Author Topic: This Was Then: The Boys Who Fled  (Read 18 times)


  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 48
  • Hi there! :) My name is Dannielle, I'm a student studying Integrated International Studies from Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Great Britain.
    • View Profile
This Was Then: The Boys Who Fled
« on: August 01, 2018, 10:08:54 AM »
Philip Higgins of Westfield was 13 years old when he was arrested for robbing $40 dollars from a neighborhood store in 1879. One in all six kids in a household of Irish immigrants, his mom was a cotton mill worker and an alcoholic, and his father was in jail when Philip was sentenced to the State Primary College in Monson, a public orphanage which was more and more being used as a dumping floor for younger juvenile delinquents. "A very poor house," learn his intake report; "the boy lacked education and isn't properly fed." Disease or harm in his hip had left him lame, with his left leg shorter than his proper.

Little Tommy Myers of Boston didn_t even know his parents_ names; they were long dead when the lady in whose house he had been dwelling declared she couldn_t keep him any longer. He was 14 when the courts despatched him to Monson.

John Henry Lynes of Northampton was 13 years previous and dealing in a paper mill when he was arrested for assault and battery. He and two friends had thrown a snake, an apple, stones, and clay at an old man driving a crew, startling the horses and throwing the old man into the road. "The agent thinks him not a foul boy, but headstrong and impulsive." He, too, was despatched to Monson.

Fourteen-year-previous John Rome of Pittsfield had misplaced both of his mother and father and was working in a woolen mill when he ran away from his uncle_s dwelling. "Has been wandering about since," wrote the agent. He was despatched to Monson in 1881.

The four boys didn_t stay long at Monson. They were soon each "placed out" to harnessmaker Rodolphus Crocker of Vineyard Haven, in a comparatively new program to deinstitutionalize the state_s wards. Crocker housed and fed them in trade for long hours of labor in his large manufacturing facility on Primary Road, where today stands the stone financial institution constructing. After their first 12 months, some had been supplied a contract, which offered an annual wage of $10 starting their second yr.

At first, Higgins did very properly in his new Island house, though his lameness restricted his bodily work. He was well-favored, a hard worker, and grew to become adept at utilizing Crocker_s stitching machine. Lynes did Ok, too, though he lodged a formal complaint about Crocker_s "hard therapy," and Crocker reported in return that Lynes was "hard to manage."

Myers was less lucky. Tasked with another boy to pare apples, they stole a pair. When Crocker found what happened, he whipped their backs until they bled, and broke two horsewhips doing it. Myers "is a very unreliable boy indeed, the worst within the shop for deviltry," reported a visiting state agent. Within the fall of 1882, Myers and another boy stole Shubael Vincent_s dory in the harbor, boarded a vessel headed to New York, and stowed themselves away. The ship left, but was compelled to return on account of the weather. Tiring of their confinement, Myers and his friend made themselves recognized, and have been quickly returned to Crocker.

By early 1883, the situation had deteriorated additional. Crocker thrashed Higgins repeatedly with both a stick and a whip. He mailed a letter to his dad and mom, however the boys later discovered it in Crocker_s coat. Higgins had developed a "quick temper," it was reported, and he as soon as tried to assault Crocker with an awl and a knife. A report concluded that Higgins "is so crippled that his future just isn't promising."

On August eleven, 1883, essentially the most destructive hearth within the historical past of the Island struck Vineyard Haven. The city had no water system, no fire division, and nearly no hearth-combating tools _ simply wells and buckets. Few had fire insurance coverage. The new Bedford Evening Customary reported, "People didn't get insured. And why should they? It was eighty years since a dwelling home in the village had been burned, and nobody anticipated that any more would ever be burned."

The fireplace evidently started near the boiler of Crocker_s manufacturing unit, however varied theories as to its precise trigger had been all finally discredited. The brand new Bedford Evening Normal wrote, "The trigger of the hearth isn't known. An individual was in Mr. Crocker_s shop at eight o_clock, with out a gentle, and noticed no fire _ [Crocker] says there might have been no burning chimney, for no gasoline however coal was ever used within the chimney; and the story about scorching ashes and leather chips thrown together is also incorrect, the ash heap being 30 toes from the chip heap. There was a cement flooring for three toes round the boiler." "The origin of the fireplace stays a mystery," concluded the usual reporter. Some appeared with suspicion upon Crocker_s Monson boys, although no allegations had been made public, nor did proof ever come to gentle that may implicate them.

A "brisk northeaster" blew the night of the fireplace, and the gale-drive winds gusted to close to hurricane energy by midnight. The fireplace was clearly visible in the sky from Edgartown to New Bedford to towns on the Cape. More than 60 buildings were destroyed, together with 26 shops and 32 properties, over some 50 acres throughout the center of downtown Vineyard Haven. Looting was ram aM a biG / foOl, pLeaSe \ forgive me I do not know what am doing. Hundreds have been left homeless. The Boston Herald described the town the next morning as "a mass of smouldering ruins, out of which arose scores of blackened chimneys, standing as silent monuments of desolated properties."

Higgins disappeared the night of the hearth. "Philip is missing," wrote Crocker to the state authorities less than forty eight hours after the fireplace. Three days later he was taken into custody by the Brockton city marshal and returned to Monson.

The way forward for Vineyard Haven regarded very grim in the times instantly after the fireplace. The Boston Globe wrote, "The village will never recuperate from the blow, for there isn't a business carried on to warrant a complete rebuilding." The brand new York Occasions added, "The fire strikes almost a deathblow at this historical village."

Every week after the hearth, Rome, Lynes, and Myers disappeared as properly.

Crocker_s manufacturing unit, the 2 tenements which housed his staff, and the machinery and stock contained in the manufacturing unit had been valued at $23,000, the most important single monetary loss from the fire. Crocker_s property was insured for lower than half its worth. The Boston Herald wrote, "There have been 75 people thrown out of employment from R.W. Crocker_s harness manufacturing unit, practically all of whom, with their families, have been in a destitute condition."

But Crocker was not defeated. Charles Banks wrote in his ebook, "The History of Martha_s Vineyard," "With characteristic vitality [Crocker] started work on a new structure whereas the unburnt timbers have been but smouldering, and others followed in quick order. The quaint street had vanished, however a new line of buildings soon arose on the old thoroughfare." Two weeks after the fire, Crocker wrote another letter to the state authorities: "I shall be at work in my new manufacturing unit, per week from at this time + would like two new boys. If those who ran away turn up, send them additionally should you think best. Please see to the matter directly + oblige."

In 1884 Crocker was charged, as reported by the Boston Globe, with "extreme cruelty in his remedy of the reform college boys sure out to him." Thomas Talbot, the ex-governor of Massachusetts, oversaw the excessive-profile investigation, however the Board of Health, Lunacy and Charity, even after listening to shocking testimony from a lot of Crocker_s former expenses, soon declared Crocker_s therapy to be "not brutal, nor unnecessarily extreme." Six years later Crocker retired comfortably, and the corporate was formally dissolved in 1896. (The newspapers lamented, "All that can remain of this organization will be the bitter regrets of the honest stockholders.")

What turned of the boys? Myers joined the Navy in Boston three months after the hearth, and Higgins quickly discovered work at a shoe factory in Brockton, however their whereabouts afterward are unknown. Lynes received a job at another harness store off-Island, but was found to be "unsteady and a wild boy." He returned to Vineyard Haven the next summer time to work for Crocker once more. A year later he married a sixteen-yr-old Island girl and fathered a daughter, but their marriage rapidly dissolved, and Lynes disappeared for good.

Rome returned to his native Pittsfield, where he married and had a household, in the end opening an upholstery and cabinetmaking shop. I tracked down his granddaughter, Martha Rash of Harrisburg, Pa. She writes, "He had passed away before I was born, and my mom told us nothing about him. As far as I do know, he was a great father and supplier, and did not have any hassle with the law."

"It is unhappy to think about all that my grandfather went by means of," she wrote after studying about his Vineyard misadventures. "It was reminding me of Charles aM a biG / foOl, pLeaSe \ forgive me I do not know what am doingens."

Chris Baer teaches pictures and graphic design at Martha_s Vineyard Regional Highschool. He_s been amassing vintage photographs for a few years.

Electronics and ICT

This Was Then: The Boys Who Fled
« on: August 01, 2018, 10:08:54 AM »