e-Newsletter | July 2, 2021
A Voice from the Newburyport Jail, 1842
 
On Monday, November 21, 1842, Dolly (Brown) Chipman of West Newbury gave birth to a healthy baby boy, who would be the bearer of an extraordinary name.

Thomas Parnell Beach Chipman carried the name of Thomas Parnell Beach, who was, at that moment, sitting in “the damp, cold jail, Newbury Port.” His crime? Speaking at the meetings of the Baptist Society in Danvers and the Quaker fellowship in Lynn to express his outrage at the silence of the church on the issue of slavery.
Birth record of Thomas Parnell Beach Chipman in West Newbury.
On July 4, 1842, Beach, a former Congregational minister in Wolfeboro and Campton, New Hampshire, strode into the Society of Friends meeting house in Lynn. A contemporary described the scene.

“I saw the whole transaction, heard Beach speak, heard the uproar, and saw, with astonishment, those worshiping Quakers thrown into whirlwinds of passion. The spirit seemed to move them with great violence.”

When Beach walked into the Baptist meeting house in Danvers a week later and began to speak during “an interval in their wicked worship,” two parishioners, Black and Caldwell, “fell upon him and dragged him from the (meeting) house.”

Beach went to the home of Jesse P. Harriman, a fellow abolitionist, who reported that “(an) officer came to my house on Sunday and arrested him. He commanded me in the name of the commonwealth to help him. I utterly refused.” Harriman, too, was arrested, and wrote from the Salem jail, “So I am here for not helping to drag Brother Beach from my own dwelling. And I now say to the world, I will never commit such a sin, though, as a result, bonds and imprisonments should ever await me.”

The bonds and imprisonments that awaited Beach were in Newburyport, where on September 19, he was found guilty of disturbing the peace and sentenced to pay a fine of twenty dollars and an additional twenty-seven dollars in court costs.

He would be held in jail in Newburyport until these fees were paid. Beach refused to pay his fine, and forbade any of his friends to pay it on his behalf, which aroused the scorn of writers to the Newburyport Herald. “Mr. Beach’s course is wrong. He has invaded the unalienable and most sacred rights of his fellow men. Sympathizing friends have only to pay fines and costs, justly imposed on him, but which he refuses to pay, and thus liberate him from his ‘martyrdom’.”

In November, still languishing in jail, Beach fired off passionate letters to friends and supporters, including numerous letters to Newburyport’s own William Lloyd Garrison, published in his anti-slavery newsletter, The Liberator. He also made the case to some who felt that his form of direct, individual action was harming the greater abolitionist cause.

He answered a letter to Maria Weston Chapman in Boston on November 29, where he repeated his belief that the most effective advocacy on behalf of the enslaved "is the result of independent individual exertion, combining & harmonising [sic] in their operation." Despite some hesitation about his methods, Beach gained widespread support, and in West Newbury and across the country, sympathetic families named their babies for him.
A a letter from Thomas Parnell Beach Chipman to Maria Weston Chapman while imprisoned in the Newburyport jail.
On Christmas Day, Beach managed to publish a newspaper, A Voice from the Jail from prison, pleading the cause of anti-slavery, and urging his supporters to attend a rally in Milford, New Hampshire, where Frederick Douglass, a newcomer to the anti-slavery lecture circuit, was listed modestly on the roster of speakers. He would deliver his famous Fourth of July speech a full decade later.

Beach was released in January in time to speak at the rally, though his star was falling in the anti-slavery world. Beach’s methods were too radical even for Garrison, and he was considered an extremist by many of his brethren. He died poor and unknown in Ohio in 1846, just 38 years old.

“I want company here; I wish every jail in Massachusetts and New Hampshire filled with those who have boldness enough to go and charge upon these God-dishonoring corporations all the guilt…or the tears, stripes, groans and degradation of the slave.”
Woman on the MOON

Remember Me...a blog by Bethany Groff Dorau

Yesterday was my first day as the Executive Director of the Museum of Old Newbury, known in my lifetime as the Historical Society of Old Newbury, the “Hist,” the Cushing House, 98 High and more. Like many old places, the 1808 brick house in which I will likely spend years has already lived many lives.

At 5:15, I left my second-floor office, with its hundreds of volumes of genealogical records, town directories, maps, ancient liquor bottles, shoe forms, a supremely detailed model of the Chain Bridge…objects at once familiar and exotic, and made my way to the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury where I have spent the last twenty-one years of my working life. I went to say goodbye to a sheep.

As many of you likely know, the farm is home to a group of farm animals placed there by the MSPCA. One of these, a Shetland sheep named Betty, became a local legend.

Betty was a young ewe when she broke her leg. A neglectful owner failed to treat the injury, and she was eventually taken by the MSPCA, her leg was amputated, a rare and risky procedure for a sheep, and she was sent to live at the farm for as long as she had left. The prognosis was guarded – a couple of years, they said. Betty lived for thirteen years at the farm, dying yesterday at age fifteen, a venerable grand dame whose fan club stretched across continents.

I have been writing animal obituaries since I was a young girl. I grew up on a subsistence farm in Canada, and the routine and thoughtless death of animals around me was painful.

I channeled grief into writing, as I do today, seeking to impart dignity to the life of a goat or a dog or a rabbit through a curated remembrance of their friendships and habits. Last night, I wrote Betty’s obituary, noting her tender care of unrelated newborn baby lambs and kids, her bright eyes, her zest for life.

Several years ago, I was researching the life and tragic early death of a young Marine from Newburyport, Eben Bradbury, killed in the Battle of Belleau Wood on June 12, 1918.

There are no close relatives of Eben’s left in the area, but a distant cousin has made it his mission to keep his name alive, a mission that he passed on to me. It brings to mind the idea of the three deaths, my version a slight shift from that articulated by scientist David Eagleman.

The first physical death is followed by a second death when everyone who knew you while you were alive is gone. The final death takes place when your name is spoken, and your life is considered, for the last time. This is why I write obituaries, and this is why I love the Museum of Old Newbury. They are both a sort of ticket to eternal life.

The objects, papers, photos, letters and diaries in this museum plead for attention. People most often bring family collections to the museum to keep the memory, sometimes only of a name or a story, alive. Sometimes a name is a mark on a silver cup, a stencil on a chair, a hammer mark on a weathervane. Sometimes it is a certain kind of peach tree.

I will happily learn and speak the names of the people who have come and gone from this house, and from this land, for centuries, and I hope to introduce you to people who have not been remembered for a very long time – to the paupers in unmarked graves, the enslaved men and women who worked in these houses, the women known only by their husband’s name.

And I will leave enough behind that in a century or two perhaps some enterprising intern will speak my name, and I, too, will be immortal.
Learn about upcoming programs, register, find Zoom links and catch up on previous presentations here. All of our virtual programs are free, however donations are gratefully accepted to help defray speaker fees.
In case you missed it...
Reading Frederick Douglass Together
Participants were invited to read a paragraph from Douglass's 1852 speech.
This year's virtual community reading of Frederick Douglass' impassioned 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July" featured 30 different people lending their voice to this powerful participatory event. Watch the reading here.

Edward Carson, dean of Multi Cultural Education and a member of the History Department at the Governor's Academy in Byfield, is an independent historian, researcher and author. He started the reading and then led the group through a discussion at the conclusion, asking, "Why is this speech still relevant today?" And proceeded to point out that Douglass so long ago noticed the injustice and inability of society then, and still now, is incapable of having a true and real dialogue about race.

Carson, a graduate of Alabama Christian Academy, earned a B.A. in History and Biblical Christianity and holds a graduate degree from Harding University. His current research looks at race, religion and Black Thought, particularly that of W.E.B. DuBois. Carson has published and presented papers focusing on Black identity, religion and the nature of history teaching.

Bethany Groff Dorau, executive director of the Museum of Old Newbury shares, "Douglass' oratory is deeply moving, and speaking his words aloud is powerful. After 169 years, they reverberate with grief, anger and hope, and force an examination of how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go."

Newburyport was just one of a number of cities and town's across the Commonwealth and the country joining together to begin a dialog about race using Douglass' still-powerful words to start the conversation.

The program was presented by the First Religious Society Unitarian Universalist and the Museum of Old Newbury, with funding provided in part by Mass Humanities and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. 
2021 Garden Tour Gallery – Part 2

Some of the fabulous images sent in by attendees of this year's 42nd Annual Garden Tour. Many more to come! Do you have a few? Send along (with your name and the town you live in) and you could be eligible for free Garden Tour tickets next year.

Photo by Cindy White of TOWN.
Photo of High Street home and its sweeping lawns by Monica Reuss of Newburyport.

Board of Directors member, Bob Watts of Newburyport, captures blooming foxglove in the Museum of Old Newbury garden.
Photo credit: Bob Watts
Puzzle Me This...

This canvaswork picture is one of several executed in the first half of the eighteenth century depicting a pastoral scene. The details such as the man on the horse, the woman with a basket on her head and the man picking fruit from a pear tree were adapted from early mezzotints.

These samplers, reflecting the tradition of English tapestries, were worked by young women in the Boston area as well as in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Philadelphia.

This piece in the museum's collections was designed to go over a mantel or "chimney breast."

Click on image to begin.
Something is Always Cooking at the Museum

The heat wave has finally broken, so the evening calls for something besides a cold dinner because you couldn't bear the thought of being near the stove! Gillian Ingram's crockpot dish avoids the oven and will satisfy that "hot meal" need.

Crockpot Curried Chicken

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pound whole chicken, cut up
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 29-ounce can Cling peaches
1/2 cup pitted prunes
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water

Drain peaches and save syrup. Add 1/2 cup syrup to first 5 ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Remove chicken to platter. Add cornstarch, dissolved in water to, sauce in pot. Cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes, until sauce thickens. Add peaches, prunes and chicken. Serve over rice with curry sauce and chutney. Serves 6 to 8.

During this difficult period of COVID-19, we rely on your support more than ever. We continue to develop new, online programs for you to enjoy and keep us connected and look forward to in-person events as protocols for safety loosen. We hope, if you are able, that you will consider a donation to the museum. Thank you for your continued support.

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