Henry Knox Museum, Thomaston, Maine – Book Launch Part 2

Mary Mitchell singing Henry's Big Kaboom to children at the Knox Museum in Thomaston, Maine. Her cousin Haven Younger served as the official page turner.

Mary Mitchell singing Henry’s Big Kaboom to children at the Knox Museum in Thomaston, Maine. Cousin Haven Younger served as the official page turner.

Important things first. My cousin Haven Younger flew all the way from Napa, California, where she had been vacationing, to Maryland, where she lives, changed suitcases, and, on the next morning, flew to Portland, Maine to join me in Thomaston for the second round of my book signing adventure. I hadn’t seen her in ten years.

Haven Younger and Mary Mitchell singing the chorus of Henry's Big Kaboom

Haven Younger and Mary Mitchell singing the chorus of Henry’s Big Kaboom

Equally important, third cousins Amy MacDonald and Charles Fletcher, whom I had never met, and only came to know as a result of this genealogical adventure, joined our event from their nearby homes in Maine.

Third cousins Amy MacDonald, Mary Mitchell, and Charles Fletcher on the steps of the Henry Knox Museum.

Third cousins Amy MacDonald, Mary Mitchell, and Charles Fletcher on the steps of the Henry Knox Museum.

Through my membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, I found Mary Kay Felton, who is the regent of the Lady Knox Chapter of the DAR as well as a director of the Henry Knox Museum (known as Montpelier) in Thomaston. Mary Kay invited me to read/sing my book and have a book signing during the museum’s “Boom” event about Revolutionary War Artillery. Henry’s Big Kaboom fit right into their theme.

Mary Mitchell and Mary Kay Felton on the eve of the Boom! event at the Henry Knox Museum

Mary Mitchell and Mary Kay Felton on the eve of the Boom! event at the Henry Knox Museum.

Cannon fire demonstration during the Boom! event at the Henry Knox Museum.

Cannon fire demonstration during the Boom! event at the Henry Knox Museum.

I had visited the Knox Museum in 2006 when I first learned I was a Knox descendant. I was disappointed that the family tree of Knox descendants that hung on their wall did not include my great-great-grandfather, Charles Gordon Ames.

Family tree at the Knox Museum missing Charlie.

Family tree at the Knox Museum missing Charlie.

Charles had been an illegitimate child. He was the son of Lucy Anna Thatcher, who was the daughter of Lucy (Knox) and Ebenezer Thatcher. Lucy Knox Thatcher was the daughter of Henry and Lucy Knox. (A stack of family letters that is now in the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College proves this.) During the time Lucy Anna was pregnant with Charles, it was socially unacceptable to be an unwed mother. She gave him up to foster care. The foster parents gave Charles his last name Ames. No one yet knows with whom Lucy had her pre-marital affair, so we don’t know what Charle’s father’s last name was. However, as mentioned in an earlier blog post, new DNA results have given us a lead. (To be continued on a later blog post.)

Charles’ existence was kept a secret for a very long time, especially in the Knox family. When I learned I could launch my book at the Knox Museum, I made it my mission to add Charles Gordon Ames and his descendants to the wall. In the process of updating the family tree (see a previous blog post), I got to know, via emails and phone calls, many third cousins including Amy MacDonald and Charles Fletcher (shown above).

Amy MacDonald is also a children’s book author. She brought her books and read two of them. Little Beaver and the Echo and Rachel Fister’s Blister.

Amy MacDonald reading Little Beaver and the Echo. Haven Younger helped turn pages again.

Amy MacDonald reading Little Beaver and the Echo. Haven Younger helped turn pages again.

The museum is a 98% re-creation of the original Montpelier that, until the 1930s, overlooked the St. Georges River in Thomaston. The original was built in 1794. Thomaston has a long colonial history. Montpelier stood where explorer George Waymouth, back in 1605, surveyed the river in search of places for future British colonies.

Original mansion built by Major General Henry Knox and his wife Lucy Flucker Knox.

Original mansion built for Major General Henry Knox and his wife Lucy Flucker Knox.

When Henry died, his daughter Caroline inherited the estate. When she died, her sister (my 4x-great grandmother) Lucy inherited the estate. She left her son Henry the heir. Henry Knox Thatcher wanted nothing to do with the maintenance nightmare. He sold it and the furniture at auction. The house went to ruin.

The Henry Knox Mansion let to ruin.

The Henry Knox Mansion let to ruin.

When the railroad was built through Thomaston, the house had disintegrated beyond repair. It and all but one of the nine outhouses, an old brick farmhouse, were torn down. The railroad turned the farmhouse into the Thomaston Train Station. Now it is the Thomaston Historical Society. The society’s director Susan Devlin kindly showed me around even though the building was technically closed in June for repairs.

Thomaston Historical Society

Thomaston Historical Society in what was once an outhouse of the Henry Knox mansion.

The land on which the original Montpelier stood had been part of Henry’s wife Lucy’s family’s estate. My 7x great-grandfather Samuel Waldo obtained the Waldo Patent way back in the 1600s. It included today’s Waldo and Knox counties in Maine.

The Waldon Patent included today's Waldo and Knox counties.

The Waldon Patent included today’s Waldo and Knox counties on Penobscot Bay.

Samuel’s daughter Hannah Waldo married Thomas Flucker – Henry Knox’s in-laws and my 6x-great grandparents.

Hannah Waldo Flucker and Thomas Flucker. The Original paintings hang in Boudoin College along with a painting of Hannah's father, Samuel Waldo.

Hannah Waldo Flucker and Thomas Flucker. The Original paintings hang in Boudoin College along with a painting of Hannah’s father, Samuel Waldo.

Thomas Flucker was a Tory when revolution broke out in Boston. He served as the Secretary of the Province of Massachusetts. He and Hannah were pretty shaken up when their daughter Lucy fell in love with a rebel. But they did consent to the marriage. When Henry’s guns chased the British out of Boston, Thomas and Hannah sailed to Halifax with the British, never to see their daughter again. They also lost their rights to the Waldo Patent. After the war, Henry was able to work with the US government to obtain the lands back. Then he and Lucy built Montpelier.

In the 1930s, the Henry Knox Chapter of the DAR gathered enough money to build the new replica that is now the museum.

Today's Henry Knox Mansion, Montpelier.

Today’s Henry Knox Mansion, Montpelier.

It is about a quarter mile north of the original. In the next photo, I am standing where the old house was. You can see the museum in the distance.

View of the Henry Knox Museum Montpelier from the beach that was in front of the old Knox Mansion.

View of the Henry Knox Museum, Montpelier. from the beach that was in front of the old Knox Mansion.

When I arrived at the museum, Bailey, one of the delightful docents, gave me a tour. She showed me the paintings of my 6x great grandparents Thomas and Hannah (Waldo) Flucker (above). She showed me many paintings of Henry but no paintings of his wife Lucy because none exist, at least as far as anyone knows. Bailey guided me to a painting of Henry and Lucy’s daughter Lucy (my 4x-great grandmother, and one of only three of Henry and Lucy’s thirteen children who reach adulthood). I also saw Henry’s bed,

My 5x-great-grandfather Henry Knox's bed.

Henry Knox’s bed. Lucy had her own room.

Lucy’s piano,

This piano belonged to either Lucy or her sister, Caroline. Either way, my 5x-great-grandmother probably played it.

This piano belonged to either Lucy or her sister, Caroline. Either way, my 5x-great-grandmother probably played it.

one of Henry’s many bookcases,

Henry Knox's bookcase.

Henry Knox’s bookcase.

and the oval room. This oval room is one of only two oval rooms built during that era — the other is in the White House. Henry built his first. Even the doors are shaped to fit the perfect oval. The room served as an entryway meant to impress visitors. On the wall is a painting of Henry. Another painting shows George Washington’s first cabinet. Henry was the first Secretary of War. He served with Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Edmond Randolph, and of course, George.

The oval room in the Henry Knox Museum.

The oval room in the Henry Knox Museum.

Among his many talents, Henry was a brilliant engineer. He designed this stairway that is supported only by the arches.

The central stairway in the Henry Knox Museum designed by Henry himself.

The central stairway in the Henry Knox Museum designed by Henry himself.

Just up the road from the museum, Haven and I found the cemetery where Henry and his family are buried. The names of Henry’s wife and children cover the faces of all sides of the monument. Only Henry’s name has been preserved so you can still read it easily.

Graves and monument for Henry Knox and his family.

Graves and monument for Henry Knox and his family.

Henry’s daughter Lucy’s husband, Ebenezer Thatcher (my 4x great grandfather) has his own stone with one of Lucy’s daughters, Mary Henrietta (who married a Hyde).

Ebenezer Thatcher's gravestone.

My 4x-great-grandfather Ebenezer Thatcher’s gravestone.

Thanks so much to Director Matt Hansbury, the museum’s board and docents Sarah, Lindsay, and Bailey. Lindsay also helped with the video.

And thanks to my friend Jane Dimitry for trekking the three hours each way from Boston to join me.

Added attractions for the weekend were lobster rolls at McLoons in Rockland.

Cousin Haven outside McLoon's restaurant in Rockland.

Cousin Haven outside McLoon’s restaurant in Rockland.

And on the route between Boston and Thomaston, I stopped to shop at my favorite store, LLBean.

LLBean in Freeport, Maine.

LLBean in Freeport, Maine.

The Henry Knox Trail – From Albany NY to Westfield MA

The difference between telling stories about Henry Knox to friends in California and following his journey in New York and Massachusetts is that here in New York and Massachusetts, people care about Knox. They name businesses after him.

The Knox Trail Lodge near Otis, Massachusetts

The Knox Trail Forge near Otis, Massachusetts

They name art galleries after him.

Knox Art Gallery in Monterey, Massachusetts, along the Henry Knox Trail.

Knox Art Gallery in Monterey, Massachusetts along the Henry Knox Trail.

They name roads after him.

Street Sign for General Knox Road near Blandford, Massachusetts

Street Sign for General Knox Road near Blandford, Massachusetts

On Wednesday, I made it to Massachusetts Marker No. 7 before I needed to head to Maine, where I will give another book performance this coming Saturday, June 16.

Map of Markers on the Henry Knox Trail from Albany NY to Westfield MA

Map of Markers on the Henry Knox Trail from Albany NY to Westfield MA

It really is fun driving through the New York and Massachusetts countrysides searching for markers. A historical treasure hunt. I highly recommend it. But two days aren’t enough. I will finish when I return to New England in September for my niece’s wedding.

It was a rainy morning, so the photos are a bit dark.

I found New York Marker No. 24 in front of a church in East Greenbush on Route 20. It was up the road from Marker No. 23. The Hudson Valley Institute Guide stated that the stone and brass plaque indicates the continuation of the route east from where the Train of Artillery landed at the east side of the Hudson River opposite Albany.

Marker No. NY24 of the Henry Knox Trail in East Greenbush, New York

Marker No. NY24 of the Henry Knox Trail in East Greenbush, New York

Marker No. 25 stands in Schodack at a ‘Y’ in the road where Route 9 breaks away from Route 20. Knox came to the same junction in the road. He turned south (continuing on Route 20) on January 9, 1776. The artillery sleds followed later.

Marker No. NY26 of the Henry Knox Trail in Shodack, New York

Marker No. NY25 of the Henry Knox Trail in Schodack, New York

Marker No. 26 stands in the central square of a cute little town south of Schodack called Kinderhook . “This marks a turning of the old road to the east side of Kinderhook Creek.”

Marker No. NY26 of the Henry Knox Trail in Kinderhook, New York

Marker No. NY26 of the Henry Knox Trail in Kinderhook, New York

A pretty barn on the road past Kinderhook

A pretty barn on the road past Kinderhook

During the second week of January, Knox turned southeast on a road near today’s Routes 66 and 9. Marker No. 27 is on the lawn of a house on the corner of Route 66 and Snyder Road close to the village of West Ghent. Crossing Route 66, Snyder Road becomes Cemetery Road.

New York Marker No. 28 was only three miles away. To reach it, I continued southeast on Cemetery Road toward Harlemville. I passed more gorgeous farms. The marker stands on the corner of Taconic State Parkway and Harlemville Road. Very near there is Loudon Road. I wondered if it was an extension of the same Loudon Road I was following for a while in Albany.

Marker No. NY28of the Henry Knox Trail at the corner of Harlemville Road and Taconic State Parkway

Marker No. NY28 of the Henry Knox Trail at the corner of Harlemville Road and Taconic State Parkway

A beautiful farm near Harlemville.

A beautiful farm near Harlemville.

Still the second week of January, Knox reached the point where Marker No. 29 stands on a triangle of grass between Route 21 and 71. I proceeded along 71 as it crossed the state border. A sign for Alford lets you know you are crossing into Massachusetts. The trail marker stands below the sign. The brass plaque on the New York side of the granite marker is the same style we have been seeing up to now. Walking around to the other side of the marker, you see, for the first time, a plaque with the style designed for the Massachusetts markers.

Marker No. MY30 and MA1 of the Henry Knox Trail on the state border between New York and Massachusetts

Marker No. NY30 and MA1 of the Henry Knox Trail on the state border between New York and Massachusetts

The Massachusetts side of the marker on the state line. MA1 of the Henry Knox Trail

The Massachusetts side of the marker on the state line. MA1 of the Henry Knox Trail

A post hiding behind the marker confirms that you are on the state line. Notice how it faces a different direction from the marker.

Post denoting state line between New York and Massachusetts - New York Side

The New York side of the post denoting the state line between New York and Massachusetts.

Post denoting state line between New York and Massachusetts - Massachusetts Side

The Massachusetts side of the post denoting the state line between New York and Massachusetts

People in East Egremont, Massachusetts, are very proud of their Henry Knox Trail marker. It stands in front of the general store and is decorated with flowers. Another plaque at the base dedicates the monument to everyone who has died for their country, including victims of 9/11.

Marker MA2 of the Henry Knox Trail in East Egremont, Massachusetts

Marker MA2 of the Henry Knox Trail in East Egremont, Massachusetts

The proprietor of the general store told me that the building to the east used to be a tavern and inn. Henry Knox and his men stopped there for refreshment on their way through town.

Old inn in Egremont, Massachusetts, where Knox and his men stopped for refreshment on their way through town.

Old inn in Egremont, Massachusetts, where Knox and his men stopped for refreshment on their way through the village.

Over very hilly lands, the train forged eastward through Great Barrington noted by Marker No. MA3 at the north side of town.

Marker No. MA3 of the Henry Knox Trail ialong Route 23 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Marker No. MA3 of the Henry Knox Trail beside Route 23 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts

In the middle of the mountains, the route passes through another adorable village, Monterey. Marker No. MA4 is at the north end of town. As I did for the library in Hudson Falls, I stopped at the library across the street to obtain an address from the librarian so that I can send him a donated copy of Henry’s Big Kaboom. The librarian’s assistants were very excited about their trail marker. In Hudson Falls, the librarian didn’t know why there was a maker on the library’s front lawn. It is time to put the Henry Knox Trail back on people’s travel radar screens.

Marker No. MA4 of the Henry Knox Trail in Monterey, Massachusetts beside Route 23

Marker No. MA4 of the Henry Knox Trail in Monterey, Massachusetts beside Route 23

Monterey Public Library where I will be sending a copy of Henry's Big Kaboom.

Monterey Public Library where I will be sending a copy of Henry’s Big Kaboom. (The blue circle on the left is a statue, not one of my circles showing the location of a marker.)

Still heading east on Route 23, the route passed through another cute mountain village called Otis. But the marker isn’t in town. It is tucked among the bushes alongside Route 23 about ten or so miles farther up the road. The position of the marker looks nothing like the photo in the guide, which places it by buildings. Maybe the marker was moved after the guide was published. To add to the confusion. the map on the guilde shows the marker near the intersection of Gibbs Road and Route 23. There are two intersections of Gibbs Road about eight miles apart. I nearly gave up on this one.

Marker No. MA5 east of Otic on the south side of Route 23

Marker No. MA5 east of Otis on the south side of Route 23

After passing through the tiny hamlet of Blandford with nothing more than a general store and a post office, the route turns right on General Knox Road. Three miles up the hill, I spotted Marker No. MA6 hiding behind a road work sign.

Marker No. MA6 of the Henry Knox Trail in Blanford on General Knox Road

Marker No. MA6 of the Henry Knox Trail in Blandford on General Knox Road

Following today’s Route 20, the route next passes through the relatively large city of Westfield near Worchester, Mass. You have to be on the lookout for the marker as you turn the corner of Main Street. The marker faces inward toward the sidewalk, not at the street like the other markers do. This allows pedestrians to read it, which is handy.

Marker No. MA7 of the Henry Knox Trail on Main Street in Westfield, Massachusetts

Marker No. MA7 of the Henry Knox Trail on Main Street in Westfield, Massachusetts

A block down Main Street, I filled my rental with gas. Then I retraced my tracks north to find the Mass Pike and head to Maine. As I said, I will continue this journey in September. My next post will be about my time in Thomaston, Maine, where Henry Knox spent his later years.

Fort Ticonderoga – the Henry Knox Trail Markers No. 1 & 2 – My Book Launch

Henry Knox Trail Marker One Fort Ticonderoga

Marker No.1 for the Henry Knox Trail stands in the middle of the Parade Ground at the center of Fort Ticonderoga.

I approached the fort from Norwich, Vermont, where I had spent the night with my brother, Tom Ames and his wife Marguerite. Highway 73 took me through the adorable towns of  Bethel, Rochester, Brandon, and Orwell, as well as the Green Mountain National Forest, as in the Green Mountain Boys who helped Knox with his expedition.

As I came over the ridge, I could see the valley below leading through cow farms to Lake Champlain.

Lake Champlain is 124 miles long and averages only 14 miles wide. Highway 73 meets up with Highway 74 and crosses the lake to the New York side via a ferry, “one of the oldest ferry crossings in North America.”

About 800 feet beyond debarking the ferry I found the entrance to Fort Ticonderoga. I would stay for three nights at the nearby Best Western (the only place in town, but quite nice) and come and go from the fort. For this blog, I’ll combine the images into one event.

A friendly staff member greeted me at the gate, “Hi Mary.” without me even introducing myself. Chelse Martin, the manager who organized my book signing, had done her homework. This treatment – Queen for a Day – continued throughout my visit. The gatekeeper gave me the fort’s information brochure and blessed me on my way.

A peaceful tree-lined drive led me to the parking lot and Visitor’s Center.

Entrance to Fort Ticonderoga

A table display at the entrance to the Visitor’s Center told me I was expected.

My book signing/singing event took place the second day I was at the fort. I spent the first day taking all the tours and looking around. Not until the very end of the day did I drive to the top of Mount Defiance and take this photo. It gives you the lay of the land. You can see how Fort Ticonderoga is on a peninsula that sticks into the middle of Lake Champlain. Lake George, an important waterway leading to the Hudson River, thence to New York City, is behind me as I take the photo. “Ticonderoga” is the Mohawk word for “land between two waters.” When the French built the fort starting in 1755, they called it Fort Carillon. The American’s changed the name when they took it four years later in 1759.

Fort Ticonderoga from Mount Defiance

The general  “Key to the Continent Tour” starts at the American flag in front of the tunnel that leads into the Parade Ground. “Cannon in their wooden stock” and “mortars squat and fat” line the wall overlooking Lake Champlain.

I attended a gun demonstration for which they fired a replica of a 1775 cannon. I toured the displays of artillery in the museum. And I enjoyed the view of Lake Champlain.

I walked the rooms showing where the cobblers worked, the soldiers slept, and where the clothing was made. Dressed to match this season’s theme of 1781, staff members enacted the various activities that went on in the fort. For some seasons, the fort highlights periods when the English held the fort. Sometimes they highlight when the French held the fort. The uniforms change with the theme. This man is one of the uniform tailors.

I ate lunch with my second brother, Charlie Ames, and his wife Paula at the fort’s cafe overlooking the lake. Charles and Paula drove from their home on Buffalo to join me.

I took the boat tour to get a feel for the geography Henry Knox faced when he transported the guns.

I walked the tour of the Kings Gardens. After the Revolutionary War, the fort fell into decay. In the 1800s, the Pell family purchased it and rebuilt the fort, an early act of historic preservation. The Pell home, known as the Pavillion, and it’s beautiful gardens are just a short walk north of the fort.

  

By the time of my book signing, I was well versed about Fort Ticonderoga and all the battles of French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War that took place there. I was also reassured that the story about Knox’s expedition, as I told it in my ballad Henry’s Big Kaboom was correct. The audience was small but mighty.

Here I am singing the verse about Henry finding the guns at Fort Ticonderoga. Paula helped turn pages.

Here I am signing the chorus for the final time. My little audience helped.

This is Chelse Martin displaying my book in the fort’s gift shop.

As I exited the fort, I passed and photographed Marker No. 2 of the Henry Knox Trail. It stands along the long driveway through former battlefields where many French, American, British, and German soldiers lost their lives fighting for their homes, independence, and/or their kings.

Added on July 8, 2018

On YouTube, I posted a video that combines this post with the others about Fort Ticonderoga. Check it out:

Lighthouse Road Trip – Epilogue

Ann Delfin sent me the group photo that our PleasureWay RV group took of ourselves on the last night of our nine-day rolling rally. Here it is.

PleasureWay RV Club Lighthouse Rolling Rally - Group Shot

PleasureWay RV Club Lighthouse Rolling Rally – Group Shot

Here is a map showing the lighthouses and RV Campgrounds we visited.

Lighthouse Rolling Rally

And here is the whole trip starting in Anacortes compiled into a 25-minute YouTube video.

Thanks again Tim O’Malley for organizing everything.

Death Valley, not a great place for an old dog.

A trip I intended to last five days turned into a three-day dash to, through, and from Death Valley. Annie, my fourteen-year-old corgi, did not do well in the heat, which is why I cut the trip short. It was still an amazing get-out-to-see-my-country experience. Here’s the vlog.

And here’s the route.

RouteToDeathValley

Boondocking at Viaggio Winery in Lodi – My First Harvest Hosts Experience

I just took a four-day trip to Yosemite and the California Gold Country. I needed a place to stay on the way to Mariposa, where I wanted to see the California State Mining and Mineral Museum. There are a lot of wineries in the Central Valley between San Rafael and Mariposa. Having heard about Harvest Hosts, I signed up and was able to boondock for free in the parking lot of the Viaggio Estate Winery in Lodi. There are six wineries around Lodi that participate in the Harvest Hosts Program. I describe it all in this YouTube video. Enjoy.