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Town of Norfolk Massachusetts
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Famous Residents and Visitors
Norfolk's  Famous Residents and Visitors

1. Paul Revere's - His Visit to Norfolk's Freemasons
2. George Washington - Slept Here - His Visit to Norfolk
3. President Rutherford B. Hayes - His Breakfast in Norfolk
4. Malcolm X - His Stay in Norfolk
5. Thomas Mann - "A Yankee in Andersonville"......and in Norfolk
6. Wallace Nutting - Photographer, Entrepreneur......House Mover
7. John L. Sullivan - Boxer - ‘The hand that shook the world’

1. Paul Revere's visit to  Norfolk - 1797
On July 10th, 1797 the Montgomery Lodge of Masons held their first meeting in the house of Dr. Nathaniel Miller - still standing on Myrtle Street. Paul Revere, the great American patriot, in the capacity of the Most Worshipful Grand Master, signed the charter of the Montgomery Lodge and officiated on this date at their chattering ceremonies in Norfolk.

2. George Washington's visit to Norfolk - 1775
Sometime in 1775 it is believed that General George Washington, with a guard of soldiers, came up the back road from Walpole, MA looking for commissary supplies and stopped overnight at the Tavern of Josiah Ware in Norfolk (North Wrentham). There were many Tories on the road from Newton out through Medfield, so Washington chose the safer road out. While George Washington slept here - his guard is said to have camped under the pitch pines then covering the Town Hill, to remain out of site.
This story, like so many others that fly in the face of history, would have probably fallen by the wayside were it not for one small was cooberated by a eye witness. Preston Farrington, an ancient veteran of the Civil War, used to recount the story of Tilpka's well......As a youth Preston lived at the home of Miss Tilpka Smith on what was referred to at the time as the "Back Street",  this later became Lincoln Road. Tilpka's well was located across the roadway from the house and used a large sweep arm to raise and draw the water bucket out of the well. Preston could recall in detail the story of how Miss Smith had drawn water for George Washington on the day the general passed through town and spent the night in North Wrentham. He could even point out the exact room where Washington slept at the tavern - which later became the house and store of Mr. Mann - located at the current site of the Sovereign Bank in downtown Norfolk.

3. President Rutherford B. Hayes' breakfast in Norfolk - 1877
President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, stopped at Highland Lake Grove in Norfolk to feast on a gourmet breakfast on his way to Boston on June 26, 1877 - his train stopped there at 8:36 AM at he was greated with loud cheers. His entourage feasted on a breakfast of fish, steak, chicken and lamb before the left for the city at 9:45 AM. See the article below from the Boston Globe on on June 27, 1877


4. Malcolm X in Norfolk - 1950s
Malcolm X resided in Norfolk in the early 1950s - as a prisoner in the Norfolk Prison Colony. It was his efforts in self education assisted by a tremendous variety and selection of materials to read in the Norfolk Prison Colony library that allowed him, in the course of his brief life, to rise from a world of thievery, pimping, and drug pushing to become one of the most articulate and powerful black leaders in America during the early 1960s.

Malcolm X stated "Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I've said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade. This impression is due entirely to my prison studies." - Those prison studies he referred to occurred primarily right here in Norfolk on Main Street.

Writer, lecturer, and political activist Malcolm X (1925-1965) was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska. His father, a Baptist minister, supported the back-to-Africa movement of the 1920s. Because of these activities the family was threatened by the Ku Klux Klan and forced to move several times. Eventfully, his father was murdered, and his mother was committed to a mental institution Malcolm X quit high school, preferring the street world of criminals and drug addicts. While he served time in prison from 1946 to 1952, he read books and studied the Black Muslim religion, finally becoming an articulate advocate of black separatism. Malcolm X later split with Elijah Muhammad, the Black Muslim leader, rejecting the notion that whites were evil and working for worldwide African-American unity and equality. For his defection, Malcolm X was shot to death - on February 21, 1965, as he addressed an afternoon rally in Harlem. He was thirty-nine years old. Some of his writings are The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), Malcolm X Talks to Young People (1969), and Malcom X on Afro-American Unity (1970).

In the following selection taken from his Autobiography - "A Homemade Education" - which was writen with Alex Haley, Malcolm X narrates in great detail, his discovery - in the Norfolk Prison Colony - of the power of language.


It was because of my letters that I happened to stumble upon starting to acquire some kind of a homemade education.

I became increasingly frustrated at not being able to express what I wanted to convey in letters that I wrote, especially to Mr. Elijah Muhammad. In the street, I had been the most articulate hustler out there - I had commanded attention when I said something. But now, trying to write simple English, I not only wasn't articulate, I wasn't even functional. How would I sound writing in slang, the way I would say it, something such as, "Look, daddy, let me pull your coat about a cat, Elijah Muhammad - "

Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I've said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade. This impression is due entirely to my (Norfolk) prison studies.

It had really begun back in the Charlestown Prison, when Bimbi first made me feel envy of his stock of knowledge. Bimbi had always taken charge of any conversations he was in, and I had tried to emulate him. But every book I picked up had few sentences which didn't contain anywhere from one to nearly all of the words that might as well have been in Chinese. When I just skipped those words, of course, I really ended up with little idea of what the book said. So I had come to the Norfolk Prison Colony still going through only book-reading motions. Pretty soon, I would have quit even these motions, unless I had received the motivation that I did.

I saw that the best thing I could do was get hold of a dictionary - to study, to learn some words. I was lucky enough to reason also that I should try to improve my penmanship. It was sad. I couldn't even write in a straight line. It was both ideas together that moved me to request a dictionary along with some tablets and pencils from the Norfolk Prison colony school.

I spent two days just rifling uncertainly though the dictionary's pages. I'd never realized so many words existed! I didn't know which words I needed to learn. Finally, just to start some kind of action, I began copying.

In my slow, painstaking, ragged handwriting, I copied into my tablet everything printed on that first page, down to the punctuation marks.

I believe it took me a day. Then, aloud, I read back to myself, everything I'd written on the tablet. Over and over, aloud, to myself, I read my own handwriting.

I woke up the next morning, thinking about those words - immensely proud to realize that not only had I written so much at one time, but I'd written words, that I never knew were in the world. Moreover, with a little effort, I also could remember what many of these words meant. I reviewed the words whose meanings I didn't remember. Funny thing, from the dictionary first page right now, that "aardvark" springs to my mind. The dictionary had a picture of it, a long-tallied, long-eared, burrowing African mammal, which lives off termites caught by sticking out its tongue as an anteater does for ants.

I was so fascinated that I went on - I copied the dictionary's next page. And the same experience came when I studied that. With every succeeding page, I also learned of people and places and events from history. Actually the dictionary is like a miniature encyclopedia. Finally the dictionary's A section had filled a whole tablet - and I went on into the B's. That was the way I started copying what eventually became the entire dictionary. I went a lot faster after so much practice helped me to pick up handwriting speed. Between what I wrote in my tablet, and writing letters, during the rest of my time in prison I would guess I wrote a million words.

I suppose it was inevitable that as my word-base broadened, I could for the first time pick up a book and read and now begin to understand what the book was saying. Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened. Let me tell you something, from then until I left that prison, in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading on my bunk. You couldn't have gotten me out of books with a wedge. Between Mr. Muhammad's teachings, my correspondence, my visitors- usually Ella and Reginald - and my reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.

The Norfolk Prison Colony's library was in the school building. A variety of classes were taught there by instructors who came from such places as Harvard and Boston universities. The weekly debates between inmate teams were also held in the school building. You would be astonished to know how worked up convict debaters and audiences would get over subjects like "Should Babies Be Fed Milk?"

Available on the prison library's shelves were books on just about every general subject. Much of the big private collection that Parkhurst had willed to the prison was still in crates and boxes in the back of the library - thousands of old books. Some of them looked ancient: covers faded; old-time parchment-looking bindings. Parkhurst, I've mentioned, seemed to have been principally interested in history and religion. He had the money and the special interest to have a lot of books that you wouldn't have in general circulation. Any college library would have been lucky to get that collection.

As you can imagine, especially in a prison where there was heavy emphasis on rehabilitation, an inmate was smiled upon if he demonstrated an unusually intense interest in books. There was a sizable number of well-read inmates, especially the popular debaters. Some were said by many to be practically walking encyclopedias. They were almost celebrities. No university would ask any student to devour literature as I did when this new world opened to me; of being able to read and understand.

I read more in my room than in the library itself. An inmate who was known to read a lot could check out more than the permitted maximum number of books. I preferred reading in the total isolation of my own room.

When I had progressed to really serous reading, every night at about ten P.M. I would be outraged with the "lights out." It always seemed to catch me right in the middle of something engrossing.

Fortunately, right outside my door was a corridor light that cast a glow into my room. The glow was enough to read by, once my eyes adjusted to it. So when "lights out" came, I would sit on the floor where I could continue reading in that glow.

At one-hour intervals the night guards paced past every room. Each time I heard the approaching footsteps, I jumped into bed and feigned sleep. And as soon as the guard passed, I got back out of bed onto the floor area of that light-glow, where I would read for another fifty-eight minutes- until the guard approached again. That went on until three or four every morning. Three or four hours of sleep a night was enough for me. Often in the years in the streets I had slept less that that.

Ten guards and the warden couldn't have torn me out of those books.

Not even Elijah Muhammad could have been more eloquent that those books......

Mr. Muhammad, to whom I was writing daily, had no idea of what a new world had opened up to me through my efforts to document his teaching in books.

I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awake inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive. I certainly wasn't seeking any degree, the way a college confers a status symbol upon its students. My homemade education gave me, with every additional book that I read, a little bit more sensitivity to the deafness, dumbness, and blindness that was afflicting the black race in America. Not long ago, an English writer telephoned me form London, asking questions. One was, "What's your alma mater/" I told him, "Books." You will never catch me with a free fifteen minutes in which I'm not studying something I feel might be able to help the black man.

But I'm digressing; I told the Englishman that my alma mater was books, a good library. Every time I catch a plane, I have with me a book that I want to read - and that's a lot of books these days. ...... I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity - because you can hardly mention anything I'm not curious about. I don't think anybody ever got more out of going to prison that I did. In fact, prison enabled me to study far more intensively than I would have if my life had gone differently and I had attended some college. I imagine that one of the biggest troubles with colleges is there are too many distractions, too much panty-raiding, fraternities, and booa-boola and all of that. Where else but in a person could I have attacked my ignorance by being able to study intensely sometimes as much as fifteen hours a day?

5. Thomas Mann - A Norfolk Yankee in Andersonville - 1860s Thomas H. Mann was a 19 year old Teacher from Wrentham - today's Norfolk, MA, who following the firing on Fort Sumter, along with a number of men from his home town, enlisted on May 20, 1861 and was mustered into the Union Army on August 24, 1861. They became the nucleus of Co. I, Eighteenth Massachusetts Infantry.

The regiment underwent its organization at Readville (Hyde Park), Mass., before being shipped off to the seat of the war. The unit was assigned to the Army of the Potomac into what would eventually become the Fifth Corps. Participating in the Peninsula Campaign the 18th saw little action and spent much of its time digging trenches, marching all over the countryside, and suffering the drudgery of camp life.

Mann fought in many battles and was promoted to the rank of Corporal on April 1, 1863 but it was not until Second Bull Run that he and the regiment took part in serious combat. It was during this battle that the regiment took its heaviest casualties of the war. Held in reserve at Antietam, the regiment went on to serve at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Mine Run Campaign, and The Wilderness. During the battle of The Wilderness, in the fighting west of Saunders Field on May 5, 1864, Corporal Mann was captured and taken prisoner - just three months before his enlistment was due to be up. Mann would spent 10 months in various Confederate prisons, including Danville, VA, Andersonville, GA, Charleston, SC and Florence, SC. He was involved in a prisoner exchanged and released from captivity on March 1, 1865.

Mann was literate and observing, and during the course of his enlistment he continuously wrote letters to his family and friends at home and to the Wrentham Lyceum of which he was a member. After the war he left teaching to became a physician and practiced medicine in New England until the mid-1880s. He went on to become a newspaper editor and was then appointed postmaster of Fitchburg, Mass. His last years were spent living with his daughter in Connecticut. He wrote about his prison experiences as a POW in an article "A Yankee in Andersonville," which was serialized in the July and August 1890 editions of Century Magazine.

He used his correspondence, along with some from other members of the regiment, to construct a memoir on the exploits of the Eighteenth Massachusetts, late in the 19th-century. The memoir went unpublished and forgotten until found among some family papers in the early 1990s by Mannís grandsons. It has since been edited and published as "Fighting with the Eighteenth Massachusetts: The Civil War Memoir of Thomas H. Mann".

Fighting with the Eighteenth Massachusetts covers the period between Mannís enlistment and his capture at The Wilderness. Writing in the third person, Mann weaves an interesting tale. The reader experiences a variety of images from the drudgery of everyday soldier life to the horror of battle. Though battle action is descriptive, Mann does not go into the blood and gore. This is an excellent way for descendants of the 18th's soldiers to view what kind of life their ancestors had during the war. Mann was an avid fan of George McClellan and comments on everything from politics to slavery to emancipation to his contempt for the attitude of the folks at home who have a lot to say but donít put their money where there mouth is. At one point Mann muses that the entire army should be discharged and sent home, while those at home with the opinions should be sent to the front to take their place.

Fighting with the Eighteenth Massachusetts is a worthy addition to the history of the regiment, a welcome addition to Civil War history, and a must for those who collect items related to the history of Norfolk.

Norfolk's own Thomas Mannís memoirs are an extraordinary addition to our knowledge of the Civil War and the Eighteenth Massachusetts' exploits.

6. Wallace Nutting's Farm in Norfolk - 1878
"America with its abundant materials everywhere for dwellings that might outlast the ages will fail disgracefully unless she can learn that the monuments which are nearer than any other to feeding the heart and enshrining history are old dwellings." - Wallace Nutting
Wallace Nutting (1861-1941) whose collectable hand tinted prints grace many a flea market and auction house throughout America purchased a farm in City Mills/Norfolk, MA in 1878. Unfortunately the farm turned out not to be a success and Mr. Nutting left Norfolk after owning it for only a year. There are also stories however that he purchased sevral Norfolk dwellings due to their outstanding architecture, dis-assembled them and moved them to Connecticut where apparently they may have been rebuilt..
Nutting has been dubbed the “Martha Stewart of 1915” for his promotion of whole-house design and country living and his ability to build a multifaceted business upon his name. He was a Congregational minister who stepped down from the pulpit in 1904 suffering from neurasthenia, a Victorian condition caused by the stress of modern life - sound familiar to today's residents of Norfolk as well doesn't it !. He began taking photographs as a kind of therapy and transformed his new hobby into a second career. He hired a staff of women to hand-platinum color tint his nostalgic photographic prints that depict domestic colonial home interiors, often featuring vignettes of women by the hearth or at work, as well as idyllic pastoral landscapes scenes of the New England countryside. In 1912, he moved to a larger house in Framingham, MA and began buying historic structures to use as settings for his photographs, restoring them and decorating them with period furnishings. To promote sales of his photographs and furniture, Nutting purchased and restored five colonial buildings in Connecticut and Massachusetts that he advertised as “The Wallace Nutting Chain of Colonial Picture Houses.” The homes provided settings for many of his photographs as well as sales rooms demonstrating the beauty of decorating a home with his reproduction rugs, chairs, desks, chests, and other objects.
By 1915, he had a catalog of 1000 images for sale out of a total of 50,000 negatives. By the 1920s, Wallace Nutting was both a household name and a trademarked brand. He understood America's early consumer culture and the combined power of photography, writing, and personal promotion - copyrighting over 800 photos with the Library of Congress. Nutting sold more than five million photographs through catalogue sales, traveling salesmen, and department stores, making over $1000 per day. He promoted them by writing books, giving speeches, and hiring a Madison Avenue advertising agency.
He began collecting American antiques for the homes and bought pieces from the 17th century including a carved 1685 Sunflower chest in oak, pine, and maple which he found in Wethersfield, CT. He also bought 18th century pieces and amassed a huge collection of chests of drawers, Windsor chairs, cupboards, boxes, bookcases, cabinets, and more. He recognized the potential for producing copies of his unique American antiques. In 1917, Wallace Nutting opened a furniture factory in Saugus, MA to make reproductions of his antiques collection. He started with Windsor chairs and sold them by the thousands, expensive even in their day. These, too, were sold by catalogue.
In addition, he purchased over 600 period domestic utensils made of wood, pewter, and wrought iron. In 1925, he sold his collection of American antiques for $200,000 to J. P. Morgan Jr., who donated it to his hometown museum Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT. In 1928, Nutting wrote the book "Furniture Treasury" illustrated with pictures of his own collection as well as other's, the first widely circulated reference book on American antiques. Nutting's business faltered during the Depression, and by 1932 the market for reproductions had plummeted. He donated his furniture, tools, and plans to Berea College in Kentucky upon his wife's death.
Wallace Nutting was ingenious about promoting his various products, building brand recognition and advertising the idea of “Old America” to a modern audience.

7. John L. Sullivan in Norfolk - 1878
Mike Deveney ran a training center near Highland Lake, known in later years as the Columbus Outing Club. Many well-known sports figures, mostly boxers and prize fighters trained at the camp. The great John L. Sullivan visited the camp. During the summer months, at Mr. Deveney's expense, or as he preferred to put it, " at my pleasure ", large groups of children from the "slum districts" of Boston were brought out to the lake for a day of games, good food and ice cream.

From......John L. Sullivan The first Irish American Boxing Champion, and ‘The hand that shook the world’...... by Jack Anderson - Limerick.

John L. Sullivan was a boxing legend. He is credited as being the first heavyweight-boxing champion of the world and is still ranked highly in that division. Sullivan was the link between old style bare knuckle fighting and modern glove fighting under the Queensberry rules. He was the first great American sports celebrity and in his long and controversial career he met and sparred for Princes, Presidents and paupers.

John Lawrence Sullivan was born in mid-October 1858 in the Roxbury district of Boston, Massachusetts. Sullivan inherited his combativeness (and his fondness for alcohol) from his father, Mike Sullivan, a builder’s labourer from Laccabeg, Abbeydorney in Co. Kerry, who arrived in America in 1850. Sullivan’s physique came from his formidable mother, Athlone born Catherine Kelly, another Irish emigrant of the immediate post-Famine era. By all accounts, Sullivan’s childhood was as stable as it could be in the heaving mass of uncertainty and poverty that was the Boston Irish community at that point in the nineteenth century.

Mike Sullivan fulfilled the stereotypical Boston Irishman of the day: he worked with his hands, for he had little other skill; he was quick in temper and slow in temperance. His son, John L., at first attempted to learn a trade and for increasingly volatile periods was an apprentice plumber, tinsmith and stonemason. However, as some journeymen colleagues of Sullivan painfully found out, John L.’s personal attributes and ego were in fact perfect for prize fighting.

The Boston Strong Boy
For such a celebrated career - one that to this day marks the beginning of the modern heavyweight division - Sullivan’s first punch up was little more than a barroom brawl. In 1878 Sullivan and a few friends attended a benefit night at Dudley Street Opera House in Boston. At some stage during the night a local tough by the name of Jack Scannell challenged Sullivan - who by now had a reputation as the “Boston Strong Boy”. Massachusetts state law prohibited prize fighting but permitted “exhibitions” of physical skill. Duly the organizers of the benefit night accommodated the combatants. Sullivan took off his coat; laced up a pair of woolly mitts; received a knock on the head from Scannell; lost his temper and proceeded to belt Scannell into the on-stage piano. A star was born.

By 1881, and still without any formal coaching - appropriately he apprenticed on the job - Sullivan had graduated to performing on the then biggest boxing stage of all: Harry Hill’s Dance Hall and Boxing Emporium on New York’s East Side. In March 1881, Sullivan announced himself at Harry Hill’s by offering fifty dollars to any man who could last four rounds with him under the Queensberry rules. A veteran fighter named Steve Taylor attempted to do so but was pummelled in two rounds. During this stay in New York, Sullivan met Richard Kyle Fox, the Belfast born proprietor of the Police Gazette, and then the biggest boxing promoter in the United States. Fox and Sullivan were never to become friendly but both were cunning enough to ensure that their enmity remained well publicised to their commercial advantage.

Sullivan soon manouvered himself into a bare-knuckle title fight with the Thurles born titleholder, Paddy Ryan. Ryan was yet another Irish-American champion from the town of Troy, New York. However, Ryan was a mediocre and reluctant champion. The heavily gambled upon and much anticipated Sullivan vs. Ryan fight took place on 7 February 1882 in Mississippi City. The fight was somewhat disappointing and lasted roughly ten minutes with Sullivan easily defeating Ryan in nine rounds, as governed by the London Prize Ring Rules. In fact, the most interesting thing about the fight was the audience, in which the James brothers, Frank and Jesse, were spotted.

For the next decade or so Sullivan, despite chronic alcoholism, easily held on to his title, defending it nearly thirty times. These fights were predominately arranged around Sullivan’s great tours of the United States in 1883-4 and 1886-7, whereupon at each stop John L. made his standard offer of one thousand dollars to any man who could last four rounds. He rarely had to pay out for he could “lick any man alive”. Interestingly, and unlike the original title fight against Ryan, all of these bouts were fought with gloves and took place under the Queensberry rules. There is no great mystery as to why Sullivan preferred gloves: they were safer, they prolonged his career; thus enabling him to make more money. Indeed, Sullivan was a commercial phenomenon; using one commentator’s figures, it is estimated that Sullivan cleared between eighty to one hundred thousand dollars during the 1883-4 tour of the United States. Later, Sullivan’s commercialisation of the ring would open unprecedented opportunities for other boxers, though Sullivan drank most of his own earnings.

Sullivan while in Scotland learned that his fellow Irish-American Jake Kilrain had, on a marshy island in the middle of the Seine, forced the English champion, Jem Smith, to a draw over 106 rounds in a fight that lasted nearly three hours. Kilrain, with logic understood only by the boxing world, now claimed the title. Sullivan was annoyed but was contracted to defend his world title against Englishman Charlie Mitchell. On 10 March 1888 Sullivan faced Mitchell in a bare-knuckle fight, which took place on the estate grounds of Baron Alphonse Rothschild near Chantilly, just north of Paris, probably without the knowledge of the Rothschild family. In a bruising encounter, wherein at one stage Sullivan was heard roar: “Fight like a gentleman, you son of a bitch, if you can,” Mitchell forced Sullivan to a draw after thirty-nine frustrating rounds. Sullivan chased by the French police left for the United States immediately after the fight.

Sullivan’s next title defence occurred at 10.30 am on the morning of 8 July 1889, and it was against Kilrain. Almost three thousand spectators were present at the fight scene near Richburg, Mississippi; where they saw an unusually well trained Sullivan enter the ring. Kilrain, the younger man, was sponsored by Richard Kyle Fox and seemed primed to take Sullivan’s “undisputed” title. Yet, after two and a quarter hours of bare knuckle pounding, Kilrain’s trainer refused to allow Kilrian to come up to scratch. Sullivan was victorious or as the New York Times put it - on page one no less - “The Bigger Brute Won”.

In the aftermath of the fight, the state of Mississippi attempted to indict both Kilrain and Sullivan for the offences of prize fighting and assault. At trial, Sullivan was convicted though he successfully appealed. However, Sullivan’s legal victory was a pyrrhic one because it cost - in the form of legal fees and travel expenses - more than he cleared from beating Kilrain. Sullivan vowed never again to fight under the old bare-knuckle rules; he remained true to his word and with that the days of the old bare-knuckle title fight ended.

Indeed, Sullivan remained out of the ring for the next three years. During these years Sullivan subtlety avoided all challengers. Finally, on 6 September 1892 in New Orleans, Sullivan lost his title to James J. “Gentleman Jim” Corbett. A visibly ageing Sullivan was knocked out in the twenty-first round. Once recovered, Sullivan gave a gracious speech to the stunned crowd, muttering that he was glad that if he was to be whipped, that at least he was “licked” by an American. Indeed, Sullivan, like the majority of his fellow working class Boston Irish, was a simple American patriot all his life.

In 1905, Sullivan, on tour, broke and drinking heavily, fought and defeated Jim McCormick in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was to be his final fight. Four days later, on 5 March 1905, Sullivan gave up drinking. Later, in a life that became confined to what are now known as “celebrity appearances”, Sullivan was reconciled with his wife and they lived peacefully on a small farm outside Boston. Sullivan became a respected friend of President Theodore Roosevelt. He died on 2 February 1918, probably of heart failure. A massive funeral followed. Fittingly, the frozen earth had to be blasted to make his grave. In the commotion that followed, the Boston Irish finally realised that neither they, nor anyone else, would ever again queue “to shake the hand that shook the world”.

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