Chelsea at 386

February 11, 2010
By

It has been 386 years since Samuel Maverick settled here on the southern side of what we now call Admiral’s Hill.

It was 1624 when Maverick arrived from England during a landing made at Dorchester Bay.

When he stood atop Admiral’s Hill, where the flagpole is today, where once, there was an outstanding plaque detailing the founding of Chelsea, he looked out on a pristine Boston Harbor.

What he saw must have been something to behold.

Untouched land, abundant fish and game, ducks and geese, beaver and deer, clean fresh water everywhere, clear water in the harbor and trees enough to heat all of London for a century or two.

Maverick built a hut, called a Palisade’s Hut, something kin to what Robinson Crusoe Built when he wanted protection from the elements as well as Indians.

The Indians Maverick met and made his peace with were the Sagamore Indians.

They had lived here hunting for ducks and geese for 500 years before Maverick – which takes us to the time of Lief Ericsson, who many historians believe arrived in America about the year 1000, a full 500 years before Columbus.

The empire of the Sagamore Indians spread from Chelsea by the Mystic River’s edge to the Saugus River and included the Saugus Marshland.

Fast forward 386 years.

The water of the inner harbor isn’t fit for swimming, although it is cleaner than it has been in the last 50 years.

The growth of Boston, which was non-existent in 1624 and wasn’t settled until 1629, has overwhelmed the natural landmass it rests upon – and there is very little forest remaining to remind us of what came before.

Lastly, Maverick was an army of one when he arrived and looked out on a land without people.

The Sagamore Indians are a memory, wiped out largely by typhus and smallpox brought by the settlers from Europe.

At 386 years and counting, modern Chelsea is a living example of the American Dream.

The city is inhabited by people from all over the world, most of them struggling to achieve success in their lives.

The city has the basic look and feel it has held since the 1908 Chelsea Fire.

One wonders what the city will be like when it hits 500 years.

Will this era in the city’s history even be a memory or worthy of a historical look back?

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