Thompson Island (Massachusetts)

Last updated
Thompson Island, Boston Harbor, 2008 Thompson Island - Massachusetts.jpg
Thompson Island, Boston Harbor, 2008

Thompson Island is a 170-acre (69 ha) island in the Dorchester Bay section of Boston Harbor, offshore from downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It is located slightly more than 4 miles (6.4 km) from Boston's Long Wharf via boat, [1] while approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) straight-line distance from Boston's Columbia Point.

Contents

The island is managed by the Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center, a non-profit education organization. The island is open to visitors on Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day; otherwise access is by arrangement only. Thompson Island is one of the largest, most accessible and ecologically diverse islands in the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. [1]

The island's highest point is a drumlin that reaches a height of 78 feet (24 m) above sea level. The rest of the island comprises low rolling hills and a salt marsh. The island has a mixed vegetation, including hardwood tree stands, remnant pear and apple orchards, ornamental trees and shrubs, and salt marsh grasses. The island has open meadows, forests, marine wetlands, sumac groves, and a variety of other geological features as well. Amenities include a formal school campus complete with classrooms, dormitories, dining hall, auditoriums, gymnasium, lab space, outdoor challenge courses, and climbing towers. [1] At low tide, a sandbar connects it to Squaw Rock on the Squantum peninsula, allowing land travel between the two.

History

Native American and colonial settlement

Many Native American objects have been found on the island suggesting that the island was inhabited for many centuries prior to European contact. [2] In September of 1621 Pilgrim Miles Standish was the first recorded person to visit the island while exploring the area, and he named it "Island Trevoyre" after his Mayflower shipmate, William Trevore. [3] Standish believed that the island was uninhabited at that time. [2] In 1626, four years before the Puritans arrived, David Thompson began living on the island where he had been conducting a trading post to trade with the Neponset Indians. Thompson, the namesake of the island, was a Scot who had been superintending the settlement of Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Thompson may have lived near the south end of Thompson Island where the foundation of a Puritan era house was discovered in 1889, although some believe this house may have dated to later in the seventeenth century by the size of the bricks. [2] In 1628 David Thompson disappeared possibly as the result of drowning or foul play, and the town of Dorchester acquired the island. Thompson's son eventually regained title several years later after obtaining affidavits from William Blaxton, Miles Standish, Sagamore of Agawam, and William Trevore attesting to David Thompson's grant and occupancy. [4] Thompson eventually lost title to the island in payment of his debts, and other private owners acquired title over the next several centuries who leased it to several families for farming. [2]

Boys school, 1833-1975

Farm School, Thompson's Island, 1838 1838 FarmSchool ThompsonIsland BostonAlmanac.png
Farm School, Thompson's Island, 1838

In 1833, the Boston Asylum for Indigent Boys was moved to the island, and in 1835 it merged with the Boston Farm School Society to become the Boston Asylum and Farm School for Indigent Boys. Many of the students who went to school on the island lost one or both parents, or had parents who were unable to care for them. [5] In order for a student to be enrolled in the school, the parents or guardians had to sign a form giving the school guardianship of the boys until they were 21 years old. [6] While on the island, parents were only able to see their child once a month during visit days and for two weeks during the summer when the boys were allowed to return home. [7] Many "distraught mothers" [7] changed their minds about having their boys at the school and wanted to have them withdrawn. There are several documented cases where the school returned guardianship to the parents, who were then able to have their child come back home. [8]

The boys and their teachers traveled back and forth between Kelly's Landing in South Boston and the Island via the boats "Pilgrim III" and its successor, "Pilgrim IV", regularly. There were two fatal boating accidents which resulted in the death of several students and faculty. The first was in 1842, where 29 individuals died. The second was in 1892, where 9 individuals died [9]

In 1955 the name was changed again to Thompson Academy. Thompson Academy became a college preparatory boarding school and continued the tradition of shelter and guidance to boys from the Boston area and beyond. During some very turbulent times, the school was a model of successful community integration based on friendship and brotherhood for several hundred boys of all backgrounds each year during the late 60s and into the mid-70s. Students participated in private school sports leagues, involved themselves in meaningful community service projects in Boston, maintained educational ties with local colleges and universities and assisted with the upkeep of Thompson Island and their school. [9] In 1971 a fire destroyed the main school building. The school continued to operate for another four years, closing in 1975.

In 2015, Connie Hertzberg Mayo published a historical fiction novel, The Island of Worthy Boys, set in late 19th century Boston and at the Boston Asylum and Farm School for Indigent Boys on Thompson Island. Superintendent Bradley (served 1888–1922) and his wife are prominent characters. [10]

Outward Bound, 1994-present

Thompson Island campus, 2006 2006 Thompson Island Boston Harbor 215014855.jpg
Thompson Island campus, 2006

In the early 1990s, David Manzo of Community Providers of Adolescent Services, Inc. d/b/a COMPASS, John Verre of the McKinley Schools, Edward F. Kelley of RFK Children's Action Corp, and Peter Willauer of Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center, created a comprehensive residential treatment program called Citybound, for adolescents with emotional and behavioral disabilities on Thompson Island. [11]

The Willauer School, an expeditionary learning Outward Bound school operated from 1994 to 2006. The island is currently owned by the Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center and operates Outward Bound programs that brings more than 5,000 students and 3,000 adults a year to the island. Thompson Island Outward Bound supports its mission through donations and profits from Thompson Island Conference Center (event business running corporate outings and social events) and Outward Bound Professional (adult team-building). [1]

Boston Harbor Islands Protected Space

Seawater entering the lagoon on Thompson Island with South Boston visible in the background Seawater entering the lagoon on Thompson Island with Boston Harbor and South Boston visible in the background in Massachusetts MA.jpg
Seawater entering the lagoon on Thompson Island with South Boston visible in the background

In 2002, the National Park Service and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management purchased a conservation restriction for Thompson Island. With the assistance of The Trust for Public Land, who helped negotiate the deal, future development was limited to only the existing school campus. It also guaranteed permanent public access to the island, completing the permanent protection of all of the Boston Harbor Islands. [10] Representative Joseph Moakely was instrumental in raising the $2 million of funding appropriated by Congress, and another $2 million matched by Massachusetts. [10]

In Season 3 of the WGBH children's reality game show Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman , in the episode "What's Bugging Ruff?", Thompson Island is where Jay, Noel & Sammy are sent for their challenge of learning about various species of insects.

In the 2018 novel Varina by Charles Frazier (which is based on the life of Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis), the fictional African American character Jimmy recounts how he spent several happy years at the Thompson Island Farm School in the late 1860s.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Alden</span> Crew member on the Mayflower

John Alden was a crew member on the historic 1620 voyage of the Mayflower which brought the English settlers commonly known as Pilgrims to Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. He was hired in Southampton, England as the ship's cooper, responsible for maintaining the ship's barrels. He was a member of the ship's crew and not a settler, yet he decided to remain in Plymouth Colony when the Mayflower returned to England. He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Myles Standish</span> English military officer hired by the Pilgrims (1584–1656)

Myles Standish was an English military officer and colonist. He was hired as military adviser for Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts, United States by the Pilgrims. Standish accompanied the Pilgrims on the ship Mayflower and played a leading role in the administration and defense of Plymouth Colony from its foundation in 1620. On February 17, 1621, the Plymouth Colony militia elected him as its first commander and continued to re-elect him to that position for the remainder of his life. Standish served at various times as an agent of Plymouth Colony on a return trip to England, as assistant governor of the colony, and as its treasurer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">University of Massachusetts Boston</span> Public research university in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

The University of Massachusetts Boston is a public research university in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. It is the only public research university in Boston and the third-largest campus in the five-campus University of Massachusetts system. UMass Boston is the third most diverse university in the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plymouth Colony</span> English colonial venture in America (1620–1691)

Plymouth Colony was the first permanent English colony in New England from 1620 to 1691 and the third permanent English colony in America, after Newfoundland and the Jamestown Colony. It was settled by the passengers on the Mayflower at a location that had previously been surveyed and named by Captain John Smith. The settlement served as the capital of the colony and developed as the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. At its height, Plymouth Colony occupied most of the southeastern portion of Massachusetts. Many of the people and events surrounding Plymouth Colony have become part of American folklore, including the American tradition of Thanksgiving and the monument of Plymouth Rock.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">University of Massachusetts</span> Public university system in Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts is the five-campus public university system and the only public research system in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The university system includes five campuses, a satellite campus in Springfield and also 25 campuses throughout California and Washington with the University of Massachusetts Global.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Duxbury, Massachusetts</span> Town in Massachusetts, United States

Duxbury is a historic seaside town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. A suburb located on the South Shore approximately 35 miles (56 km) to the southeast of Boston, the population was 16,090 at the 2020 census.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plymouth, Massachusetts</span> Town in Massachusetts, United States

Plymouth is a town and county seat of Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. Located in Greater Boston, the town holds a place of great prominence in American history, folklore, and culture, and is known as "America's Hometown". Plymouth was the site of the colony founded in 1620 by the Mayflower Pilgrims, where New England was first established. It is the oldest municipality in New England and one of the oldest in the United States. The town has served as the location of several prominent events, one of the more notable being the First Thanksgiving feast. Plymouth served as the capital of Plymouth Colony from its founding in 1620 until the colony's merger with the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691. The English explorer John Smith named the area Plymouth and the region 'New England' during his voyage of 1614. It was a later coincidence that, after an aborted attempt to make the 1620 trans-Atlantic crossing from Southampton, the Mayflower finally set sail for America from Plymouth, England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dorchester, Boston</span> Neighborhood of Boston in Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States

Dorchester is a Bostonian neighborhood comprising more than 6 square miles (16 km2) in the City of Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Originally, Dorchester was a separate town, founded by Puritans who emigrated in 1630 from Dorchester, Dorset, England, to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This dissolved municipality, Boston's largest neighborhood by far, is often divided by city planners in order to create two planning areas roughly equivalent in size and population to other Boston neighborhoods.

The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is a national recreation area situated among the islands of Boston Harbor of Boston, Massachusetts. The area is made up of a collection of islands, together with a former island and a peninsula, many of which are open for public recreation and some of which are very small and best suited for wildlife. The area is run by the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership. It includes the Boston Harbor Islands State Park, managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Twenty-one of the 34 islands in the area are also included in the Boston Harbor Islands Archeological District.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boston Harbor</span> Estuary and harbor of Massachusetts Bay

Boston Harbor is a natural harbor and estuary of Massachusetts Bay, and is located adjacent to the city of Boston, Massachusetts. It is home to the Port of Boston, a major shipping facility in the Northeastern United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Priscilla Alden</span> Member of Massachusettss Plymouth Colony of Pilgrims

Priscilla Alden was a noted member of Massachusetts's Plymouth Colony of Pilgrims and the wife of fellow colonist John Alden. They married in 1621 in Plymouth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leslie Ronald Jones</span> American photographer

Leslie Ronald Jones, was a Boston, Massachusetts, photographer who worked for Boston Herald-Traveler newspaper for 39 years from 1917 to 1956. His photographs document both everyday life and portraits of newsmakers and celebrities in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Boston Harbor Islands Partnership is a non-profit partnership organization based in Boston, whose purpose is "to coordinate the activities of the Federal, State, and local authorities and the private sector in the development and implementation of a general management plan" for the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. The Partnership was established by the United States Congress in 1996, as part of the law which designated the Boston Harbor Islands as a unit of the national parks system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mary Chilton</span> First European woman to step ashore at Plymouth, Massachusetts

Mary Chilton was a Pilgrim and purportedly the first European woman to step ashore at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Columbia Point, Boston</span>

Columbia Point, in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, sits on a peninsula jutting out from the mainland of eastern Dorchester into the bay. Old Harbor Park is on the north side, adjacent to Old Harbor, part of Dorchester Bay. The peninsula is primarily occupied by Harbor Point, the University of Massachusetts Boston, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, and a complex at the former Bayside Expo Center, Boston College High School, and the Massachusetts Archives. The Boston Harborwalk follows the entire coastline.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cole's Hill</span> Historic cemetery in Massachusetts, United States

Cole's Hill is a National Historic Landmark containing the first cemetery used by the Mayflower Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. The hill is located on Carver Street near the foot of Leyden Street and across the street from Plymouth Rock. Owned since 1820 by the preservationist Pilgrim Society, it is now a public park.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nathan Webb (Massachusetts legislator)</span> American politician

Nathan Webb was a teacher, firefighter, and public official in Boston, Massachusetts, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He arrived in Boston from Windham, Connecticut around 1783, when he was 16 years old. In 1783, he began work as a teaching assistant at the North Writing School, a public school under the direction of schoolmaster John Tileston, on Love Lane in the North End. Webb continued teaching through 1789. According to his diary (1788-1791), in his young adult years he was active in the Independent Musical Club, a private music club with both male and female members founded in 1789. When George Washington visited Boston in 1789, Webb attended the parade that took place by the triumphal arch on Washington Street.

The Boston metropolitan area has an active Korean American community. The largest groups of Koreans in Massachusetts in 2000 were in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Newton, and Somerville.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timothy Alden</span>

Rev Timothy Alden, Jun. was an educator and founder of Allegheny College.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Raid on Annapolis Royal (1781)</span>

The Raid on Annapolis Royal took place on 29 August 1781 during the American Revolutionary War. The raid involved two American privateers - the Resolution and the Reprisal - attacking and pillaging Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia in revenge of the defeat of the Penobscot Expedition. The privateers took captive the commander of the militia John Ritchie, described as the "Governor of Annapolis." One historian described it as "one of the most daring and dramatic raids upon Nova Scotia."

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 "Thompson Island Factsheet". Boston Harbor Islands Partnership. Archived from the original on September 17, 2006. Retrieved October 6, 2006.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Barbara E. Luedtke, "The Archaeology of Thompson Island" UMass Boston, Department of Anthropology, August 1996 https://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1013&context=anthro_faculty_pubs
  3. Barbara E. Luedtke, "The Archaeology of Thompson Island" UMass Boston, Department of Anthropology, August 1996 https://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1013&context=anthro_faculty_pubs referencing Mourt: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth[ 1622] edited by Dwight B. Heath. Corinth Books, NY. (1963) and "Four Depositions Relating to Thompson's Island." New England Historical and Genealogical Register 9: 248 (1855).
  4. The New England Magazine https://books.google.com/books?id=CijZAAAAMAAJ 1900 - New England, Volume 22, pg. 196
  5. "Saved by Boston Boat." (1894, May 23). Boston Daily Globe (1872-1922). pp. 12.
  6. http://openarchives.umb.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15774coll8/id/274/rec/1 Thompson Island: Collection, 1814-1990, University Archives & Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Boston
  7. 1 2 http://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1013&context=hlpubs Mock, Elizabeth(1991)Thompson Island: Learning By Doing
  8. Thompson Island: Collection, 1814-1990, University Archives & Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Boston
  9. 1 2 Thompson’s Island Collection Records, 1814-1990 (Bulk, 1814-1977). SC-0040. Descriptions of UMass Boston’s Collection (Finding Aids). Open Archives: Digital Collections at the University of Massachusetts Boston, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA. 17 June 2015
  10. 1 2 3 "Thompson Island". The Trust for Public Land.
  11. Boston Globe, Don Aucoin, April 30, 1990

42°18′51″N71°00′37″W / 42.314133°N 71.010265°W / 42.314133; -71.010265