Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think

Larry Holzwarth - April 6, 2018

It’s been called the land of the bean and the cod, but that tribute, from a toast given at a Holy Cross Alumni banquet in 1910, was directed only to Boston. Despite Virginia getting a head start of more than a decade, Massachusetts history is replete with an impressive number of American firsts. In education the Bay colony was the first to establish a free public school, a public secondary school, and the first American university, Harvard. The first public library was in Boston and the first post office was in that city as well, operating from a tavern.

The Bay State was a leader of industry too, the first ironworks in North America being opened in Saugus, the first tannery in Lynn, and the first American lighthouse was built in Boston Harbor almost 60 years before the Revolution. Both the first canal and the first railroad to appear in America were in Massachusetts. The typewriter, the sewing machine, and the vulcanization of rubber all came from Massachusetts. The game of basketball was invented in Springfield, using peach baskets and a soccer ball. At first there were thirteen rules describing how the game is played, now the rulebook used by the NBA is more than sixty pages.

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think
Tremont Street in Boston, Massachusetts, circa 1890. Wikimedia

Here are ten facts about the history of Massachusetts which you may find surprising.

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think
A photograph of Daniel Shays’ Pelham Massachusetts farmhouse, and shed, taken around 1898. WIkimedia

Shays’ Rebellion

One of the post-revolutionary war events which led to the recognition of the weakness of the government under the Articles of Confederation was a 1786 armed uprising in western and central Massachusetts known as Shay’s Rebellion. It was an insurgency by mostly farmers and war veterans who had not been paid for their military service, yet were beset with near ruinous taxes. Many were members of the various town militia dotted across the state. When Congress could not raise an army to suppress the rebellion the state government was forced to create one of its own.

Like the Revolutionary War which preceded it, taxation was a root cause of the rebellion. The lack of hard currency in the state was another. When merchants passed along the demands for hard currency being imposed upon them by European traders to their local customers, many were unable to comply. The courts began to demand taxes be paid in hard currency and when the poorer farmers were unable to pay their land was confiscated. Many of these farmers were at the same time demanding of the courts payment for their war service, which they had not received for most of the war.

The rebellion began with a series of protests in central and western Massachusetts towns, where angry citizens prevented the courts from sitting and thus rendering them unable to issue tax judgments. Local authorities called on the militia to disperse the crowds. In most towns the militia refused to intervene. With no federal military the protests evolved into armed insurrection following the arrests of several of their leaders in late 1786. The rebellious farmers expressed their intent to seize the Springfield armory (which was federal property) and replace the government. Massachusetts raised a state army, and some wealthy merchants and businessmen established a private army to protect their property.

The rebels split into three separate groups in armed opposition to the state’s authority, one of which was led by Daniel Shays. When they attempted to attack the armory they were repulsed by cannon fire, leaving behind four dead, and about twenty wounded. General Benjamin Lincoln, who had received the sword of surrender by the British at Yorktown less than six years earlier, led the state troops to crush the rebellion. By early March the rebellion was quashed. Over 4,000 Massachusetts citizens acknowledged their participation in or support of the rebellion in exchange for amnesty. Eventually two men were hanged for fomenting rebellion, but Daniel Shays was not one of them.

Shays’ Rebellion brought under harsh light the inadequacies of the federal government under the Articles of Confederation. It also led to the formation of Vermont as the 14th State of the young Union. Thomas Jefferson shrugged it off by saying that a little rebellion now and then was a good thing, but his fellow Virginian George Washington began to lobby, with others, for a convention to revise the Articles, which became the Constitutional Convention. Shays remained in hiding in the Green Mountains until news reached him that he had been pardoned in 1788, when he returned to his farm and his Revolutionary War pension.

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think
A far cry from their first model, which was tiller steered and open, this 1915 Duryea appears on a dealers marketing card. Wikimedia

The First American Gasoline Powered Automobile

A pair of mid-western born and raised brothers making a living as bicycle manufacturers and repairmen use their spare time to invent a machine which forever changed transportation all over the world. Not referring to the Wright Brothers here, though the sentence certainly describes them. The brothers in question here are Frank and Charles Duryea, and they gave the United States its first successful gasoline powered automobile, in an area north of Springfield, MA which is now Chicopee. Their car was also the winner of the first automobile race to be held in North America, defeating three entries from Germany.

Charles and Frank Duryea purchased a used horse buggy and removed the traces. They installed a one cylinder motor which was capable of producing up to 4 horsepower, less than most modern gasoline burning lawnmowers. Steering was via a tiller. The buggy was open, seated the driver and one passenger, and after its first racing victory was followed by another, it became immediately popular. The Duryea Motor Wagon Company was established in Chicopee to build their car. In 1996 the Duryea brothers produced 13 of their Motor Wagons. Charles ran the business side of the enterprise while Frank concentrated on the engineering.

Besides winning America’s first automobile race a Duryea Motor Wagon holds the honor of being the first American automobile to be involved in an accident with another vehicle. In this case it was a bicycle. A Duryea owner named Henry Wells was driving his Motor Wagon in New York City when he struck a cyclist, breaking the unfortunate rider’s leg. Wells spent the night in custody and his Motor Wagon was returned to the factory for repairs. The brothers eventually produced more than one model of car, but the hand-building process and the cost of the materials made the price of Duryea Cars prohibitive to all but the wealthiest customers. George Vanderbilt enjoyed his.

Costs and ways to alleviate them soon became a problem between the brothers and led to them splitting up early in the twentieth century. Charles Duryea relocated to Reading, Pennsylvania and continued to build Duryea automobiles. Duryea envisioned a mass produced lower priced car for sale to workers, but the costs of retooling and a suitable design for the car eluded him. Almost a decade after Henry Ford introduced the Model T, Duryea released a model which cost only $250 and ran on three wheels. It failed to attract much attention from the buying public.

Besides the Duryea and its several different models produced over the years, Massachusetts factories produced cars from other companies. Many are surprised to learn that the British Rolls-Royce was built in Massachusetts in the 1920s (the American built models switched to left-hand drive in 1925). The Rolls-Royce plant in Springfield continued to operate until 1935. The Knox Automobile Company, also in Springfield, built cars, trucks, and farm equipment and in 1935 introduced a new type of vehicle to the world, the gasoline powered purpose built fire engine.

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think
Although the subject is far from humorous the characters of this wartime cartoon are clearly the work of Dr. Seuss. Wikimedia

Theodore Geisel

Springfield, Massachusetts, is not only the spiritual home of basketball. It is the seminal home of The Cat in the Hat, Horton the elephant, and the Grinch. Theodore Geisel was born in Springfield, MA in March, 1904. Geisel is universally known today by his pen name, Dr. Seuss, under which he published more than sixty children’s books, nearly all of them beloved by children and former children today. His children’s books have been translated in over 20 languages, remarkable when it is considered that in many of them he created a language of his own (Oobleck?). They’ve also been the basis of numerous television shows, animated films, live action films, and Broadway plays.

But Dr. Seuss (a name be began using as a student at Dartmouth College) was far more than a writer of children’s stories. The name Dr. Seuss was acquired when he and several of his Dartmouth classmates were caught with then illegal alcohol, leading the school’s administration to ban him from his editor’s position on the Dartmouth Jack o’ Lantern, a humor magazine. At first Geisel simply submitted his magazine work using the name Seuss. Later, while studying at Oxford for a PhD (he did not graduate) he added the salutation Dr.

Geisel was both a writer and an artist, and in the days following his leaving school he submitted political cartoons, editorial cartoons, humor cartoons, and articles for consideration of the leading magazines of the day. In the late 1920s he began contributing cartoons and advertisements for a bug spray manufactured under the name of FLIT. Many of the fanciful characters he later drew for his children’s books can be recognized in the threatening insects he drew for the FLIT campaign, to which he contributed until 1941, and which made his reputation. FLIT became a household name, and, “Quick Henry, the FLIT”, entered the lexicon as a phrase to be used humorously when confronted with a pesky situation.

As the Fascists and the Nazis presented ominous war clouds over Europe, Geisel turned to editorial cartoons denouncing their supporters in the United States. He lampooned the isolationists and America Firsters, including the still highly popular Charles Lindbergh. After the US entered the war Geisel entered the Army and widened his efforts to include Japan and Japanese-Americans. The Private Snafu series of training films presented to new Army recruits was largely his work, and he wrote and helped produce other films supporting America’s war effort, twice winning Academy Awards for his efforts in film. He was also awarded the Legion of Merit for his work in the Army.

His enduring fame came after the war when he returned to the writing and drawing of children’s books, creating the characters whose renown equals his own. What is less known is that most people pronounced his pseudonym incorrectly, rhyming with juice. Geisel said that is was intended to rhyme with voice, and that was how he pronounced it. His fame was such that an attempt to change the pronunciation among children or adult fans was fruitless. He gave up the attempt to convince people to pronounce it to rhyme with voice in the late 1960s, content to have it rhyme, he said, with Mother Goose.

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think
Lowell textile mill workers pose for the camera while on a break in 1911. Library of Congress

The Industrial Revolution

The city of Lowell, MA is called the cradle of the industrial revolution and its mills and other industries certainly led the way in creating the manufacturing juggernaut which New England became. Situated near the Pawtucket Falls on the Merrimack River, the earliest industries in Lowell used hydropower from the falls to drive their machinery. Sawmills and gristmills came first. The thriving community of Chelmsford developed along the Merrimack. Francis Lowell opened the first cotton mill operated by water power in the United States in Waltham MA. After his death his successor in the company, Patrick Jackson, opened a second plant near Chelmsford.

Soon other mills were opened and a company town developed in an area of Chelmsford called Lowell. It was the first true company town to be built in the United States. Lowell’s manufacturers actively recruited young single women to operate the water powered looms, and boarding houses were built to provide them with living quarters. Through the 1820s the town grew steadily, and in 1826 Lowell was separated from Chelmsford and incorporated as the Town of Lowell. Its population at the time was around 2,500. By the spring of 1836 more than 18,000 people lived in Lowell and it became the third city to be chartered in Massachusetts, after Salem and Boston.

Lowell continued to grow in area by annexing neighboring towns and through the ongoing growth of its industries during the antebellum era. Industries expanded beyond the textile mills to include canning factories, patent medicines, and machining companies. The Boston and Lowell Railroad was built in the 1830s, rendering the earlier established canals obsolete for transport. Other railroad connections followed. Work in the mills attracted large numbers of immigrants, principally from Ireland and the German states, creating a large Catholic community in Lowell. Ethnic neighborhoods became a part of the city.

During the American Civil War the many textile mills, which relied on cotton as their primary raw material, were forced to shut down. A few managed to stay in operation through the use of wool. Another effect of the war was the shifting in many industries to the use of steam to operate their machinery rather than the water power provided by the canals dug for the purpose. After the war steam was gradually supplanted by electrical power. By then though, Lowell’s boom years were largely over. Lowell continued to be a bustling manufacturing center, but the shift to steam meant other locations, with better access to ports, were more attractive to investors looking for new opportunities.

The decline of the textile industry in New England began in the early 20th century, and all of Lowell’s mills gradually shut down. Most of the jobs moved to new locations in the south. Lowell’s textile mills and the means to power them led to the city’s many contributions to the industrial revolution which changed New England and the rest of the nation in so many ways. One of them was the invention of a drink which the young women could consume without lapsing into immorality. One such “soft” drink was invented and first produced in Lowell. Its inventor, Dr. Augustin Thompson, sold it as a patent medicine. It was called Moxie.

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think
William G. Morgan used the elements of several sports to create a new team sport he initially called Mintonette. Wikimedia

William Morgan and Mintonette

That the game of basketball was invented by James Naismith in Springfield MA is relatively well known. Naismith designed the game and its rules while serving as a physical education teacher at the Springfield YMCA. What is less well known is that he was under orders from his boss to create a physically demanding game which could be played indoors during the long and harsh New England winters. Under a two week deadline, Naismith came up with basketball; his game featured teams of nine playing against each other, and the ball could only be moved by passing it, if it touched the floor it was given to the other team.

William George Morgan was a student at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield and as a student of Naismith’s, enthused about the game of basketball. He later went to the YMCA in Holyoke MA as a physical education teacher. In 1895 he became the Director of Physical Education in Holyoke. There he came to the conclusion that the game of basketball as it was then played required physical strength and endurance that not all of his students possessed. Smaller men, those which were less physically conditioned, and older men were all incapable of competing favorably on the basketball court. Morgan began to look for an alternative game for those not enthused over basketball.

Morgan planned his new game by looking at the other indoor sports of the time, including basketball. He also looked at tennis and handball, among others, to design his new game, which he determined should be a game played indoors or out, between teams, and should avoid the potential for body contact. He designed a court on which the game would be played, 30′ by 60′, separated in the middle by a six foot net. The net prevented the opposing teams from physical contact, and the dimensions allowed the game to be played within most gymnasiums in the country.

Morgan next approached the AG Spaulding and Brothers Company to help him develop a ball for use in his new game, which he named Mintonette. After explaining the rules of the game and how it would be played Spaulding designed a ball which was lighter than the basketball then in use. The ball was about 25 inches in diameter, weighed about 10 – 12 ounces, and was encased in leather. Morgan called it a Minton ball and completed the final adjustments to the rules of his new game, which he explained to other Directors of Physical Education, prior to the first demonstration of the game itself at Springfield.

Morgan arranged for two teams of five men to first play the game of Mintonette on February 9, 1895. After watching the demonstration one of the audience, Springfield College Professor Alfred T. Halsted, commented that since the major portion of the action seemed to be volleying the ball between the teams, a better name for it might be volleyball. Morgan changed the name from Mintonette to Volleyball on the spot. Within five years AG Spaulding was producing volleyballs for mass consumption. Volleyball went on to become an Olympic sport in 1964, and beach volleyball, both indoors and out, is a major spectator sport today, born out of a Massachusetts winter.

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think
In 1954 Brownie Wise started an annual jubilee celebrating annual sales and introducing new products to the faithful. Wikimedia

Earl Tupper and Brownie Wise

Although he was born in New Hampshire, Earl Tupper grew up in Massachusetts where his father failed to make much of a living on their farm. Earl was an indifferent student, though he later took several correspondence courses in various disciplines after completing high school. Like his father, Earl was a tinkerer, inventing various devices and innovations, including a better method (in his mind) of removing an appendix despite his lack of training in anatomy or medicine. Eventually he established his own tree surgery and landscaping company, which went bankrupt during the Great Depression. He then found work with the Viscaloid division of DuPont in Leominster, MA.

After working with DuPont Earl bought some used plastic molding machines and began manufacturing soap dishes and cigarette cases, creating the Tupper Plastics Company. After World War Two and with the assistance of DuPont, which provided him with polyethylene, he developed molded bowls with airtight lids, which he called Tupperware. Earl gave away the bowls with cigarettes to generate demand and word of mouth advertising, and tried selling them in stores with marginal success. Then he learned of the success being achieved by Brownie Wise, a single mother who purchased Tupperware at wholesale and sold it at home parties. Earl hired her as his vice-president and decided to sell all of his products exclusively through home parties.

Earl was a recluse in many ways, Brownie was exuberant, and the two companies which Earl had created – Tupperware and Tupperware Home Parties reflected their differences in personality. Sales of the product skyrocketed in the growing suburbs which the GI Bill helped created during the 1950s. Earl left Brownie alone to run Tupperware Home Parties while he concentrated on production, personally designing each new product. By the end of the 1950s Earl was more than a little jealous of Brownie’s growing fame, and was under pressure from knowledge that as sole owner of the company his fortune would be heavily taxed should he attempt to leave it to his children.

In 1958 Earl fired Brownie, without giving a reason, and shortly afterwards he sold Tupperware to Rexall. Tupperware Home Parties became a subsidiary of Avon. Before Earl sold Tupperware Home Parties he saw to it that all references to Brownie Wise in the company’s manuals, sales literature, and advertising was excised, and she became persona non grata within the company. Wise was given one year’s salary as a severance when she was forced out of the company. She tried to use it to form a cosmetics company for which the product would be sold through home parties, calling the company Cinderella. She lacked the funds to launch the company.

After firing Brownie and subsequently selling his companies Earl divorced his wife of many years. He relocated to Costa Rica, and renounced his American citizenship to avoid taxes on his estate. Most of the many patents he held through his Tupperware products expired during the 1980s, and the company now has competition which hadn’t existed during its heyday. Tupperware is today marketed around the world, mostly through party plans. Attempts to sell Tupperware through retail outlets have proven to be unsuccessful, hurting the direct sales achieved through Tupperware Parties.

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think
All that remains of the Toll House tourist lodge is this sign and plaque. The lodge, which was built in 1817 rather than 1709, burned down in 1984. Wikimedia

A Sweet Deal for Everyone

Ruth Wakefield and her husband, Kenneth, were the owners and proprietors of a restaurant and lodge in Whitman, MA in the 1930s. A trained dietitian, Ruth prepared all of the meals and baked goods served at the lodge. Located between Boston and New Bedford, the lodge was a popular eating place and tourist stop, gaining a reputation for good food, especially desserts. Although there is no evidence that the lodge, which was built in 1817, was ever used as a place to collect tolls on the Boston Post Road, the Wakefields named their business The Toll House Inn.

In 1938 Ruth was making one of her more popular dessert cookies, which were butter drop cookies, when she decided to vary a batch by adding chopped up semi-sweet chocolate. Chocolate chips had not yet been invented. Ruth expected that the chocolate would melt during the baking process, but unevenly so, resulting in butter drop cookies swirled with chocolate. The chopped chocolate did not melt, only softening during the baking, to restore itself to hardness after the cookies fully cooled. Thus the chocolate chip cookie was born in Massachusetts. Ruth published her recipe in an ensuing edition of her best-selling cookbook in which she called the cookies Toll House Cookies.

Ruth specified the use of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate in her recipe. Toll House cookies became popular in New England, and the sales of Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate bars increased dramatically, a fact noticed by the Nestle company. World War II intervened. An urban legend has it that soldiers from New England shared their home sent care package cookies with their fellow soldiers from other areas of the country, spreading their popularity. In truth, ingredients used in the recipe, including butter, sugar, eggs, and flour were all rationed during the war, and most of the cookies distributed to troops came from commercial bakers.

Andrew Nestle and Ruth Wakefield made a deal which, while the term win-win situation was not yet in wide use, certainly qualifies as one. Nestle agreed to print the Toll House Cookie recipe on every package of their new product, chocolate chips, and Ruth received a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate. Ruth also received one US dollar for her part of the agreement. By 1958 Nestle was capitalizing on the baby boom by introducing other flavors of their chips (actually morsels by Nestle terminology, but chocolate morsel cookie doesn’t have the same panache) starting with butterscotch.

By the 1960s there were chocolate and other flavor chips manufactured by confectioners around the world and dozens of different brands of chocolate chip cookies manufactured commercially. The original Toll House recipe became available pre-made in tubes to be simply sliced and baked. Many at home bakers ate some of the dough raw while waiting for the batch in the oven to finish, which in turn led to chocolate chip cookie dough flavored ice cream. It all stemmed from the fortuitous result of a baking experiment in a Massachusetts tourist lodge, an event which alone should rank Massachusetts as one of the greatest of the states.

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think
Three trolleys near the entrance to the Public Garden portal of the Tremont Street subway in 1904, Boston’s was the first subway built in America. Library of Congress

America’s First Subway System

By the late 1800s Boston suffered from problems with congestion of its streets which were of herculean proportions. There were several factors which contributed to the gridlock. One was simple overpopulation. Another was the proliferation of horse and steam propelled streetcars, combined with private carriages, cabs, and other vehicles. The oldest portions of the city consisted (as it still does) of narrow winding streets and alleys, often following more or less their original routes as cowpaths to and from Boston Common.

Boston needed a mass transit railroad, but the construction of an elevated railroad in some parts of the city was virtually impossible without tearing down whole neighborhoods and rerouting surface streets. A subway like the one open and running in London was equally distasteful to Bostonians. The London system was propelled with steam locomotives which filled the subterranean sections with toxic smoke and clouds of steam, and the experience of riding underground was not a pleasant one for the city’s representatives who went to evaluate the system.

Frank Sprague’s electric motor, which proved itself driving trolleys in Richmond, Virginia in 1888, induced Boston trolley owners to equip their vehicles with electric power. Once these trolleys proved their feasibility in Boston, the way was open to place rails underground and ease the surface congestion plaguing the city. In 1891 a Rapid Transit Committee was formed and sanctioned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The usual political harping and maneuvering went on for the next few years but by 1895 construction of the first portion of the Boston Subway was underway (despite the claims by some that air underground was unhealthful and releasing it into the atmosphere would place the whole city at risk).

The builders were forced by legislative fiat to keep surface streets such as Tremont open during construction. Workers devised a plan in which sections of trench were dug in lengths of ten to twelve feet, covered with wood planks which were then bricked over. Once the brick “top” was in place the interior of the section was reinforced with steel beams and the interior walls were built over them. The Boston system was built to half of the depth of its London counterpart – 50 feet rather than 100 – in order to speed construction and to avoid undermining the foundations of existing structures. Human remains were encountered during construction and re-interred in Boston’s cemeteries.

The Boston Subway, with three initial stations, opened to the public on September 1, 1897, as work continued on other tracks and stations. The first three stations were Park Street, Boylston Street, and Tremont Street. Others soon joined them as the system expanded. By 1903 the effectiveness of the system on alleviating surface congestion was considered a failure, many believed that the system had actually increased foot traffic in some areas of the city. Today the first subway in the United States is part of a transport system which includes streetcars, buses, light rail, elevated rail, and automobiles as a way of moving around its still congested streets.

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think
A figure from Clarence Birdseye’s patent for the flash freezing of fish, using brine as the freezing agent. United States Patent Office

Clarence Birdseye and the Gloucester Fisherman

In the 1920s it was nearly impossible to purchase fresh seafood in much of the United States. Major inland cities with good railroad connections could often have fresh produce of the sea, but it arrived packed in barrels of ice, which made the shipping costs expensive. Oysters and clams could be found in Cincinnati and St. Louis as a result of this method, but fresh fish was rare. Fish frozen slowly, by packing it in ice, became watery, lost flavor, and was unattractive. If one truly wanted salt water fish as a part of one’s daily diet one needed to live near the seacoast. That changed in Massachusetts in 1925.

That year the General Seafood Corporation opened a fish processing plant in Gloucester, MA. The opening of a fish processing facility in Gloucester, a center of the fishing industry for as long as anyone could remember, was nothing remarkable. It was the nature of the plant which was different. This plant, after cleaning and preparing the fish for market, used a new technique, called flash freezing, which had been created by Clarence Birdseye. The flash freezing technique produced frozen fish which when thawed retained the characteristics, taste, and appearance of fresh fish. Rather than freeze the fish and then package it, Birdseye sealed the fish in a carton and froze both, under pressure.

Birdseye next developed a means by which his method of freezing fish could mass produce product and it was this method which was employed by the newest addition to the Gloucester fish industry. Birdseye’s system was called the double belt freezer. Birdseye used cold saltwater, which freezes at a lower temperature than fresh water due to its salt content. How much lower is dependent on the amount of salt present in the water. Birdseye’s system used two belts to move the already packaged fish between them through the saltwater, which froze the fish quickly and prevented the development of ice crystals. He received a patent for his invention and the frozen fish industry was underway.

By 1927 Birdseye was extending his method of flash freezing foods to other perishables, including beef, poultry, some fruits, and some vegetables. He quickly learned that some fruits and vegetables took readily to his methods while others were better off being canned. In 1929 he sold the company to the Postum Company and Goldman Sachs, along with the many patents he had obtained, and continued to work for the new company, which eventually became Birds Eye Frozen Foods. Despite becoming a rich man through the sale, Birdseye continued to invent improved methods of food preservation through freezing.

Clarence Birdseye received dozens patents related to the frozen food industry of which he is considered to be the most important innovator and founder. Some are related to freezing, others to preparation of the product prior to freezing, such as an industrial fish scaler and a bin for the storage of fish. The Gloucester Fisherman was not a Birdseye mascot; he belonged to a competitor, Gorton’s. But it was Birdseye who created the industry of preserving foods through the method of flash freezing, which today is applied to virtually any perishable food

Here are 10 Things That Prove the State of Massachusetts is More Intense Than People Think
This stained glass panel of the Boston Latin School as it appeared in 1635 is installed at the Sterling Memorial Library of Yale University. Wikimedia

Some other Massachusetts facts

In 1632, only 12 years after the first European settlers arrived at what would become Plymouth Colony, the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s General Court at Boston banned the smoking of tobacco at all public places within the young settlement. Not to be outdone, the sale of tobacco within the confines of Boston was banned three years later. Despite the anti-smoking stance of the legislators, Massachusetts Bay traders and merchants carried out a lively and profitable trade with the tobacco planters of Virginia, and by 1638 the laws were overturned. These were the first laws regulating the use and sale of tobacco in American history.

In public education, the city of Boston opened the first public school in the United States, the Boston Latin School. It was open to students of every social caste, as long as they were male, when it opened in 1635. This would remain its policy until 1972, when it allowed its first female student. It is still open and it now allows entry based on test scores and grade records. It offers curricula for grades 7 through high school, and limits its ranks to those residing in Boston. Among those educated there are counted Samuel Adams, singer and actor Ed Ames of the Ames Brothers, Henry Ward Beecher, Leonard Bernstein, and actress Christine Elise.

Prior to the invention of the wooden golf tee, by Harvard Professor George F. Grant in 1899, golfers built tees out of sand to raise the ball off the ground. The wooden golf tee isn’t golf’s only link with Massachusetts, the Titleist Company is based in the Massachusetts town of Acushnet. Before he invented the wooden tee, Professor Grant had already earned the distinction of being the first African American member of the faculty at Harvard University, itself the first university in North America. Professor Grant was also a doctor, with a degree in dentistry, and he practiced for a time in Boston.

In 1948 a donut shop was opened in Quincy, Massachusetts by William Rosenberg, who named his shop Open Kettle. In 1948 he introduced a product designed specifically for dipping into coffee or other beverage and these proved so popular that he changed the name of the shop to reflect the name of the product – Dunkin Donuts. He began selling franchises in 1955. In 2010 Dunkin Donuts topped $6 billion in sales worldwide, through more than 11,000 locations. Any visitor to Boston and its environs would swear that the majority of those locations are in the area.

There are but 14 counties in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (one of four states which identify as commonwealths, along with Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky). One of these counties is the site of the birth of four men who rose to be President of the United States. Two of these men were born before the county was created by legislation which was signed into law by John Hancock in 1793. Those two were John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams. The later Presidents of the United States born there were John F. Kennedy and George Herbert Walker Bush, allowing Norfolk County to dub itself “The County of Presidents”.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Shays’ Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle”, by Leonard L. Richards, 2002

“The Driving Duryea Brothers, Springfield’s driving pioneers”, by Mark Alamed, History MassLive online, April 14, 2010

“Cat People: What Dr. Seuss really taught us”, by Louis Menand, The New Yorker, December 23, 2002

“Center for Lowell History”, University of Massachusetts, online

“In 1895, William Morgan invents Mintonette”, by The New England Historical Society, online

“People & Events: Earl Silas Tupper (1907-1983)”, Tupperware!, PBS American Experience, December 11, 2003, online text supporting the film

“Sweet Morsels: A History of the Chocolate Chip Cookie”, by Jon Michaud, The New Yorker, December 19, 2013

“History of the Boston Subway: The First Subway in America”, by Rebecca Beatrice Brooks,, March 16, 2017

“The Inventor Who Put Frozen Peas On Our Tables”, by Janet Maslin, The New York Times, April 25, 2012

“Miscellaneous Facts: Famous Firsts in Massachusetts”, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website, online