2002: Menotomy
Treasure Cities
Buried Treasures
April, of course, always focused our attention on our own historic home town. Had I mentioned that it’s been called Arlington since 1867, when a lot of American communities took that name in honor of Robert E Lee’s Virginia estate, transformed in those days into a big cemetery? For sixty years before that, it had been West Cambridge, dubbed thus in 1807 in a fit of gray bureaucratization. In Revolutionary days and before, it had borne the elegant Algonquian name of Menotomy (usually, more formally, the Menotomy Precinct of Cambridge). We were told that an effort to restore the distinctive handle by initiative petition, before we moved in, had been turned back by the veterans’ organizations. P0002643ew
The City of Cambridge erected this monument in the Old Cambridge Burying Ground in Harvard Square in honor of the three Cambridge men (all of Menotomy) who died on the Nineteenth of April. Our cousin Jason Russell (1716-1775) heads the list of three, as he should: the other two apparently got themselves cornered in a tavern on Mass Ave and, according to a persistent story, were too scared and too far in their cups to escape. Elderly (almost ready to retire from the militia) Cousin Jason died on his front steps, denying entrance to the Redcoats who were chasing some Danvers men who had taken refuge in his basement. Into which the King’s gracious emissaries, hardly less terrified, pursued them and butchered them.
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