Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jonathan Bourne Historical Center- Bourne, Ma

Jonathan Bourne Histrical Center Summer 2012
I recently had the time and opportunity to visit the Jonathan Bourne Historical Center in Bourne, Ma. Visiting the Historical Center allowed me to see a few of their exhibits which I have been meaning to check out for a long time. It also allowed me to see a few I had not known about. Of course these have now peaked my interest and propelled me into future research projects.

The Jonathan Bourne Historical Center is located on 30 Keene Street, in Bourne Ma. The Center itself was built in 1897 by Emily Howland Bourne, who is a descendant of the prolific and regionally important Richard Bourne.

I have written about Richard Bourne several times now, as he was one of the first Christian missionaries to the local Wampanoag tribe and is also connected to the Wampanoag Indian Museum through one of his descendants.

The Historical Center building originally served as a town library. Emily Bourne had the library built in honor of her father, Jonathan Bourne. Jonathan, though a prominent resident of New Bedford at the time, was instrumental in helping the residents of Bourne achieve separation from the town of Sandwich in 1884. Because of his assistance, the new town was named after Jonathan Bourne and the Bourne family.

Bust of Jonathan Bourne at the Historical Center
The building houses the Bourne Historical Society, the Bourne Historical Commission, and the Bourne Archives. Not only does the Historical Center advise the town of Bourne on issues of historical preservation, but it also contains town records like historical maps, photos, family records, oral histories, and historic books through the inclusion of the archives. This makes the center a valuable historic resource in its own right.

The building also houses many interesting exhibits. Among the most famous is the mysterious Bourne Stone, which I will be researching for a post in the very near future. However, their largest and most current exhibit is a display containing posters and artifacts from both the First and Second World Wars.

WWI and WWII Posters and Artifacts
This exhibit not only contains several interesting propaganda posters from the allied persepctive, but also contains a display which details information on the military career of Sergeant Stubby, the most decorated war dog of World War I. Although he appears to be an early Boston Terrier type, his true breed appears to have been unknown. However, he did originate in Connecticut, which makes him a Yankee, and worthy of a more detailed post in the near future.

Stubby the War Dog
An additional exhibit which caught my attention was on one of the few serial killers to grace the shores of Cape Cod. Nicknamed Jolly Jane, she was reportedly responsible for the deaths of nearly every member of an entire family.
Jolly Jane's Exhibit
While visiting the Historic Center, I drove a couple miles down the road to check out the recreation of the Aptuxet Trading Post. The building sits on the foundation of what is thought to be the original 1627 trading post, which once sat alongside the Manamet River. The original course of the river was incorporated into the digging of the Cape Cod Canal. The current museum is a recreation of what the post was thought to have looked like.
Aptuxet Trading Post Museum
The Jonathan Bourne Historical Center is open Mondays and Tuesdays 9am to 2:30pm. It is also open the second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

I had a great time visiting the Bourne Historical Center and the Aptuxet Trading Pos Museum.. Not only did I once again visit a museum dedicated to local history, but I learned several new things and was inspired to continue learning about what I saw. To me, that’s what its all about. As I’ve said, during the next few weeks, I hope to continue researching the Bourne Stone, Jolly Jane, and Stubby the war dog in order to create detailed posts about each.

Until then, if you are in the area, take time to visit the Jonathon Bourne Historical Center for yourself. It’s a great opportunity to admire objects and exhibits dedicated to some of the odder, more mysterious, and less well known subjects within New England History. In addition, it is a great example of how important smaller local museums are to the continued effort to preserve an archive our Yankee heritage for posterity.

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