. Trumball's main mast was shot away and she was unable to pursue the British ship.
Watt had 92 killed or wounded while Trumball had 39. Peleg Tallman was given command of the 2 after guns at the height of the battle and it was there that he was severely wounded.
Grapeshot [a type of shrapnel] was fired at Peleg's position and it tore his left arm off at the shoulder. How he survived the trip back to Boston is nothing short of a medical miracle but he did.
He was treated in Boston by Dr. Joseph Gardner and in 6 months Peleg was ready to go to sea, again.
On board a privateer of 16 guns which had no success in capturing British ships, Peleg returned to Boston and went on board another privateer of 20 guns. This ship, also, had no success at sea except to be captured by HMS Recovery.
Peleg and his crew-mates were taken to Kingsale, Ireland and "...hove into a loathsome prison...". Many months later they were transferred to Fortune prison in England and spent several months there until the peace in 1783. According to Peleg more than "...half of the prisoners died of smallpox and other disorders."
Years later Peleg Tallman wrote about his release... "The prison was cleared of its contents, and we were sent over to Havre, in France, and there landed naked as we were. We had no means of getting to America from there. I, with six others, walked through France, down to Nantz, I believe about 400 miles. We there got a passage on board a ship bound to Philadelphia, and there--pray, sir, look at my condition-- I was landed in the rags I stood in, without friends and only one arm, and knew not where to get a meal of victuals."
Peleg: "However, I made the best of my way to Boston and called on my old friend Dr. [Joseph] Gardner...".
When Peleg returned from his imprisonment in 1783 the only one that he could turn to was the doctor. Dr. Gardner realized that Peleg was someone quite capable. So, before Peleg could have returned to sea the doctor sent him to Maine to check on the doctor's extensive property holdings there. This was in 1785 and thus began a relationship that would start this one armed young man on a career that led to his becoming one of the most successful men in Maine.
Dr. Gardner had a merchant ship built and put Peleg in as the Master. In this capacity he served for three years until the death of Dr. Gardner. He purchased half interest in the ship and continued as Master until 1791 when he sold his interest in it. For the next 8 years he commanded ships to India and other distant ports.
He had received a commission as Lieutenant in the US Navy and would have served on board the newly launched USS Constitution [Old Ironsides] if he had accepted it. But Peleg was happy where he was and returned it with his regrets.
That commission would be the only time that a seriously disabled private citizen was given such a position.
He married Eleanor Clarke on June 15, 1790 and their marriage would last 51 years. A sum of years extraordinary by most of today's standards. They settled in Bath, Maine on land Peleg bought from his father-in-law. This land fronted on the Kennebec River and he would build a wharf, there. He began his shipbuilding business across from his home on Front Street [now Oak Street]. He would, eventually, own a fleet of 18 vessels. Bath, ME in the 19th century was producing more wooden ships than any other city in the world. At one time there were 40 ships under construction, along the Kennebec River.The home was torn down in the early 20th century and the land is, now, a public park.
By 1801 Peleg Tallman was involved in politics in the Democratic Party. In served in the Massachusetts Legislature in the years 1801 through 1807. At that time Maine was a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and would remain so until 1820.
He went on to represent the Lincoln District of Maine in the 12th Congress in Washington from 1811-1813.
Like many in New England he was opposed to the war with England in 1812. Like so many wars the one in 1812 was not only wrong-headed but dumb. Granted that most merchants in the area opposed war with England because it would [and did] destroy their shipping business.
I've been sitting, here, at the keyboard for awhile wondering if I should go off on a rant about the war many believe the 1812 Overture was written for. Well, they play it at the fireworks at the Fourth of July concert on the Esplanade, don't they?
OK, OK, I'll spare you that one for another time.
Well, speaking of July 4th, in 1831 Bath, ME celebrated the day and Peleg Tallman hosted a grand banquet on his property. A few veterans of the Revolutionary War were in attendance and Peleg was proclaimed as "..one who has bled for his country."
Wealthy and generous, owning property in Maine, Boston, and Rhode Island, Peleg was "..not known to be a man of piety..". He did give generously to several area churches, though. His wife, Eleanor, who lies beside him at Forest Hills was pious to a fault. Many "religious" and missionary organizations were always buzzing around this wife of a very wealthy man for donations. She gave without Peleg's knowing, most of the times.
In his will he forbade any of his money being used for such causes. Somehow, though, Eleanor managed to continue giving. There is an account of one "religious" outfit who Eleanor hired to supply her with a few gold watches as gifts for her grandchildren. She paid for gold and got brass.
I feel that to emphasize her beliefs I should quote from a letter that she wrote to Peleg in 1836. "Could I but see you making any preparation for that world to which we are fast hastening, how it would rejoice my heart."
There is no reply, extant, but his love for Eleanor would cause him to save the letter.
Years at sea and many in command of ships along with his difficult, early history had made Peleg somewhat "..rough and tyrannical..". He was not without compassion as his personnel account books attest. Many are the entries for individuals and families who were generously assisted by him.
Peleg remained active to the end of his life. Six weeks after making his last entry in his cash account book, he died at the age of 76 on the 8th of March, 1841.
I should begin wrapping this post up, now. But a few items that need mentioning need to be mentioned.
One of his daughters married into the Gardiner [not Gardner, as in Dr. Joseph Gardner] of Gardiner, Maine and members of that family are next to Tallman. I began this search for information on that family and discovered Peleg Tallman. Asphodel Path is where you will find the Tallmans. Their part of the lot [it's all one lot] is overshadowed by the Gardiner monument, so look for that one. To find Asphodel Path find Mount Warren, first. On the right of the Warren lot [large puddingstone boulder] you will find a set of stairs, down, to the first terracing. The steps are rustic which means watch your step. At the bottom turn to the right and on the left you'll see the Gardiner monument.
The Tallmans were buried, originally in the Maple Grove Cemetery in Bath. His daughter, Caroline Gardiner, made the decision to move them to Forest Hills Cemetery in November of 1865 to the recently purchased Gardiner lot.
Many of the "Residents" of Forest Hills have been moved, some many times. I might do a posting on that issue, alone, in the future.
I have tried to do justice to the life of this courageous, brave, intelligent man but there is so much more to him. My words and ramblings, I hope, will lead some to look for more on Peleg Tallman. Again, I believe, the proper pronunciation is: Pell-leg. Any who know of a different pronunciation please inform this writer.
More information is available through, at least, 2 privately printed pieces of Peleg Tallman. One is by William M. Emery printed in 1935: "Honorable Peleg Tallman-1764-1841". This available at the New England Historical and Genealogical Society's website: newenglandancestors.org The other is by Walter Henry Sturtevant in 1899: "Sailor of the Revolution,Master Mariner and Member of Congress." read before the Maine Historical Society on March 31st, 1899:http://www.archive.org/details/pelegtallmansail00stur This link takes you to the Archive site. For some reason it will not take you to the Tallman piece. If I was a real blogger I could make the link work. You have to remember I'm just some guy with a computer who has some information about Forest Hills Cemetery.
One more! Asphodel Path is named for a flower [as all the paths are named] that was used by the ancients for plantings by the tombs of loved ones. Some believed that the dead preferred the Asphodel as food. Strange. Maybe, just the roots, I don't know.
This is a description of what the flower looks like: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/aspho080.html I couldn't find a good site to link to for a picture. You can find a picture online , though.
Please inform your not so humble writer if any of the links do not work or you have any other concerns.
Thanks for staying with this. Any who have been out with me on the grounds of Forest Hills on a hot Sunday afternoon tour know that I love to share what I have discovered.
We have so many more interesting "Residents" at the "Ol' Boneyard" that are not known as well as the Top Forty you always hear or read about. I will try to inform you on as many of these as I can in the near future.... Your Boston Correspondent, Al Maze.
August 23, 2010
The Summer Discoveries visits from Boston area summer camps have ended at Forest Hills. For the last seven weeks we have enjoyed introducing children aged 5 to 14 to the cemetery’s history, discussed contemporary art placed here and joined them in reveling in the beauty of being outdoors. We thank our students for sharing their thoughts and feelings; for making connections and imagining interpretations that enlivened our discussions. Recognizing our students’ interest in storytelling, in the last weeks of our program we started teaching a tour in which we talk about fiction writers, journalists, poets and painters.
Book imagery abounds in the cemetery: sculpted in stone, they lie atop gravestones, some are closed, some open; many remind of the Bible, others look like children’s story books. One mausoleum along our route even has a stained-glass window featuring an open book which our students always find particularly impressive.
Further along the way, we visit e.e. cummings’ unassuming final resting place and then cross the street to see his memorial “Opening”, made in 2002 by Mitch Ryerson. Hidden inside the hollowed-out tree is a book of cummings’ poems, which our students discover with delight. We take time to sit in the shade of a tree and read some of these poems and discuss what we understand them to be about. Other stops along out way provide further jumping-off points for discussion about how stories are a reflection of history, what they may mean, how they relate to our own experiences, and how they make us feel.
Here is a map so you can walk the tour, too:
At the end of our tour we settle down next to the gravestone of a Bostonian dry-goods seller who, in his spare time, wrote popular stories in the dialect spoken by the many German immigrants of the 19th century. Here, children learn how to bind books – we use a lightweight card stock for the cover and fold white printing paper for pages. Cover and pages are tied together with colorful ribbon threaded through holes punched at the spine. After constructing their own book, our students have decorated the cover and filled the pages with drawings, leaf collections, collages, written stories and their own poetry.
August 19, 2010
The idea of family and home is central to the design and conception of Forest Hills. Much of the cemetery is divided into family plots and many tombstones are marked with familiar relationships: “father,” “mother,” “brother,” “sister.” Many families created homes here either through marking family plots with stairs and stone railings or building house-like mausoleums.
Talking about home and families helps make cemetery history accessible to children, and they easily pick up the introduced concepts. They want to know about the relationships between those buried here and are eager to make connections and parallels between these stories and their own family life. Our students excitedly point out family plots as soon as they learn how to recognize them. They love to peek inside the mausoleums that dot our tour, especially when there is a beautiful stained glass window to discover. We talk about how mausoleums are like homes but very grand ones made out of stone and fine materials. Many of the contemporary sculptures also emphasize family. The children are always intrigued by Nightshirts, which represents a Victorian family. We also look at Christopher Frost’s Neighbors on the hillside on the way to the lake. We talk about the cemetery as a neighborhood that echoes the city.
Here is a map of the tour so you can walk it, too:
The children process these ideas by making books shaped like houses. Each child is free to draw his or her own idea of home, so each one is individual. These are then cut out and pages and a back cover cut in the same shape are added. Many of the children want to draw something based on one of the mausoleums they have seen.
August 18, 2010
August 17, 2010
Edmund Pitt Tileston (1805-1873) was the son of Edmund and Ann Minns Tileston, and was born in Dorchester. He attended Milton Academy, was privately tutored by Reverend Joseph Allen in Northampton and was later fitted at Lancaster Academy. He entered his father's mill and was in 1831 to become a member of the firm of Tileston & Hollingsworth and a after 1835, president of this successful paper concern. It was said of Tileston that "as a businessman he was systematic, prompt and effective."
His first wife was Sarah Mc Lean Boies, and his second wife Helen Franklin Cummins, both well connected to prominent Dorchester families. He was also a partner in the well known publishing firm of Brewer & Tileston. Tileston served as a member of the Executive Council of Massachusetts during 1846 and 1847 under Governor George Nixon Briggs. He served as a founder and first president of the Dorchester Antiauarian and Historical Society, which was founded in 1843, for thirty years and he was a member of the committee to design a seal for the town of Dorchester.
Tileston lived in a large mansion near Four Corners, the corner of Washington and Dakota Streets, where it overlooked Dorchester Bay and Boston Harbor. He was buried at his family lot at Forest Hills Cemetery in 1873.
August 16, 2010
August 13, 2010
Through the Forest Hills Summer Discoveries Program, we welcome 8 visiting summer camp groups every week for a 2-hour field trip. Two Summer Discovery teachers lead tours that explore the many roles of Forest Hills: It is an inviting park that is home to many animals - a landscape that features hills, lakes, exotic and local trees, old wild forest and carefully maintained plantings. Forest Hills is, of course, also a cemetery full of stories and histories; a place that can lead us to remember, reflect and discuss. Finally, Forest Hills is an outdoor museum featuring both Victorian and contemporary sculpture that has been thoughtfully placed to become part of this historical and natural environment.
A tour we have taken with several of the older Summer Discoveries groups explores identity and self-presentation. Walking from a ship captain’s memorial that shows his best sailing ship in relief to a delicate life-size portrait sculpture of a little girl to a thought-provoking civil war monument, we investigate how these representations provide us with clues about the individuality of each person memorialized. We ask ourselves how and why these descriptions of personality and identity are a reflection of the time these people lived in.
Here is a map so you can walk the tour, too:
Through our art activity, we think about how we ourselves are shaped by our history, our environment; we try to express what it is that makes each of us unique. By decorating and filling cardboard “time capsules”, we can imagine we are leaving information about ourselves for people to see in 100 years. Like the Victorian Bostonians who designed memorials for their families, we aim to capture an eternally readable image of who we are, what we are like, who we love, what we believe.
Some students wrote letters and made small books, others built wooden planes, cars, and structures; they drew pictures and made sculptures of themselves, their friends and their family, and several children dedicated their time capsules to people that are important to them.
August 12, 2010
August 5, 2010
We have been having a wonderful summer in the Summer Discoveries program. So far we have served about 500 kids from summer programs in and around Boston. Trips include a walking tour and then an art project. One of our favorite tours is a tour that focuses on animals. While walking through the cemetery, we talk about how Victorian Bostonians used animals on tombstones as guardians and to show who they were. In addition, we look at contemporary art. At Opening, shown above, we talk about animal homes inside of trees. The kids also love discovering animals that live here. We have seen big bullfrogs sitting with their heads above water and also little turtles swimming in and out of the lily pads. They love seeing birds, too, such as cardinals, blue jays, and even, on occasion, a hawk.
Here is a map so you can walk the tour, too:
At the end of the tour we create guardian animal lamps. Kids cover clear cups with colorful tissue paper and then cut out construction paper animals to glue on top. When a small electric tea light is placed inside, the animal shapes stand out against the tissue paper.