The House Rebuilt

By: pbcmedia

Mar 29 2009

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Culture, Deep Thoughts, Life, Personal, Photography


Focal Length:27mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 5D

Is it Groundhog Day, everyday, and we just don’t realize it?

The Peak House in Medfield, Massachusetts, was burned down in 1676 during King Philip’s War.  I drive by it on my way to Boston but only noticed it for the first time yesterday.

“King Philip’s War” was what the colonists and England named the uprising of Native Americans that took place fifty five years after the arrival of the Mayflower.  In that span of time the spreading settlements had brought diseases that depleted the Native American population as well as tribal lands being taken and herds of British cattle grazing in each settlement over land once used for the Native American corn crops.  In case you may not put two and two together (like me), cattle grazing on land used for corn means the end of corn.  You couldn’t survive a steer trampling on top of you either.

The disappearing land as well as Indian culture ( add those religious zealots trying to convert “the natives” to the war mix, too) led to the expanding British settlements and domination and was described by the man who led the war in this way,  “I am determined not to live until I have no country.”

He was nicknamed “King Philip” by the British settlers, according to a summary of the war written by Michael Tougias because of his “haughty” ways.

His father, Massasoit, on the other hand, had not been deemed ‘haughty” as he was the leader of the tribe of Indians living in Plymouth when the first British settlers arrived and famously helped them survive that first harsh winter.

As the saying goes: “Honey, no good deed goes unpunished.”

Fifty five years later, his father and brother dead, the uprising began with attacks on settlements by the son of this Chief who had helped the British survive and prosper.

It began with two tribes, the Wampanoags and the Nipmucks, but their ranks were widened when the colonists began attacking large, non-warring tribes like the Narrangansett Indians in Rhode Island.  Following a massacre of this tribe in southern Rhode Island,  they joined “King Philip’s War” and were responsible for the burning down of the original “Peak House” and a line of other settlements along this main corridor to Boston.

The war ended because King Philip’s Indians were simply depleted in rank– ironically enough, some from starvation following a severe winter and others due to devastating attacks on war camps themselves.  King Philip and his remaining warriors returned to their home near Swansea and, with the assistance of a tip from an Indian traitor, his location became known and shortly thereafter, his death by gunshot.

The house that was rebuilt in 1680 was also apparently built with funds which one could view in modern terms as part of a “bailout”.  The sign in front of the property says this: “Seth Clark, the owner of the house, received indemnity from the colonial government and in 1680 rebuilt the present Peak House, so called because of its architecture.”

Indemnity, (thank you Wikepedia) is : An indemnity is a sum paid by A to B by way of compensation for a particular loss suffered by B. The indemnifying party (A) may or may not be responsible for the loss suffered by the indemnified party (B). Forms of indemnity include cash payments, repairs, replacement, and reinstatement.

Today, I’m realizing that on one’s journey to Boston, it may just be the road surface and architecture that changes over the years, not human nature.

If I see history’s shadow on March 28th, does that mean there is six more weeks of winter?

©Pat Coakley 2009


6 comments on “The House Rebuilt”

  1. Great post! Teacher, artist, photographer… Of course we don’t have to question if history repeats itself… Hopefully we will learn this time.

  2. […] If you want to read more about this home click HERE. […]

  3. Nice history lesson. Have you read the book “1491”? If you are interested in native American history you’ll certainly enjoy it. There is a large section in 1491 detailing the politics of the tribes near Plymouth during the time of the Pilgrims. You’ll never think of Squanto in the same way.

  4. I always get bummed out when I hear about how indigenous populations get wiped out by the colonising people that they helped. Same sort of thing happened here in Australia.

    I guess there’s a lesson there.

    Kill all strangers.

  5. what ‘civilized’ people see as progress, seems often to mean also that some segment becomes subjugated. and if the people being forced off of their lands are a strong culture, as the native americans were, they dont go down without a fight. the essence, i think of war and violent disputes. i saw a documentary about a missionary, sister dorothy, in the brazilian amazon, trying to enforce ecological standards of modern america on citizens/tribespeople who had been situated through a government program on the land, given the understanding that they would ‘work’ it. the greatest income, they knew, was to be made first, in logging (destroying the rainforest) and thereafter, cattleranching, (destroying the plant life) when sister dorothy became an outspoken advocate for immediate curtailment of the lumbering, she was murdered, it turned out by a few ‘thugs’ hired by contract taken out by a few prominent landowners. in meetings filmed showing the sister and the officials and the landowners, it was clear that they were angry and opposed to these measures which restricted their ‘short-term’ wealth and growth. there should have been a better way to go about reaching a compromise. but there wasn’t.

  6. If you see the shadow of history, I hope it means only six more weeks of winter weather — not six more generations of this winter of our cultural soul.

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