Legendary Locals of Lowell

March 11, 2013 is the publication date of my first book, Legendary Locals of Lowell. The book is part of a new series from Arcadia Publishing called “Legendary Locals” which is described on the Arcadia website as follows: “Each book in Arcadia Publishing’s Legendary Locals imprint delves into the history of some of the unique individuals and groups, past and present, who have had a lasting impact on their community throughout its history.”

I first met my co-author, Chaim “Mike” Rosenberg, at a talk he gave on his newly published “The Life and Times of Francis Cabot Lowell, 1775-1817″ at the Needham Public Library almost two years ago. From there we struck up a friendship with him taking me on a tour of the original Boston Associates mill in Waltham and me giving him a tour of Lowell Cemetery. Mike had already done two other books for Arcadia and invited me to collaborate with him on another about the mills of Lowell. We submitted our proposal to Arcadia but they had just launched the Legendary Locals series and wanted one about Lowell. Soon there was an agreement and Legendary Locals of Lowell was the result.

Here’s the back cover text from the book:

When Nathan Appleton and his colleagues built their first textile mill on the banks of the Merrimack River in 1822, they were pursuing the vision of their departed mentor, Francis Cabot Lowell. The complex system of machinery, labor, management and capital that resulted made the city that they named Lowell the centerpiece of the Industrial Revolution in America. Changes in technology and commerce made the golden age of Lowell’s mills short lived. Despite the success of businesses such as the patent medicine company of James C. Ayer, jobs remained scarce for decades. Hard times created strong leaders, people like Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers, who sponsored the G.I. Bill, and writer Jack Kerouac, who added a new voice to the country’s literary mix. More recently, Paul Tsongas inspired a new generation to transform Lowell into one of the most exciting mid-sized cities in post-industrial America and a world model of urban revitalization. This book tells the city’s story through pictures of its people.

The book is organized in five chapters. Mills covers the rise of the Lowell mills, their golden era, their demise and their reinvention. Business is about the industries that tried to fill the gap left by the departure of the mills such as patent medicine, printing and munitions. Community covers family, school, church and recreation. Service highlights those who served our country in the military and our community in many capacities. Culture is about those who through their words, paintings and music have made the city the interesting, distinctive place it is today.

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be sold locally at stores such as Guy Lefebvre’s Lowell Gallery. There also will be public readings and booksignings which we’ll announce and promote on this site. I have created a permanent “Legendary Locals of Lowell” page which you can view HERE and which will always be accessible by clicking the “Legendary Locals of Lowell” tab at the very top right of your computer screen.

Infamous “Gerrymander” Made Massachusetts Law ~ February 11, 1812

MassMoments reminds us that on this day February 11, 1812 the infamous political creature known as  the “Gerrymander” was born in the Massachusetts State House – conceived by then Governor Elbridge Gerry – a staunch Democrat-Republican. Caught in a nasty campaign for control of the government, Gerry sign a redistricting bill that greatly favored the state’s Republicans over the Federalists resulting in a Republican romp in adding new seats. The shape of the newly drawn Essex District  – Gerry’s home district – that included communities from Chelsea to Methuen to Salisbury – resembled that of a salamander-like monster. As the story is told:

Shortly after the bill was signed, Benjamin Russell, an ardent Federalist and Massachusetts newspaper editor, hung a map of the new district over his desk. It is said that the painter Gilbert Stuart visited Russell’s office one day, and seeing creature portrayed on the map, added a head, wings, and claws. “That will do for a salamander,” he said. The editor replied, “Better say a Gerry-mander!” Within a month, the image, with its newly coined name, appeared as a cartoon-map in the Boston Gazette.

From then-on the  term “gerrymandering” has been used to describe any arrangement or rearrangement of voting district boundaries to influence the outcome of an election. Massachusetts has been reminded of this tale every ten years after the Federal Census when states redraw their district lines – particularly the Congressional districts – in order to reflect the results.  “Charges abound that the practice named for Elbridge Gerry is alive and well.”

Read the full article here at  MassMoments.com.



Elbridge Gerry has an interesting political biography beyond his term as Governor of Massachusetts.

Elbridge Thomas Gerry (1744–1814) was an American statesman and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he was selected as the fifth Vice President of the United States (1813–1814), serving under James Madison until his death.

Gerry was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He was one of three men who refused to sign the United States Constitution because it did not then include a Bill of Rights. Her served in the U. S. House of Representatives. Gerry later became the ninth Governor of Massachusetts.

Learn more here at the US Senate website.