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The Prospect Hill Park Celebration.

The Dedication of the Prospect Hill Park, October 29, 1903, called attention to one of the most significant historic locations in our local limits, and one of the most significant historic events in our national history. The raising of the flag on Prospect Hill, January 1, 1775, was an event that looms larger and larger as time goes on. It was a small, but sturdy people shaking the fist of defiance at an old and powerful empire. Subsequent events disclosed that this was no idle threat. A young nation really announced itself at this time.

Prospect Hill has not attained the renown which its significance deserves. It should be a spot of historic pilgrimage second only to Bunker Hill and Lexington. But it has received very meagre attention at the hands of the general historian, and, until lately, has been held in but slight local estimation. This condition of affairs will now continue no longer. We now see the events which happened on this height in their true perspective, and their significance is felt and appreciated. The Somerville Historical Society will, undoubtedly, from time to time, unearth new facts and forgotten events in connection with this place. It furnishes a theme worthy of much investigation, and new historic data of significance may be expected. But even if no further historic facts are brought to light, Prospect Hill cannot, in the future, lapse into the comparative obscurity of the past. It must remain one of the beacon heights in American history.

Prospect Hill Park, as it is at present arranged, is one of the most beautiful parks in the state for outlook and for general beauty of arrangement. But at first it was a very unpromising location, unsightly in the extreme, and by no means an ornamental [74] adjunct to the scenery. The artistic laying out of the park was the work of much thought and careful consideration. This was accomplished through the efforts of the City Engineer, Ernest W. Bailey. The tower that surmounts the height was planned in his office. The imposing beauty of this structure grows upon the observer, and has been highly praised by architectural experts.

The work of preparing suitable inscriptions for this tower was delegated to the Somerville Historical Society, which in turn turned it over to the Committee on Historic Sites. This committee consists of Messrs. J. O. Hayden, Charles D. Elliot, and Luther B. Pillsbury. The committee, after much study, decided upon the following inscriptions:—

The American army under General Putnam
on June 17, 1775
Withdrew from Bunker Hill to this height
and here erected the
the Strongest work
in the besieging lines of Boston
and which for the nine months Withstood
the British Bombardment
June 17, 1775, to March 17, 1776.

here on July 18, 1775
was raised Amid great Rejoicing the flag
presented to General Israel Putnam
and his heroic soldiers
bearing the motto of Connecticut
Qui Transtulit Sustinet
and of Massachusetts, ‘an Appeal
to Heaven.’ [75]

from this eminence
on January 1, 1776
the flag of the United colonies
bearing thirteen stripes and the crosses
of Saint George and Saint Andrew
first Waved defiance to A foe.

‘the flower of the British army’
prisoners of War
who surrendered at Saratoga
were quartered on this Hill
from November 7, 1777, to October 15, 1778
guarded by American troops
under General William Heath.

on this historic Hill
Answering their country's call
in 1862
encamped the soldiers of Somerville
whose record of patriotism and Fortitude
in the Civil War
is worthy of highest Honor
and commemoration.

these inscriptions were prepared
by the Somerville Historical Society. [76]

The following is the inscription for the inside of the tower:—

this tablet is erected
in memory of the
soldiers of the Revolution
and of the Civil War
who encamped on
Prospect Hill
and of the Banners
under which they
Valiantly fought.

This tower and park dedicated October 29, 1903.

No excuse is necessary for suspending the regular issue of this publication to commemorate an event like this. The regular features of this magazine will be resumed with our next issue. This is a Prospect Hill number.

For the abstract of the exercises and addresses of the dedication we are indebted to the Somerville Journal.

Promptly at 2 o'clock, Thursday, October 29, 1903, to the music of the band and a salute from the gun of the naval brigade, Mrs. Lilla E. Arnold, of 28 Vinal avenue, unfurled a handsome new American flag from the top of the observatory. Mrs. Arnold is a direct descendant of Captain Jonathan Poole, who was ‘the standard bearer of the first flag designed and floated by the colonists in America,’ about 1658. The flag was presented to, the city by Prospect-hill Chapter, Daughters of the Revolution, of Somerville.

After a selection by the band, prayer was offered by Rev. J. Vanor Garton, pastor of the West Somerville Baptist Church. [77] The programme included: Singing, ‘The Flag,’ H. K. Hadley, by the pupils of the high schools, led by S. Henry Hadley; introductory address by Mayor Edward Glines; address, His Excellency Governor John L. Bates; singing (a) ‘The Breaking Waves Dashed High,’ (b) ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ by the pupils; address, His Honor Lieutenant-Governor Curtis Guild, Jr.; singing, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ (with accompaniment by the band); remarks, by John F. Ayer, president of the Somerville Historical Society; poem, by Librarian Sam Walter Foss; music, Eighth Regiment band; singing, ‘America.’

Address by Mayor Glines.

Mayor Glines said in part:—

Somerville appears to-day in a dual role. She is both guest and hostess. She is honored, and, in turn, she bestows honor. She invites His Excellency the Governor and His Honor the Lieutenant-Governor of this great commonwealth to participate in these ceremonies. She honors them by a reception such as only so patriotic a city can give, and feels herself honored indeed by the unusual compliment of the presence of both of these distinguished statesmen.

She is honored by the presence of those into whose care she has entrusted her keeping; by the presence of these old men, who have watched her grow from infancy to youth, and from youth to a strong young womanhood; by the divine supplication in her behalf; by the singing of the two hundred pupils from her surpassing high schools; by the song of her poet; by the stirring strains of the band; and by the military display that is to her a reminder of days that were not days of peace.

And, too, she is honored by this vast concourse of people— the outpouring of her citizens to celebrate an event in her history. In return, she honors us each and all by granting to us to step upon this hallowed soil and to breathe in the patriotic atmosphere of this occasion.

We believe these exercises will be carried out in manner most befitting; but however grandly we might have planned, [78] however nobly we might have wrought, it would not have been overdone, for, to do, more than justice to so altogether worthy a theme—that were an impossibility.

It has been aptly said, ‘Prospect Hill stands upon the same plane as Bunker Hill, Lexington Green, Concord Bridge, and Plymouth Rock.’

The British trooped by the foot of this hill on that memorable night when Paul Revere's warning; notes rang all along the way from Charlestown to Lexington and Concord.

Less than twenty-four hours afterward, its base was again skirted by the redcoats, as they beat their hasty retreat towards Charlestown, and it was here,

‘From behind each fence and farmyard wall,’ that the hottest shot and swiftest-flying bullets of their whole retreat accelerated their hurrying movements.

Address by Governor Bates.

Governor Bates spoke as follows:—

On behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I extend her greetings to her citizens in Somerville, and her congratulations on the dedication to-day of this historic spot and granite tower to liberty-loving people everywhere. Fellow citizens, you have done well. You have recognized the relation which the fortifications erected here bear to the history of our nation. The work done on Bunker Hill showed that the patriots of 1775 could fight. The work done here showed that they would never give up; that they could stand, but could not run.

So it came to pass while redcoats filled the town of Boston, while British warships thundered in the harbor and on the river, while the red-coated soldiers flung their defiance from yonder Bunker Hill, that upon this mount patriots plied the shovel, minutemen tramped the redoubt, and Lee, and Greene, and Sullivan, and Putnam planned bulwarks of revolution, and Washington raised the thirteen stripes of Union, and all the time, sheltered behind the citadel of this hill, a liberty-loving dependent people were becoming a liberty-demanding independent nation.

Behind the bulwarks erected here—bulwarks of sand and [79] men and of men with sand—was laid the foundation of a new commonwealth, was born a new nation—the mightiest of any age. Here the very wind tells of devotion and of struggle, and here may this monument ever stand to show not only the appreciation in which you hold the deeds of the fathers, but also that it may be the witness that the generation of to-day values its magnificent heritage, and is true to the ideals of those who bequeathed it.

Congratulations, then, again to Somerville that it possesses this interesting historic park, and congratulations on having a citizenship with the patriotism, the public spirit, and the generous heart to conceive and carry out this noble memorial.

Address by Lt.-Governor Guild.

Mr. Guild said in part:—

The monument we meet to dedicate is fittingly enough a suggestion of the battlemented turrets of a flag-tower. Here lay the embattled lines that for the last time saw a foreign foeman tread the soil of Massachusetts. Here for the first time was hoisted the first flag of an American Union.

Not here but on a neighboring height was stored the powder of the Middlesex towns so desired by General Gage, but though his soldiers on September 1, 1774, did secure ‘212 Half Barrels of Powder’ belonging to King George, they were too late to secure the rebel powder, for Medford, the last of all the towns to act, had carried hers away just forty-eight hours before.

From this historic height, now shorn, alas, at the command of commerce, of its yet loftier peak, the country folk of the Mystic valley saw this first hostile demonstration of the Revolution. Hither, too, came the British raging with the march and fight that had lasted well-nigh twenty-four hours on that historic nineteenth of April, for the battle that began on Lexington Common ended on the slopes of Prospect Hill. The British flankers surprised the American minutemen, firing upon the column in the street below. The boys fled before the redcoats. James Miller, of Somerville, alone showed that the gray hairs of age may outdare at times even the red blood of youth. [80]

‘I am too old to run,’ he said, and for the first time this historic spot was stained with the blood of the white man, where the old man died the death of a soldier and a gentleman.

From that day till the end of the siege of Boston the spot where Somerville's first blood was shed became the very Mount Pisgah of the American line.

Here for the first time after the first battle of the Revolution the officers of the Massachusetts forces were summoned. Here with the first guard mount of the Revolution on the evening that followed the Concord fight the siege of Boston began. Here, after the Pyrrhic victory of the English at Bunker Hill, came the men who retired only when the lack of powder left them without the means to fight.

Here they made their stand and invited the further attack that never came. The scarlet tide that overflowed the crest of Charlestown paused before this barrier that since has never known upon its crest the flutter in triumph of an alien flag.

The first flag to fly from the redoubt on Prospect Hill was not that of Massachusetts. Putnam had built the works, and Putnam, though a son of Massachusetts, hoisted on July 18, 1775, the flag not of his native but of his adopted state; the flag of the state which, except Massachusetts, contributed most to the Revolution. It was Connecticut's flag with its ‘Qui Transtulit Sustinet’ and the motto of all the revolutionists, ‘An Appeal to Heaven.’

Nor were all the troops that gathered here even from New England. Riflemen of Virginia and Pennsylvania and Maryland camped upon these slopes, and in this first serious contest of our country against a foreign enemy, as in the last, when we crossed the seas to fight a foreign foe, stood together not as Virginians or sons of Massachusetts, but as Americans united against the common enemy.

Address by John F. Ayer.

John F. Ayer's address was as follows:—

The tower is completed, outwardly, at all events. Still there remains to be placed in position the historical tablet. The [81] committee has placed this in the hands of the Somerville Historical Society to formulate. That very important and agreeable duty the Historical Society will cheerfully and conscientiously perform.

In concise and dignified English, it will tell the story, that all, young and old, may readily comprehend the reason of its erection, and be impressed with the lesson the monument itself conveys.

I fear we here do not the half appreciate the historic value of our surroundings—do not half comprehend or value the riches, historically speaking, of our city, even, to say nothing of the wealth of such material in the region included in the original Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies. We do well to mark all historic spots, and to call attention to these grand features in the landscape of our city.

As the most interesting colonial object outside of the Old Mill at Newport, R. I., the Powder House stands a monument to the liberality of one of our honored families. It and the park surrounding it deservedly attract the interest and admiration of all lovers of the historic, both native and the stranger within our gates.

Quarry Hill and Prospect Hill are surely immortalized. Why not immortalize the spot where the Blessing of the Bay was launched by erecting a fitting monument there?

Why not, Mr. Mayor and gentlemen of the city government, consider its claim for recognition? The Blessing of the Bay was the forerunner of that great shipbuilding interest that made Medford and New England famous—the forerunner, also, of the American navy, for it became the first armed cruiser of America, and although of tiny proportions—only twenty-one tons—it did good service along the shores of New England in protecting the interests of the settlers—the traders and the fishermen—from the attacks of Indians and others on the high seas.

Mr. Mayor, when the history of Somerville shall appear, one of the most interesting chapters, I fancy, will refer to ‘Somerville During the Siege of Boston.’ The whole of our area was virtually a military camp. The line of earthworks extended [82] across the town from Mystic river to the Cambridge line, thence on to Dorchester; our own citizens, as well as the other undisciplined yeomen from all the back country, lined the trenches and stood behind the guns!

In some way the exact line of these entrenchments and these forts should be permanently marked. I would suggest a line of steel flagstaffs at regular intervals from which each day Old Glory should float; from the top of these poles at night parti-colored incandescent lights might appear, and so by a display of flags by day and a line of electric lights at night, the way might be outlined, and thus authoritatively made plain to us to-day and to the generations which shall follow us. In connection with this observatory, a display of this kind would prove a great attraction and would draw many to our city to enjoy the magnificent outlook from the tower, and to, note the location of the oldtime earthwork across the city.

With the placing of the tablet, the monument will be completed, and stand as a sacred memorial of the great struggle of 1775 and 1776, which resulted in the evacuation of Boston, and ultimately in the independence of the colonies.

May the lesson which it teaches be taken home to all our hearts, may our interest in things historical and in all the means for the promulgation of historic truths, and our veneration for the noble men of former times and their patriotic deeds, increase from year to year, and our pride in the good name of our city and its historical objects and landmarks endure even unto the end.

The flag of Prospect Hill.

Poem by Sam Walter Foss.
Full many men must meet and mix
     To form a nation. On this height,
On that first day of seventy-six,
     A nation rose in sight.
And on this height stood men the peers
     Of God's strong souls of all the years.

[83] Time-tempered men from farm and shop,
     The disciplined recruits of toil,
The fruitage and the chiefest crop
     Of Freedom's sturdy soil.
A strong deed, in an hour of need,
     Finds strong men equal to the deed.

“Who, is this chieftain from the South
     Strong in his youth yet sternly sage?” —
“Fame placed her trumpet to her mouth
     And blew his name to every age,
And still that blast blows on and on
     That peals the name of Washington.”

‘What is that tall white shaft of pine?’
     “That shaft when many years have gone
Shall be a nation's lifted sign
     For centuries to look back upon;
To loom through perils, victories, fears,
     A beacon for a thousand years.”

“But see! there floats an unknown flag,
     A flag unseen, unknown before;
Let England's might tear down the rag
     That dares to, flaunt upon this shore-
Aye, snatch the insolent shred away-
     'Tis but the banner of a day!”

“Ah no; by many breezes fanned,
     That flag shall float o'er field and town,
And strong, ah, strong, must be the hand
     That tears that lifted banner down.
Old thrones shall reel, old realms shall die,
     But still that flag shall wave on high.”

“But who are these plain plowmen here,
     These wielders of the axe and spade,
In awkward regimental gear
     Drawn up in loose parade?”
“Why these are empire builders, man, The greatest since the world began.

[84] ‘Who are these cohorts from the wood?’
     “They are the vanguard files of fate,
Proud men of red, imperial blood,
     High, regal souls, and great,
The children of a haughty name,
     The sires of states and sons of fame.”

“And here to-day breaks on this height
     The sun-burst of a nation's morn,
That unknown banner greets the light
     That sees an empire born,
And these wide ranks that round us stand
     Are fathers of a mighty land.”

They flung their banner to the wind,
     They flung it in the face of foes,—
And thus they published to mankind
     That human nature grows,
And that a youngling state had grown
     Too big for insults from a throne.

That flag now floats from many a height,
     And waves its word from crag to crag,
Beyond the day, across the night,—
     The sunrise and the sunset flag;
That flag is blown by every breeze,
     Across the world and all its seas.

And as it waves from slope to slope
     From sea to sea, or far or near,
Ah, may it never shame the hope
     Of those strong men who placed it here,
But be, on sea or shore unfurled,
     The banner of the hope of the world.

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