We stayed in Leominster (’cause I’m cheap and it was only a 30 minute drive) to be close to historic Boston. Since we wanted to learn more about Boston’s Black history, we decided to take the Black Heritage Trail tour.
Parking is challenging in Boston so when we couldn’t find a parking spot near the statue that memorializes Massachusetts’s 54th (if you’ve seen Glory, you know what I mean) so we drove over to the second stop George Middleton House. We found a space and I hopped out to snap a photo. It was the home of a Black man, George Middleton, that once stopped a riot of white men by stepping outside with his Revolutionary War musket and threatening to shoot any man that stepped forward. He rallied the Black people running from the mob so they turned to face the mob …. and the mob backed down. While standing around, a National Park Service ranger walked by with a group so I joined. She seemed surprised but let me. Thank goodness! I was all ready to bust out my America the Beautiful National Parks pass, she didn’t even ask.
I was worried that the tour would be pretty sanitized but she did a good job. She told stories of each location, showed photos of the people that were important at each site, and tried to get the people on the tour to really understand what it might have been like to be a Black person in Boston in the 1900’s.
One of my favorite stops was the Hayden house. They were a Black couple were ardent abolitionists. They worked to help recently enslaved people get set up through organizations like the Africa Society. After the Fugitive Slave Law went into effect, basically saying any Black person could be snatched off the street and sold into slavery (Judges were paid $5 if the Black person was found NOT to be a runaway and $10 if the Black person WAS found to be a runaway) by any white man. The Haydens went down to the jail and sprung someone being shipped back to slavery during broad daylight. Another great story about them is, after a couple made it to Boston and were staying in the house, slave catchers showed up demanding the couple. Mr. Hayden had barrels of gunpower in the doorway and told them if they crossed the threshold, he would drop the candle he was holding and blow up the whole house! Needless to say, the slave catchers left empty handed.
The tour ends at the African Meeting Hall. You can go inside when you take a tour with the African American Museum next to the African Meeting Hall. Unfortunately, I went on July 4th so the museum was closed but I can’t wait to go again and visit the museum.
On the way out of the city, we also stopped by the Bunker Hill Memorial and wandered into Minute Man National Park. You can’t turn around in Boston without running into something historic. It was a really good, free tour. Next time you’re in Boston, check it out.
Want to see next time: