Massachusetts April 02, 2016
11 Insane Things That Happened In Massachusetts You Won’t Find in History Books
Massachusetts has a hidden history. While everyone learns the basics in history class, there’s so much more to know. Here are a few highlights from the weird and wonderful history of Massachusetts.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Christmas was once banned in Boston. Between 1659-1681, residents of the capital city were prohibited from celebrating Christmas. Early puritan settlers believed it was a corrupt and indulgent holiday, and outlawed any yuletide celebrations.
2. In Boston, in 1837, a book detailing the life and crimes of notorious highwayman and bank robber James Allen was bound…in the criminal’s own human skin. Before his execution, Allen actually requested that his biography be bound in his own flesh and given to John Fenno Jr., the man that had accused him of murder, as a token of respect. Allen considered Fenno the only man brave enough to stand up to him. The Boston Athenaeum Library currently holds the book in its collection.
3. Packaged frozen foods were invented by Clarence Birdseye of Gloucester in 1925. The process radically changed the food industry and American dinner tables.
4. Dungeon Rock in Lynn Woods Reservation features a cave excavated by a man who believed that ghosts were directing him to rediscover lost pirate treasure. In fact, the pirate Thomas Veale did live in the cave during the mid-1600s, and there were reports that he had hidden a vast amount of loot somewhere around the rock formation.
5. In 2005, MIT held an actual Time Travelers Convention. On May 5, 10:25 pm, over 300 contemporary people gathered at MIT in the hopes of making contact with time travelers from the future. The convention set up a “landing zone”, complete with milk and cookies. The event was featured on the front page of the New York Times. Though no contact with future time travelers was made, MIT continues to publicize the spacetime coordinates (i.e. time and location) prominently and indefinitely, so that future time travelers will be aware and have the opportunity to attend.
6. Brook Farm in West Roxbury operated as a transcendentalist utopian community from 1841 to 1847. Famous figures such as Charles Anderson Dana, Greeley, Margaret Fuller and Nathaniel Hawthorne participated in the experiment.
7. In 1938, a freighter ship full of rare and exotic animals (including bears, monkeys, tropical birds and rare venomous snakes) was shipwrecked in Boston’s Outer Harbor. The contents of City of Salisbury remain the most expensive cargo ever shipwrecked in the area.
8. In 1929, Maine pilot Capt. William Wincapaw began delivering Christmas presents to lighthouses in the Rockland, Maine area with his small plane. The Flying Santa program still delivers to historic Boston Light and various Coast Guard stations across New England.
9. A massive wave of molasses once devastated Boston’s North End. On January 15, 1919, a storage tank holding more than 2 million gallons of molasses burst and sent more than two million gallons of hot molasses roaring through the streets of Boston. The accident claimed 21 lives and injured hundreds.
10. Basketball was invented in Springfield in 1891. Dr. James Naismith, a physical education teacher, came up with the game as a way of keeping his students occupied indoors during the cold winter months. The first game involved throwing a soccer ball into two peach baskets nailed 10 feet above the floor.
11. Speaking of sports, volleyball was invented in 1895 by William Morgan in Holyoke.
What do you think was the weirdest thing to ever happen in Massachusett? Let us know!