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Showing posts from August, 2020

Charlestown's Ursuline Convent for Girls Burned to the Ground on August 11, 1834

On August 11, 1834, the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts, a Catholic-run boarding school for girls of all denominations, was set afire by workmen furious about the growing presence of Catholics in the town.  About a dozen frightened nuns and some 57 young female boarding students, still in their nightclothes, rushed from their beds onto the school grounds as the building went up in flames, with the bloodthirsty mob intent on burning it to the ground.  The night of terror was led by John Buzzell, a New Hampshire native who worked as a bricklayer in Boston.  The mob was prompted by an false rumor being spread around town that a girl was being held against her will in the basement of the convent.   "We remember no parallel to this outrage in the whole course of history," wrote the Boston Atlas.   "Turn to the bloodiest incidents of the French revolution - roll up the curtain that hangs before its most sanguinary scenes - and point us to its equ

Boston Hero John Boyle O'Reilly Dies on August 10 in Hull, Massachusetts

John Boyle O'Reilly, one of Boston's most accomplished citizens, died on August 10, 1890 in Hull, Massachusetts, from an accidental overdose of medication.  His sudden death marked the end of an amazing life of heroism, advocacy, leadership and literature that helped transform the city and the nation. Arriving in Boston in 1870, O'Reilly spent the next 20 years reconciling the city's racial and ethnic factions who struggled against one another.  He became editor and then owner of  The Pilot ,  the leading Irish Catholic paper in America, using the paper as a bully pulpit to advance various causes.  He befriended the Yankee establishment while admonishing them for the prejudices.   O'Reilly defended American Blacks who were still looking for post Civil War equality.  He welcomed new immigrants such as Italians, Jews and Chinese, insisting that they get the same privileges as nativist Americans.  Throughout his life he pursued freedom of Ireland from Bri

Calendonian Festival in West Roxbury draws 10,000 People on August 5, 1916

The Boston Caledonian Club's 63rd Annual Scottish Picnic took place at the West Roxbury Grove  on Saturday, August 5, 1916, attracting 10,000+ attendees from the region's Scottish and Irish communities. According to  The Boston Globe , 39 athletic and cultural events ranged from track and field and football (soccer) to Scottish dancing and Bagpipe competitions. The Caledonian handicap road race of 13 ¼ miles started in front of the State House and finished at the Grove.  “The 16 starters were the crack local marathoners and Mayor James Michael Curley sent them off on their grind at 1:45,” wrote the Globe. Mayor James M. Curley  then traveled to the festival, where he addressed the crowd briefly and enjoyed the activities.  At one point, reported the Globe, Curley “was so pleased with the dance of one of the girls that he gave a personal prize.” In addition to the sports and cultural competitions, three prizes were also awarded for “Best Dressed Highlander,