This week’s installment of The Dragon Lady of Stockbridge, chapter 12, “Abigail’s frustrations,” is now up. As if someone pointing a gun at your head isn’t bad enough, things are looking bleaker still for Rebecca and Abigail! And yes, despite the American holiday, a new chapter will go up next week on Friday.
Those of you who have stopped by the blog probably noticed that I’ve changed my header to incorporate one of the drawings E. J. Barnes did of Rebecca’s fearsome walking stick. I’ve also changed the blog’s icon to incorporate her ink drawing of the walking stick. The original drawing is reproduced below. (Note that it is the property of E. J. Barnes, and should not be reproduced without her permission, which may be sought here.)
Where did Rebecca get such an unusual piece? Well, it was originally her Uncle Israel’s. (I should note that the title “uncle” was not literally true, since he was actually her first cousin twice removed, as his father and Rebecca’s great-grandfather were brothers. Got that? But Israel was old enough that “Uncle” seemed the appropriate title for Rebecca to use in addressing him.) How Israel Farnsworth came into possession of the walking stick is described in a letter that Secretary of the Treasury George S. Boutwell wrote to his politically precocious daughter Georgianna, which you can read here.
George Sewell Boutwell (1818-1905) is one of those political figures who was a household name in his day, but has since faded into obscurity. Many of his achievements, such as being the youngest elected Governor of Massachusetts and being the first Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, would interest few people today. On the other hand, his support of civil rights, including his role in the development of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and his commitment to education from his years as the Secretary to the Massachusetts Board of Education to his role as a founder of his home town’s public library, both should earn him at least a passing nod of respect.