The two Winston Churchills actually met in Boston, December 1900. That story inspired this story. I tried to stick to the flavor of all that happened on that December day between the namesakes. Of course, I stuck Cootch Connolly into much of that historic day. The Churchills met, lunched and walked across the city. The Englishman spoke at Tremont Temple with no fuss and left Boston to continue on his North American lecture tour. Occasionally during his tour, young Churchill was heckled by pro-Boer members of his audience.
The Missourian didn’t stay in Boston for long. He moved with his wife to Cornish, New Hampshire. And for the first quarter-century the other Winston Churchill could be considered as successful a novelist as Stephen King. Churchill didn’t write horror.
Yet in his prime, he stopped writing and devoted his time to religion and philosophy. He died in 1947. The two men met at least once in London, but there are no other letters in the volumes of Winston S. Churchill’s correspondence.
The redhead realized his life’s dream 40 years after suggesting that the American Churchill seek politics. The British Prime Minister returned to Boston in 1944 to receive an honorary degree from Harvard.
I took liberties with the Fenians whose numbers had dwindled by 1900, although they were still feared. Fenians hustled for members among the many Irish regiments in the Union Army. From 1861-1864, the Ninth Mass. saw considerable action with the Army of the Potomac. Its flag is displayed in the Massachusetts State House’s Hall of Flags. It was believed that the Fenians enlisted much of the regiment as members. The American branch of the Irish Republican Brotherhood split with their Irish allies and invaded Canada in 1866. This foolhardy venture was subdued easily. Rumors of another Fenian invasion of Canada continued throughout the rest of the nineteenth century.
The Fenians paid $60,000 for a submarine by John Holland, an Irish inventor living in New Jersey at the time. Holland later broke with the Fenians, but his designs for an underwater warship were adopted and used in World War I. Holland died the same year as the war started, 1914.
People in the 21st century would not recognize the U.S.S. Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” by 1900. She was used as a training ship with additional floors stacked on her original main deck. Old Ironsides lay in shambles in Portsmouth, New Hampshire until Congressman John Fitzpatrick of Boston got her moved back to her home port. Congress approved appropriations to restore the undefeated frigate to her former glory, but the Constitution was not restored until 1907. She remains the pride of the Boston Navy Yard.
Fort Warren on Governor’s Island was used by the military up through World War II. At the start of the Spanish-American War, it was rumored that the Spanish Navy would attack Boston. The Spanish Navy would be destroyed by the American Navy off Cuba and in the Phillippines. Now a national landmark, the fort is accessible by boat and is worth the 45-minute trip to picnic, to scale the parapets, or to run through the dark tunnels to look for ghosts. Maybe you’ll find the “Lady in Black.”
The three Boer envoys did visit Boston in May 1900 and were given a friendly reception.
The Boston National League baseball team really was called the Beaneaters. Later they became the Rustlers, the Doves, and finally the Braves, now located in Atlanta, the oldest major league baseball team.
Cootch’s West End disappeared by 1960 under the guise of urban renewal. The West End still exists, but not the way it once existed as a multi-ethnic neighborhood. Only a handful of landmarks survived the march of progress.
A Civil War veteran, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. served as a justice, and briefly chief justice, of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He left for the U.S. Supreme Court in 1903 where he served until 1933.
Patrick A. Collins was elected the second Irish mayor of Boston in 1901 and won a second term in 1903. A native of Ireland, Collins was once a Fenian who later dropped out. An upholsterer who later earned a law degree at Harvard College, Collins was elected as state representative, state senator, and U.S. Congressman. He also served as state adjutant general and as U.S. envoy to London. Renowned as a great public speaker, Collins befriended Irish leader Charles Stewart Parnell and President Grover Cleveland. A man respected by the Yankees and the Irish, Collins died on a trip to West Virginia in 1905. He was honored with a bust that is located on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall between Clarendon and Dartmouth Streets.
Martin Lomasney remains one of my favorite characters in Boston political history. A true maverick, he outlasted many of the bosses. He was respected and feared by Democrats and Republicans alike. Lomasney served as an alderman, state representative, and state senator. At the time of his death in 1933, he was worth $250,000, a goodly sum for the times. His greatest enemy was a brash, charismatic Irishman from Roxbury named James Michael Curley. More of James Michael and Martin Lomasney in the next of Cootch Connolly’s chronicles, Boston Creme Curley.