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Traveling Massachusetts: The Freedom Trail!

This is one in a series about touring Massachusetts and Newport, Rhode Island. My husband and I spent three weeks there in October, 2021. This Travelogue is a journal of our trip, done for my own sake and to show readers why you should visit Massachusetts.

Rental Car Hassle

We arrived in Boston at 5 p.m. on October 2, eager to pick up our rental car and start our vacation. Instead we waited in line at the rental counter for nearly two hours due to the chronic shortage of workers and staff occurring all over the country.

Logan Airport Rental-Car Line

The good news was they upgraded us to a Toyota 4Runner for the same price. Then we set off for The Hampton Inn on the Cambridge side of Boston (slightly cheaper hotels there, rather than downtown). Driving in Boston is no picnic. In fact, my husband hates it. The streets curve and fork and it’s hard to tell which sign is pointing to which highway; there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the layout. Add in driving at night, google-map confusion, and my attempts to “help,” –let’s just say the only arguments that occurred between my husband and myself happened when we were driving in Boston.

However, we arrived at the hotel safe and sound to find their parking lot filled. Nevermind. We parked at the nearby Cambridge-Side Shopping Mall and had hamburgers-to-die-for at the World of Beer, followed by cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. Ahh–the vacation has begun!

Our Massachusetts Itinerary

Here’s a map of our itinerary:

Boston to Concord, then south toward Plymouth, clockwise through Sandwich, New Bedford, and Newport, R.I., up to Stockbridge in the Berkshires, then east all the way to Rockport, finally ending back in Boston

The Freedom Trail

The next morning we got up early to head out on the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile collection of historic sites from the American Revolution. The route is marked by a painted trail of red bricks – great for those of us who get lost easily.

To The Left Of This Tribute To The Oldest Public School House In The US Are Some Of The Bricks That Mark The Route Of The Freedom Trail.

Attack at Boston Commons – On Me!

The Freedom Trail begins at Boston Commons.

Boston Commons has quite the history. The Puritans bought it to use as “common land.” They grazed livestock here and used it as a public area for punishing criminals, pirates, and “witches.” In 1875, over 1000 Redcoats made camp here, before marching on to Lexington and Concord.

An 1890 Photograph of The Old Elm Tree, Once Used as a Hanging Tree for “Witches” and Quakers, courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum

Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, used to run around on the Commons, making friends with other children playing in the park. She wouldn’t recognize it now, filled with unsuspecting tourists and drug-addled homeless people. I bring this up because I was an unsuspecting tourist:

There I was, minding my own business and taking a photograph of an engraving of the Declaration of Independence when I heard feet running up behind me and a blurted out, “son of a bitch!” right behind my back! I whipped around, as did Bill, and we saw a young black man who’s eyes were bugging out like crazy yelling something incoherent at me. We backed up and he rushed me again! We backed up again but this time Bill stepped in front of me ready to do battle with the guy. Luckily the guy walked away, turning once to yell something crazy. His pants were falling down around his bare butt. Not a pretty sight. Bill would have messed him up but who wants to fight with a crazy drug addict? And why did he pick on me? Maybe he didn’t like the way I was dressed? (dark camouflage pants, day pack, hat). Beats me.

The Crazy Guy Rushed Me Further Back From Here

The Fifty Fourth Regiment

It didn’t take me long to shake it off as we walked up to the State House, pausing on the way to read this wonderful tribute to the Fifty Fourth Regiment of the Massachusetts Civil-War Infantry:

Read about the white officers, the black rank and file, and how TOGETHER they gave the world “undying proof that Americans of African Descent possess the pride courage and devotion of the patriot soldier.” Please keep in mind this tribute was created in 1897 and don’t attack it!

Unfortunately the State House was covered with scaffolding. All we could see was the beautiful dome sheathed in copper by Paul Revere, later gilded in 24-carat gold in 1874.

The State House was Built by Architect Charles Bulfinch in 1798

Park Street Church

Our next stop was the Park Street Church, founded in 1804.

The Park Street Church with its 217-foot Steeple Helped Lead the Movement to Abolish Slavery

I was drawn inside by the sound of singing. These two friendly goofballs met us at the door and said we were welcome to go upstairs and listen to the choir practice. We stayed a few minutes and really enjoyed it.

Granary Burial Grounds

Next to the Park Street Church lies the old Granary Burial Grounds. The church bell tolled as we walked up to the entrance. I have to warn you, I love old graveyards. I’ll be blogging about a few of them in this series.

Over the years, gravestones have been rearranged at least twice, due to landscaping and path construction. Some no longer mark the exact location of the deceased.

The Granary Burial Ground holds the remains of more than 8000 men, women, and children – many more than the existing 204 tombs and 2,345 gravestones. Some bodies are buried four deep!

“Stop here my friend & Cast an Eye, as you are now so Once was I, as I am now so you must be – Prepare for Death & Follow me.”

Many different kinds of people lie buried in Granary, including Puritans, Anglicans, Catholics, English, French, Africans, Patriots, Tories, Massachusetts governors, founding fathers, and Revolutionary War veterans. We looked for some of the famous dead, and I examined tombstones to my heart’s content.

This is not the original tomb for Revere. His small grave-marker to the right is not original either.

Before we left the graveyard, we overheard a tour guide tell his group that the Bean Town Cafe is located across the street from Samuel Adams’ grave. “It’s the only place,” he said, “you can have a cold Sam Adams across from a cold Sam Adams.” Yuck yuck.

I’ll leave the rest of the Freedom Trail for the next blog. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out and thanks for reading.

2 Comments

  1. Karen – Very interesting photos and info. I very much appreciate that you are sharing your interesting travels with us! My wife and I are amateur genealogists and we have spent many hours in cemeteries all over, including some in Hawaii, Germany and France. Those in the New England area were very interesting. Thanks again, and I look forward to your next entry! Peace! ☮

    • KarenGough KarenGough

      Thank you so much Stephen! I appreciate the history and love held within old graveyards, and for genealogy pursuits they’re great! Thanks for commenting.

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