J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Out at Barrett’s Farm

I enjoyed yesterday’s celebration of the 300th anniversary of James Barrett’s birth even more than I expected. Of course, perfect weather makes any day enjoyable.

There were so many people who came to share their pride in that Concord site: Barrett descendants, local preservationists, fine craftspeople, dedicated reenactors, National Park Service staff and volunteers, and families from the area.

Work on the house itself was much farther along than when I first saw it, and farther along than back in the fall when Along the King’s Highway featured the picture above. (Here’s another article on work at the site, from New England Travel Planner in 2007.) Carpenters were hewing beams and installing rafters even as the celebration went on.

I got to go down to the unfinished cellar, which may be where Col. Barrett hid the Boston militia artillery company’s four cannon in the weeks before 18 Apr 1775. At least that’s where Gen. Thomas Gage’s spies said those cannon were.

My oddest moment was watching a video by two Nashoba Brooks School students that depicted, among other things, Gen. Gage and his wife Margaret discussing his plans to send troops to Concord. The scene reflected a hypothesis I put forward in a paper a few years back, that Gage was particularly eager to find the four cannon from Boston so that he wouldn’t have to tell his superiors in London that they’d gotten away from him in the first place. Apparently, I’ve already affected local youth with my wild ideas.

The local non-profit group Save Our Heritage is working hard to completely restore the Barrett homestead and make it a permanent part of Minute Man National Historical Park. With enough funds and time, everyone will be able to visit this significant historic site year-round.

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