Ghosts, the First Phone Call, Dante’s Inferno, and Tunnels

Welcome to the Salem Tunnel Report. Every Monday we will post new and old tunnel finds along with those who built them. In our posts you will learn how Salem has shaped American history from the profits of the smuggling that happened in these tunnels; sometimes for the good, but more often not.

Lyceum
43 Church Street

Joshua Holbrook borrowed a concept from the Mechanics Institutes he had encountered in England and created the Lyceum movement. In 1828 Holbrook started the first lyceum in Milbury, Massachusetts. Soon 100 others sprinkled throughout New England. By 1834, the number of lyceums in America had grown to 3,000.

The Salem Lyceum started in January 1830 when Captain Joseph White was dying from a sickness he could not shake. The mission of the Salem Lyceum was the “mutual education and rational entertainment” for both its membership and the general public through a biannual course of lectures, debates, and dramatic readings. The new hall could accommodate 700 patrons in amphitheater-style seating and was decorated with images of Cicero, Demosthenes and other great orators of the classical period. Lectures were held on Tuesday evenings. Admission was $1 for men and 75 cents for women, who had to be “introduced” by a male to gain entrance.

Over the next 60 years there were over 1,000 lectures. John Quincy Adams delivered a lecture on politics, Agassiz on geology, and Alexander Graham Bell made his first public demonstration of the telephone here. Well sort of…he was a hit at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition first.

Bell had invented the phone on the property that the Salem YMCA now is on Essex Street. In 1873 Thomas Sanders hired Bell to teach his deaf son George in his mother’s house at 292 Essex Street. The house was torn down in 1898. Bell was teaching to the deaf in Boston and working on the phone in a laboratory in Boston. He would take the last train home to Salem and continued to work on his invention in the attic and basement of the Sander’s house. On February 12, 1877 he had his expo at the Lyceum. Thomas Sanders became one of his first investors in his telephone company which became The Bell Telephone Company. The Ma Bells of America. Later it became Atlantic Telephone & Telegraph company. Sanders was their Treasurer.

What was the conversation that happened with that first phone call of any distance:

Bell~ “Mr. Watson, will you speak to the audience?”
Watson~ “Ladies and gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure to be able to address you this evening, although I am in Boston, and you in Salem!”

Thomas A. Watson was at Exeter Place in Boston with musicians, reporters, and artists. Watson and band sang Auld Lang Syne and Yankee Doodle Dandy (a song the Regulars sang as they attacked the North Bridge in Salem) to Bell in Salem with everyone hearing them. This won Bell a 2nd appearance on Feb. 23rd in front of an audience of 500 people netting him $8,500 which was the first money the phone ever made.

Bell was not the only inventor in Salem. Tesla had created a generating facility for Pequot Mills/Naumkeag Steam Cotton Co. in Salem, Moses Farmer created the light bulb purchased by Thomas Edison and was the first to light his home by electricity in the world, Joseph Dixon created a crucible that could withstand high heat for minting coins for the U.S. Mint and the #2 pencil, Charles Grafton Page worked in the patent office in D.C. and created a magnet that could lift a 1,000 pounds, and Louis Packard was making electric cars in the 1800’s. In fact half of the room on electricity in the Smithsonian Institute houses inventions from Lynn, Salem, and Swampscott.

The Lyceum was the destination that people like Agassiz, Thoreau, and Longfellow would walk through the tunnels from Col. George Peabody’s home on the common to give a lecture or try a out a reading before they published a work. Oliver Wendell Holmes had a lecture on “Lyceums and Lyceum Lectures;” and abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave one on “Assassination and its Lessons” shortly after President Lincoln’s murder. The man who got away with the assassinations of three presidents, two in office and one three months after, Daniel Webster was paid the most. He received $100, for his lecture on “The History of the Constitution of the United States”.

Ralph Waldo Emerson gave the most lectures at the Lyceum for a total of 30. Emerson, whose maternal granduncle Jonathan Waldo was the man who refitted the old hill fort and chose to rename it Fort Pickering in 1801.

As Derby was getting money from Common Improvement Fund subscribers, Waldo just got paid by the War Department. After fighting with them for two years since 1799 for the funds necessary he will refit the fort with strong brick arches. Does the old hill fort have tunnels leading to Richard Derby’s wharf that Elias Hasket Derby Sr. was looking to refit before his death in 1799?

James Russell Lowell, also gave a lecture on “Dante’s Inferno”. He was working with Holmes and Longfellow on a translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy at Harvard. The book The Dante Club goes over the history of that undertaking within a murder mystery where people are being murdered by various punishments found in Dante’s work.

That hill fort, the man it was named after, Timothy Pickering. He was Washington’s Aide to Camp, his Secretary of State, and Secretary of State for John Adams. Pickering after leaving Washington was the head of the Essex Junto. An organization whose sole purpose was giving New England back to the British. He had worked with John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Aaron Burr in this process that culminated in the Hartford Convention in 1814 that Daniel Webster participated in that threatened cession and siding with the British in the War of 1812. Little did they know the peace treaty was signed in Ghent, Belgium before they left Salem for Hartford…

In 1898, the Salem Lyceum voted to dissolve and give the records and remaining monies to the Essex Institute. The money became the “Salem Lyceum Fund” to be used to maintain a course of lectures.

In fact the Salem Boy’s Fraternity purchased the building next from the Lyceum that was owned by then by the Essex Institute. This was the boy’s second location in town after moving out of the Downing Building and they were the second and last tenants of this old wooden building; for they created their own inferno in it.

The modern brick building built on the location houses Turner’s Seafood. During the reconstruction of the Lyceum/43 Church restaurant to Turner’s the construction crew were disturbed by the “Flushing Ghost”. An entity would enter the women’s room who kept flushing the toilet. After much aggravation, the construction team decided to dismantle the plumbing since they were moving the bathroom anyway; the ghost then proceeded to the men’s room. Pictures of girl materializing out of the floorboards on the second floor also have been taken. Why is she cut in half by the picture? Because she remembers the original floor of the wooden building and not the current one.

Elsie also haunts the ladies room in Murphy’s. Up to the second floor in the back the foundation of the building supports the Old Burying Point. They say two coffins fell through the wall in the building. Since then Elsie has been rattling stall doors aggravating those women preoccupied with nature’s call for years now.

The Lyceum was built in the apple orchard of Bridget Bishop. Her house stood where the Salem Five Bank is now on the corner of Washington Street and Church Street. Her first husband Mr. Oliver had died and left her a house with many gables. Then she married Mr. Bishop. Even though she married a bishop, the church still hanged her as a witch. Her home was an influence on the exterior descriptions of The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne and the interior based on his cousin Susan Ingersoll’s home which at the time was missing a few gables…Hawthorne never spoke at the Lyceum, but acted as their secretary and his father-in-law sold tickets.

Now back to the boys; it is strange that their three locations in town were in buildings attached to tunnels. The boy’s were from the working classes without much affluence, could they have been doing the work of the ‘Artful Dodger’ and ran by some sort of ‘Fagin’. Their third and first location were in brick buildings; I guess they learned quick.

Zack Fagan of Ghost Adventurers and Ghost Hunters have filmed episodes in this building.

Now about Charles Lenox Remond and his sister Sarah training Frederick Douglass within these walls into the Abolitionist Movement; that is another story.

Many secrets in Salem!

For more read info Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City and its sequel Sub Rosa by Chris Dowgin published by Salem House Press. Available at Barnes & Noble, Remember Salem, The Witch House, Jolie Tea, 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

East India Marine Hall and the Man Who Killed a President

Mysteries of the Museum

East India Marine Hall and the Peabody Essex Museum Salem MA

 

East India Marine Hall

161 Essex Street

Built in 1825. Stephen White was the current president of the Salem East India Marine Society Incorporated them as a LLC and had his mason William Roberts build it. The Salem East India Marine Society was founded in 1799 by supercargoes and ship captains who have rounded the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. The hall would be built across from Stephen White’s boyhood home and counting house. Benjamin Hodges was the society’s first president as well as master of the Essex Lodge. The museum was incorporated in 1801 to house objects gathered by their members from their sea voyages to create a museum of curiosities. Upon the East India Marine Hall’s opening John Quincy Adams presided over banquet. On the first floor was Stephen White’s Asiatic Bank, the post office, and Stephen White’s the Oriental Insurance Company. In 1867 the hall was refitted by donations from George Peabody who was the London banker in business with J.P. Morgan’s father.

George Peabody

Stephen White would murder his uncle under his blessings and blame the murder on the sons of two business partners that insulted his uncle. Stephen would then go on to see the murder of President Harrison after he denied to create the Third Bank of the United States. Only to die 3 days later himself. In 1867 the museum was bailed out by another gentleman who wanted to see the Third Bank of the United States created, George Peabody. He had previously sold several shares to the Rothschilds, Brown Brothers, and the Bank of England in the Second Bank of the United States that Jackson destroyed. In response to Jackson not renewing the charter Peabody worked with Rothschild to create the 1837 Panic.

10202461514351719

The Essex Historical Institute, The Essex Natural History Museum, East India Marine Museum, and the Peabody Academy of Science have been combined to make the Peabody Essex Museum. The hall has been added onto from 1885 to 2000 on various sides. In 2013 it saw another retrofit. The museum now holds collections of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Oceanic, Indian, and Native American art along with collections of portraits, furniture, and maritime history from Essex County. For over 300 years this society has been collecting things from around the world. They have vaults in basements and subbasements under the East India Marine Hall and the Armory. I do not believe we will ever see the true extant of their collections. What fabulous items have they smuggled through the tunnels from the sea? There is rumors they have the Romanov crown jewels, Blackbeard’s skull, religious artifacts, and magical items from around the world are stored in their vaults. Soon they will be opening a tunnel from the Essex Institute to the Armory once more to move items through.

Blackbeard's skull-Cup at the Peabody Essex Museum Salem MA
10202387701186436

East_India_Marine_Hall_and_general_view,_by_H._P._Ives

Essex_Institute_Gallery

Essex-institute-historical-museum-and-picture-gallery-salem-mass

Get the book everyone digs before its sequel comes out!
Salem Secret Underground:The History of the Tunnels in the City!
Available at Barnes & Noble, Remember Salem, and Wicked Good Books in Salem on Essex Street. Also on Amazon.com!

Why Our World Would End If Political Corruption Was not Around

Image Would That Be a Bad Thing?

As we know in Salem, politics and corruption made our seaport the richest in the nation. This advancement did not come legally. Otherwise there would be no need to dig 3 miles of tunnels. This was the foundation of our government. George Washington slept in the Joshua Ward House and might of walked to his birthday party through a tunnel to the Mechanic Hall. He might of even praised the Salem local businessmen for their ingenuity for avoiding paying duties or taxes to the British. 

Now John Quincy Adams also walked through these tunnels for years before he was president. Did he do anything while sworn in to stop these gentlemen from paying their share of the infrastructure they relied on more than anyone else? Did they pay one cent for the roads that were built to move their cargo into the interior of the nation?

What about James Monroe when he toured Salem? His Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Crowninshield  put him up in his house and traveled through the tunnels to be entertained in the homes of Senator Nathaniel Silsbee and the founder’s of J.P. Morgan & Chase, George Peabody, home. No!

Then on the local level, all the mayors were part of the smuggling including Silsbee’s son. The head of Customs, Joseph Hiller, was part of it too along with the weigher and gauger and the captain in charge of the revenue cutter. Benjamin Crowninshield was also the Customs Agent for Marblehead.

On the state level Joseph Story and Stephen White were in the state congress along with many of the other smugglers in town.  The members of the Salem Commons Improvement Fund were entrenched in all levels of government.

So I ask, if our world ended would it be a bad thing?

The universe hates vacuums. Once our world ends, another would just take its place.  If corruption, greed, and secrecy was so integral to our world; would you want to remain living in it if a better world was offered to you? No, so lets stop. Let them thrive and strive as we leave to somewhere better. The good news is, you do not have to leave your town to do it. Its a state of mind. The old world tips their hand with every dollar they spend to convince you to act in such a way that profits them. If we were not so powerful, they would not spend a dime to influence how we thought. They would just force us to do it. In that statement lies the true strength in the people. So let the world fall.