Saturday, December 29, 2007

Colonial Party And A History Lesson

In the early 20th Century, descendents of the early Jamaica Plain families still lived in the district. I suspect that by the 1930s they were all gone. I wonder what the last Brewer or Curtis was thinking when they moved away from their family home. I suppose they thought of the "new people" much as my generation thinks of the "new people" of today. The families who crowded into Jamaica Plain during the early 20th Century must have been looked on as spoilers of the more bucolic past remembered by those old families. The take-home message? Things change. First you're part of the change, and then you regret the change.

Boston Daily Globe February 7, 1907

400 At Colonial Party.

Meeting Held by Jamaica Plain Fraternity of Churches Was Most Successful Occasion.

An occasion that will linger pleasantly in the memory of all who participated was the meeting last evening of the Jamaica Plain fraternity of churches. In the vestry of the Central Congregational church, and designated a Colonial party. Nearly 400 of the members of various church societies in Jamaica Plain were present.

The principals in the entertainment presented were dressed in the costumes of colonial days, which were heirlooms, many of these costumes being 100 to 150 years old. The oldest article of dress in evidence was a large yellow silk muffler, known to be at least 200 years old, formerly owned and used by one of the first settlers of Jamaica Plain. A figured silk fan, with mahogany frame, and an oval looking glass set in it, was imported from Switzerland, and is 150 years old.

The decorations were of colonial days, American flags and draperies of blue and buff.

The entertainment opened with a brief address by the president of the fraternity, Mrs Alta H. Nevons. Then the colonial chorus of 40, composed of the choir singers in a number of the churches, in costume and powdered wigs, sang the old-time song, "Northfield," "Majesty" and "Sherburne," under the direction of Mr Charles N. Snow, the accompanist being Mr Charles T. Baner, who was organist at the Central church for more than 30 years, until his recent retirement. Then followed a recitation by Miss Dorothy Adams, and two selections for piano, finely rendered, by Mrs Elsa Strauss Currier.

One feature of the program was a paper read by Mrs Clara E. Withington on "Historical Reminiscences of Jamaica Plain," which was an exhaustive recital of the history of people and places of historical interest in Jamaica Plain, in colonial times. The paper was presented in two parts, the first telling of the schools and churches, the second the prominent families and the homes they occupied. John Hancock, one of the signers of the declaration of Independence, was a resident of Jamaica Plain, and Mrs Withington surprised her audience by stating that descendents of the patriot were present in the audience. Interesting stories were told by Mrs Witherington of the Hancocks, Boylstons, Brewers, Welds, Greenoughs and Mays, descendants of all of whom are today residents of Jamaica Plain, and residing in some instances in the original homes erected by their ancestors before the revolution.

Mrs Withington held the closest attention of her audience throughout the reading of her papers, which showed careful research. She was heartily applauded at the conclusion of her recital.

The remaining numbers of the program included two duets by Mrs Anna Lohbililer[?] Mason, soprano, and Mr Robert M. Currier, baritone, who were liberally applauded, and two selections by the chorus, "Cousin Jedediah" and "Strike of the Cymbals," the solos being sung by Miss Rita Curtis and Miss Bayley. The program was brought to a close with "Auld Lang Syne," sung by a chorus and audience.

A social hour followed the company being served with old-fashioned cookies, gingerbread, doughnuts, cheese and coffee by a corps of dames, misses and masters in the costumes of colonial times. They did not forget to properly courtesy when offering hospitality to the guests.

The affair was a great success. Credit is due to the directors of the Fraternity, Mrs Emma S. Adams, Mrs Alta H. Nevins, Mrs Clara E. Withington and Rev Florence Kollock Crooker, who were assisted by members, and to Mrs Elsa Strasser Currier and Mr Charles N. Snow, who had charge of the music.

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