The first defining moment in the history of a place is when it gets its name. When it was named, why it was named, and what it was named for all say something about the place itself and the thoughts of the early settlers. For someone in the seventeenth century, the adoption of “Old” English names for places in “New” England must have seemed somehow surreal. For example, at least five modern Massachusetts towns are named indirectly for rivers a continent away. These associations are very distant today, but settlers closer to Lincolnshire than Massachusetts Bay took these connections seriously. The naming of Boston was no exception.
(This is a reprint from a project that I worked on in 2009, but never published.)
Continue reading How Boston Got Its Name
The Boston Stone is a monument like no other in the city. Although inscrutable to most passers-by, the Boston Stone tells a story of three eras in Boston history. It speaks first to the industry of Boston in the late seventeenth century and the early eighteenth. The stone tells us something about the wily shop-owners and proto-capitalists of the 1730’s who gave the stone the reputation it has today. And finally, the stone serves an an example of the rediscovery and myth-making that took place in Boston in the 1840’s which gave the stone its true prominence as a Boston landmark. Although the monument tells of two centuries of Boston history, it does this without the benefit of a plaque from a historical society or a register of historic places. Only a low-class gift shop marks the importance of the landmark.
(This is a reprint from a project that I worked on in 2009, but never published. I’ve recently been asked by a friend to share some of my Boston Stone research and this may be of interest to a wider audience.)
Continue reading The Three Lives of the Boston Stone
Falmouth is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts and is the south-westernmost town on Cape Cod. It is to the east of Buzzards Bay and to the north of Nantucket Sound with the Elizabeth Islands extending from it to the southwest. The original Indian name for the area was Suckanessett but it was first settled by a group of Quaker sympathizers in 1660. The settlement was incorporated as the town of Falmouth in 1686.
Continue reading Name Origin: Falmouth, Massachusetts
Eastham is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Originally called the Nawsett (or Nauset) Indian Territory, Eastham once encompassed much of the western cape including territory now held by Brewster, Chatham, Harwich, Orleans, Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet.
Continue reading Name Origin: Eastham, Massachusetts
Dennis is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. Prior to the arrival of the English, the area was known by its Indian name of Nobscusset. The first European settlers, John Crow, Thomas Howes, and William Lumpkin, arrived in 1639 when the area was part of Yarmouth. In 1721, a church was built and the area was organized as the East Parish of Yarmouth. In 1793, the local villagers broke away from Yarmouth and incorporated separately as the town of “Dennis”.
Continue reading Name Origin: Dennis, Massachusetts
“Are you saying you don’t know how to work this thing.” – Barbara
And so the first serial of Doctor Who ends with a whimper rather than a bang. This episode felt extraneous, the careful build-up of tension over the previous episodes was tossed aside quickly. Much of the intelligence of the script and characters are gone here, although the Doctor’s speech to the tribesmen stands out as the first time in the series that the Doctor talked himself out of a mess.
More after the recap.
Continue reading Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child, Part Four: The Firemaker
Chatham is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area was inhabited by several hundred members of a tribe known as the Monomoyicks. The first European to visit the area was the Frenchman Samuel de Champlain in 1605, but after difficulty with the natives he ultimately departed and founded Quebec City in 1608. He gave the region its first European name, “Port Fortune”.
Continue reading Name Origin: Chatham, Massachusetts
“Fear makes companions of all of us.” – The Doctor
This second caveman-focused episode is an improvement over the first, in large part because the first had to spend so much time setting up the conflict and the story. This episode flows quickly, establishes a clear villain, and is overall fun to watch. We also get some running!
More after the recap.
Continue reading Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child, Part Three: The Forest of Fear
Brewster is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. The original Indian name for the area was Sawkattuckett (later Anglicized as Sawtucket) and the current town was settled in 1656 as the north parish of Harwich. The town split off from Harwich in 1811 and was renamed Brewster, in honor of the Pilgrim elder and Mayflower-passenger William Brewster (1567 – 1644).
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“If we knew his name, we might have a clue to all this.” – Ian
After a fantastic first episode, the second has a reputation for being terrible. It is not, but it is also not the classic that the first was. The script is poor and the acting is worse. That said, the premise is decent and the episode is mature fiction: there is no clear antagonist and the relationships between the characters are complex, as are what drives the plot forward. But even so, the script isn’t as tight as the first episode, the direction and costuming not as well done. The guest stars here are simply unable to build the gravitas they need while covered in fake dirt and furs. It is worth watching, but just.
Continue reading Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child, Part Two: The Cave of Skulls