Jonathan Hill is a full-time researcher at NEHGS; he earned his BFA from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jonathan previously served as a board member on the Friends of the Town of Bedford Cemeteries. He has contributed to the Green-Wood Cemetery’s Civil War Project and to many other historical volunteer projects across the country.
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As anyone who as ever spent time doing genealogical research can tell you, searching through historical records can oftentimes feel like a little bit of a treasure hunt. When I noticed an unusual headline printed in The Boston Statesman on October 4th, 1852, I found myself immersed in a real-life treasure hunt.1 The article read:
Treasure Buried on Boston Common- A Mr. John Griffin petitioned the city government yesterday for permission to dig a hole on Boston Common six feet in diameter for the purpose of obtaining $1000 which he asserts his father, John Griffin, who served in the war of the Revolution, secreted during the “Troubled Times” preceding the war. Griffin says he is poor and wants the money bad. The petition was referred to the Committee on the Common.
When researching the American Civil War, battles and generals are often discussed in depth and the individual everyday stories and struggles of the common soldiers can be neglected in the larger story of the war. A story of particular interest to me is the story of Charles Taylor, a 25-year-old private from Massachusetts, who is often cited as the first soldier killed in the Civil War.
At approximately 4:30 in the morning of 12 April 1861, Confederate soldiers opened fire on Fort Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina. Although neither side sustained casualties during the battle, this event is widely regarded as the start of the American Civil War. Continue reading Finding Charles Taylor→