I am new to photography and would never have dreamed of taking it up except for the fact that 1) digital cameras are so easy to use, and 2) I happen to reside in a particularly pretty corner of the earth.
Even though I spent the first 20 years of my life in Lancaster, in some ways it is hard for me to call myself as a native New Englander, my parents being refugees from the rubble and ruins of Philadelphia. Dad rooted for the Eagles and spoke wistfully of hoagies and scrapple to the end of his days, while mom admits that “only after 25 years did I finally start to feel like I belong”. We spent our summers in South Jersey, not the Cape or the White Mountains. While I have a slight New England accent, my A’s and O’s pretty much indistinguishable, the resulting amorphous vowel swallowing up any R’s in the vicinity, true Yankees have a hard time placing me.
Still, in my wanderings I always found myself missing the crabby, wintry folk of central Massachusetts, and every October spent in Wisconsin, New York, Italy, or D.C made me itchy, anxious, and pining for home.
Above is the bird museum which I have only seen the inside of once, when I was three or four. It sits on land once owned by Rev. Edmund Hamilton Sears, author of the Christmas hymn It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. Other famous people from Lancaster include the botanist Luther Burbank, author Mary Rowlandson, who wrote a horrific account of being captured by Indians during King Phillip’s War (1675-78), and blogger David Monahan.
King Philip’s War was proportionally the bloodiest war in American history, decimating the male population, ruining the colonial economy, and permanently ending any hope of friendly relations between natives and colonists. Lancaster was terribly sacked in an Indian raid.
Even after the war ended, sporadic violence continued. The farm in the photo below was once owned by Ephraim Roper, who along with his wife and daughter were killed here in the massacre of 1697. (Not a mile from where I lived as a boy.)
Near the center of town is the old cemetery. Most of the graves are from the early 1700s:
No tour of Lancaster is complete without a visit to the town common, which the Marquis de Lafayette himself once visited in 1824.
The town common is dominated by the First Church of Christ (Unitarian), designed by Charles Bulfinch, America’s first native born architect.
It was a better way to spend the day than watching football. I’ll leave you with one last photo of a quiet corner near Main Street: