I actually managed to get to every place I wanted to get to today. I didn’t think that would happen, not just because I’m a defeatist but also because I had a long list of places to get to and I thought I was just being too damn ambitious. It’s the end of the day, though, and I made it through. I got a lot of new, good information for my ancestry project. And, I had a relatively good time doing it.
The day began shortly after 5 AM, when I got up to get dressed and get my shit together. By 6 AM, I was on the road. I drove down Route 93 through the city of Boston—driving on the highway underneath the city has become a favorite pasttime—and made my first stop in the chilly morning hours at Plymouth.
I stopped by at Burial Hill first and visited the grave of Thomas Clark. There are actually multiple stones, one from 1697, another laid by his descendants in the twentieth century, and I think there’s one more. It’s quite a site. The stone laid by his descendants in the twentieth century inaccurately depicts him as the first mate on the Mayflower. The mate on the Mayflower was a John Clarke. The traditional thinking is that it might have been Thomas’s father, if it was a related Clark at all.
After a visit there, I drove down to the main road and visited the rock and took some pictures of the Mayflower replica that sits in the harbor. Cold, and content with what I’d accomplished in Plymouth, I hit the road again.
The next stop was Chatham on the Cape, where I tried to see if I could find any of the numerous settings that played a part in the latter parts of my family’s history, as they began to move out of Harwich. I didn’t have too much luck on that front, but I did stumble across a great lighthouse and beach. I walked down to the ocean and put my fingers in the water and I felt giddy all over, and recharged.
I poorly timed my visit to Harwich, it turns out. The library didn’t open until 10 AM and I was there half an hour early. I stopped by the cemetery and took some more pics with the digital camera and short video clip (the first time I’d tried that little feature on our camera) to use on the PBT video “Reprise”, if I ever get around to putting that together.
When the library opened I realized that the Local History section didn’t open till one o’clock. I was going to have to kill even more time. That was okay, though, because it gave me time to venture out to the location where the family house once stood. I drove up and down that stretch of road and surrounding roads to sort of figure out where it might have been. The conclusion I came to is that it might’ve been torn down to build the Cape Cod Technical High School that’s there or it could’ve been torn down when they decided to bring Route 6 through town.
Two neighbor’s houses survive to this day as does the general store. That was neat. I could get a real sense of the what the neighborhood would have been like. That understanding was furthered when I finally did get back to the library and started researching.
In the library I found all sorts of things. I found a map on the wall from the 1850s, one of only four in existence, that shows all of Cape Cod and points out where people were living. I found out where the earlier Clark residence had been. I’d never had any idea where that was. I also found a whole book of transcribed ship reports from the Harwich Independent that illuminated the daily lives of my ancestors. There was so much that I discovered that I’m not sure I can comprehend it all yet.
It got late and I still wanted to get to Yarmouth and then Bristol, RI before dark. So, I stopped at a A&W on the way out of Harwich and grabbed a bite for the road. In Yarmouth, I skipped another library visit and just visited the graves of my great grandfather Charles and the family that stayed down on the Cape. Then I got on my way.
I did finally make it to Bristol around dusk, and snapped some pictures of Eli Owen’s grave there in front of the soldier’s monument. As daylight waned, I looked around for Metacom Avenue and the site of the Rhode Island Soldier’s Home where Eli spent his last days. I didn’t immediately find it, but in getting lost I managed to get a great picture of the Bristol/Mt. Hope Bridge.
On my way out of Bristol, traveling along a route that I’d not been on before, I stumbled across the Soldier’s Home. It was a huge sprawling campus that I’ll have to return to again some day. It was the first time I’d ever seen it.
I stopped at one final place on my way home. Since I was coming up from Providence, I decided to take a short detour and take a look at Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots. The last time I’d seen it, it was still under construction. Driving past it, all lit up at night, it looked immense. And I was really happy that I’d capped my educationally productive day with something so trivial, something I just wanted to do for fun.