Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by George Francis Dow
(Dover Publications, New York, 1988)
And then there's that old saying, "The book finds you." Sitting on the shelf, the last copy left, was a book written for the everyday man about the colonial everyday man. The gist of the book is to illuminate what is not usually included in books written about the more exciting events of our young country. You know, the daily routines and decisions that may be rather unremarkable? To me, however, to get a clue about what John Brigham's family dealt with on a daily basis was the responsible thing to do. So I shelled out the $12.
You also have to understand I am also a VERY fickle reader. As a parent of three children and person in charge of my own family's everyday routines, I have no time or patience to read a book that isn't "good." And right off the bat, a red flag went up about this book...making me struggle to even read a few more pages:
So I gave the first chapter a go. The information about the first Atlantic crossings wasn't new, so I went along with it. Even though his writing style wasn't exactly clear and I found it challenging to grasp what he was trying to point out, I finished Chapter 1 with only a few speed bumps. On to Chapter 2.
Did I tell you I was fickle? And a stickler for proper documentation of facts? Well, I never made it past the 3rd page of that chapter. While Mr. Dow properly identified his source for an event in 1630's Watertown, Massachusetts, he completely booted a quote he included in his book. On page 16, Mr. Dow writes about an entry in John WInthrop's Journal, which I found in The History of New England from 1630 to 1649, Volume 1 (p. 36) by John Winthrop, Esq. Mr. Dow quotes, "Fitch of Watertown had his wigwam burnt and all of his goods." Not bad for making a point about the use of wigwams, their flammability, or the reference to a famous journal.
BIG problem, however, when my very well-documented and very own 11th great uncle, Daniel FINCH, is discussed, under no circumstances is it proper to call him FITCH. Yes, it was Daniel Finch's wigwam burned, although there was one settler with the name Fitch. (To be fair, Winthrop attributed the event to John Finch, but the Great Migration research done by the NEHGS corrected the record to Daniel.) The remainder of the book is probably full of wonderful stories and interesting tidbits about colonial life, but I'm afraid my faith in the author has disappeared. I'll simply close the book and tuck it away, considering it a loss of dollar equivalent of 3 lattes that I shouldn't have indulged in anyway. (revised section on 4/28)
Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. Vol. 1-3. Boston, MA, USA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995.
Dow, George Francis. Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. New York: Dover Publications, 1988.
Winthrop, John, Esq. The History of New England from 1630 to 1649, Volume 1. Boston: Phelps and Farnham, 1825.