Hopped in the car with a canteen of water, a camera, and an old fashioned map dated 1643...and hunted down some history.
(see blue arrow for Smith land)
Remember this post? While I draw and paint for lovely clients, my genealogy bug is growing consistently. My birthday present, Family Tree Maker For Mac 2 (yep, pushing up the nerd glasses) finally came in the mail yesterday. Genealogy is morphing from a hobby into a creative focus too, something that is pulling on my author/illustrator/fashion designing tendencies...I'm working on some personal pieces based around this "world"...we'll see what happens!
So, our destination was East Providence (Rumford, RI). We were hunting down the location of one of Matt's many Pilgrim ancestors: Master Henry Smith, and wife Judith : Matt's 11th great grandparents. Henry carried the "Smith" lineage over the ocean via the ship "Diligent" from his birthplace at Haddon Hall England to Hingham, MA in 1638, and eventually to Matt's mom. She is one of these Smiths and has loved her Masterpiece Classics for years, so the bit about Haddon Hall origination was happy news for her! Apparently, Matt's ancestors built and settled towns on all sides of the place we live today in Quincy...we've unknowingly completed many many circles just by moving here!
As soon as we neared East Providence, a really pretty thing happened: a SUN-SNOW-SQUALL! Right in the middle of it we realized we were essentially making the same trip Henry had made over 300 years ago... Hingham, the first place they settled off the ship, is next to our town of Quincy. Here we were traveling south to his new home in East Providence (imagine a snow squall without a car!) It probably wasn't the exact route, but most New England highways are paved over ancient footpaths.
Once through the snow-sun-squall, we set off to finally find our Smith land! I held my new iPhone 4s GPS map against the blurry wiggly one dated 1643 and got ourselves to the precise location on Bishop Ave. where he settled at the "the Ring of the Green", after it was freshly purchased from chief Massasoit, part of the Bay Colony in 1643. We were a little saddened, but as expected, nothing still existed to shout out the historical importance of this place. (It was a defunct bakery, which only amplified sadness....nary a cookie in sight!)
It's fascinating to think that our streets, especially in New England are so old. Bishop Avenue has been Bishop Avenue for centuries. Something I always think about: time and place. How can these times both be so real and belong to this one place? It's just this thing I've been trying to put my finger on and write more about: that we are of two worlds. Even though you can only sense and imagine one Bishop Avenue, and physically stand on the other. I think this is the history mystery that holds me captive...
So we said "bye" to Henry and "thanks" into the wind and returned to the car across the street. As I fiddled with the GPS the car was enveloped in another blinding sun-snow-squall. The bright beauty of it reminded me that this place was special as we sat waiting it out in the car, ice rushing from the blue sky down the lane ahead toward the place where something important began. We wondered aloud, "Maybe they're happy we came?" referring to the long lines of lives that brought Matt right here and I felt supremely lucky he was by my side. It blew over in a few seconds and we were back on the road.
Exploring is my favorite way to spend a day. Thanks to Edna of the EPHS for mailing the map. Thanks to Matt for chasing some history with me. Thanks to Henry and Judith for Matt.