Did You Know.....
A compendium of interesting local history.

(Note: This section is in the early stages of development.
Please send contributions, suggestions, and corrections to rleary@newbedford.com.]

... King Phillip's War, 1675-1676, was the last Native American resistance to whites in New England and, along with the earlier Peqout Wars, was the beginning of the Native American holocaust.

... the first naval engagement of the Revolutionary War took place in Buzzards Bay, six miles outside of New Bedford harbor.

..that it is believed that Captain Henry M. Robert's experiences in chairing a church meeting while stationed in New Bedford in the 1860's inspired him to later write Robert's Rules of Order.

... in 1841 the New Bedford Whaleship John Howland rescued Manjiro Nakahama (John Manjiro) and four other Japanese fisherman from the island of Torishima where they had been stranded for six months. Manjiro would become the first person of Japanese origin to be educated in the United States and then to return to Japan. It is felt that Manjiro played an important role in the opening of Japan to the West. In 1987 Crown Prince Akihito and his wife, Princess Michiko, paid a special visit to Fairhaven. (Visit the John Manjiro Home Page).

..., at the height of the whaling industry, New Bedford was one of the richest per capita cities in the world. The products of whaling - particularly whale oil - were essential to American society and industry.

... between June 22-28, 1865, two and a half month's after Lee's surrender at Appomattox, the Confederate Navy raider CSS Shenandoah, having located part of the Arctic whaling fleet in the Bering Strait, burned 25 whaleships in what was the last offensive action of the Civil War. The Shenandoah, evading US Navy search, would eventually return to England, whence she commenced her life as a raider, completing what was the only circumavigation of the globe by a Confederate vessel.

... on July 29, 1914 a spectacular parade of ships led by the excursion steamer Rose Standish set sail in the late morning from New Bedford harbor for the official opening of the Cape Cod Canal. The Rose Standish was followed by the destroyer McDougall carrying then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, followed in turn by seven magnificent yachts led by canal developer Augustus Belmont's Scout. Six more destroyers escorted the flotilla to the the approach channel entrance off Wing's Neck where two revenue cutters and two submarines stood by, along with hundreds of smaller craft.

(... the Cape Cod Canal was the first proposed public works project in the American Colonies. Proposed by Myles Standish. The canal is the widest artificial waterway in the world.)

... on May 15 1818, the Eagle made the first steamboat crossing of Nantucket Sound, carrying 600 passengers from New Bedford to Nantucket Island.

... New Bedford's Henrietta Howland "Hetty" Green (1834-1916), the "Witch of Wall Street", was the wealthiest woman in the world. She was also the most miserly. Her son, "Colonel" Green, dedicated his life to spending and giving away every last cent of his inheritance.

... New Bedford was once one of the leading textile manufacturing centers in the world. Between 1881 and the beginning of World War I, 32 cotton manufacturing companies, worth $100,000,000 and employing over 30,000 people, were incorporated in New Bedford.

... it is believed that the first refining of petroleum oil was done on Fish Island in 1860 by Weston Howland.

... Harvard University's Arnold Arboretum was established in 1872 thanks to James Arnold's bequeathal of a generous share of his estate to George B. Emerson, his brother-in-law, and others of Boston, in trust, "to be applied by them for the promotion of Agricultural, or Horticultural improvements, or other Philosophical, or Philanthropic purposes at their discretion."

... in 1900, despite having one of the largest percentages of African-American residents of any New England city, only 25 of 11,000 mill workers in New Bedford were African American.

... on Jan. 3, 1903, a disabled US frigate fired a cannon shot across bow of the passing ferry Monhasset to emphasize to its captain that it required a tow.

... New Bedford is one of the leading fishing ports in the country and, until recently, was for many years the leading port in the entire U.S., including Alaska, in terms of value of the total annual fish catch.

... Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, died a virtual unknown.

that Bishop Charles M. "Sweet Daddy" Grace, an immigrant from Ilha da Brava in the Cape Verde Islands, established his first House of Prayer for All People in New Bedford. Daddy Grace, one of the most popular black evangelists of the first half of the 20th century, went on to establish 350 Houses throughout the US, gathering a following of more than two million and amassing a fortune.

... Sgt. William H. Carney of New Bedford was the first black to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

... New Bedford was an active station on the "Underground Railway."

... the lightship New Bedford was one of the last operational US lightships.

... the prow pulpit in the Seamen's Bethel did not exist before 1956 when it was constructed for the making of the movie Moby Dick. Melville's description in Moby Dick of the pulpit was a product of his imagination.

... the Lagoda at the Whaling Museum is the largest ship model in the world.

..., in the 1890's, New Bedford was the fourth largest cargo terminal in the United States, behind New York, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, with whale oil being the largest single volume item.

... US Route 6 - which is also Kempton Street in New Bedford - starts in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod and ends in San Diego.

... New Bedford has the largest percentage Portuguese population in the United States.

... Portuguese stands with English and Spanish as the most widely spoken tongues of Europe.

... New Bedford was the traditional capital of Cape Verdean America. In recent years, significant immigration has moved the Greater Providence and Greater Boston areas ahead in primary demographic categories.

© 1998 - Richard Leary
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