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Revolutionary War period featured in Faith, Family & Country Heritage Museum displays

Historic artifacts related to American independence and the Founding Fathers are on display at the Faith, Family & Country Heritage Museum in Branson West. This week’s celebrations of our nation’s freedom are a great reminder to reflect on what some of those artifacts represent.

Several of the items relate to John Hancock. Perhaps best known for his famous signature on the Declaration of Independence, Hancock played an important role in the birth of the United States. Since he was highly involved in the creation of the Declaration, it should be no surprise that he was the first person to sign, boldly and clearly, the document that declared the colonies separate and independent from Great Britain in 1776.


Among the interesting displays is a merchant ledger, dated March 3, 1766, that has John Hancock’s name in the cargo list. Born to a country parson, the future Founding Father was adopted by his childless uncle, a wealthy Boston merchant. Educated at Harvard College, where he entered at age 13, Hancock mastered the family import-export business, expanding it to include building ships which carried whale oil to Britain and returned with a load of consumer goods for his chain of retail stores.


During the 1774 Boston Massacre, Hancock stated, “Some boast of being friends to government; I am a friend to righteous government, to a government founded upon the principles of reason and justice, but I glory in publicly avowing my eternal enmity to tyranny.” Before the Revolution, Hancock used his personal wealth to bankroll the independence movement by raising money for the war, helping secure troops, and playing a key role in sustaining a naval force.


The British targeted Boston’s most popular radical leaders, including Hancock and Samuel Adams, for arrest; when British troops searched for them in Lexington and Concord, both took refuge in a church basement. In a carriage stuffed with gold, silver and negotiable notes to fund the Revolution, Hancock, as New England’s wealthiest merchant, escaped to Philadelphia for the Second Continental Congress, of which he was named president in 1775.


Hancock was also a committed Christian who prayed, regularly read his Bible, and practiced forgiveness of individuals who wronged him. As the first governor of Massachusetts, he called his state on 22 occasions to times of prayer and fasting or prayer and thanksgiving.


Other relics in the museum collection from the Revolutionary War period include a piece of wood from a beam replaced during preservation work at Old North Church, the oldest church standing in Boston and whose bells are the oldest in any American church. The church rose to fame on the night of April 18, 1775, when church custodian and patriot Robert Newman climbed the steeple and hung the lanterns —“one if by land, two if by sea”—arranged by Paul Revere as a secret signal to alert patriots about the route of the British advance to Concord.


Another display is of a framed commemorative knife, its nine-inch blade engraved with the words “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.” The five-inch handle is made of wood from the last remaining Liberty Tree, a 400-year-old tulip poplar which stood on the grounds of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, until Hurricane Floyd brought it down in 1999.

Liberty Trees sprang up throughout the colonies during the Revolutionary period, as a meeting place for colonists to protest, give speeches and hang messages related to the cause. When Loyalists to the British crown would tear down these symbols, the rebels would simply put them up again. Wood from the last surviving tree was used to make handles for 1,776 commemorative knives; the one displayed in Branson West is No. 628.

Dedicated to preserving our nation’s faith-based history, the collection at Faith, Family & Country Heritage Museum includes American wartime exhibits from the Revolution to the terrorist attacks in 2001. Other key moments in 20th-century history commemorated at the museum include the Pearl Harbor attack, the American home front, the Holocaust, the Kennedy assassination, the moon landings, and the Golden Age of baseball in the 1940s and 1950s. 

Located at 15025 Business Highway 13, the Museum is open Sunday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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