We all know of Paul Revere’s great ride to Lexington to announce the arrival of the British. Lesser known William Dawes also made that ride but he took a different route to get there than did Revere.
Dawes was born in Boston on April 6, 1745. He was a tanner by occupation and later became active with the Boston Militia. As Revere, Dawes would also receive word from Dr. Joseph Warren to alert John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were intending to arrest them. Dawes rode out of Boston through the Boston Neck in the nick of time before the military sealed off access into and out of town. He took a different route to ensure that the message would get through if Revere was not able to do so.
Dawes and Revere arrived at the Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington within minutes of each other. After giving Hancock and Adams the warning to leave, they traveled on to Concord but neither one made it! It was Samuel Prescott, a gentlemen who had been visiting with his fiancée, who met up with Revere and Dawes and joined them in their quest to Concord. When the three continued on, they were cut off by four British horsemen who were part of a larger scouting party sent out the preceding evening. Revere was captured, but both Prescott and Dawes succeeded in making a daring run for it. Prescott did so with a show of artful horsemanship and knowledge of the forest. Finally losing his pursuers, he circled about and headed with the utmost speed to Concord, carrying Revere’s warning to his townsmen. But, what happened to Dawes? There are many different accounts. Some say his horse bucked him off and ran away so that Dawes had to walk back to Lexington. Other accounts say he simply got lost.
Patriot’s Day is observed annually. Join the Roxbury Collaborative in celebrating Boston’s role in freeing the American colonies from British occupation. On April 18, begin your day with a buffet breakfast at the UU Urban Ministry/First Church in Roxbury at 8 a.m. Historic speeches will follow and at 10 a.m., you will be able to witness a re-enactment of Dawes’ horseback ride from Roxbury to Lexington and Concord.
The William I Brown Memorial Scholarship will be presented to high school students who have demonstrated civic engagement in the community, and Brigadier General Mario DiCarlo, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, will receive an Unsung Hero Award.
The day’s events end with a free one-hour trolley tour of Roxbury at 11 a.m. which will be led by state Rep. Byron Rushing. Those not wishing to take the tour can instead enjoy open house visits to the Dillaway-Thomas House, the Shirley-Eustis House and Eliot Burial Ground.