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The Thoreau Society eNewsletter: Spring 2010 - Founded in 1941, The Thoreau Society, Inc. is the oldest and largest organization devoted to an American author.  The Society exists to stimulate interest in and foster education about Thoreau's life, works, legacy and his place in his world and in ours, challenging all to live a deliberate, considered life.

Welcome to the third issue of our eNewsletter.  We will feature excerpts from our publications:  The Thoreau Society Bulletin and The Concord Saunterer:  A Journal of Thoreau Studies in this and future issues.  From The Thoreau Society Homepage, you can click to view our eNewsletter archive.

You are invited to The Thoreau Society Annual Gathering this July 8-11, 2010: Henry D. Thoreau and New England Transcendentalism: Then & Now.  The AG, as it is commonly known, has been taking place in Concord since 1941 and has inspired countless individuals to explore Thoreau's ideas and New England Transcendentalism.


Mike Frederick
Executive Director, The Thoreau Society

"A man sits as many risks as he runs."
Henry D. Thoreau, "Visitors," WALDEN
Thoreau Society Bulletin, Excerpt from p. 5-9
ISSN 0040-6406 Number 266 Spring 2009

The Thoreau Society
Thoreau, the Reverend "Book-Hawker Hawkins," Horace James, and Doctor Lunsford Lane

Edmund A. Schofield (1938-2010)

In an 1891 paper, Elias Harlow Russell, first president of what is now Worcester State College, reminisced about meeting Henry Thoreau at the home of a mutual friend, but did not specify the name of the friend, nor, in fact, give any details as to the date or place of the encounter.1 By piecing together bits of evidence, both direct and indirect, it is possible to locate the meeting in the home of Thoreau's
loyal Worcester friend and disciple, Harrison Gray Otis Blake, who then lived at 3 Bowdoin Street, and to fix the date and time of the meeting as Monday evening, December 10, 1860-exactly one week after Thoreau had begun to feel symptoms of the cold that would persist, intensify, and
eventually cause his death a year and a half later.2 Russell would meet Thoreau only this once, but the fortuitous timing of the meeting would ultimately lead to his inheriting almost all of Thoreau's manuscripts from Blake.3 It was Russell who negotiated the publication of Thoreau's journal with Houghton Mifflin in the early years of the twentieth century.

Russell reported that in the course of conversation that evening Thoreau "happened to speak, in some connection, of a man named Hawkins who had lately called to solicit his subscription to a life of his father, a noted temperance lecturer.  'I told him,' said Thoreau, 'that I was not much interested in the subject, as my intemperance did not lie in the direction of ardent spirits.'"4

Thoreau's unwelcome caller has been identified as the Reverend William George Hawkins, rector of Saint John's Episcopal Church, Wilkinsonville (Sutton), Massachusetts, from April 1860 to April 1862, and editor of the National Freedman from 1863 to 1866.5 Hawkins was peddling his
Life of John H. W. Hawkins.6 Moreover, the chronology of the Reverend Hawkins's presence in Massachusetts in 1860 has been established. His father having died in August 1858, the younger Hawkins was in Boston by 1859, when he wrote the preface to the first edition of the biography. The United States census for 1860 places him and his family in Wilkinsonville on July 9, 1860.7

John Henry Willis Hawkins was born in Baltimore in 1797. During his early years, he became an alcoholic, a condition he eventually overcame: 

Early in 1840 he associated himself with the Washington Temperance Society, originated at Baltimore in the same year, and immediately began to work earnestly in behalf of temperance. He developed a great power of influencing an audience, and so successful were his efforts in the work of reformation that he gave himself wholly to it.8

In his youth, he had been apprenticed to a hatter and quickly became a skilled artisan. He grew addicted to alcohol through his trade, in which liquor was freely doled out to apprentices. In spite of his alcoholism, in 1830 Hawkins was one of the "leaders in the hatters and cordwainers strikes [in Baltimore] and advocated for the ten-hour day."9

The younger Hawkins attended Wilbraham Academy (in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, southwest of Worcester) and Wesleyan University, graduating from the latter in 1848. He chose the Episcopal ministry as his profession and attended the Protestant Episcopal Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, from 1848 to 1851. Over the course of his career, he held rectorships in Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, and Nebraska. When he called upon Thoreau in Concord, he was the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Wilkinsonville, a manufacturing village of the town of Sutton, Massachusetts, located a few miles south of Worcester on Worcester and Providence.10 Although it may be impossible to determine exactly when or why Hawkins called on Thoreau to solicit a subscription to his biography of his father, a plausible scenario presents itself-a scenario connected to the source of the malady that aggravated Thoreau's tuberculosis and precipitated his death in 1862.

Thoreau likely caught this illness from Bronson Alcott on November 29, 1860, and not (as virtually all of his biographers have claimed) from counting tree rings on Nashawtuc (Nashawtuct, or Lee's) Hill on December 3.11 This alternative explanation is supported by information in Alcott's diary, which includes a day-by-day account of an intensifying "cold" that Alcott believed he had caught at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Teachers' Association, along with a copy of the program for the meeting.12 Attended by two hundred and fifty teachers from throughout the state, the meeting was held in Concord's Town House on November 26 and 27, 1860.13 Alcott, Concord's Superintendent of Schools, was host and chief organizer of the event.

Though a clergyman and not a teacher, Hawkins might well have gone to Concord to hawk the biography of his father because he suspected that a large and receptive pool of potential customers would be assembled there. He could easily have learned about the meeting from newspapers, at least six of which were being published in nearby Worcester at the time. The prospect of finding two hundred and fifty literate people gathered for two whole days in one place would no doubt have proven irresistible to him. With only one train changeover (in Worcester), Hawkins could have been in Concord in about three hours. The Thoreaus lived a short distance from the Concord Depot.

According to E. Harlow Russell, at Blake's home in Worcester on December 10, less than two weeks after the teachers' meeting, Thoreau said that "Hawkins . . . had lately called to solicit his [Thoreau's] subscription" (emphasis added). It is reasonable to conclude that Hawkins had knocked on Thoreau's door while the teachers were in town less than a fortnight earlier-that is, on or about November 26 or 27,

While there is no way of telling from Russell's brief account how long Hawkins and Thoreau conversed, if they talked at any length they would have realized that-despite Thoreau's indifference to "ardent spirits"-they had a good deal in common when it came to slavery. Thoreau's
involvement in antislavery has been studied in depth.15 Hawkins, too, supported the movement, and expressed his commitment to it in several ways, among them through his association in Worcester with Lunsford Lane, a celebrated African American. Furthermore, Lane's relationship with the Reverend Horace James-whom Thoreau had met in Worcester in 1856-underscores the importance of Worcester as a nexus of reform and demonstrates that there was overlap between the Worcester circles in which Thoreau and Lane each traveled.

Hawkins, Lunsford Lane, and Horace James in Worcester In April or May 1862, just before Thoreau's death, William George Hawkins moved the few miles from Wilkinsonville to Worcester .16 In 1863, he became editor of the National Freedman, carrying out his duties from Worcester, where he lived until sometime in 1865. He relinquished this position in 1866. Shortly before moving to Worcester, Hawkins met Lunsford Lane, a former slave, author, and wide-ranging abolitionist lecturer who was born in North Carolina in 1803 and who had lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Oberlin, Ohio, before moving to Worcester. Years earlier, Lane had paid his owner to gain his and his family's release from slavery.

Hawkins described meeting Lane in these words:

The present writer was at that time [at the outbreak
of the Civil War] residing in Wilkinsonville, where
he first made the acquaintance of Lunsford [Lane],
and so much interested did he become in his history
that he is only fulfilling a promise then made, that at
some time he would endeavor to make more public
the foregoing history. Dr. Lane, at the same time,
gave a lecture in the hall of that village, which was
very well attended, and with which the people were
much pleased.17

Hawkins soon kept his promise, writing Lunsford Lane; or, Another Helper from North Carolina, a rambling but nevertheless valuable biography of the former slave. He wrote the book while living in Worcester on Salisbury Street, across from the Highland Military Academy and very near the birthplace of historian George Bancroft, close to the current location of the American Antiquarian Society's Antiquarian Hall.18 In it, Hawkins reported that before leaving Raleigh,
North Carolina, Lane "had the satisfaction of witnessing the beneficial effects of the great Temperance Reformation of 1840, which swept over the North and the South"19--the very temperance effort in which Hawkins's father had participated.

Two decades before moving to Worcester, Lane had written his own account of his escape from slavery, The Narrative of Lunsford Lane.20 His book is one of the better known slave narratives today.21

John Spencer Bassett wrote of Hawkins's biography of Lane thirty-five years after it appeared:

[Its] narrative is not free from the extravagances
of a zealous Abolitionist. In places conversations
have been reproduced with a freedom worthy of the
Greek historians, and at times the author has allowed
his imagination to portray surroundings which are
characteristically Southern, but which in this case did
not exist. As for the main facts of the narrative, I have
no reason to reject them.22

Bassett granted that "[i]nformation about the case is hard to obtain in Raleigh, but from an old resident I obtained a corroboration of the account of the mobbing of Lane as . . . given [in Hawkins' book]."23 Hawkins had written Bassett to assure him that "the facts were obtained from Lunsford himself, and that on a visit to Raleigh after the war the 'material facts outlined in the story' were confirmed by a number of colored people who had known, or were related to, Lunsford Lane."24
Hawkins closed his reply to Bassett: "[Lane] impressed me as being a man of uncommon natural intelligence and truthfulness, and I have no doubt that the account of his life which I have given is substantially true."25

Bassett described Lane's parents as being "of pure African descent."26 By 1850, having been redeemed from slavery by their son Lunsford, the elder Lanes were living in Wrentham, Massachusetts, where they knew the Reverend Horace James, a Congregationalist minister. In February 1853, James became pastor of Worcester's Old South Church, the city's oldest parish. A mutual interest in natural history brought James and
Thoreau together.

James welcomed Thoreau to his Worcester home on the evening of June 17, 1856. Curator of herpetology, conchology, crustacea, and radiata for the city's nascent Museum of Natural History, he apparently kept specimens at his home.27 Thoreau came by to look at his reptile collection. James was also corresponding secretary of the Worcester Lyceum and Library Association, of which the present Worcester Public Library and the Worcester Society of Natural History are surviving
offshoots. While living in Worcester, James was active in the temperance and abolitionist movements. He worked on behalf of the latter cause alongside Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Edward Everett Hale (then both living in Worcester).

Higginson and Hale, both of whom Thoreau also visited during the June 1856 trip to Worcester (his longest ever), were the principal movers behind the new natural history society, and both were curators. Thoreau had known Higginson--an accomplished amateur botanist, champion of John Brown, "preceptor" to Emily Dickenson, and faithful reader of
Thoreau's works-for several years. (Higginson especially liked A Week, which he made a point of reading once a year.) George Frisbie Hoar, Thoreau's former student and later a perennial United States Senator, was also a force in the creation of Worcester's natural history society. Hoar lived in Worcester from 1850 until his death in 1905.

Thoreau and James apparently had a long discussion on the fine points of some of the more interesting specimens--ichthyological, amphibian, and ornithological, as well as reptilian-in the Worcester collection. Thoreau saw, "alive and in [a] bottle, with moss and water, the violet-colored salamander (S. venenosa) with yellow spots (five or six inches long), probably [the] same [he had] found in [a] stump at Walden,"28
(In "The Bean-Field" chapter of Walden, he had written of the
creature, "[F]rom under a rotten stump my hoe turned up a sluggish portentous and outlandish spotted salamander, a trace of Egypt and the Nile, yet our contemporary."29)

Horace James-an acquaintance of both Lunsford Lane and Henry Thoreau-served as chaplain during the Civil War and also as an official of the Freedmen's Bureau, superintending the Freedmen's Colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. He was appointed to the position by Abraham Lincoln. In declining health after the war (he had contracted
yellow fever during the war, nearly died, and later became sick during a tour of the Holy Land and Egypt), he lived at "Hillside," the country estate in Boylston, Massachusetts, of temperance lecturer John Bartholomew
Gough. James died in Boylston in 1875, at fifty-seven. James City, North Carolina, is named for him.30

Like his biographer William George Hawkins, Lunsford Lane is first listed in the Worcester city directory for 1863, having recently moved to Worcester from Oberlin, Ohio. His occupation that year is given as "steward" at Wellington's hospital on Mason Street, which was the private undertaking of Worcesterite Timothy W. Wellington, a coal merchant. Mr. Wellington "provided, at his own expense, a hospital in Worcester, for the sick and disabled soldiers, which he supported [for] about five months, and dispensed aid to fifty or sixty sick or wounded men."31 Hawkins described Wellington's contribution, and Lane's involvement:

Deep were the sympathies aroused by the fearful carnage of civil war; thousands were made sick by the sudden change of life and diet, and many of these found in T. W. Wellington, of Worcester, a true and generous friend. The Massachusetts sick and wounded, at an early stage of the war did not receive that amount of care needed to preserve life . . . Mr.Wellington early saw that something must be done, and that there was no time for delay. With no desire for display . . . he secured a roomy house at No. 110 Mason Street, Worcester, which he opened
on the 20th of August, 1862. Having known Lunsford Lane sufficiently to feel entire confidence in him, he placed him as steward over the hospital, into which the family removed.32

In his History of Worcester in the War of the Rebellion, Abijah Marvin stated that the hospital lasted for only five months, by which time a government-funded hospital had been established in Worcester. Therefore, Lane's tenure as steward would have expired rather early in 1863.33

According to Hawkins, Lunsford Lane "soon placed his family in comfortable circumstances" after their move to Worcester. In the city directories for 1864 through 1870, his occupation is described simply as "medicines." This cryptic designation refers to Lane's familiarity with medicinal plants, which Hawkins explained in florid prose:

Early in life, when a slave . . . he had evinced considerable knowledge and good judgment in the curative art. Although he had perused no work or treatise upon "materia medica," we have no doubt that the best-informed members of the profession had much more respect for his evident good sense and modesty of professions than for the multitude of
quacks who add nothing to the health or to the credit of the community.

The vegetable medicines used by Lunsford among the slaves upon his master's plantation . . . were those of his own selection and the result of continued experiment . . . Soon people of the better class sought his advice, and readily accorded to him the physician's prenomen of Doctor. He had continued to practise the art after his settlement in the Free States . . . never designing, however, to enter upon it as a profession.
And yet if Dr. Lane's Vegetable Pills have never done much good to mankind, he promises they will do no harm; but they have added something to his pecuniary support.34

For some reason, Lane's occupation is listed in the state census schedule for 1865 simply as "Laborer."35 By June of that year, however, just two months after President Lincoln's assassination, Lane had been in North Carolina long enough to have investigated and written a brief report on the schools of that state, returning to Worcester in March of 1866.36 His absence from Worcester during that period might have led to
inaccuracy in the census entry.

Hawkins disappears from the Worcester city directories after 1865. According to the National Cyclopędia of American Biography, he "later served as chaplain of the Inebriate Asylum at Binghamton, N. Y.; he was also actively interested in domestic missions."37 He died in 1909. Lunsford Lane is listed in Worcester directories through 1870, but in July 1869 the Lanes (Lunsford, his wife, Martha, and their daughters Clara and Maria) had sold their house on Wilmot Street to Franklin Whipple, Henry Goddard, and Dorrance S. Goddard.38 They next appear in the United States census as living in Cambridgeport (a section of Cambridge, Massachusetts), in Ward 4, in July 1870.39 There seems to be no further record of Lunsford Lane. The date and circumstances of his death are as yet unknown. It is possible (although unlikely) that he moved back to North Carolina to work with the freedmen there, perhaps in a school like the one he helped found in 1865.

Thoreau and Lane both walked the streets of Worcester, but they almost certainly never met. Because Lane was a nationally known abolitionist lecturer, Thoreau might have recognized his name, but Lane might well not have heard of Thoreau. Lane lectured in Wilkinsonville, and possibly other towns nearby, when Thoreau was still living, but not when Thoreau was passing through. Exactly where Lane was living when Thoreau gave his plea for John Brown in Washburn Hall, Worcester, on November 3, 1859, is unclear. In any case, Lane did not move to Worcester until shortly before Thoreau's death. They shared an interest in and knowledge of plants, but from different perspectives and for different purposes. Thoreau met Lane's friends William G. Hawkins and Horace James, but only once, and briefly, and the conversation probably did
not turn to Lane in either instance. Nevertheless, both Thoreau and Lane found a hospitable climate in Worcester.

A station on the Underground Railroad, antebellum Worcester was a magnet and refuge for fugitive slaves. It was home to a small but distinguished African American community and to antislavery activists Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Edward Everett Hale, Abby Kelley Foster and her husband Stephen, and Eli Thayer (founder of the New England
Emigrant Aid Society). A hotbed of abolitionism, it was arguably also the birthplace of the Free Soil movement. And, despite insinuations to the contrary, it welcomed Thoreau, Emerson, and Alcott to its halls, homes, and podiums. Interest
in natural history and the arts (especially music and painting)
was strong and growing. Both Henry Thoreau and Lunsford
Lane were drawn by particular components of the political and
cultural swirl of the place, and each contributed something to
it. They never met, but both worked in the vineyard of social
and intellectual liberty.40

1 Russell's reminiscences of Thoreau were published in part in
Thomas Blanding and Edmund A. Schofield, "E. Harlow Russell's
Reminiscences of Thoreau," Concord Saunterer 17 no. 2 (1984): 6-14.
Regarding the date of their meeting, Russell wrote that Thoreau had already contracted the illness that would lead to his death, and that Thoreau died about eighteen months after the gathering at Blake's. For a detailed study of Russell, his relationship with Thoreau, and the circumstances surrounding their one and only meeting at Blake's home in Worcester in December 1860, see Edmund A. Schofield, "Time Recovering Itself: E. Harlow Russell's Thirty Years (and More) with Henry D. Thoreau," Concord Saunterer 17, no. 2 (1984): 14-48 (especially Section III, "Worcester": 18-26).
2 I here use the word "cold," although Thoreau was probably
suffering from influenza. I suggest not that Thoreau caught his "cold" on
December 3 but only that he "had begun to feel [its] symptoms" by then.
3 Blake died in April 1898. He had inherited the manuscripts from
Sophia Thoreau upon her death in 1876. In 1904 and 1907, Russell sold
nearly all of them to George S. Hellman, a New York dealer, who in turn
sold them to collectors. Most of Thoreau's manuscripts thus remained in
Worcester for some three decades-longer than a significant proportion
of them had been in Concord itself and, as it would turn out, longer than
anywhere else. They are now scattered from coast to coast-the "sad
dispersal" mentioned by Blanding and Schofield in "E. Harlow Russell's
Reminiscences of Thoreau," 6.
4 Blanding and Schofield, "E. Harlow Russell's Reminiscences of
Thoreau," 11.
5 Blanding and Schofield, "E. Harlow Russell's Reminiscences of
Thoreau," 14n22.
6 Published in 1859 in Boston and New York, in 1860 in Boston and
Cleveland, and also in later editions.
7 Blanding and Schofield, "E. Harlow Russell's Reminiscences of
Thoreau," 14n22.
8 National Cyclopędia of American Biography, s.v. "Hawkins, John
Henry Willis," 11:370.
9 Darren Cushman Wood, "Radicals, Revivalists and Reformers:
The Heritage of Labor and Religion in the United States," Division of
Labor Studies, Indiana University, (accessed March 1, 2009). See also
William R. Sutton, Journeymen for Jesus: Evangelical Artisans Confront
Capitalism in Jacksonian Baltimore ( University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997).
10 In June 1856, Thoreau and his Worcester friend Theophilus
Brown (and perhaps Harrison Blake, as well) boarded the Providence and Worcester Railroad in Worcester, detraining at Wilkinsonville. There they hired a buggy to take them to Purgatory Chasm, an unusual geological feature in another part of Sutton. Their route would have taken them past St. John's Church and its rectory in Wilkinsonville, as well as past the site of Elisha Johnson's "cottage" (to use Thoreau's word) elsewhere in Sutton. In February 1717, Johnson's family had been trapped there by "The Great Snow" mentioned several times in Walden, until "an Indian [Andrew Abraham] found it only by the hole which the chimney's breath made in the drift, and so relieved the family," as Thoreau wrote in the chapter "Former Inhabitants; and Winter Visitors"-Thoreau, Walden (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971), 265. Abraham, a Nipmuck Indian landowner and Christian resident of the "praying town" of Hassanamesit in neighboring Grafton, operated a ford on the Blackstone River near Wilkinsonville, and had seen Mr. Johnson leave on foot to fetch provisions in the distant town of Marlborough just before the "Great Snow" began.
11 Edmund A. Schofield, "The Origin of Thoreau's Fatal Illness,"
Thoreau Society Bulletin 171 (Spring 1985): 1-3. Thoreau's journal entry
for December 3, 1860, is ambiguous as to the hill on which he had been
counting tree rings that day, especially when read in context with earlier
journal entries. He had been working on both Fair Haven Hill and Smith's
Hill in the days and weeks before. The entry for December 3 says merely, "To Hill"-Journal XIV: August, 1860-1861, ed. Bradford Torrey (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1906), 290. The third paragraph of the entry begins, "I find no young hickories springing up on the open hillside." On December 1, he had examined "young hickories on Fair Haven Hill slope," while the next day he searched "long . . . at Britton's shanty and Smith's Hill" for "a seedling hickory under half a dozen years old." Until The Dispersion of Seeds was published in 1993, Fair Haven Hill and Smith's Hill were each plausible destinations for Thoreau's visit on December 3. Neither is correct, however. Echoing the journal passage of December 3, Thoreau states in The Dispersion of Seeds that "[o]n December 3d I find no young hickories springing up on the open and quite bare side of Lee's Hill"-Thoreau, Faith in a Seed: The Dispersion of Seeds and Other Late Natural History Writings, ed. Bradley P. Dean (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1993), 140. The wording in The Dispersion of Seeds indicates that "To Hill" in
the journal passage means specifically Nashawtuc (or Lee's) Hill. Beyond the question of which hill Thoreau visited on December 3, 1860, there is abundant new evidence that his fatal cold was not the result of his foray into the Concord landscape that day. He did not become sick counting tree rings on a "bitterly cold day," in "deep snowdrifts," or in the midst of a raging "blizzard," as his biographers have claimed, the weather in Concord on December 3, 1860, mysteriously deteriorating with every retelling of the story. However, although he did not catch cold on Nashawtuc, the hill figures prominently in any discussion of the genesis of his illness.
12 Amos Bronson Alcott, diary, 26 Nov.-9 Dec. 1860, Amos Bronson Alcott Papers, MS Am 1130.12, Houghton Library, Harvard University
(microfilm, William Munroe Special Collections, Concord Free Public
13 Concord, Massachusetts, School Committee. Reports of the School
Committee, and Superintendent of the Schools, of the Town of Concord,
Mass. (Concord: Benjamin Tolman, 1861), [3].
14 Hawkins's visit could have occurred either during the morning
of Monday, November 26, 1860, or on November 27. Thoreau's journal
indicates that he was at home on the morning of November 26, but went to Hubbard's Woods that afternoon (Thoreau, Journal XIV, 269-275). There is no journal entry for November 27, and no other evidence rules out the possibility that he was home all that day. In his reminiscences, Russell stated that Thoreau "happened to speak, in some connection, of a man named Hawkins." Since both Blake and Russell were teachers, and perhaps also others in attendance at Blake's home on December 10, the meeting in Concord of the Massachusetts Teachers' Association might have been the "connection" that prompted Thoreau's mention of Hawkins. Thoreau did not attend the meeting, but he would certainly have known of it. Indeed, some of the visiting teachers might have boarded with his family.
15 See Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, To Set This World Right: The
Antislavery Movement in Thoreau's Concord (Ithaca: Cornell University
Press, 2006).
16 Hawkins was the rector at St. John's in Wilkinsonville until April
1862; Thoreau died on May 6, 1862.
17 George William Hawkins, Lunsford Lane; or, Another Helper from
North Carolina (Boston: Crosby & Nichols, 1863), 203.
18 The 1865 Massachusetts state census schedule locates Hawkins
in Worcester's Ward 8, Dwelling 423, Household 602 as of May 1, 1865.
The house still stands. Located at 246 Salisbury Street, it is identified as the Dresser-Whitman House in the files of Preservation Worcester. Lane's house, on Wilmot Street, also survives.
19 Hawkins, Lunsford Lane, 25.
20 Lunsford Lane, The Narrative of Lunsford Lane, Formerly of
Raleigh, N.C. Embracing an Account of His Early Life, the Redemption by Purchase of Himself and Family from Slavery, and His Banishment from the Place of His Birth for the Crime of Wearing a Colored Skin. Published by Himself (Boston: J. G. Torrey, Printer, 1842).
21 See, for example, North Carolina Slave Narratives: The Lives of
Moses Roper, Lunsford Lane, Moses Grandy, and Thomas H. Jones, ed.
William L. Andrews (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
2003), which features Lane's portrait on the cover; also, From Bondage to Belonging: The Worcester Slave Narratives, ed. B. Eugene McCarthy and Thomas L. Doughton (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007), the first narrative in which is Lane's.
22 John Spencer Bassett, Anti-Slavery Leaders of North Carolina.
Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, ser. 16, no. 6 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1898), 61 (accessed September 25, 2003 via the electronic text posted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as part of Documenting the American South at Bassett may not have realized that Hawkins was born in Baltimore, although Hawkins stated in the preface of his biography of Lane that he was born in the South and had lived in both Virginia and Maryland.
23 Bassett, Anti-Slavery Leaders of North Carolina, 61. Lane provided an account of the mobbing incident in his Narrative.
24 Bassett, Anti-Slavery Leaders, 61.
25 Bassett, Anti-Slavery Leaders, 61.
26 Bassett, Anti-Slavery Leaders, 61.
27 Thoreau, Journal VIII: November 1, 1855-August 15, 1856, ed.
Bradford Torrey (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1906), 380-381.
28 Thoreau, Journal VIII, 381.
29 Thoreau, Walden, 159. Stephen Fender has identified the
salamander as Ambystoma maculatum-see Thoreau, Walden, ed.
Stephen Fender (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 308. The
Worcester Society of Natural History's manuscript records, preserved in
the Worcester Historical Museum, prove valuable in identifying some of
the other specimens Thoreau examined during this trip to Worcester. For example, as noted in Thoreau's journal entry for June 17, 1856, James gave Thoreau "some of the spawn of a shellfish from a string of them a foot long." According to the Society's records, the shellfish was a species of Pyrula. The spawn's collector, William A. Smith, had lectured on the spawn on April 19, 1855. His manuscript report survives among the Natural History Society's records. Thoreau visited the Natural History Rooms themselves, which housed the Society's library.
30 For an excellent treatment of James's distinguished but troubled
service with the Freedmen's Colony, see Patricia C. Click, Time Full of
Trial: The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, 1862-1867 (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 2001). Click consulted many sources
for her book, including the Horace James materials in the Richard O'Flynn Papers at the Dinand Library, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester.
31 Abijah P. Marvin, History of Worcester in the War of the
Rebellion, new ed., rev. (Worcester: Published by the author, 1880), 417.
32 Hawkins, Lunsford Lane, 207. Hawkins dedicated his biography
of Lane to T. W. Wellington, "Of whose unobtrusive benevolence and
genuine sympathy of heart, / The disabled Soldier in the Hospital and the wronged fugitive Slave / Have received many Substantial Tokens."
33 However, Sande P. Bishop, in "Dale Hospital: A Civil War
Hospital with Community Support" (1999), says that Wellington's hospital lasted for ten months, not five: "Lane, his wife and two daughters cared for 100 soldiers who were injured or fell ill at Massachusetts' training camps before the 'hospital' closed in 1863 after ten months of operation." Bishop's article is posted on the Web pages of the Office of the City Clerk of Worcester, Massachusetts, at (accessed March 2, 2009).
34 Hawkins, Lunsford Lane, 194-195.
35 The 1865 Massachusetts state census schedule places Lane (as
of May 1, 1865) in Worcester Ward 2, Dwelling 458, Household 666. In
Ann S. Lainhart's "People of Color in the Massachusetts State Census,
1855-1865," searchable on the website of the New England Historic
Genealogical Society at
search/poc.asp (accessed March 2, 2009), Lane's age is given as fifty-six and his birthplace as North Carolina. His wife Martha is also listed; her age and place of birth are the same as her husband's. Their sixteen-year-old son, Charles L., is listed as having been born in Massachusetts.
36 Lunsford Lane, "Report of Mr. Lunsford Lane, Sr.," in "Schools
in North Carolina," Daily Spy (Worcester, Mass.), March 29, 1866. Lane's report is dated "Newbern, N.C., June 16, '65." Lane may have been called to North Carolina by his family's old friend, Horace James, who served as Superintendent of the Freedmen's Colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. Booker T. Washington claimed that, "[i]n spite of the fact that he had been driven out of his native land," Lane "remained, to the end, a true son of the South"-Booker T. Washington, The Story of the Negro: The Rise of the Race from Slavery (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1909), 1: 309.
37 National Cyclopędia of American Biography, s.v. "Hawkins,
John Henry Willis."
38 The transaction is dated July 13, 1869, as recorded in the
Worcester Registry of Deeds (until recently housed in the Worcester
County Court House), Book 798, 15-18.
39 In the Ninth Census of the United States for Cambridge,
Massachusetts (enumerated on July 29, 1870), they are located in Dwelling 194, Household 240. Lane is listed as "Lanceford Lane," a physician, age fifty-five. Some census information-especially age-is notoriously unreliable. In 1870, Lane would actually have been about sixty-seven.
40 This article is based in part on material gathered for a book-in progress on the history of Worcester. An earlier, unedited form of it is
mounted on the Thoreau Institute website at
Institute/Collections/Schofield/Schofield%20Hawkins.pdf. I dedicate this
edited version to our country's new president, Barack Hussein Obama.
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