Memorial Day in Hingham

Memorial Day arose in the aftermath of the Civil War, to honor the Union war dead.  It was frequently called “Decoration Day” because flowers were laid at the graves of those who had died for the Union cause.  The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of Union veterans which at its height had nearly half a million members, was influential in establishing one specific day—May 30—for commemoration of the North’s Civil War dead.  It is said that this day was selected because the flowers for decorating graves would by then be blooming throughout the country.  By the 1890s, all of the northern states observed Memorial Day each year on May 30.  (The states of the former Confederacy commemorated their war dead on a different date.)

In 1870, Hingham held an elaborate day of remembrance on June 17—the day the Town dedicated a monument to the memory of its Civil War dead. A thirty-foot obelisk of Quincy granite, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument stands on a hilltop in the center of Hingham Cemetery.  It bears the names of 74 Hingham men who lost their lives in the war.  Before the trees filled in, its site offered commanding views of the Harbor, World’s End, and Harbor islands, as can be seen from the early photograph and contemporaneous engraving above.

The details of the ceremony can be found in The Town of Hingham In the Late Civil War, by Fearing Burr, Jr., and George Lincoln, published in 1876.  A “procession” during the dedication ceremonies was elaborate and inclusive.  It was led by the Hingham police, two regiments of the state militia, the Weymouth Brass Band, and a drum corps.  There followed three “divisions,” each of which followed a different route through town, first to Agricultural Hall to hear an oration by local luminary Solomon Lincoln (1804-1881), and from there to the cemetery.  The procession included politicians, clergy, business leaders, schoolchildren, veterans, fraternal societies, police, firefighters, three brass bands, “citizens on foot,” “citizens in carriages,” and, poignantly, “orphans of deceased soldiers.

Solomon Lincoln was a well-known lawyer, Hingham’s representative in the General Court, and the author of Hingham’s first town history, published in 1827.  Lincoln opened his speech acknowledging that “[w]e have assembled to-day with mingled emotions of sorrow and joy—sorrow for the patriot dead who gave their lives to their country, and joy in the triumph of the cause for which they fought.”  Continuing with this theme, Lincoln added up the estimated 300,000 Union dead, 300,000 Confederate dead, and 400,000 “crippled or permanently disabled” to conclude that the war had a devastating personal impact on 1 million young men.  But, he noted:

notwithstanding these painful facts, carrying sorrow and calamity into so many families, and cutting down the flower of the young men of the land, we are permitted to rejoice in the success of the great struggle for which they gave their lives to their country. In the providence of God, the great cause of the rebellion was irrevocably removed, and every inhabitant of the land thus redeemed can enjoy the pure air of freedom. Our martyred president seemed to have been an instrument in the hands of the Almighty to purify this nation, and by his emancipation proclamation to breathe into it the breath of life, and to stamp his own with immortality.

Ever the local historian, Lincoln noted that he was speaking on the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill and evoked Hingham’s role in prior wars:

I have said that this is a historic day. The erection of the Monument to the memory of our soldiers and sailors in the place where it stands, has an appropriateness which harmonizes well with our local historical associations. It stands amid the graves of our ancestors, the first settlers of the Town, whose valor was displayed at an early date in our history, in defending our infant settlement from hostile attacks. The men who, in Provincial times, united with the forces of the mother country to repel the incursions of the French, repose almost beneath its shadow. The heroes and patriots of the Revolution, in considerable numbers, found their final resting-place within its limits. That distinguished general whose name is conspicuous in our annals, and who merited and enjoyed the confidence of Washington, rests in this consecrated ground. . . .  There, also, are the graves of many who bore arms in the war of 1812, by some called our second war of Independence.

Lincoln’s speech provides a hint that Hingham observed some form of Decoration or Memorial Day as early as 1870. When speaking of the Civil War graves near the new monument, he mentions that it has been “[b]ut a few days since the beautiful service was performed of decorating their burial places with flowers.”


No matter when Hingham started observing Memorial day, its services, speeches, and parades were well-established by the early 1900s, when we start to see photographic evidence.  The Hingham Journal described the events of Memorial Day 1918, occurring as it did while the United States was at war—World War I would not end until six months later, in November 1918.

MEMORIAL DAY, 1918, passed down into history as one of deep significance. Everything seemed permeated with a deeper feeling than usual. The speeches, the parade, the prayers, were all filled with things reminding us of the great world conflict. The courtesy shown by Commander Wallace in sending a detachment of Marines, and of Captain Edgar in sending a platoon of blue jackets, was appreciated, and helped to make the parade a success. It was the largest and best parade seen in the town for many years.

One of the “blue jackets” was Howard Henderson (1895-1982), a young man from Hingham who graduated college in 1917 and enlisted in the United States Naval Reserves.  Henderson exhaustively documented his life and his town in a series of photograph albums digitized and donated to the Society in 1996.  These albums include pictures of the 1912 Hingham Memorial Day Parade (above) as well as the 1918 parade, in which he marched with his unit.

World War I (with 116,000 soldier deaths) changed Memorial Day from a commemoration of the Union dead to a remembrance of all those who died in the military service of the United States.  This in turn transformed it into a holiday that was national in its appeal. In 1967, an Act of Congress made “Memorial Day” a federal holiday which one year later, in 1968, was moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May.

 

Hingham continues to observe Memorial Day every year and the 2022 ceremony will be held at Hingham Town Hall, starting at 11am.

Hingham’s Men in Massachusetts’ Black Civil War Regiments

After the Emancipation Proclamation issued in January 1863, some of the Northern states, followed by the federal government, started to recruit and train regiments of Black troops to support the Union effort.  One of the first, and indisputably the most storied of the Black regiments, was the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry.  It was raised and trained between February and late May 1863. On May 28, 1863, it marched through Boston to a transport ship at the harbor, with thousands lining the streets to watch it go.  The story is told that as the regiment marched past the Old State House—site of the Boston Massacre, where the first to fall was a Black man—they sang “John Brown’s Body.”

Massachusetts 54th Memorial, Boston Common [Courtesy of National Park Service]

The 54th first experienced combat on July 16, 1863, at Grimball’s Landing, South Carolina, outside of Charleston, followed closely by a bloody assault on Fort Wagner, in Charleston Harbor. The 54th suffered a catastrophic 270 casualties out of the 600 men who participated and lost its commanding officer, Col. Robert Shaw. Although the assault was unsuccessful, the bravery of the 54th in battle was widely recognized and helped spur the formation of additional Black regiments. By the end of the war almost 200,000 men of color had served, comprising roughly 10% of the soldiers who served in the Union forces during the Civil War.

Boston Globe, July 18, 1863. Louis L. Simpson, born and raised in Hingham, appears in the bottom photo, top left.

Six Black men who were born or lived in Hingham served in the Civil War:  David Henry Champlin,  Jason Prince, Lewis Legare Simpson, and Richard C. Winslow served in the Mass. 54th; Samuel F. Beach served in the Massachusetts 55th Volunteer Infantry; and Augustus Tuttle served in the 5th Colored Cavalry.  Here is a little more about each of them.

 David Henry Champlin (1835-1886)

Troops from the Mass. 54th or 55th before the Battle of Honey Hill, GA. [Photo courtesy of the Town of Ridgeland, SC]

David H. Champlin was born in Norwich, Connecticut on April 18, 1835 to Prince and Mary Champlin.  We know little about his family except that Champlin’s father was “foreign.”  By 1850, when Champlin was 15 years old, he was living with the family of James Chandler, a white shoemaker in Duxbury.  Champlin himself went on to become a shoemaker, so he may have been apprenticed to Chandler.  In any event, by 1860, Champlin was living in Hingham with a first wife, Hannah, and working as a shoemaker.

Champlin enlisted in the Massachusetts 54th on August 25, 1863. Thus, like Lewis L. Simpson, Jason Prince, and Richard Winslow, he joined after the momentous assault on Fort Wagner.  He served as a Private in its Company B until March 1864, when he was promoted to the rank of Corporal. (Black men were eligible to become non-commissioned officers only, with the higher ranks open only to white men.)  During this period, Company B participated in a significant campaign in Florida, including the Battle of Olustee, and also at the Battles of Honey Hill, Georgia, and Boykin’s Mill, South Carolina.  The Battle of Honey Hill marked the first time a majority-Black Union Army force engaged with Confederate forces.

Champlin was mustered out with the rest of the regiment on August 20, 1865, at Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.   After the war, Champlin returned to Hingham, his family, and his work as a shoemaker.  His second wife, Phebe, was the daughter of John and Margaret Quackow and the step-daughter of James Tuttle, founder of Hingham’s eponymous Tuttleville neighborhood, where Champlin and his wife settled:  the 1880 federal census shows them living at 76 Ward Street.  Champlin continued working in the shoe industry; in later records, he is listed an “operative,” meaning that he was no longer making shoes by hand but rather operating shoe-making machinery in a local factory.

Champlin died at age 50 of “dropsy,” a term sometimes used in the 19th century to describe what we would call congestive heart failure.  He is buried in Fort Hill Cemetery; his grave is marked by a government-issued gravestone marked, “Corp. D. H. Champlin.”

Lewis Legare Simpson (1843-1918)

Lewis L. Simpson attired in his GAR uniform. [ancestry.com]

Born in Hingham on April 16, 1843, Lewis L. Simpson was one of the 14 children of George Whitney Simpson and Eliza (Freeman) Simpson.  He was, on his mother’s side, the great-grandson of a Black Revolutionary War soldier, Asher Freeman, who served in the Continental Army from 1777 to 1781. Simpson’s sister Henrietta married James King Tuttle, becoming a matriarch of Hingham’s families of color in the Tuttleville neighborhood.
Simpson enlisted in the Massachusetts 54th on November 29, 1863, aged 20, and served as a Private in Company G.  One year after enlisting, on November 30, 1864, he was wounded at the Battle of Honey Hill, Georgia, an attempt to disable the Charleston and Savannah Railroad in support of General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea.” After six months in military hospitals in Beaufort, South Carolina; David’s Island, New York; and Worcester, Massachusetts, Simpson was discharged from service on May 25, 1865.  A bullet lodged in his ankle was never removed and bothered him for the rest of his life.

After the war, Simpson resumed his trade as a bootmaker.  He had married Maria D. Johnson before the war, and they settled in Bridgewater, raising four daughters and six sons.  He was active in GAR activities and reunions of soldiers of the Mass. 54th, including one held in Boston in 1913 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fort Wagner.  Simpson died in Bridgewater in 1918 and is buried in Mount Prospect Cemetery.

Jason Prince, 1842-1881

Jason Prince was born in Marshfield in 1842, the son of Sylvester Prince of Marshfield and Nancy Simpson of Hingham.  He spent his childhood in Marshfield with his family but by 1855, as a teenager, he was living with the Copeland family in South Scituate (now Norwell).  William Copeland was a Black shipwright and perhaps Prince was apprenticed to learn this trade; however, by 1863, when he enlisted, Prince was identified in his enlistment papers as a “farmer.”

Battle of Olustee. Llithograph, 1894, Kurz & Allison

Prince enlisted for a three-year term in the 54th on August 25, 1863—the same day as David Champlin.  He was 21 years old and served as a Private in Company G for his entire tour of duty. He joined his regiment at Morris Island, South Carolina, on Nov. 29, 1863; was injured at the Battle of Olustee, Florida, on Feb. 20, 1864; and was discharged owing to disability from the Union Army Hospital at Beaufort, SC, on June 8, 1865.

Prince returned to Massachusetts and in 1865 was living in South Scituate.  At the time of his death, however, he resided in Hingham. The Hingham Journal of April 22, 1881 reported a workplace accident at the J. W. Kimball lumber yard: Jason Prince of South Hingham had fallen from a pile of lumber.  While the prognosis at first was hopeful, he had injured his spine.  Paralysis set in and he died on May 1, 1881.  The death notice in the May 13, 1881 Hingham Journal noted that Prince had been “a solder of the 54th Reg Mass Vol.”  Prince is buried in High Street Cemetery.

Richard S. Winslow (1831-1904)

Richard S. Winslow was born on July 9, 1831 to Harvey and Clarissa Winslow, who resided at the time at 15 Ship Street, Hingham.  Like Lewis Simpson, Winslow was descended from a Revolutionary War soldier—his great-grandfather Benjamin Ward of Hingham served with the militia in the early years of the Revolution.  Winslow married Almira Franks, who was also born in Hingham, in 1851; she died in 1860.  His second wife was Prudence Celia Lee of South Scituate, with whom he had twelve children.

Winslow was 33, married, and the father of three when he enlisted in the 54th on December 10, 1863. His enlistment papers describe him as 6’2” and a shoemaker by trade.  During his service as a private in Company H, Winslow saw action at Olustee, Florida and Boykin’s Mill, South Carolina —the last battle in South Carolina and one of the last of the war.  After hostilities ceased, Winslow was “accidentally wounded in the foot” at Sumpterville, South Carolina and was mustered out of service on September 1, 1865 in New York City.

After the war, Winslow and his family lived in Hanover, where he died at age 73 in 1904.  His obituary mentioned his service with the Mass. 54th , his later active involvement with Hanover and Plymouth GAR posts, and his membership in Hanover’s Methodist Church.  Winslow is buried in the Hanover Center Cemetery.

Samuel F. Beach (1836-1871)

Samuel F. Beach was born in Hingham in 1835, the son of Michael and Harriet (Simpson) Beach. As a young man, his family moved around the area; he lived in South Scituate in 1850, Plymouth in 1855, and Duxbury in 1860.  In the 1860 federal census, he is listed as a “farm laborer.”

The Mass. 55th enters Charleston. Harper’s Weekly, Mar 18, 1865.

Beach enlisted in the Massachusetts 55th Volunteer Infantry (the second Black infantry unit raised by the Commonwealth) on January 9, 1865.  In February 1865, the Mass. 55th was one of the Union regiments that entered Charleston, where they were met with enthusiasm by crowds of newly-liberated Black slaves and free Black Charlestonians. The 55th remained in South Carolina for the rest of the war, largely engaged in occupying Charleston, before returning to Massachusetts in September 1, 1865.

After the war, Beach settled in Salem, where he married Ann Thompson, and had a daughter, Emma, who was born in 1866.  He continued to work as a general laborer, living to age 86.  Beach died of pneumonia in 1871.

Augustus Tuttle (1835-1911) 

Augustus Tuthill enlistment record, August 31, 1864

Augustus Tuttle was born in Hingham in 1835, the son of John Tuttle and Harriet N. (Davis) Tuttle, but raised by his mother in Salem.  In 1858, he married Mary Elizabeth Pitts Lewis of Lowell, who died the following year.

On August 31, 1864, Tuttle enlisted in the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry, the only Black cavalry regiment mustered in Massachusetts.  Company M, in which Tuttle served as a Private, was the last company of the 5th Colored Cavalry to be formed and the last to be mustered out, having been sent to Texas after the war was over.

Tuttle’s military records render his last name as “Tuthill” and provide his occupation as “barber.”  After the war, on May 1, 1866, he married Elizabeth Ann Lew.  The couple lived in Charlestown and then Cambridge.  He was listed in an 1883 Boston City Directory as a “hairdresser” with a shop at 25 Derne Street, on Beacon Hill, and a home in Cambridgeport.  Twice a widower, Tuttle died in Chelsea in 1911.

[A prior version of this article appeared in the Hingham Anchor.]

Hingham Sailors in the Civil War: Where the Wild Winds Swept Them

In August 1862, three young Hingham men enlisted in the U.S. Navy. At the Charlestown Navy Yard, they were issued uniforms and entered into the record: Benjamin Jones, twenty-nine, hazel eyes, dark hair; George Merritt, twenty-one, blue eyes, brown hair; Henry Trowbridge, twenty-one, blue eyes, light hair. Ranked as landsmen, they will earn $13 a month.1

Trowbridge Henry NavalRec 1862 copy

U.S. Navy, Enlistments at Boston in 1862.  Henry Trowbridge of Hingham.

The war was in its second year. The month before President Lincoln had put out an urgent call for additional troops, and the town had rallied to meet its quota. On July 25, 1862, the Hingham Journal printed a powerful appeal that included increased bounties:

Within days of the newspaper notice, our three Hingham Centre boys enlisted, and the village must have been a hive of activity as family and friends gathered to wish the young men well. Benjamin and Henry were first cousins and related to George through the old Massachusetts families.

098665501After several months of training in the north, the three young men left for the sounds of North Carolina aboard the USS Hetzel, a side-wheel steamer, chartered to maintain blockades on southern ports. In North Carolina, they transferred to the gunboat USS Louisiana, “five guns,”2 whose mission was to intercept blockade runners and support ground troops. The ship was crowded and damp, the weather humid and, in addition to the enemy, sailors fought the plethora of diseases that haunted ships. At some time that winter, George Merritt got sick. Suffering from intense fevers and chills, he was moved to a hospital in North Carolina. On February 7, 1863, he died of “swamp fever” and was buried “from the hospital.”2

George Merritt II

Hingham Civil War Monument, Hingham Cemetery

A letter or telegram carried the news north. Adding to his parents’ grief was the fact their son was buried so far from home. They would eventually place a memorial headstone in the First Parish Cemetery in Norwell,and George’s name would be inscribed on the Civil War Monument erected by the town after the war. The publication produced for the monument’s dedication, details his service and asks: “Is his sleep less sweet in the land where the wild wind swept him, than if soothed to rest at home, and kin and friends had wept him?”2

Benjamin and Henry remained aboard the USS Louisiana through the winter, and in April 1863, they took part in the sea and land battle at Washington, North Carolina. In August, their service complete, they were discharged and “granted passage home.”2 It must have been a subdued homecoming—of the three young sailors who had left the year before, only two came home. And Henry was ill. The Hingham Journal reports the homecoming:

September 4.

Henry Trowbridge has been confined to his father’s residence with fever, is getting better. Benjamin Jones has enjoyed good health since his return from the U.S. gunboat Louisiana, which were blockading Washington, N.C. The young and noble Merritt was one of the three from here in their company; his bones now rest on Southern soil, but his soul is in heaven.

At war’s end, Henry went to work with his father in a meat market in Hingham Centre. He married, moved out of his parent’s house on School Street, and built a house at the corner of Pleasant and Union streets. After the untimely death of his wife, Mary Ordway Trowbridge, he married Hannah Ferris, an Irish immigrant, and had five children. In addition to rebuilding the house at 51 Pleasant Street after it burned to the ground, he built two houses on Union Street, the one at 11 Union survives. Throughout his long life, he lived to be 87 years old, he was involved in the work of US Grand Army of the Republic post, which Civil War veterans started after the war.  When he died in 1930, he was remembered as “one of the oldest GAR men in the State.”4

Henry Trowbridge age 21

Henry Trowbridge, age 21. Hand-tinted dagurreotype from family collection.

Footnotes

  1. “United States Naval Enlistment Rendezvous, 1855–1891,” NARA microfilm publication M1953. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. Henry Trowbridge, Benjamin L. Jones, George H. Merritt, Aug 1862. FamilySearch. Web. Author note: Henry and George were actually both 20, not 21 as indicated in the records.
  2. Burr, Fearing, George Lincoln, The Town of Hingham in the Late Civil War. Includes biographical information Benjamin Jones, pp. 312–313; Henry Trowbridge, p. 313; George Merritt pp. 388–389.
  3. See photo of memorial headstone, George H. Merritt, First Parish Cemetery, Norwell, Plymouth County. Find a Grave website, findagrave.com
  4. Henry Trowbridge obituary: Daily Boston Globe, May 7, 1930.

About the author

Meg Ferris Kenagy is a freelance writer who grew up in Hingham, Massachusetts. She is the author of The House on School Street, Eight generations. Two hundred and four years. One family.

To My Children

After recuperating from a wound suffered during the Saratoga Campaign at his home in Hingham, Massachusetts, Major General  Benjamin Lincoln of the Continental Army was well enough to rejoin George Washington in New York in early August 1778.  Although he did not yet know it, he would be given the command of the Southern Division of the Continental Army in September 1778.  He would not be home again for any period of time for five years.

When General Lincoln left Hingham, his wife Mary was recovering from smallpox.  His eldest son, Benjamin, Jr., was 22 and away from home, studying the law.  Six children were at home:  Molly, 20; Elizabeth, 19; Sarah, 17; Theodore, 15; Martin, 9; and Hannah, 5.  Molly, the oldest daughter, who is referenced in this letter, was intellectually disabled and lived with her parents throughout her adult life.

On July 28, 1778, en route to New York, the General penned this letter to his children:

My Children:

The ill health of some of you, joined to my great hurry, prevented my making some general observations to you relative to your future conduct before I left home—some of which are of the greatest importance.

In the first place you will never forget your God—the duty you owe to him as your creator, preserver and best benefactor.   The duty you owe to your neighbor and to your selves you will learn from divine revelation, which you will attentively study, and the example of our dear redeemer.

I must mention to you the peculiar state of your mother whose cares and burdens are greatly increased by my absence. I need not urge; I am sure your own feelings will always suggest to you the propriety of your lessening her cares, lightening her burden, and treating her with every mark of tenderness, duty. and respect.  Never wound her by doing a wrong action. You may safely confide in her advice.

I must in the next place recommend to your constant notice your sister Molly. Consider who made you to differ.  You owe her every attention.  Make her life as happy as in your power. Some are made strong to bear the infirmities of the weak.

You will love each other.  Those of you who are grown up will counsel those who are not. Never set an ill example before the little ones.  Encourage them to every act of goodness, charity, and benevolence by precept and example.

As our happiness is connected with the happiness of those about you, always watch over yourselves; let your deportment at all times be such, if possible, that even the malicious shall be constrained to acknowledge its fitness.

I am in haste, must close ,but cannot do it without saying again remember your God, love your fellow creatures, injure no person.

I am, with every wish for your present and future happiness, your affectionate father,

B. Lincoln

 

A Book for Governor Andrew

george_livermore_1904_portraitOn August 14, 1862, George Livermore, an historian, rare book collector and abolitionist from Cambridge, gave a lecture at the Massachusetts Historical Society titled “An Historical Research Regarding the Opinions of the Founders of the Republic on Negroes as Slaves, as Citizens and as Soldiers.”  In his lecture, also published that year, Mr. Livermore argued that the Founding Fathers considered black men capable of bearing arms and fighting for independence and therefore they should also be allowed to fight for the Union cause in the Civil War then underway. img_2433

Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner gave President Lincoln a copy of Livermore’s lecture, and it is said that Livermore’s arguments influenced Lincoln when he was drafting the Emancipation Proclamation in the fall of 1862.  A few month’s later, through Sumner’s offices, the pen with which President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation was given to George Livermore.  (It is currently on display at the Massachusetts Historical Society).

john-albion-andrewAlthough Lincoln disappointed Sumner by moving deliberately toward introducing uniformed black soldiers into the Union Army, his administration responded positively when, in January 1863, Massachusetts’ abolitionist war Governor, Hingham’s own John Albion Andrew, lobbied for leave to raise a black regiment.  The Massachusetts 54th Infantry Regiment was the first to be comprised of black volunteers, from Massachusetts and other states.

Was Governor Andrew at the Massachusetts Historical Society when Mr. Livermore gave his lecture?  Did Sumner or Livermore send Andrew a copy? Either way, it is fitting that one of the books in our collection from Governor Andrews’ library is his copy of “An Historical Research,” making the case for black soldiers and citizens, inscribed for him by the author.

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LST-1077

In December 1941, the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company started to build a shipyard on 150 acres of land at Hewitts Cove in Hingham. By June 1942, the first ship, a destroyer escort, was completed and launched from the Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard. The Shipyard built 132 destroyer escorts before turning to the construction of tank landing ships in 1944.

Tugboat “Venus” Escorting Tank Landing Ship LST-1077

This photo shows LST-1077, one of the last of the 165 tank landing ships launched from Hingham in 1944 and 1945. It is making its way out to sea–perhaps near Hull Gut–guided by the tug “Venus,” on April 19, 1945.

LST-1077 only arrived in time for the tail end of World War II, entering Pearl Harbor on July 19, 1945 and remaining there until August 29, 1945, when she ferried U.S. troops to Japan for the post-war occupation. In the Korean War, she served the Pacific Fleet from 1950 through 1955. In that year, she was finally given a name—the U.S.S. Park County.

After a substantial refit in 1965, the U.S.S. Park County supported the United States forces in Vietnam from 1966-1971. The Navy sold her to the Mexican government in 1978. Rechristened the A.R.M. Rio Panuco, she served the Mexican Navy as a landing ship.

At the end of her useful days, the Mexican Navy used LST-1077 as a target ship during military exercises. Her final service, then, is as an artificial reef off Mexico, where she provides a habitat for marine life.

Quite a journey, which all started at the Hingham Shipyard.

Glimpses of Huit’s Cove

Courtesy of George and Linda Luther Watt, the Society recently acquired a pair of watercolor drawings of Huit’s (or Hewitt’s) Cove—the site of the Hingham Shipyard—in early 1942.

Huit's Cove, in watercolor and pencil, by Beatrice Ruyl, January 23, 1942. Hingham Historical Society

Huit’s Cove, in watercolor and pencil, by Louis Ruyl, January 23, 1942. (Hingham Historical Society)

The earlier drawing, dating from January 1942, shows part of the area prior to construction of the Bethlehem Shipyard. Hingham artist Louis Ruyl slipped into the area only weeks before construction began and captured a weedy winter landscape where only a few months later would stand an enormous industrial complex on almost all of the site’s 150 acres.

“Slipways” Watercolor and pencil picture by Louis Ruyl of the start of construction of the Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard. May 2, 1942.

The second picture dates from May 1942, when construction of the shipyard was well underway. The artist titled it “Slipways.” There are cranes, tugboats, and, In the distance across the Cove, the Bradley Fertilizer Works.  Within a very short period, the shipyard was up and running.

Launch of a destroyer Escort, Bethlehem-Hingham Shiphard, 1944 or 1945. (Hingham Historical Society)

Launch of a destroyer escort from Bethlehem Hingham Shipyard, 1944 or 1945. (Hingham Historical Society)

Fewer than 10 years earlier, Huit’s Cove had been the site of an enormous costume pageant to celebrate Hingham’s 300th anniversary. Nearly 1,000 residents participated.

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The cast of one scene in the Tercentenary Pageant–the “Ordination Ball”-in colonial costumes. June 1935. (Hingham Historical Society)

pbaggerph301

Spectators in bleachers built at Huit’s Cove for the Hingham Tercentenary Pageant, June 27-29, 1935 (Hingham Historical Society)

Prior to to that, a short-lived airfield called Bayside Airport occupied the site.

Biplane in a hangar at Bayside Airport, Huit's Cove, Hingham. (John Richardson Collection, Hingham Historical Society)

Biplane in a hangar at Bayside Airport, Huit’s Cove, Hingham. (John P. Richardson Collection, Hingham Historical Commission/Hingham Historical Society)

Going further back, into the 18th century, Patience Pomatuck was said to have gathered native and naturalized plants from Huit’s Cove, which she used for medicinal, herbs, dyes and other household uses. Patience made a living selling these plants to her English neighbors in Hingham. We have no record of which plants grew in the Cove’s many acres, but among them would probably have been rushes, which could be formed into baskets and rush lamps; wild gentian, for use as an emetic; and mullein, used as cough medicine.

Common_Mullein

Common Mullein

Fringed Gentian

Wild Gentian