Saturday, July 12, 2014

SIX REASONS TO VISIT LEXINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS

Summertime invokes the wanderlust in me, and so I flew to New England a few weeks ago.  The trip was not foot loose and fancy free, however—I had a mission. In the coming weeks I will share with you some of the places I visited, most with genealogy in mind.

I visited Lexington, Massachusetts, former home to my Cutler ancestors.  My 9th great grandfather, James Cutler, came from England and settled in Cambridge Farms, now Lexington.  James had three wives. I am descended from his son Thomas Cutler, whose mother was Mary Bernard, widow of Thomas King. (1)

Our first stop in Lexington was the Visitors Center, 1875 Massachusetts Ave., where we purchased tickets for the Liberty Ride Trolley.

1. Lexington Battle Green

While we were waiting for our tour to start, we walked over to the nearby Lexington Battle Green.

Militiaman Statue
Lexington, Massachusetts

When we reached the green, we were greeted by a gentlemen dressed in period costume who explained to us the events leading up to the American Revolution. Danger was in the air, the Redcoats were on their way and the militia was called.  I tried to imagine the fear of the town’s folks and the bravery of the people who stood on that green defending themselves, their families and their land. Our guide then walked us to the Revolutionary Monument honoring the dead and wounded.

Revolutionary War Monument
Lexington, Massachusetts

 2. First Parish in Lexington

There was still time before our trolley arrived, so we headed toward the beautiful white church next to the green: the First Parish in Lexington. For the fascinating history of this First Parish, click here here.  James Cutler and about 30 other families signed a petition in 1682 asking the Massachusetts legislature for permission to start their own parish. (2)  The first meeting house was built in 1692. (3) In 1696, Thomas Cutler, Sr., was one of the signers of the First Covenant. (4)

First Parish Church
Lexington, Massachusetts

3. Ye Old Burial Ground

While we were looking at the church, I noticed a sign for "Ye Old Burial Ground".

Ye Old Burial Ground
Lexington, Massachusetts

I realized that was where many of my Cutler ancestors were buried, so I hurried to the side and back of the church to explore the cemetery. Time was running out and the grass was wet, but did that stop me? No.  I sped up and down the haphazard rows until I found some Cutler/Cuttler stones.  What an exciting feeling to see gravestones from ancestors who lived 400 years ago. There were grandparents, great grand aunts, great grand uncles, 1st cousins 8x removed and half 2nd cousins 8x removed. It was a reunion of sorts. My sneakers and socks were soaking wet, but I was happy.


Cutler Gravestones
Ye Old Burial Ground
Lexington, Massachusetts

Cutler Gravestones
Ye Old Burial Ground
Lexington, Massachusetts

4. Liberty Ride

We rushed to get our trolley. The tour guide was an elderly lady dressed in colonial attire. She spoke passionately for 1 and ½ hours about the historic sites complete with many tales about the people who lived in Lexington and Concord. I have heard dozens of tour talks in my day, but she was by far the best.

Liberty Ride Trolley
Lexington, Massachusetts

5. Minute Man National Historic Park

Minute Man Statue
Minute Man National Historic Park
Concord, Massachusetts

The tour stopped at Minute Man National Historic Park. The day was beautiful, and I was able to take dozens of photographs. Here are a few:

Concord, Massachusetts
Concord, Massachusetts

Concord, Massachusetts

It was such a serene setting that it is hard to imagine the violence in 1775.

Later, on our way back to Lexington, we passed many tantalizing places: Orchard House (Louisa May Alcott’s home), The Buckman Tavern, the Emerson House, the Scottish Rite Mason Museum and Library and so much more. If only I had more time. 

6. Cary Memorial Library

Once we were back in Lexington, we grabbed a tasty lunch at Lexx and then headed for the Cary Memorial Library. A quick search in their catalog showed that they had books on the Old Burying Ground and on the Cutlers. Within minutes, I was paging through:
 
Brown, Francis H. 1905. Lexington epitaphs. A copy of epitaphs in the old burying-grounds of Lexington, Massachusetts. [Lexington]: The Lexington historical society [Spatula Press, Boston].

Burgess, Marjorie Cutler. 1965. A genealogy of the Cutler family of Lexington, Massachusetts: James and some of his descendants, 1634-1964.

Fortunately, Lexington Epitaphs is available through Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/lexingtonepitaph00brow


A perfect day! I wish I could spend a week in the Lexington area. There were so many other sites I wanted to visit, such as the Lexington Historical Society, which was not open the day we were there.


Lexington Historical Society
Lexington, Massachusetts


CITATION SOURCES:

(1) Ancestry.com. "A Cutler memorial and genealogical history : containing the names of a large proportion of the Cutlers in the United States"[database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Originaldata: Cutler, Nahum Sawin,  A Cutler memorial and genealogical history : containing the names of a large proportion of the Cutlers in the United States and Canada, and a record of many individual members of the family, with an account also of other families allied to the Cutlers bymarriage, p. 18. Greenfield, Mass.: E.A. Hall & Co., 1889.
(2) “History of First Parish in Lexington,” First Parish in Lexington, Lexington Unitarian Universalist, Massachusetts, copyright 2014 (http://fpc.lexington.ma.us/index.php/history: accessed 8 Jul 2014). 
(3) Ibid.
(4) Ibid.

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