Salem First Muster Soldiers on Despite April Fool’s Day Storm

IMG_4731

More than 100 uniformed National Guardsmen and women, members of Veteran’s organizations and civilian onlookers braved the heavy snow and fierce winds Saturday morning to mark the 380th Anniversary of the first military muster in the United States in the very birthplace of the National Guard — Salem.

Soldiers and senior leaders of the Massachusetts National Guard, Veteran’s organizations, military re-enactors and living history groups were on hand to lend an authentic and solemn air to the event.

The first muster —or military drill — took place in Salem Common in 1637, the year after the National Guard was formed. Saturday’s event was a yearly celebration commemorating significant moments in the history of the Massachusetts National Guard as well as the origin of the Army National Guard.

In January 2013, President Barak Obama signed legislation initiated by Massachusetts Congressman John Tierney designating Salem as the birthplace of the National Guard.

Sponsored by the Second Corps Cadets Veterans Association, this 380th milestone anniversary kicked off at 9:30 a.m. with a wreath-laying ceremony at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and at the nearby gravesite of Captain Stephen Abbott, founder and first commander of the Second Corps. All stood as a single trumpet played a plaintive “Taps” in the acoustically splendid church. Each note seemed to hover weightless above the pews.

Chief of the Guard Bureau, 4-star General Joseph Lengyel, was this year’s guest of honor. He addressed the crowd at St. Peter’s Church before venturing outside to lay the wreath and lead the procession. “It’s good to be home,” the Peabody native declared. “I am proud of who we are and what we mean to this country. I am proud of all these people — doctors, lawyers, store owners, teachers, policemen and women — who have committed to keeping our country safe abroad and at home.”

Lengyel serves as the 28th chief of the National Guard Bureau and as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is a military adviser to the President, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council.

Captain Phillip Jenkins, Battery Commander C Battery 1/101 Field Artillery, followed, raising a chuckle when he said, “This is the first time you’ll see a Captain following a 4-star General.” He gave a brief but informative history of the National Guard and what the term “citizen soldier” means, also praising the Second Corps Cadet Veterans Association for “maintaining camaraderie and service to fellow soldiers.”

Colonel Cheryl Poppe, a Salem resident, looks forward to Salem First Muster every year. She retired from the Massachusetts National Guard in 2008 and is now Superintendent of Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, where she oversees 136 long-term care and 194 dormitory residents. “I am delighted to see the press here and to see how many intrepid residents and members of the Second Corps ventured out on this snowy day,” she said, adding, “I am very proud to have been part of this. There is a lot of benevolent work here.”

Captain Jim Sweet, who joined the National Guard in 1977 and was battery commander of the 102nd battalion, rang the St. Peter’s Church bell, the same one that has rung after the death of every United States President since George Washington. A gift from King George to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the original bell arrived in Salem in1733 and was replaced in 1740. “Salem was at the seat of government during the Revolutionary War,” he reminded the crowd.

After a ceremony at Armory Park on Essex Street, participants marched to the Salem Common, where troops on horse back, some wearing vintage uniforms, re-enacted the first muster with: formations of troops, presentation of honors, inspection of troops, honors to the nation and remarks from Governor Charlie Baker, General Joseph L. Lengyel and Major General Gary W. Keefe. Tents billowed in the gusts that sent wind chill factors below freezing and caused a smaller turnout than in 2016. For those who stuck it out, there was the promise of a late-morning cannon salute.

One such resolute fan was Jerry Schmitt of Salem, who looked at his heavy coat, boots and gloves and laughed remembering last year’s commemoration in almost 70-degree weather. Although he never served in the National Guard, he tries to attend the Salem First Muster every year. “I’m just here to support the troops,” he said.

Advertisements

House of Seven Gables Throws its Founder a 150th Birthday Party

 

New exhibit celebrates Emmerton’s life and legacy

By Shelley A. Sackett

 

If Caroline Osgood Emmerton, founder of The House of Seven Gables Settlement Association, were to wander into their new exhibit celebrating her 150th birthday, Special Projects Manager Julie Arrison-Bishop is certain she would be pleased.

 

“We selected colors that would have been popular in the early 20th century to highlight the images and text selected to tell her story. Using what we have in our archives, we think that we give a look into Miss Emmerton’s life in a way that she would have appreciated,” Arrison-Bishop said.

 

Throughout 2016, The House of the Seven Gables will be honoring Emmerton, one of Salem’s most prominent citizens, and her 150th birthday. “Our annual exhibit program is a way for the organization to consistently improve the quality of the visitor experience and to share the many little known stories we have,” she added.

 

“Caroline Emmerton: An Unbounded Vision,” kicked off the year of planned events on Friday, April 8. The small but splendid exhibit features artifacts from Emmerton’s life, photographs, and richly detailed, easily digested commentaries. Especially charming is a carte de visite, recently discovered among photographs and wallpaper from her Essex Street home, that is believed to portray the young Miss Emmerton and her younger sister, Annie.

 

 

Caroline Emmerton oversees a settlement class, c. 1920.

Caroline Emmerton oversees a girls’ needlework class at the Seven Gables Settlement.

 

It all started with John Turner, a Salem sea captain and merchant who built the house in 1636. Three generations of Turners occupied it until 1782, when Captain Samuel Ingersoll bought it. He died at sea, leaving the property to his daughter Susanna, a cousin of author Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose visits to the house are believed to have inspired the setting of his 1851 novel, “The House of the Seven Gables.”

 

Emmerton (1866-1942), a philanthropist and preservationist, purchased the “old Turner Mansion” in 1908 with money inherited from her grandfather, maritime trader Captain John Bertram, an immigrant from the United Kingdom. Her mission was to carry on her family’s tradition of endowing and supporting charitable good works.

 

In 1873, Bertram had donated $25,000 to build Salem Hospital at a time when there were fewer than 200 hospitals nationwide. His generosity eventually funded the Bertram Home for Aged Men, the Salem public library, the Seaman’s widow and Orphan Society, the Family Service Association, and the city’s Public Welfare Society.

 

Music books and thimble

Music books and a thimble from a settlement class.

Emmerton was also a product of her times. She lived during The Progressive Era, a period in American life marked by widespread support for social and political reform. The plight of newly arrived immigrants was one of the era’s social concerns.

 

With the goal of preserving the house for future generations, Emmerton worked with architect Joseph Everett Chandler to restore it to its original seven gables.

 

She was inspired by Jane Adam’s Hull House, which opened its doors in 1889 in the Near West Side of Chicago, Illinois, to recently arrived European immigrants. Emmerton wanted to assist immigrant families who were settling in Salem. She envisioned providing educational opportunities for visitors and then using the proceeds from the tours to fund her settlement programs.

 

Her programs served all ages and were meant to enrich the lives of Salem’s primarily Eastern European community, offering lessons in sewing, crafts, job skills and English. Over time, Emmerton continued to expand and reorganize the compound, eventually moving four colonial-era buildings to the site. To her, exposure to historic environments and stories was a perfect way for new immigrants to absorb democratic values and practices.

 

Caroline and her sister, Annie, Emmerton

A carte de visite believed to portray the young Caroline Emmerton and her younger sister, Annie.

To honor this legacy, The House of the Seven Gables has partnered with Salem Parks, Recreations and Community Services to offer enrichment programs on the historic museum campus throughout 2016.

 

Because Emmerton did not leave much behind in terms of private correspondence and photographs, shaping this exhibit was challenging. Arrison-Bishop and her committee of volunteers had to look beyond the personal items historians normally use to share a story.

 

“Our biographical look at Caroline Emmerton was a wonderful opportunity to work with a group of historians who were interested in telling not only the story of Caroline Emmerton, but also what influenced her. Emmerton was an early leader in the field of historic preservation, and she used her knowledge and means to save a number of Salem’s most influential buildings — some of which are on our National Historic Landmark Campus,” Arrison-Bishop said.

 

While there are many lessons to be learned from Emmerton’s work that shaped her community and provided educational opportunities to those who needed them most, Arrison-Bishop hopes exhibit goers will pay particular attention to the broader nuances of history.

 

“One of the threads that we found both in Miss Emmerton’s biography and the background of the Progressive Era was a series of language — much of it politically charged — that shows how history continues to repeat itself,” she said.

 

Everyone is encouraged to attend the April 23rd “Caroline’s Community: A Celebration for All”, with $1.50 tours, cake cutting, dance performances, music and Living History Labs. Emmerton historian and Lynn resident, Irene Alexrod, will perform biographical sketches of her life throughout the day. “We hope that the public sees how Miss Emmerton used her influence and means to support her community,” Arrison-Bishop said.

 

For a full list of commemorative events, lectures and activities, go to 7gables.org.