Boston Tea Party participants

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Portrait by Christian Gullager

In my December article on the Boston Tea Party, I detailed that pivotal event involved three participants with direct connections to Marietta. At the time of the Tea Party, John May was a 25-years-old merchant involved with shipping at Union Wharf (aka May’s Wharf). During that fateful afternoon, he received a knock on his window. As his wife described, he quickly departed and did not return until very late that night.

He never said a word about his activities, but the next morning his wife observed, “there was found in his shoes, and scattered upon the floor, a quantity of tea.”

During the Revolution, John served as the Boston militia’s Colonel and he received special commendation for his leadership under General Rochambeau in Rhode Island. Col. May owned 36 shares in the Ohio Company of Associates and participated in Marietta’s initial settlement planning. He departed Boston just a week after the 48 pioneers landed in Marietta, arriving here on May 26, 1788. After building the first house made of square-shaped, hewed logs, he returned to Boston that summer. On a return journey to Marietta in 1789 with intentions to set up a store, he arrived in New York City just in time to witness the inauguration of President George Washington. His Marietta plans did not work so he returned to Boston to live out his remaining years. May would die in 1812 and is buried in the Boston Common Burial Grounds. The daily journal he kept describing his 1788 trip to Marietta and his experiences here were among the earliest documentation of day-to-day life in this new Ohio settlement.

Dr. Elisha Story, a respected Boston physician and father of renown Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, was another Tea Party participant. During the Revolution, Elisha fought in the Lexington Alarm, Bunker Hill, Trenton, and others. Elisha’s brother, Rev. Daniel Story, became Marietta’s first full-time minister. A Dartmouth graduate, Daniel was commissioned by Rev. Manasseh Cutler to serve the Marietta community as pastor of First Congregational Church. During the Indian War, he would frequently leave the safety of the Campus Martius stockade and risk his life traveling to Farmers’ Castle (Belpre) and Fort Frye (Beverly) to also tend to the spiritual needs of those communities. Rev. Story died in 1804 at age 48 and is buried in Mound Cemetery.

The third Tea Party participant was William Dawes, ancestor of numerous Marietta Dawes families. He was a 29-year-old tanner and early Sons of Liberty member. Besides the Tea Party, Dawes and others also stole two cannons under British guard and smuggled them out of Boston.

It was the search for these guns stored at Concord that brought the British army to Lexington and Concord where the first shots were fired to officially start the Revolution. However, Dawes’ most famous exploit occurred when he was selected to deliver a message to John Hancock and Samuel Adams in Lexington that the British would be coming their way. As Dawes rode south out of Boston on April 18, 1775, it was decided to send a back-up rider in case Dawes was captured or delayed. The rider selected was a silversmith named Paul Revere who headed north out of the city. Unfortunately, Longfellow wrote of the heroic exploits of Revere, while Dawes is largely forgotten. William Dawes is buried in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts. His grandson Henry Dawes would marry here in 1829 and his family would make their home outside of Marietta at Constitution about 1840.

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