Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Ah, the Wondrous Google! And "The Great Meadow Hill"

[If this disappears before it posts, the link is at

Much to my own shame, I'm a "Pearls Before Swine" fan. How did this happen to ME? As a child I was addicted to Charles Schulz' Peanuts, a strip about the depressing life of a child. Now, as an adult, I'm addicted to "the strip about death".

But, I digress. Unable to travel much, I make a lot of trips via "Da Google" as I read through Lovecraft's Life and Letters.

[To Kleiner 11 August 1921]
...O condition most rare! ... the telephone rang [it was] Harold Bateman Munroe ... we were soon rattling over roads ... an excursion to Taunton & Rehoboth ... the climax came when we sought the ruins of our old "country clubhouse on Great Meadow Hill.

Now, we wonder if Kleiner wondered where this was? Chrispy sure did. I did a search, and was stunned. From Angell Street it's at least 8.4 miles into Massachusetts with a few boys on bicycles in 1906!! We have to recall that today we have 300 Million people in the United States, but in 1900 it was 76 Million, soon to be 92 Million in 1910. This was pretty sparse, rural area one suspects - Lovecraft alludes to it ... "much had changed - saplings had grown into trees, rd houses had been pained white, an old mill had tumbled down, & many verdant meads had become defaced bythe sites & hovels of Italians & Portuguese ... yet more was still unchanged ..." (In 1920 there were 106 million in the United States).

I located as best I could the area on Google - and while it's greatly developed, one imagines that it was very sparsely populated then. The clubhouse was assisted by a local resident.

[To the Gallomo, 31 August 1921] "... our youth came upon us a flame ... we seemed to see the old gang ... Ron, & Ken, & Stuart, with the fresh faces and clear eyes of youth ... [our] clubhouse ... [an enlarged] old wood-cutter's shanty ..."

[As usual, the images should expand if you click them. I hope!]


From a posting on the Ebayeum ... Early 1900's PC Someone wrote in gold ink on front of card - Greetings From REHOBOTH MASS with view of sheep in a park ... One suspects this is very similar to what the boys would see as today there is a great parkland near the location.

Below, I found two obscure references to the location.


Mr. Joshi in Letters to Kleiner footnote 3 on page 212 refers to "In another letter (SL 1.146) HPL identifies this man as James Kay. Well was I off on a goosechase! Luckily I have both SL I, and Letters to Galpin. The letter in SL I is #86, and is very abridged. Mr. Joshi obviously did have access to the original, for in Letters to Galpin p. 97 we read the excised portion that includes the man's name, "...at wheeler's cornerwe turned from the level pike ... up the long slope we jolted, past the last farmhouse - the mournful old Moore place ... to the forest that marks the neighbourhood of the summit ..." and "... built with the aid of old james kay the civil war veteran ... James Kay was a splendid mason who had worked on carolina fortifications during the war. he died long ago, God rest him, but we felt his work would survive his body."

One assumes some math - 41 years passed between 1865 and 1906, making Kay well passing 60 at the time. 15 more years had passed prior to Munroe and Lovecraft's visit. I did a brief google search, but someone with ancestry.com should have more luck tracking down Mr. kay. Email me Chrispy if you do.

Later I will try to compile both reports as one narrative, as I still believe that HPL often wrote these trips up as diary entries, and then reproduced it for correspondents as needed, spinning to this or that individual.

Horton Signal

Location: Intersection of Brook and Chestnut Streets.

History: This high hilltop was the site of a lookout and a signal beacon during the Revolutionary War. Today, the town is heavily wooded so it is difficult to imagine the view as seen in Colonial times. During the Revolution, most of the town was cleared into farm land. This allowed a sentinel to see Bristol, RI., and Narragansett Bay, where the British were threatening to attack the American rebels. The next beacon site that could be seen was Great Meadow Hill in North Rehoboth.

Most likely, wood fires were set at each site as a signal system that reached from Rhode Island northwards. The signals alerted local Militia men, known as Minutemen, to British attacks. At the foot of Horton signal on Brook Street stood a "Liberty Tree," a great pal tree where the Militia gathered in times of emergency before marching to the battle.


Settlement Pattern: There were no documented native Contact Period sites. A probable Contact Period vil 1 age site was reported opposite the Steven's Corner cemetery, near the junction of two suspected major native routes(recorded artifacts included one copper projectile point). A possible period burial was reputed to have been situated on the north side of Davis Street approximately midway between Mason and First Streets. Additional native settlement was 1 i kely adjacent to the Anawan trail and Palmer River and the Anawan Rock, a convenient rockshelter, and Great Meadow Hill. The last was utilized as a refuge by Anawan(Pokanoket sub-chief under Philip) and his followers shortly after thedeath of King Philip. A large number of unidentified native sitesclustered about Shad Factory Pond and north and south of the pond alongthe Palmer River are potential period sites. The pond area is apdrticul arly promising site for native settlement since herring spawnannually at the head of the pond. The excel lent agricul tural landeast of Manwhague Swamp probably encouraged native occupation of thisdrea.


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