Alas, Poor Mungo!

John Kelly of the Washington Post features Squirrel Week each year, and he’s all over Mungo.

At the end of his most recent addition he clarifies where Mungo actually died:

But it turns out that when Mungo died, Twyford House was being renovated. The Shipleys were living at a place called Northwood House, 14 miles away in Chilbolton.

So that’s probably where Mungo was buried. Last summer I visited Northwood. Owner Jean Ward (Mrs.) graciously showed me around the house and the grounds. Alas, she’s never come across a squirrel tomb.

Franklin, Massachusetts Library

Franklin Bookcase

The collection of books donated by Franklin were housed in this standalone bookcase from 1904 till 2018.

The library at Franklin, Massachusetts has an intimate connection with Dr. Franklin, and is re-housing their collection of books he donated. They were displayed in a standalone, closed bookcase from 1904 till now (2018), when they are going to a more accessible presentation, according to this news report on the renovation. Congratulations!

In 1778, the westerly part of the town of Wrentham, Massachusetts was the first city in America to rename itself after Dr. Franklin. Franklin was in Philadelphia when the town administrators conveyed the honor, and asked him for a donation of a bell. Franklin responded with a donation of books instead, as “Sense is better than Sound.”

Dr. Franklin asked Dr. Richard Price, a Unitarian minister in London, to select books. In wondering about the many religious volumes, I at first supposed Dr. Price’s occupation as well as Dr. Price realizing the town was built around a Congregational church. On further reading, this idea of books on religion seems to have come from Franklin himself: he asked for books as are most proper to inculcate Principles of sound Religion and just Government.

Franklin wrote to Richard Price in March 1785

Passy, Mar. 18. 1785.
My dear Friend,

My Nephew, Mr. Williams, will have the honour of delivering you this Line. It is to request from you a List of a few good Books to the Value of about Twenty-five Pounds, such as are most proper to inculcate Principles of sound Religion and just Government. A new Town in the State of Massachusetts, having done me the honour of naming itself after me, and proposing to build a Steeple to their Meeting House if I would give them a Bell, I have advis’d the sparing themselves the Expence of a Steeple at present, and that they would accept of Books instead of a Bell, Sense being preferable to Sound. These are therefore intended as the Commencement of a little Parochial Library, for the Use of a Society of intelligent respectable Farmers, such as our Country People generally consist of. Besides your own Works I would only mention, on the Recommendation of my Sister, Stennet’s Discourses on personal Religion, which may be one Book of the Number, if you know it and approve of it. With the highest Esteem and Respect, I am ever, my dear Friend, Yours most affectionately

B Franklin

 

Price wrote to Franklin on June 3, 1785:

Mr. Williams has given me much pleasure by calling upon me and bringing me a letter from you. I have, according to your desire, furnish’d him with a list of Such books on religion and government as I think Some of the best, and added a present to the parish that is to bear your name of Such of my own publications as I think may not be unsuitable. Should this be the commencement of parochial libraries in the States it will do great good.

 

In their letter thanking Franklin for the books, there is a sly comment that more scientific books would have been equally welcomed:

We only regret, that Modesty should deny us the celebrated Productions of the greatest Phylosopher and Politician in America. Since Providence hitherto hath delighted to smile on all your great and noble Efforts, we cannot but hope, your generous exertion to diffuse useful and divine Knowledge among us, will be productive of the happiest effects, and completely answer your warmest wishes. May all the seeds of Science, which You have sown in this, and various other parts of the world, grow up into a living Laurel, to adorn your illustrious Head in the Temple of Fame.

These books were the nucleus of the town library. Growing up in Franklin, Massachusetts, Horace Mann loved his local library, commenting also that the original books were “suited, perhaps, to the ‘conscript fathers’ of the town”, that is, heavily religious. For more, see the Franklin Library History

Vicky Buchanio, librarian of the Franklin Public Library, has graciously shared information about the books. There is a nice view of this beautiful facility on this TV news report.

 

 

 

Ralph Archbold

We’ve lost a grand fellow, Ralph Archbold of Philadelphia. I have it on good authority that he’s having a beer with Dr. Franklin right around now.
 
There’s a nice article at http://www.philly.com/philly/obituaries/Philly-Benjamin-Franklin-impersonator-Ralph-Archbold-dies.html and a a nice set of pictures with the article at
RalphArchbold

Mile Marker 43 Moving

Shrewsbury, Massachusetts is moving to preserve one of Franklin’s mile markers from the postal system of 1767:

 

Article Site

Shrewsbury – Last November, Shrewsbury’s Board of Selectmen approved a proposal to move one of two Benjamin Franklin Mile Markers (Milestone Marker #43) from its current location near the on-ramp to I-290 East on Main Street to Shrewsbury’s Town Common. The other marker is located at Dean Park, along Main Street across from the Artemas Ward House.

The Milestone Markers date back to when Benjamin Franklin was appointed by the Continental Congress as the first postmaster general in 1775, when he established a postal system that is still in place today. The known markers along the 18th-century Upper Boston Post Road are listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the 1767 Milestones.

The Massachusetts State Legislature has authorized the Massachusetts Department of Public Works (MassDOT) to maintain and restore the markers. Daedalus Inc., a sculpture and conservation studio in Watertown, has been secured to undertake this project. Daedalus co-president Joshua Craine will serve as project manager and conservator. Craine is an UMass graduate and also studied at the Universitia Lorenzo Di Medici in Florence, Italy.
The new site of the maker on Shrewsbury’s Town Common. (Photos/Melanie Petrucci)

The new site of the maker on Shrewsbury’s Town Common. (Photos/Melanie Petrucci)

The genesis of this effort began last year when Shrewsbury citizen Bernie Forletta brought the issue of this particular marker to the attention of John Campbell, chair of Shrewsbury’s Historic District Committee (HDC).

“I expressed my concern that there was a Franklin stone at the entrance of Route 290 East that was at risk of being accidentally damaged if not destroyed,” Forletta said.

Said Campbell: “I knew this prominent symbol of Shrewsbury’s history belonged in a more prominent place than the entrance of I-290. Our historic Town Common within the HDC seemed to me to be the obvious choice. The HDC has been very supportive and voted unanimously in favor of this move.”

In addition to the Shrewsbury HDC, the First Congregational Church has offered its support. Church official David E. Smith wrote in a letter to Campbell, “On behalf of the First Congregational Church, I am pleased to provide our approval. We support the HDC’s recommendation to preserve such a prominent piece of Shrewsbury’s history and agree that the Town Common is a fitting location.”

Campbell stated that “the relocation of the Milestone on the Town Common would complement the other monuments already on the common such as the General Henry Knox Memorial, Shrewsbury Minuteman Memorial and the Civil War Monument….It should also be noted that by relocating the Milestone Marker #43 to the Town Common it would continue to be located on the historic Boston Post Road.”

Other proposed sites which were considered but were found to be unsuitable include the Schoolhouse #5 grounds situated at the corner of Old Mill Road and Main Street and Gauch Park on Main Street and North Quinsigamond Avenue.

Shrewsbury Town Manager Daniel Morgado is also supportive.

“The board is pleased that MassDOT is assisting the community in relocating this important historical artifact in cooperation with the Shrewsbury Historical Society, Shrewsbury Historical Commission and Historic District Commission,” he said.

MassDOT will absorb the costs of the move and restoration of the marker at no expense to the town. The move will take place in mid- to late August and a formal dedication will take place during the Spirit of Shrewsbury festivities Saturday, Sept. 24 at 12 p.m. State Representative Hannah Kane, R-Shrewsbury, will serve as emcee.