Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Again with The Akin House...

Akin ... since 1762 Since 83% of the people I graduated with had jobs in the financial sector and Wall Street, I've been getting calls.
Most of them have something to do with moving some of the kids into one of the barns on the property.
But, since I was raised in the woods by Jesuits, I can see connections anywhere, and so this "bail-out" thing seems that it should apply to one of my favorite causes: The Elihu Akin House, here in Dartmouth.
"So much of our heritage is lost," is the cry, usually hollered by people who have watched, over the past decades, as so much of our heritage has been lost.
Historic preservation, like history itself, is an on-going process. When I first saw the Akin House, I thought it was an abandoned shack with very little to say for itself. It seemed odd that someone hadn't knocked it down and planted a Cumberland Farms on that sweet corner lot.
But later, I found out that this Akin Homestead was one place that wasn't burned down by the British when they attacked. Even though the British troops were apparently very angry at tavern owner Elihu Akin because he wouldn't serve the lobsterbacks. And he built boats, although I can't tell whether he built them on his property because it's far from the water. But was it, back then? Did Clarks Cove reach all the way up to that rickety shed? No, that's not possible. But how did his son Jonathan start sailing from there? And find himself in lockup writing letters to Ben Franklin and John Adams? Oh, there's a letter that he wrote? And did they write back? And did he get back from wherever? Am I getting any of this right?

November the 10 day the 1778
Honoured Sir
I make Bold to Rite these Lines to Let you know my Condition about Eighteen months ago I was taken in a Ship from Bedford in Dartmouth Bound to Bourdaux By an English frigit and Carred into porchmouth where I was put in prison I Staid there Six weeks and then I made my Escape to London where I found a gentelman that had Lived at Nantucket and there I Staid till about Six weeks ago and we Disagreed and I was obliged to Ship myself or Be prest to go on board of a man of war and I Shiped my Self mate of a marchnt Ship to go to the Braziels and on the Tewetieth of october We was taken By a french Ship the Capt and all the peopel taken out of the Vessell and Carred in to Brest & Staid onbord of the Vessell and She Came into this port whare I am at preasent I told the gentelmen of this place how that I Belonged to amaricar and I was obliiged to Be in the English Servis and Now thank god I am Clear of it and I Beg the Liberty of going home I have Nothing to Show that I Belong to amaricar when we was taken By the English all my papers was taken from me But I Dare Say you know Benjamin Akin one of the Congress for Boston I am Nephew to him Elihu Akin Living in Dartmouth is my Father- I Beg the favour of you to Let them know here that I Belong to Amaricar So that I may git home the gentelmen of this place advised me to Rite to you I Beg that you would assist me for I am in a bad Condition From your humble Servant Jonathan Akin
You see how important knowing about your heritage is? You see that spelling has always been a malleable substance. Even without a Blackberry. And geography is also still a struggle, unless "porchmouth" is the same Pompey where HMS Victory is docked. Without the 1762 Akin House, there may be nobody to answer these questions for me now. Or in the future when I ask them again, because I will probably have forgotten the answers. And maybe even the questions. What with being old and all.
So that's why the Dartmouth Heritage Preservation Trust needs $250,000 to stabilize the old place and everybody should go to the public hearing at 6:00 this evening in the Town Hall, basement room 103.
To show solidarity with the past. For the future!
Plus, we can use the skills common to the old place while we all dig our own gardens and raise our own fowl and cattle since the economy we've grown fat on and accustomed to is now over and done with.
We can learn how to help ourselves while we have all these extra hands around the fields.

1 comment:

karie said...

So what was the end of the story???
He WAS released, right?
His heritage set him free? (after Ben Franklin stopped shaking his head, "Kids, these days!! Can't spell anything right.")

Maybe if we rename our country Amaricar we can start fresh, too?