Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Boston Diary - June 3

NEHGS Library didn't open until 9:00 so I had plenty of time beforehand to chart out what I wanted to accomplish on day 1. I looked at the list of resources that I definitely wanted to consult before I left town because I didn't have access to them otherwise and decided that there were several Essex County records that I could probably cover by just spending a few hours in the morning studying. There were several unique family titles that I wanted to peruse for clues but not necessarily use as proof. There were a few manuscripts that I wanted to use. Then there were some microfilm sources, some of which were also available in Family History Centers (although I understand that the delay in receiving those is getting to be quite long these days).

The hotel's breakfast was supposed to be served beginning at 7:30. Let me just say that I think that is very late for breakfast in the first place! They were 25 minutes late getting it out this morning. It was just a continental breakfast. I could have walked to Dunkin Donuts and back and stil had time to spare in the time it took for that! (Dunkin would have been better too.) This hotel served a hot breakfast when I was here in September 2006. They also had continental items, but that wasn't the only thing. Let's just say that I preferred the old breakfast! The continental breakfast has not been anything to write home about either time I've eaten there. They have changed the dining arrangements downstairs and now offer a French restaurant in the evenings (at least on some evenings). I have decided that I am going to try a breakfast place that I read about tomorrow rather than waiting on them to get breakfast out when I'm starved to death!

I walked down the street to NEHGS, arriving a few minutes before 9 a.m. I decided to spend the morning in published Essex County records and finding aids. I took many pages of notes, but one of the highlights was a transcription of a couple of wills. I plan to get copies of the originals later. One of the things that I had to keep reminding myself about is that in the old calendar the 1st month was March. In most cases, dates were written with the date, then the month, and then the year (e.g. 28: 1: 1665).

I will have to admit that my favorite find of the morning was the will of Alexander Knight, the father of Hannah who married Isaac Perkins. I'm not going to attempt to reproduce the will here even though the transcription was done in 1916. However, I will tell you why this will was my favorite of the morning. It's really quite simple. I have never run across a will that reads like a sermon before until I read this one! I also learned that Hannah was the "eldest daughter" and that her siblings were Sarah, Mary, and "Nathaniell". The will confirms that his wife's name was "Hanna" as well. Being the oldest child, Hannah (future wife of Isaac Perkins), received more land than her siblings. She got 6 acres of marsh land and 6 acres of planting land. Of course, her brother was to get the house after the death of his mother. The sermon was interesting to me. I wondered if he felt that some of his children were straying and that he was going to have one last chance to get their attention about spiritual matters during the reading of his will. The original can be found in the Essex County Probate Files in docket 15, 941. [The Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts. Volume 1, 1635-1664. Salem, Mass: Essex Institute, 1916. pages 439-441]

I had a "business lunch" with a member of the NEHGS staff. We ate at Tealuxe, a little tea and sandwich shop diagonally across from the library. The sandwich was very good. The service was great. I ordered an iced tea that had vanilla, peach, and apricot. I'll be honest. I didn't taste the flavors that much. They had an excellent tea menu though. It reminded me of Laura Childs' "Indigo Tea Shop" in her Theodosia Browning tea shop mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina.

I spent the afternoon going through some unique Perkins family material that the library had. I went through all the issues of the Perkins Family Newsletter that the library owned. I found a few helpful items and recorded those. Perhaps the most interesting book that I ran across was one written by Robert A. Perkins, who appears to be a professor emeritus of social work from Louisiana State University. It is entitled Seeds of a Planter and appears to have been self-published in 1997. I would love to have my own copy of this book. Prof. Perkins did the most marvelous job of incorporating medieval history into the Perkins family narrative for the oldest known generations. The writing is a little to the academic side, but it really does a fantastic job of describing the family in the social context of the day, explaining what might have been happening that would cause them to want to leave England. I would exceed copyright if I copied the book so I really want to try to track this book down.

These tidbits are far from all I found today, but I just wanted to hit a few highlights.

I decided that it was time to try the North End and one of its Italian restaurants. I came back to the hotel room to do a little research. I knew that I wanted to do dessert at Mike's Pastry because EVERYONE keeps recommending it. I just didn't know which restaurant to try. I founds that the reviews for Giacomos were really good. In fact, I'm pretty sure that it is one that a lady on the plane mentioned to me as being really good. The reviews recommended lots of their items but one of them stood out to me in the reviews and on the menu itself--the butternut squash ravioli. Standing in line waiting to get in, there was a lady right behind me who was telling people "Yes, it's worth the wait; this is the best Italian place in Boston!" I will say that the prices seemed more reasonable than some of the others I had seen, and the food reviews were all really excellent.

Yes, that's asparagus. That's a mascarpone cheese cream sauce with a few bits of prosciutto in it. It was absolutely wonderful! The red sauces in various places in the dining room smelled divine with the aroma of garlic in the air!

Now, one place that has been recommended to me at least a half dozen times since I've arrived in Boston is Mike's Pastry. I've heard that I should get the ricotta pie and that I should get a cannoli. I decided to get both and box them up and bring them back to the hotel. This is the package that rode with me on the subway. I decided to try the ricotta pie first because I'd heard Rachael Ray talking about what a bargain this was and how good it was at one point. It's in my del.icio.us bookmarks for that very reason. I ate part of it. It was very good.
However, I had to try the cannoli. Someone at NEHGS told me that I absolutely had to try the cannoli, but they failed to tell me that they offered many varieties that all looked equally decadent. I settled on the Florentine Cannoli. Let me just say that I intended to only eat part of it after eating part of that ricotta pie, but it was so decadent that I just kept eating and kept eating and kept eating until it was all gone! They supposedly ship their goods, and I may have to take them up on this.
I noticed that they also had gelato, marzipan, and other goodies. I will definitely stop here again before I head home. Besides - I get to use that Charlie Card that I've got too much value on!

Italian night was very tasty!

P.S. Jasia has the 49th edition (a.k.a. the Swimsuit edition) of the Carnival of Genealogy posted.


Jasia said...

Boy, you've sure got my mouth watering Lori! I've never been tempted to visit Boston until I read this post. Now I'm considering it... ;-)

Unknown said...

Hey - your pictures are certainly making me even more anxious to be headed up there! - Alison (who is looking forward to the food and sights as much as to conference...)

Lori Thornton said...

Jasia, the food is worth the visit! Just make sure you bring good walking shoes. If you don't visit, you can order Mike's cannoli online! Alison, I think we are all looking forward to the sights and food as much as the conference in this case. Why do you think I added an extra week onto my stay?

Miriam Robbins said...

I've been loving all your posts about the Bahamas and Boston, Lori! And thanks for reminding me about the Theodosia Browning Mysteries; I've been putting together my summer reading list and will be checking these out at the library soon!

Lori Thornton said...

Miriam, it's a great series, but I'll have to admit that my favorites are still the earlier ones in the series. However, that doesn't stop me from pre-ordering them.