Roxbury, Dorchester, Reading Vt, New Canaan NY, To Tuscaloosa, Leaven, St John Jr, & The Revere Bells
The Revere Family Bell of 1828, Donated by Messrs.’., Leavens and
St John Jr, to the Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Joshua Bayley Leavens and Samuel St. John Jr, were intimately involved in procuring the Revere Bell for the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Tuscaloosa. Joshua Leavens was born in Reading, Vermont, and Samuel St John Jr in New Canaan, Connecticut. John Leavens (Levens, Levins, Levinz or Levnze) first arrived in 1632 and settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The first time that the Leavens and St John families brushed elbows was in 1634 with the immigration of Mathias St John to Dorchester, Massachusetts. Both villages were separate chartered towns free of Boston’s Puritan dominance. Today, they are neighborhoods on the southeast side of Boston. The first suggestion that the donors crossed paths was the War of 1812. Each volunteered and fought in a New York Militia unit. Both units served at the 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh, New York. We cannot yet confirm the reasons that Leavens and St John volunteered for the New York Militia versus a Connecticut or Vermont unit. Our Endnote  speculates on the reason.
Samuel St John’s first partner, Edward Griffith, died in the year 1824 in New York City. Joshua Leavens joined the establishment of St John Jr in 1825. Their partnership began in New York City, and by 1828 they had opened operations in Mobile, Alabama. We have tracked their business and legal activity by newspaper announcements made in various regional papers. We have posted them in the image section at the end of this report https://www.walkbostonhistory.com/tuscaloosa-bell.html. The clippings provide insight into a sophisticated legal and business environment.
In our full blog we identified the two bell donors from their youth to their death. Additionally, we have provided a genealogy of both families back to 1632 and 1634.
Follow the donors from the War of 1812 to Leavens passing in Mobile Alabama and St. John Jr’s., last days in New Haven Connecticut in 1866. https://www.walkbostonhistory.com/tuscaloosa-bell.html.
Images of the bell foundry then and now are provided along with the Revere ledger documenting the initial date of purchase and completion.
 There may be a historical answer. The British invaded from Canada via the upstate New York waterway of Lake Champlain to split New England from the rest of the United States. The waterway runs for miles abutting New York State on its western side and Vermont to its east. The Governors of Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts did not commit their militias to defend New York. Contentiously, all three governors believed they were chartered to use the militia only to defend their state. In truth, New England was lukewarm on the war as the prominent issue of “impressment” had been resolved in writing before the beginning of combat. Additionally, local commerce with England was substantial. Thirteen years later, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Governors’ opinions. Under the circumstances, volunteers made their way to New York to serve in the war.
https://www.walkbostonhistory.com/tuscaloosa-bell.html from 1632 to 2018.
www.walkbostonhistory.com/revere-bells-index.html for more on the Revere Bells.
Benjamin Harris was born in London in 1673, and immigrated to New England in 1686, leaving his family behind. He eventually returned to London and died in 1716. He was thoroughly anti-Catholic throughout his life.
His most notable publication The New England Primer, used in every school, made him socially influential.
With particularity, Harris attempted to publish Boston's first newspaper on September 25th, 1690, sixty years and two months after the Puritans arrived in Salem.
The Publick Occurrence . . . may well have been a most innovative publication. Here is one example; the fourth page was left blank so the readers could write their personal “news” or views before they passed the paper to neighbors. Wouldn't this be fun or scandalous today??
The initial publication detailed suicides, several hostile Indian events, health matters like small-pox, fires, citizens suffering depression, and continued to debauch the French monarch's incestual sleeping habit. Yet, one of his promises in the first and only edition was “towards the Curing, or at least the Charming of that Spirit of Lying, which prevails amongst us.”
Unfortunately, four days after the first edition, September 28, 1690, the "Governour Council" shut down the paper, based on "doubtful and uncertain Reports."
Harris was the first to lose the initiative. By 1800, over thirty-nine newspapers began and collapsed in Boston. A handful survived into the 19th Century. It was a very risky business.
By rough count The Boston Public Library, microfilm records had at least 39 different newspapers for the period. I had to give up counting.
Here's a tabulation;
Massachusetts Historical Society, collection https://www.masshist.org/search?terms=newspapers&start=40&num=10 tracks many of the most influential and enduring papers.
Reverend William Braxton
The Reverend arrived in Weymouth, Massachusetts with the Robert Gorges expedition with the notion that the Plimoth Plantation was able and willing to support them for a fee. Unfortunately, the additional one-hundred Gorges further divided the Plantations meager winter rations. Fortunately, the survivors of the Gorges realized they had made a poor investment and by 1625, all but the Reverend returned to England. William Bradford, Governor of the Plimoth Plantation was relieved, as the Gorges were not particularly diplomatic to the native Wampanoag. The Indians were vital to the plantations survival.
The Reverend migrated to an area we refer to as the Boston Common. The Shawmut, a segment of the Massachusetts Native Americans, became his friend and helped him find water. There were five natural springs, Mill Creek and the Charles River to support life. He cultivated six acres of land to support him, sharing his produce with the Shawmut.
Unlucky for the Reverend, On September 17, 1630, he was engaged by the advance party of the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Reverend Braxton was an Episcopalian minister. He supported the Church of England. The Puritans that immigrated to Salem, Massachusetts believed the Church of England was influenced by the Pope. They wanted to restore Christianity to the scriptures and set an example for England to shed its sinful ways.
Prompted by The Puritan Way, Reverend Braxton quickly learned that he was his own best company. In negotiations with John Winthrop and the Massachusetts Bay Colony, he sold the fifty acres that became the Boston Common and moved to Blackstone Valley. As so often happened in New England, someone registered the name incorrectly. It should have been the Braxton Valley. To this day this error has been perpetuated.
He was not entirely forgotten. Two plaques on Beacon Street, across from the Boston Common, mark his impact on the area. Above is the 1924 and most recently dedicated plaque at the corner of Tremont and Union Street. The error has been perpetuated.
In a light hearted sense Reverend Braxton really did not have a title or a charter to the 50 acres of the Boston Common. Could this have been the first fraudulent land transaction in America?
John Adams, 1st of Three Legal Victories; a Murder on the HMS Rose; A Confrontation Running up to the Boston Massacre; Defense of the British Soldiers
The Roots of a surname in a Revolutionary Soldier Amos Lincoln 1753-1829 twice Paul Revere’s Son-in-Law
Who Was King Philip?
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