The following is taken from EnterpriseNews.com on Tuesday, August 26, 2008. This was just absolutely, fantastically exciting, I had to share it here!
By Jennifer Mann
GateHouse News Service
Posted Aug 26, 2008 @ 05:42 AM
Last update Aug 26, 2008 @ 11:42 AM
The names weren’t etched in ox blood as speculated, but the unrolling of an 1896 scroll still drew oohs and aahs from 21st century spectators Monday.
So did the invitations from the Adams chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who hosted an event in June of that year to dedicate the Abigail Adams Cairn on Penn’s Hill.
These, along with a book and yellowed newspapers, spilled out of a 14-inch copper box that had been soldered shut and entombed in the cairn 112 years ago.
The time capsule was discovered by workers from Phoenix Bay State Construction last week as part of restoration work for the monument. On Monday, more than 100 visitors packed the Quincy Historical Society building on Adams Street to watch the same workers pry open the box.
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The highlight was the parchment scroll, the only item known to have been in the capsule before its opening.
A 1952 article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger told how dignitaries signed their names in ox blood, while 3,000 citizens and bigwigs dedicated the cairn to mark the spot where Abigail Adams and 7-year-old John Quincy Adams watched the Battle of Bunker Hill more than a century-and-three-quarters before.
“Here it is,” whispered Quincy Historian Thomas Galvin, as he and Edward Fitzgerald, the historical society’s executive director, withdrew it from the box and untied a red ribbon to unwrap it.
It turns out, the signatures were painted in some sort of indelible ink – a good thing, because ox blood might not have lasted, some said.
Drawing many people’s attention was the name etched in perfect cursive at the top of the scroll: Abigail Adams, although not the onetime first lady, but a descendant of hers.
The book – not Abigail Adams’ diary as some had hoped – was “Libertas et Patrai,” from the Massachusetts Society of Sons of the American Revolution.
Newspapers such as The Boston Traveler and Boston Post, sold for 2 cents at the time, gave hints of how much has changed since the cairn was built: Then, butter was 17 cents a pound, and five pounds of coffee went for $1.
Margaret LaForest of Quincy was one of the people who pushed this year’s restoration of the cairn, along with City Councilor Dan Raymondi. It is expected to cost Quincy about $50,000.
LaForest, who brought her two daughters to Monday’s event, mentioned for those who missed the opening, many of the items found in the time capsule can be seen on microfiche at the Thomas Crane Library – where she did much of her research on the cairn.
Marie Dunkelberger, of Cohasset, brought her children, Gavin, 9, Ian, 7, and Ella, 4. They had watched HBO’s “John Adams” miniseries, and she read David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Adams.
“It’s very exciting,” she said. “(Adams) is so under-appreciated, and this was so close. I got my kids here to see a little bit of history.”
Also watching with a mix of awe and surprise were two families whose ancestors helped build the cairn.
James J. Gilcoine, and his two brothers, John and Timothy, were contractors on the project. One of the Gilcoine brothers’ workers, John J. Stanton, was picked from a crowd of masons building a school in West Quincy to do the actual work.
Descendants of Gilcoine sat on the left side of the room, and those of Stanton on the right. Some had tears in their eyes. Mayor Thomas Koch invited one person from each family to pull an item from the box.
“I thought it was fantastic, I really did,” said Fred Hallisey, of the Stanton side. “There was more in there than I expected.”
Jennifer Mann may be reached at email@example.com.