introduces Henry Knox
We proceeded south along Main Street kicking and stomping the snow from our collective footwear. Having always held an unexplained aversion to proper winter attire I was glad the walk would soon warm me up. Our first stop was in front of Finnerty & Stevens Funeral Home. The original 1815 structure was home to Charles J. Taylor, author of the 1882 “History of Great Barrington.” The list of names in Taylor’s history reads like the class roll for most of my childhood. The more things change the more they stay the same, hmmm.
|Approaching 23W on Route 7S|
From Finnerty & Stevens our curious parade crossed the intersection of Route 7 South and 23 West at Main St. and Maple Ave. Mr. Drew discussed the travels through Great Barrington and the Berkshires, along the same roads Knox would later utilize, of Commander Jeffery Amherst, hero of the French and Indian War. Sir Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst is the namesake of Amherst, MA. The mascot of Amherst College athletics is the Fighting Jeffs. Amherst captured Fort Ticonderoga, then known as Ft. Carillon from French forces in 1759 following the failed attempt of General James Abercromby in 1758. Brigadier General Augustus Howe was among the first to fall in that failed attempt. The loss of Howe would promote General Thomas Gage. Having served under Abercromby and Amherst, Gage went on to become Governor of Massachusetts and would be succeeded in 1775 by Augustus Howe’s brother William Howe. It is Howe who orders the evacuation of British troops from Boston March 17th, 1776 under threat of the cannon Knox secured from Fort Ticonderoga. The chorus of “It’s a small world after all” rings in my head.
As we disassembled to cross to the eastern side of Main Street, a woman asked me what newspaper I was writing for. I suppose my note scribbling and photo taking had suggested me as a reporter. My cap, the kind worn by newsboys in period movies, may have added to her suspicion. Feeling a little flattered I explained my interest was part of this project and directed her to the History Dept. webpage at Berkshire Community College.
|Walking in Knox's footsteps|
The tour concluded when the group turned south once more and returned to McCormick, Murtagh & Marcus. Most participants promptly left, a number stayed to partake again of the snacks and refreshments that had been available preceding our walk. A few of those still left when I returned were eagerly bending Mr. Drew’s ear and over the next twenty minutes or so he was not without company. I myself remarked at the positive turnout, made a pleasant introduction and made my way out.
In reference to Tories or British loyalists Charles Taylor wrote, “In Great Barrington were a considerable number . . . who were slow to adopt revolutionary measures . . . Many by word and deed rendered themselves obnoxious to their more patriotic townsmen.”
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