Colossal Victorian Divorce

America’s First Family in Disarray…

West Vs. West Divorce with America's first Millinaire FamilyMany of us living on the North Shore of Boston know of the mall called…The North Shore Mall. Some of us know the stories of the various graves that dot the property in the hedges before you walk into JC Penny’s and other locations or the  stories of the church that resides in the basement; very few know of the mansion that resided on this location and the nasty divorce that got the home pulled apart and reassembled in various places.

So lets back up a bit; who were the couple who built the mansion known as Oak Hill. Well Elizabeth Derby West was the daughter of Elias Hasket Derby who was America’s first millionaire and on some lists is described as the 10th wealthiest man in American history. Imagine that a millionaire who had more wealth than today’s billionaires? Inflation… Elizabeth married Nathaniel West, a man her father declared a scullion. Well in time Captain West won over his father-in-law and was confided in business decisions more often than not than his own children. So much so that the father willed to his son-in-law Derby Wharf which was the largest and most profitable in town. This little act led to  a no holds bar fist fight between Elias Hasket Derby Jr. and Elizabeth against her husband. later she would probably have such a fight with her brother after he inherited the family mansion on Derby Square which he soon squandered away.

In 1803 the scandal opened in court. Here is a few words from Rev. Bentley (diarist and friend of John Hancock):

Never could Johnson’s words better [be] applied, when a man marries a fortune it is not all he marries. The woman became all that is execrable in women from vanity, caprice, folly, & malignity…

He was an enterprising seaman with no uncommon advantages of education or nature, but his ambition led him to address the eldest daughter of the late E.H. Derby…The mother of Elizabeth was a Crowninshield and well known for vanity which she exposed to constant & deserved ridicule. E. possessed the rigid temper of her father, with all the weakness of her mother.”

and

“…after every quarrel with all her relatives she waged open war against her husband & this day, aided by the unfeeling perseverance of her malignant Br[other] Gen. E.H. D[erby] who has a private quarrel to avenge, she displayed in open court, to prove the incontinence of Capt. W[est], all the sweepings of the Brothels of Boston, & all the vile wretches of Salem, Marblehead, Cape Ann.

The mansion. It remained in Elizabeth’s hands during her life, but she was to die 10 years later. Then one of her daughters gave it to her father, against the wishes in the mother’s will… It was torn apart; a parlor is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, some rooms were on display at the Peabody Essex Museum a few years ago, a summer house is on the Glen Magna estate, and a portion is added to the Phillips House on Federal Street in Salem.  So Oak Hill remains no more, in its entirety, but you can visit the ghost of Captain West at the Salem Inn. Most of the time his spirit can be felt by his bottle of port which you are welcomed to share a glass with him. Plus if you are in the Christmas spirit…you can shop for many gifts at the North Shore Mall on the location of this once famous mansion.

To read more about how Salem shaped American history read Sub Rosa by Chris Dowgin published by Salem House Press.

www.salemhousepress.com

 

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Salem Fagin

The First Boy’s Club and Tunnels…

The First Boy’s Club in the country was held in a building attached to this tunnel. In fact the three locations that the club first resided in were all attached to the smuggling tunnels in Salem MA. The first was the Downing Block next to the Peabody Essex Museum. The second location was in the Salem Lyceum that previous housed a lecture series where Alexander Graham Bell introduced his phone publicly at. The third location was in the old Essex County Bank building built by Charles Bulfinch who became the Architect of D.C. who built all the tunnels under our capitol.

The Boy’s Club learned an important early lesson; keep the kids in a brick building. For the one time they were housed in a wooden building, the Lyceum, they burned it down.  The location where James Russell Lowell introduced the Dante Club’s translation of The Inferno was burned to the ground by these children.

So why was it so important to have these economically challenged children in building attached to the tunnels? Were they helping the sailors and captains smuggle in town? Were they assisting in the runaway slaves attempts at gaining freedom? Or were they run by a Salem Fagin who had them act like the Artful Dodger and break into the homes that also were attached to the tunnels?

Who is to say, but it makes you think…

For more info read Sub Rosa to find out how Salem shaped America and your lives! Available at Remember Salem, Jolie Tea, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com. Also to learn more stories like this first hand, book a tour with the Salem Smugglers’ Tour!

Salem House Press
http://www.salemhousepress.com

Vintage Salem Morning!

Old Town Hall built on William Brown’s mansion property. William Brown was a Tory and ran to Newfoundland during the Revolutionary War. His kin Lucy Brown Derby inherited it and gave it to her father in Law Elias Hasket Derby Sr. This became America’s first millionaire’s 4th mansion in town. He only got to live in the mansion for a year before he died. Then Lucy got the mansion when her husband Elias Hasket Derby Jr. inherited the property. After spending his portion of the 10th largest estate in American history, Elias started selling off the mansion and grounds little by little.  In 1814 he will sell the property to the town to build Old Town Hall. Tunnel designers Samuel McIntire and Charles Bulfinch worked to create the building. One tunnel leaves the back of the building and connects to the Old Naumkeag Trust Building. It was helpful a few years ago to run cable for internet between the two buildings…

For more info read Salem Secret Underground:The History of the Tunnels in the City and Sub Rosa by Chris Dowgin available at Remember Salem, Jolie Tea, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com.

Vintage Salem Morning!

Greenlawn Chapel and Greenhouse Salem Ma

Greenlawn Cemetery, Chapel, and Greenhouse. Under this chapel 4 tunnels meet. One heading out to Orne’s Point where the Widow Orne sold bricks to keep her property to be used to create the tunnels in Salem. Her kin Secretary of State Timothy Pickering bought 40,000 bricks from her in one order when a house only needed 8,000 bricks.

For more info read Sub Rosa by Chris Dowgin available at Remember Salem, Jolie Tea, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com.

I am Henry Clay

I was one of the three most powerful senators, but you don’t remember me

I first came to Salem to advise a rope maker on the advantages of hemp. Once in town I met John Quincy Adams and became his Secretary of State. I also met Daniel Webster who was one of the Triumphant of senators with me. We plotted and got away with assassinating 3 presidents trying to make the third national bank.

For more info read Sub Rosa to find out how Salem shaped America and your lives! Available at Remember Salem, Jolie Tea, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com.
Salem House Press
www.salemhousepress.com

The Real Beginning to the Revolutionary War

Leslie’s Retreat

Painting of Leslie's Retreat at the Old North Street Bridge

America’s first armed conflict in the Revolutionary War. First blood was spilled in the war when a man bared his chest to a Regular and was scraped by a bayonet. Before Lexington and Concord, General Leslie was ordered to secure the cannons which would later end up in Lexington. Salem rallied and raised the Old North Street Bridge and prevented them from crossing. A large group climbed the bridge and taunted the British, even more were coming but they thought it was more important to guard the distillery instead on the way to Salem from Danvers. The stand off came to an end when Salem allowed Leslie to follow out his orders, to cross the bridge. So he did and went back to Boston the way he came.

To find out more read Sub Rosa by Chris Dowgin and find out how Salem shaped American history and your lives!

Founding of a Game Empire

Paid for by Smuggling…

William B Parker was the grandfather of the Parker Brothers and a smuggler in Salem.

 

I am William Parker. I am a Smugglers in Salem and the Parker Brothers’ grandfather. My cousin’s mysterious death before he presided over the famous Joseph White murder of 1830 led my grandson to purchase Cluedo and rename it Clue. The mysterious death of Chief Justice Isaac Parker the night before he was to be in court spurred my grandson’s purchase of the game. For more info read Sub Rosa to find out how Salem shaped America and your lives!

Available at Remember Salem, Jolie Tea, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com.Salem House Press
http://www.salemhousepress.com