First Congregation Church in Country, Witchcraft Hysteria, Oliver Cromwell, and Tunnels

Welcome to the Salem Tunnel Report. Every Monday we will post new and old tunnel finds along with those who built them. In our posts you will learn how Salem has shaped American history from the profits of the smuggling that happened in these tunnels; sometimes for the good, but more often not.

Daniel Low Building
231 Essex Street

This was the site of the First Church in Salem and the Old State House. The State House sat on the corner of Washington, Short, and Essex Streets. The Church sat in from here. The church was founded in 1629 and has become the first church regularly organized in the country. Their second building being a one room church was built in 1634. The building was expanded in 1639 and it was last used in 1670. In 1673 the building was moved to Boston Street. Now it is behind Plummer Hall on Essex Street.

Francis Peabody found it behind a tannery on Boston Street and had it moved to its present location. At one time it was used as an tavern and then later a horse stable. So it is safe to say the first church in the country was full of horse shit.

In 1670 they built the third building for worship. In 1718 they built a 4th church on this spot. This is also the location where the first use of a ballot was made in the country.

They were Protestants. Rev. Francis Higginson was the first Teacher and Rev. Samuel Skelton the first minister. In 1634 the church’s third minister was Roger Williams. He lasted 2 years before he was exiled for believing the Native Americans should be compensated for the land the Colonialists stole. So he founded Providence Rhode Island and created the first Baptist church in America.

In 1636 Rev. Hugh Peter took over. In 1641 he left for England and became Oliver Cromwell’s personal Chaplain. What a mistake, Cromwell was an ass. In 1660 Peters was charged with regicide for the first suggestion and assisting in the Execution of Charles I. He was beheaded after being drawn and quartered.

The next Rev. was George Downing who returned to England and became a soldier. Downing Street in London was his property and now the prime minister lives on that road.

Then Rev. John Higginson, Rev. Francis Higginson’s son, presided though the Witchcraft Trials in 1692. His junior minister Noyes was ignoble. It was him who really fanned the flames of the witch hysteria. One of the accused witches told Noyes, “May God give you blood to drink.” In 1717 Noyes choked on his own blood and died.

The church split into the North Church and The First Church in 1772. Rev. Asa Dunbar presided over the First Church. He was Henry David Thoreau’s paternal grandfather. Rev. Barnard who was the minister of the North Church negotiated with General Leslie to retreat from Salem in 1775. Leslie’s Retreat was the first conflict in the Revolutionary War before the Battle on the Green. Canons that day were smuggled out of Salem to Lexington.

The church later became the First Congregational Society of Salem in 1824.
In 1826 the current building was built. The first floor was used for retail and the second floor for religious ceremonies. By 1874 a major remodeling was done. The towers were added and the building extended on Higginson Square. At that time John P. Peabody sold dry and fancy goods while Daniel Low had his jewelry store on the Essex Street Side. The National Exchange Bank had entrances on Washington Street. In 1923 Daniel Low and Company acquired the property in the year the First Church merged with the North Church further down on Essex Street. Daniel Low was also an aid to Grand Marshall of the Essex Lodge.

There is one tunnel exiting the building that leads up Washington toward the train station. It is rumored this went to the Lyceum passing entrances to the city hall and the Kinsman Block. Then leading toward Riley Plaza is a tunnel entrance at the back of a vault leading to the second Asiatic Bank location (The Ledger Restaurant currently). Also Daniel Low fixed up the tunnel leading across Higginson Sq. into his warehouse that sits to the right of Old Town Hall (old Goddess Treasure Chest location).

Low poured a concrete floor in the tunnel to prevent the state from having access to the graves of several runaway slaves. Daniel Low was the jeweler who invented souvenir spoons and he also sold KKK belt buckles, money clips, and lighters.

His warehouse has a storefront below street level. The tunnel enters the back of this building and goes up a staircase to a door on Higginson Square. If you pass the staircase it turns right into the submerged store front.

The past owner of this shop also owns the condo in the Pickman-Derby Block where the tunnel was turned into a wine cellar. Her basement door exhibits how they can remove the ceiling of the tunnel to expose a cellar door. Few other examples of this can be seen in the McIntire District. Previous to this location her store was in the Downing Block which is also connected.

The roof of the tunnel to his warehouse has brick arches under the flat granite top every 3 feet supported on thick metal straps running across the width of the tunnel. When the Essex Lodge was built in 1918, the previous tunnels under the old Derby Mansion site would be refitted in the same manner. Recently I got to tour Low’s house on Essex Street and Botts Court and saw the tunnel coming out of his house too.

I actually was filmed in this tunnel with Robert Irvine for his new show that premiered this month on the Travel Channel called Kitchen Expeditions. Check it out, for that is another story!

Many secrets in Salem!

For more read info Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City and its sequel Sub Rosa by Chris Dowgin published by Salem House Press. Available at Barnes & Noble, Remember Salem, The Witch House, Jolie Tea, and Amazon.com.

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The History of Early Flight!

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! This time we will look at some of my favorite space pilots. After you read the list, won’t you add some of your favorites!

OK, let’s go through the history of all the people nuttier than me who flew in less conventional ways…

  •  1st century AD, Wang Mang tried to recruit a specialist scout, a man binding himself with bird feathers is claimed to have glided about 100 meters.
  •  Seventh century AD, It is said that at one time there was a Japanese law against man-carrying kites.
  • 852 AD, when Armen Firman made a jump in Cordoba, Spain, reportedly covering his body with vulture feathers and attaching two wings to his arms.His lack of tail feathers got him a bad back upon landing though.
  •  1010 AD Eilmer of Malmesbury, an English monk, flew from the tower of Malmesbury Abbey in a primitive glider. Eilmer was said to have flown over 200 yards  before landing, breaking both his legs. He forgot a tail feather too…
  •  1783, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier were the first men to attempt to fly a hot air balloon. It took off from the center of Paris and flew for 20 minutes. King Louis XVI suggested using condemned prisoners as pilots but the brothers persuaded him otherwise. The Chinese would punish you by sticking you to a man carrying kite too… I did not think it was that bad?
  •  1884, the first fully controllable free flight of a blimp was made by Charles Renard and Arthur

    Constantin Krebs in a French Army electric-powered airship, La France.

  •  1848,  Sir George Cayley had progressed far enough to construct a glider in the form of a triplane large and safe enough to carry a child. A local boy was chosen but his name is not known. I guess I was not the youngest to fly without a plane…
  •  1856, Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Bris made the first flight higher than his point of departure, by having his glider “L’Albatros artificiel” pulled by a horse on a beach. He reportedly achieved a height of 100 meters, over a distance of 200 meters.
  •  1871, Alphonse Pénaud flew the first aerodynamically stable fixed-wing aeroplane, a model monoplane he called the “Planophore”, a distance of 131 ft.
  •  1884, Alexander Mozhaiski constructed a steam-powered monoplane driven by one large tractor and two smaller pusher propellers. It was launched from a ramp and remained airborne for 98 ft.
  •  1896, Langley’s Aerodrome No. 5 made the first successful sustained flight of an unpiloted, engine-driven heavier-than-air craft of substantial size.
  •  1905, Wilbur Wright flew 24 miles (39 km) in 39 minutes 23 seconds.

So I was not that crazy! The truth be told, my flying was accidental.

~Max

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my book onAmazon.com! Now available in paperback at your favorite book sellers. Ask for it by name! If they do not have it in stock, ask them to order it for you.

Also come back every Friday at 8:30 pm, before I am sent to bed, to read my posts each week!

Cool Places in America: Grotto of Redemption, West Bend Iowa

It’s your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler, once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

I guess Iowa has more than corn to it? My parents dragged me here when they got this contract working for a large combine manufacturer. We went out for a hike and I got lost in a maze of maize; at any moment I thought the children of the corn were going to pop out and get me. Or even worse those strange kids from that Star Trek episode.  I was so scared that when I did find my way out I scared the bejeebers out of this couple as I ran out hitting my head with ears yelling “Corn, Corn, Corn!”.

Well I was so thankful I made it out alive I went to the Grotto of Redemption. Built by pastor Father Paul Dobberstein after his fight with pneumonia was the beginning of the grotto movement in the country! The grotto was built as a shrine to the Virgin Mary to thank her for healing him. The whole thing is built from agates, geodes and semiprecious stones, and it makes up the world’s largest collection of minerals and petrified material, with a geological value of $4 million. It’s a football field in length.The pastor took 50 years to build it. The grotto is thought as the largest in the world! I was so happy I made it out of the corn field alive, I had to come here. I just hanged with Jesus at different points during his life. I shared a chocolate milk with him in several places. We just hanged. It was cool.

So if you can get through Iowa without getting lost in the corn, you should come hang with the bearded guy and check out all of the cool stones here at the Grotto of the Redemption!

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com.Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might surprise you and become the best vacation you ever had.

Come back Every Thursday at 3pm for another post from Tyler the Boy Who is Always on the Move!

Illustrator of the Week: Frank C. Pape

Today I would like to share another of my favorite illustrators, Frank C. Pape. The first book I came across from him was Penguin Island, written by Anatole France,  about a partially blind monk who lands on an island of penguins and baptizes them. To solve the theological dilemma that arises from this mistake, God decides to turn the inhabitants into humans with only minor characteristics of penguins. The history of the island is thus given which parodies the history of France. In one part porpoises are alluded to the Vikings that had invaded France in the real world. Well anyway, check out some of his illustrations….

Penguin Island

Jurgen

 Frank C. Pape Gallery:
Check back later for other cool stuff and some more of my favorite illustrators.
~Cheers,
Chris

What Lies Below in Salem

Tales from Salem’s Underground
(Reprint from the Salem Gazette)

Salem Secret Underground Front Page of Salem Gazette

“These homes were built by respected architects – names like McIntire and Bulfinch. They were the homes and businesses of senators and Supreme Court justices,” said Dowgin. “And in the basements and under the fireplaces, many of them had smuggling tunnels.”

Dowgin, a local historian, has been primarily known for his illustrated children’s books “A Walk Through Salem” and “A Walk Under Salem,” which introduce readers to Salem history in a whimsical way. But his latest book is something different. “Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City” shows a new side to the famous merchants and captains of industry, one tinged with tax evasion, thievery and even murder.

“The practice of building smuggling tunnels probably dated back to the earliest days of Salem being used as a port,” said Dowgin. “But it really became a common occurrence in the early days of the United States.”

During the Revolutionary War, many shipping magnates in port cities all up and down the East Coast turned to privateering, amassing huge fortunes in wealth captured from British vessels. After the war, the fledgling republic tried to recapture some of that wealth, in the form of steep import duties and other taxes.

“We’d just had an expensive war, we were trying to get our country started, and everyone wanted the party they were opposed to shoulder the brunt of the tax burden,” Dowgin said. “In many ports, people were losing money, but Salem just kept getting richer and richer.”

Part of the reason was that many of the goods that entered Salem were immediately spirited into a complex tunnel network that kept them away from the prying eyes of customs agents. These tunnels extended far into the city, but began practically at Salem wharf itself. As an example, look at the 1762 Derby House, part of the Salem Maritime Historic Site.

 

Derby_House

“When Richard Derby built the Derby House for his son, Elias Hasket Derby and his new wife, Elizabeth Crowninshield Derby, it was the subject of much speculation in town,” Dowgin said. “In the late 18th century, houses weren’t commonly made of brick, because there was a superstition that brick houses were unhealthy. Then there was the question of why so many bricks were needed; about three times as many as you’d need for a house of that size.”

In reality, Dowgin said, the bricks were being used to construct a tunnel in the basement. Today, the entrance to the tunnel is slightly above grade, and visitors can see the bricked-in arch.

“After the Derby House, the tunnel builders got smarter,” Dowgin said. “They realized that, if they built two brick houses at a time at a fixed distance apart, no one could guess how many bricks were supposed to be there.”

To find out more about the tunnels of Salem watch Chris Dowgin on Kitchen Expeditions on the Travel Channel premiere episode. Chris will be giving a tour to Robert Irvine of the tunnels that used to smuggle duty free cinnamon. Check out the show and then buy your own copy of Salem Secret Underground:The HIstory of the Tunnels in the City.

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.

Ghosts, the First Phone Call, Dante’s Inferno, and Tunnels

Welcome to the Salem Tunnel Report. Every Monday we will post new and old tunnel finds along with those who built them. In our posts you will learn how Salem has shaped American history from the profits of the smuggling that happened in these tunnels; sometimes for the good, but more often not.

Lyceum
43 Church Street

Joshua Holbrook borrowed a concept from the Mechanics Institutes he had encountered in England and created the Lyceum movement. In 1828 Holbrook started the first lyceum in Milbury, Massachusetts. Soon 100 others sprinkled throughout New England. By 1834, the number of lyceums in America had grown to 3,000.

The Salem Lyceum started in January 1830 when Captain Joseph White was dying from a sickness he could not shake. The mission of the Salem Lyceum was the “mutual education and rational entertainment” for both its membership and the general public through a biannual course of lectures, debates, and dramatic readings. The new hall could accommodate 700 patrons in amphitheater-style seating and was decorated with images of Cicero, Demosthenes and other great orators of the classical period. Lectures were held on Tuesday evenings. Admission was $1 for men and 75 cents for women, who had to be “introduced” by a male to gain entrance.

Over the next 60 years there were over 1,000 lectures. John Quincy Adams delivered a lecture on politics, Agassiz on geology, and Alexander Graham Bell made his first public demonstration of the telephone here. Well sort of…he was a hit at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition first.

Bell had invented the phone on the property that the Salem YMCA now is on Essex Street. In 1873 Thomas Sanders hired Bell to teach his deaf son George in his mother’s house at 292 Essex Street. The house was torn down in 1898. Bell was teaching to the deaf in Boston and working on the phone in a laboratory in Boston. He would take the last train home to Salem and continued to work on his invention in the attic and basement of the Sander’s house. On February 12, 1877 he had his expo at the Lyceum. Thomas Sanders became one of his first investors in his telephone company which became The Bell Telephone Company. The Ma Bells of America. Later it became Atlantic Telephone & Telegraph company. Sanders was their Treasurer.

What was the conversation that happened with that first phone call of any distance:

Bell~ “Mr. Watson, will you speak to the audience?”
Watson~ “Ladies and gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure to be able to address you this evening, although I am in Boston, and you in Salem!”

Thomas A. Watson was at Exeter Place in Boston with musicians, reporters, and artists. Watson and band sang Auld Lang Syne and Yankee Doodle Dandy (a song the Regulars sang as they attacked the North Bridge in Salem) to Bell in Salem with everyone hearing them. This won Bell a 2nd appearance on Feb. 23rd in front of an audience of 500 people netting him $8,500 which was the first money the phone ever made.

Bell was not the only inventor in Salem. Tesla had created a generating facility for Pequot Mills/Naumkeag Steam Cotton Co. in Salem, Moses Farmer created the light bulb purchased by Thomas Edison and was the first to light his home by electricity in the world, Joseph Dixon created a crucible that could withstand high heat for minting coins for the U.S. Mint and the #2 pencil, Charles Grafton Page worked in the patent office in D.C. and created a magnet that could lift a 1,000 pounds, and Louis Packard was making electric cars in the 1800’s. In fact half of the room on electricity in the Smithsonian Institute houses inventions from Lynn, Salem, and Swampscott.

The Lyceum was the destination that people like Agassiz, Thoreau, and Longfellow would walk through the tunnels from Col. George Peabody’s home on the common to give a lecture or try a out a reading before they published a work. Oliver Wendell Holmes had a lecture on “Lyceums and Lyceum Lectures;” and abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave one on “Assassination and its Lessons” shortly after President Lincoln’s murder. The man who got away with the assassinations of three presidents, two in office and one three months after, Daniel Webster was paid the most. He received $100, for his lecture on “The History of the Constitution of the United States”.

Ralph Waldo Emerson gave the most lectures at the Lyceum for a total of 30. Emerson, whose maternal granduncle Jonathan Waldo was the man who refitted the old hill fort and chose to rename it Fort Pickering in 1801.

As Derby was getting money from Common Improvement Fund subscribers, Waldo just got paid by the War Department. After fighting with them for two years since 1799 for the funds necessary he will refit the fort with strong brick arches. Does the old hill fort have tunnels leading to Richard Derby’s wharf that Elias Hasket Derby Sr. was looking to refit before his death in 1799?

James Russell Lowell, also gave a lecture on “Dante’s Inferno”. He was working with Holmes and Longfellow on a translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy at Harvard. The book The Dante Club goes over the history of that undertaking within a murder mystery where people are being murdered by various punishments found in Dante’s work.

That hill fort, the man it was named after, Timothy Pickering. He was Washington’s Aide to Camp, his Secretary of State, and Secretary of State for John Adams. Pickering after leaving Washington was the head of the Essex Junto. An organization whose sole purpose was giving New England back to the British. He had worked with John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Aaron Burr in this process that culminated in the Hartford Convention in 1814 that Daniel Webster participated in that threatened cession and siding with the British in the War of 1812. Little did they know the peace treaty was signed in Ghent, Belgium before they left Salem for Hartford…

In 1898, the Salem Lyceum voted to dissolve and give the records and remaining monies to the Essex Institute. The money became the “Salem Lyceum Fund” to be used to maintain a course of lectures.

In fact the Salem Boy’s Fraternity purchased the building next from the Lyceum that was owned by then by the Essex Institute. This was the boy’s second location in town after moving out of the Downing Building and they were the second and last tenants of this old wooden building; for they created their own inferno in it.

The modern brick building built on the location houses Turner’s Seafood. During the reconstruction of the Lyceum/43 Church restaurant to Turner’s the construction crew were disturbed by the “Flushing Ghost”. An entity would enter the women’s room who kept flushing the toilet. After much aggravation, the construction team decided to dismantle the plumbing since they were moving the bathroom anyway; the ghost then proceeded to the men’s room. Pictures of girl materializing out of the floorboards on the second floor also have been taken. Why is she cut in half by the picture? Because she remembers the original floor of the wooden building and not the current one.

Elsie also haunts the ladies room in Murphy’s. Up to the second floor in the back the foundation of the building supports the Old Burying Point. They say two coffins fell through the wall in the building. Since then Elsie has been rattling stall doors aggravating those women preoccupied with nature’s call for years now.

The Lyceum was built in the apple orchard of Bridget Bishop. Her house stood where the Salem Five Bank is now on the corner of Washington Street and Church Street. Her first husband Mr. Oliver had died and left her a house with many gables. Then she married Mr. Bishop. Even though she married a bishop, the church still hanged her as a witch. Her home was an influence on the exterior descriptions of The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne and the interior based on his cousin Susan Ingersoll’s home which at the time was missing a few gables…Hawthorne never spoke at the Lyceum, but acted as their secretary and his father-in-law sold tickets.

Now back to the boys; it is strange that their three locations in town were in buildings attached to tunnels. The boy’s were from the working classes without much affluence, could they have been doing the work of the ‘Artful Dodger’ and ran by some sort of ‘Fagin’. Their third and first location were in brick buildings; I guess they learned quick.

Zack Fagan of Ghost Adventurers and Ghost Hunters have filmed episodes in this building.

Now about Charles Lenox Remond and his sister Sarah training Frederick Douglass within these walls into the Abolitionist Movement; that is another story.

Many secrets in Salem!

For more read info Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City and its sequel Sub Rosa by Chris Dowgin published by Salem House Press. Available at Barnes & Noble, Remember Salem, The Witch House, Jolie Tea, and Amazon.com.

Some of Max Teller’s Favorite Flying Things, Flash Gordon Memorabilia

In today’s blog I am going to share with you my favorite Flash Gordon stuff. Here are my favorite rocket ships, Hawkmen, and ray guns from the classic Saturday morning T.V. show my Grandfather watched when he was my age.
A flying Hawkmen from Flash Gordon that resembles a Viking. One of Max Teller's favorite flying things. www.salemhousepress.com
This is one of Max Teller's favorite flying things, a Flash Gordon rocket ship model. www.salemhousepress.com
Not exactly a Flash Gordon rocket ship, but similar. Still it is one of Max Teller's favorite flying things. www.salemhousepress.com
One of Max Teller's favorite Flash Gordon toys. www.salemhousepress.com
One of Max Teller's favorite Flash Gordon toys, a tin ray gun. www.salemhousepress.com
One of Max Teller's favorite flying thing from the Flash Gordon T.V. show, the rocket ship. www.salemhousepress.com

Why don’t you share with me your favorite rocket ships from the 50’s and up. Post them below! I would love to see them!

-Max

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my book onAmazon.com! Now available in paperback at your favorite book sellers. Ask for it by name! If they do not have it in stock, ask them to order it for you.

Also come back every Friday at 8:30 pm, before I am sent to bed, to read my posts each week!