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Beverly or Boston: Who can Claim the "Beantown" name?

The concept of cooking beans on Saturday night to eat all day Sunday is clearly evident in our local area. This was because the very strict, moral people of Beverly believed that no work, including preparing a hot meal, was to be performed on "the Lord's Day." Essex County Court records indicate many citizens being fined for performing work of any kind during the Sabbath. These same fines were not as common in the Boston area as they were in Puritan Beverly.

In 1866 Charles Lawrence opened his doors for business, at the lower end of Federal Street, as the Beverly Pottery Company. Over the next 40 years Charles would produce hundreds of thousands of pieces of pottery. His best known work took place in the summer of 1890.

The other players in this fateful event that would change the view of Beverly and Boston forever were the leaders of GAR Post #89 in Beverly. They were planning their big veteran's national convention, which was being hosted in the city of Boston. This reunion was titled the "Twenty-Fourth National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic". These were Beverly's Civil War veterans, and this was the 25th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. They were unsure as to when the next "encampment" would be held so close to Beverly again, and they wanted to do something special for their visiting GAR brothers. The plan appeared innocent enough. The Beverly boys would contract with a local potter to produce several thousand small ornamental "bean pots", marked with "Beverly Pottery" complete with a little red ribbon around the lip. These would be given to the veterans attending the five-day encampment at Boston from Aug. 11 to 16, 1890.

Upon returning home, the visiting Civil War soldiers remarked to friends and families about the souvenir bean pot they got in "Beantown" - Boston.

Since that time, Boston has been known the world over as Beantown. It was Beverly NOT Boston that is really "Beantown" and all of this could have been avoided if they had just asked Charles Lawrence to make souvenir "flowerpots" instead of bean pots that fateful summer of 1890.

Attributed to Stephen P. Hall of the Beverly Historical Society.