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Moses Arnold was the first to memorialize the events that took place at Island Grove, and he was right to do so.

Slavery would one day prove to be the downfall of the young, otherwise idealistic United States, its crushing effects culminating in the horrific brother-against-brother Civil War of 1861 to 1865. Some knew early on that the practice was wrong. Scituate's Chief Justice William Cushing spoke out against it in the 1790s. By the 1830s, antislavery groups had formed in Massachusetts in attempts to get the practice abolished. That word formed the root of the cause: abolitionism.

William Lloyd Garrison led the charge, and at times he did so right here in Abington at Island Grove. The grove, surrounded on three sides by Island Grove Pond, would one day be known for picnics and baseball games and butterfly chasing. But in the years leading up to the Civil War, it was a gathering spot for  the abolitionists. They met here annually to speechify, to berate the United States for allowing the practice continue. At times, things turned violent and the anti-slavery types had to flee for their lives. But in the end they were vindicated, as President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in free U.S. territory. The slaves in the south, unless they could escape to the north or the Union captured the Confederate land on which they stood, had but to wait for Union victory.

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Moses Arnold, shoe factory owner, remembered those early days at Island Grove and paid for a tablet to be erected in their memory. Then, in 1912, Abington took things one giant step further. With the bicentennial of Old Abington upon them, the involved communities (the town once consisted of Abington, Rockland and Whitman) commissioned the construction of a bridge across the pond that would lead to an arch erected in memory of the soldiers and sailors of Abington who fought in the Civil War. That arch, topped by an eagle spreading its wings to the sky, still greets visitors today, a century after its dedication.

But there's more. During the summer, kids attend camp on the grounds where their great-grandparents played as children themselves. In the winter, the pond freezes and hockey pucks start to fly. Trails wander through the pine trees and from one corner of the grove it's possible to peek out at the Grand Army Hall, the gathering place for Abington's Civil War veterans for several decades beyond the signing of the truce at Appomattox.

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For Civil War buffs, it's a Massachusetts must. For all others, it's worth it just for the grandeur of the archway.

To find Island Grove, find Park Street in Abington for the back entrance, or Wilson Place for the most dramatic view of the bridge and the arch. The Moses Arnold monument is to the right of the bridge, the view of the Grand Army Hall to the left.

For more information:

Friends of Island Grove
Abington Park and Recreation
225 Central Street Rear
Abington, MA 02351
781-982-2125
www.friendsofislandgrove.com

 


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    Plymouth County Convention & Visitors Bureau

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