Monday, January 4, 2010

Another Cow, a Salmon, and Sam Adams


Yesterday I blogged about a cow, so I thought I’d try another cow story from the family tree…

Sam Adams, the revolutionary firebrand, and John Hancock (no wallflower, himself) were in Lexington, Massachusetts the night Paul Revere rode into town to warn them that the British regulars were approaching. They were at the home of the Reverend Jonas Clarke of Lexington when they heard the British regulars were on the march. So Sgt. William Munroe led the group from Lexington to Capt. James Reed’s house on the Burlington line (it stood on the south side of where the Burlington Mall parking lot is now). They were all just sitting down to a dinner of “a fine salmon” when they heard the warning, so a servant led them to safety to the Amos Wyman House. According to the “History of Woburn” by the Reverend Samuel Sewall:

“Mr. Marrett next conducted Mrs. Jones' illustrious visitors to the house of Mr. Amos Wyman, situate in an obscure corner of Bedford, Billerica and Woburn Precinct, where were collected the women and children of several of the neighboring families, who had flex thither for safety; fearing that if they remained at home, "the regulars" might come, and murder them, or carry them off. And now, as soon as Messrs. Hancock and Adams had had time to become calm after their flight, they besought Mrs. Wyman to give them a little food; saying they had had neither breakfast nor dinner that day. Their good natured hostess, in ready compliance with their request, took down from a shelf a wooden tray, containing some cold boiled salt pork, and also (it is believed) some cold boiled potatoes unpeeled, and brown bread; and upon this plain, course fare, they made a hearty meal. Upon their return to Mrs. Jones' the next day, they learned that the enemy had not come there in pursuit of them. Either they never intended it, or else, being closely pursued from Concord by their exasperated and hourly increasing Yankee foes, they thought it best to take a prudent care for their own safety, rather than to digress in their march, into the neighboring towns, in pursuit of Hancock and Adams. Not many years since, it was a current report in Lexington, that Hancock, in gratitude to Mrs. Wyman for her kindness to him and Adams at her house, in their flight for fear of the British, made a present to her of a cow.”

Mrs. Wyman’s cow has become quite a well known story in Middlesex County, and it is retold in many history books and websites. She gave these upper crust people all she had to eat, and just like the biblical widow of Zarephath, who fed Elijah, she was given her reward. The Wymans and the Munroes are all from my family tree.



The Amos Wyman home stood on the current Francis Wyman Road, just down the street from the historic Francis Wyman House. Amos was a descendant of the Francis Wyman who lived in the original home, the oldest house in Burlington (then part of Woburn) built in 1666. The Amos Wyman cellar hole is in Billerica, marked by a plaque on a nearby rock.  I'm a descendant of Francis Wyman, and cousin to all the Wymans in Middlesex County.
For a previous blog story about the Francis Wyman house, click here.

For More Information:

“The History of Woburn” by Samuel Sewell, Boston, Wiggin and Lunt Publishers, 1868 (page 366 has the story about Hancock, Adams and the cow)

The drawing is a mural at the Burlington Historical Museum painted in 1973 by Don Grovette and Jeff Weaver. It shows Mrs. Jones, Rev. Marrett, John Hancock, Cuff Trot, Sam Adams and his fiancĂ© Dorothy Quincy sitting down to eat that “fine salmon.”

The old photo is from page 59 of the book “Beneath the Old Roof Trees” by Abram English Brown, Boston, Lee & Shepard, 1896, showing the path Hancock and Adams took from the parsonage in Lexington.
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Looking for more Cow stories?
Cow Story #1 Have a Cow, Win a Wife!
Cow Story #3 Mooore Cows in the Family Tree
Cow Story #4 Daisy the Cow

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Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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