The First Naval Battle of the American Revolution.

A newspaper article in the Boston Post dated June 12, 1934 recounts the battle of the Margaretta.

Today, up at Machias, Me., they will tell you this is the 159th anniversary of the first naval battle of the Revolution. 

Let it not be forgotten!

There was in port at Machias an armed British schooner, the Margaretta, convoying two sloops loaded with lumber. (This is the Yankee version of the story.)

Inspired by the news from Lexington, the Maine folks determined to capture the King’s schooner.

The British captain fired several shots over the town, then took his vessel down stream some distance and anchored under a high bank. 

Thirty five Machias volunteers seized and armed one of the lumber sloops and sailed down to attack the Margaretta. 

Shots were exchanged, and the Machias men, armed with scythes and pitchforks, boarded the British schooner.

Twenty men were killed, including Captain Moore of the Margaretta, and the schooner’s crew surrendered.

Two armed British vessels were then sent down from Halifax to arrest the Machias fighters, but the Maine men captured both of them, sailed them down to Boston Harbor and up the Charles River to Watertown and turned them over to the Massachusetts Bay colonists. 

Now I’m not sure about the accuracy of all the facts in this newspaper article. I know that many men in Machias had guns, not just scythes and pitchforks. Their women aided the war effort. After all, 17 year old Hannah Watts Weston traveled through the woods for 17 miles with powder, lead, even pewter spoons, to be melted down for ammunition.

For generations, everyone who grew up in Machias, knew this story, retold countless times with great pride. The men of Machias fought the British in the rebellion for independence of the American colonies and to prevent the British from taking their primary resources: timber for ships and their hard-earned money, taxation without representation. Once British demands were made, the townsmen of Machias, not only refused to comply by providing timber or paying their taxes, they erected a “liberty pole” in the town square. And then, they set out to seize British ships that entered their harbor.

A group of townsmen had met to decide on their plan of action. Once agreed upon at the Rubicon, the brook they all jumped across to seal their pact, these men collectively captured the British ship “Margaretta” and hid her upriver. My ancestor, Joseph Getchell Jr. was among the first men who jumped on board the Margaretta in the assault. The captured British ship captain died. His blood remains in the Burnham Tavern where they took him after their assault. It remains there today in the Tavern which is under the care of the Hannah Weston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, as a reminder to future generations never to yield to tyranny. It was the first naval battle of the American Revolution.

An engraved stone marks the spot where the the men of Machias jumped across the Rubicon.

The Foster Rubicon

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Wear this spot, in June 1775, the men of Machias confronted by a peremptory demand backed by armed force

That they should furnish necessary supplies to their country’s enemies, met in open air council

To choose between ignoble peace and all but hopeless war

The question was momentous and the debate long

After some hours of fruitless discussion

Benjamin Foster a man of action rather than words

Leaped across this brook and called all those to follow him

Who would, whatever the risk, stand by their countrymen

And their country’s cause

Almost to a man the assembly followed 

And, without further formality

The settlement was comitted to the Revolution.

Erected by the Hannah Weston Chapter DAR 1917

The Historic Burnham Tavern in Machias, Maine. Read more about the Tavern and Revolutionary War history here.

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From the Maine Historical Society

Lura Beam, in A Maine Hamlet (1957), wrote about the effect of the heroic Margaretta story on people who lived in Marshfield/Machias in about 1900.

“This long-ago conquering of the enemy had somehow stiffened the life of every individual in the hamlet,” she wrote. “The blaze still held over, burning in adult pride and endowing children with haughty self-confidence. … The single Battle was in everybody’s bones: the Liberty Pole, the oppressor’s hand, the leap over the brook, the bullets and scythes, the night sail up the river…[all] were part of the local calcium.”

George Drisko, in his Narrative of the Town of Machias, written and compiled in 1904, writes in more explicit historical terms how we should think about the place of the Margaretta incident in history: “Taking all the circumstances of the occasion into view, especially the remote position of Machias from any place where assistance could be obtained, the capture of the Margaretta must be considered as one of the most bold, energetic and extraordinary occurrences of the times.

 

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Lubec Veterans Honor Roll

LEST WE FORGET

This beautiful memorial honors hundreds of men and women for their wartime service. Lubec, Maine is a small seaside town at the easternmost point in the contiguous United States. In 2010, its population was 1359 residents. Despite its size, many sons and daughters of Lubec fought for their country in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The memorial also honors those who served their country in Peacetime.

Standing in front of the Memorial, gazing at all the names, I am in awe of the patriotic, brave men and women of Lubec.

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The names of my father, James E. Rier, and three of his brothers, Julian V. (Barney), Paul J. and Francis E. (Babe), are inscribed in black granite for their service in World War II.

 

 

 

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This memorial is situated in a lovely park, the grounds lined by canons, close to a statue honoring the sacrifices of the Civil War heroes of Lubec. Appomattox was the final campaign of the Civil War that led to the surrender of General Robert E Lee to Ulysses S Grant of the Union Army at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9. 1865.

 

 

 

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Related posts:

Dad’s Graduation from US Army Air Corp Advanced Flying School. 1942

Dad Received West Point Assignment as Flight Instructor. 1942.

 

 

The California Branch of the Getchell/Berry Families

In the third old, old photo album, there are many photographs taken at studios in California. According to this online document on Berry/Getchell genealogy, my great grandmother Nellie’s eldest brother Osgood Getchell re-located from Marshfield, Maine where he was born, to California. Osgood was a farmer, owned 109 acres along the Pacific coast in redwood country, and built a large family home overlooking the coastline.  This document also shows that Getchell members had lived in California or decades, from the time of the gold rush. I want to get in touch with the family that posted this online, and seek their documentation for this branch of the family.

The first San Francisco photograph that I found was in Thirza Getchell Flynn‘s album. I began to search for a connection between the Getchell, Berry or Means families to California. This is the photograph in Thirza’s album that may be Osgood Getchell. The photo was taken at Edouart & Cobb, a studio located at No. 504 Kearny Street, in San Francisco, California. In 1869, Alexander Edouart joined David Cobb and opened a studio on Kearny Street. Their partnership lasted until 1881. Thus, this photo dates between 1869 and 1881.

In the third album, the gentleman below was photographed at the Newark Gallery at 31 Third Street in San Francisco, L. Richardson, Proprietor. A Google search revealed no information about the photographer or studio.

This couple, perhaps husband and wife as they are side by side on a page, were photographed at Vaughan’s Photograph Gallery, 18 Third Street in San Francisco. This studio was established at that location in 1869 until 1878 when the photographer, Hector William Vaughn, died.

The Vaughan studio also photographed a child who may be this couple’s daughter or son.

This lady was photographed at the Charles Lainer studio at 31 Third Street, San Francisco. I featured her photo in a post about the mystery necklace found at my great grandmother Nellie’s home, since this woman wore a similar one. She may also be a member of the California branch of the family.

necklace

The Wing & Allen studio at 342 Kearny Street in San Francisco photographed these two women and one child. One of the women and the child have names written on the back of the photo, Alice and Ethie Hamer. I can find no information on the relationship of the Getchell or Berry families with the Hamer family. It will require more investigation. But Alice Hamer and the other woman may be friends of the family. The photos date between 1873 and 1876 when Wing & Allen’s Ferrotype Gallery was at that location.

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Two boys were photographed at the Brown & Otto studio, 28 Third Street, San Francisco. I can find no information of the dates that studio was at that location.

The Getchell/Berry family document, mentioned above, notes that direct descendants of my ancestor Joseph Getchell III, who fought in the first naval battle of the American Revolution in Machias, Maine, relocated to California. How interesting! One new discovery, leads to more research…

Related post:

Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa Late 1800s.

 

Hannah Weston Chapter DAR. Burnham Tavern Open Every Saturday During Summer.

Machias Valley News Observer, Wednesday, June 3, 1936. The Burnham Tavern is a historic landmark of the Revolutionary War.

My maternal ancestor, Joseph Getchell Jr., fought the British in the rebellion for independence of the American colonies to prevent the British from taking their primary resources: timber for ships and their hard-earned money, taxation without representation. Once British demands were made, residents of Machias not only refused to comply by providing timber or paying their taxes, they erected a “liberty pole” in the town square. And then, they set out to seize British ships that entered their harbor.

A group of townsmen met to decide on their plan of action. Once agreed upon at the Rubicon, the brook they all jumped across to seal their pact, these men collectively captured the British ship “Margaretta” and hid her upriver. Joseph Getchell Jr. was among the first men who jumped on board the Margaretta in the assault. The captured British ship captain died. His blood remains in the Burnham Tavern where they took him after their assault. It was the first naval battle of the American Revolution.

The preservation of the Burnham Tavern is overseen by the Hannah Weston chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), as a reminder to future generations never to yield to tyranny.  The DAR chapter in Downeast Maine is named for Hannah Weston, a Revolutionary War heroine who carried ammunition through sixteen miles of wilderness for the men who were engaged in the first naval battle of the war which took place in Machias Bay. I am proud to be a member of the Hannah Weston chapter of the DAR, as was my mother, Louise Johnson Rier. It is the second largest DAR chapter in the state of Maine, second only to Portland.

My great grandmother, Nellie Getchell Means, was the great grandchild of Joseph Getchell Jr., Revolutionary War soldier at the age of 18. His father, Joseph Getchell Sr., was the first Getchell settler at Machias in 1769. My great grandmother’s father was Marshfield Getchell, son of John who was the son of on Joseph Jr. Thus, Joseph Getchell Jr. is my 4X great grandfather.

Reference: History of Machias, Maine by George W. Drisko. Press of the Republican. 1904.

The Burnham Tavern, beautifully preserved, as it is today.

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This summer, the Tavern will be open from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday, beginning on Tuesday, July 5th and continuing through Friday, September 2nd.  In addition, it may be possible to arrange visits at other times if a docent is available.  Please call 207-733-4577 or e-mail <info@burnhamtavern.com> for further information.