The Drown Newsletter

Issue 6 April 1995



Deacon Shem Drowne was a famous coppersmith in his day and he took great interest in designing the grasshopper on the weathervane of Faneuil Hall (Boston.) As much care and detail was given as if it was to be seen close at hand rather than high above the cupola. It was made of sheet copper, hammered entirely by hand and has withstood the vicissitudes of over 250 years, having been made in 1742, though on several occasions narrowly escaping destruction. When Boston was shaken by an earthquake in the fall of 1755, this insect was thrown to the ground but rallied minus one leg which was supplied by Shem's son Thomas Drowne by virtue of a vote of the selectmen in May, 1756, for which he received 12 pounds, 8 shillings, 5 1/2 pence. It seems to have passed through the fire of 1761 with but slight damage and in March 1899, on the anniversary of the Evacuation, when the flag was being lowered, the grasshopper fell to the street and was somewhat damaged. It was repaired by E. Vinal in 1852, when it was stuffed with coins and papers which came to light during the repairs of 1889, when Frank A. Worthly supplied new eyes, horns and two new feet. When taken from its perch in 1898 preparatory to a general rebuilding, the vane was much weather-beaten but by the skillful workmanship of E.B. Badger and Sons, coppersmiths, it was repaired with a new leg, a splice on its tongue, a patch on its body, and entirely regilded. On one occasion when it was taken down for repairs, a paper was taken from its vest pocket which read:

"Shem Drowne Made Itt, May 25th 1742. To my Bretheren and Fellow Grasshoppers. I fell in ye year 1753 (1755?) November 18th early in ye morning by a great earthquake by my old Master above...Again like to have met with my Utter Ruin by fire, but hopping Timely from my Public Scituation, came of with Broken Bones and much Bruised. Cured and fixed by my Old Master's son Thomas Drowne, June 28, 1768, and though I will promise to Discharge my Office, yet I shall vary as ye winds may blow."


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Thanks to Dorene Patton for this information:

Stephen Riley DROWN -- Private, D Co., 5th Tenn Infantry; wounded at Shiloh; discharged

Jerome DROWN -- Co. D, Crescent Regiment, Louisiana, 5 Mar 1862

Zera E. DROWNS -- Co. K, 5th Tenn Infantry; discharged for disability

Joseph L. DROWNS -- Enlisted Sep 1861; died 28 Jan 1862, Columbus, Kentucky of measles

William Jasper DROWNS -- enlisted 18 Mar 1864, Co. H, 7th Mounted Infantry; shot in the face 10 Jun 1864 at Tichominingo Creek, Miss. Captured at Selma, Alabama 2 Apr 1865; paroled at Paducah, Kentucky, 13 May 1865.

Harlow Pinckney DROWNS -- no other information

William DROWNS -- enlisted 1 Jan 1862, Springfield, Missouri. Captured at Vicksburg 1 Jul 1863; re-enlisted as a volunteer for the Union


The Military Institute of the United States Army is in the process of collecting any available photograph of soldiers who served in the War Between the States. In exchange for your contribution, you will be sent a restored 8x10copy to keep. They are interested in both Union and Confederate soldiers. The goal is to obtain a likeness of every soldier of whom a photograph exists. They will accept originals, snapshots, copies or even photocopies. Send with the soldier's name , the state from which he served, his rank and company, and whether he was in the infantry, cavalry or artillery. Your photograph may be taken with his family, of the soldier alone, or if you are fortunate enough to have it, a picture of him in his uniform. ANY PHOTOGRAPH IS ACCEPTABLE! The address is:

Dr. Michael J. Winey, Curator

Military History Institute

Department of the U.S. Army

Carlisle Barracks, PA 17013-5009


Dolly Drown has sent in copies of some very ancient documents, one of which is the inventory of the estate of one William Drowne:

An Inventory had and taken the XII day of Aprell 1644 of the goodes and Chattel of William Drowne of the Tithe of Whitsone diressed by John French and Elias Blake appoynted Traysers.

Item one Heafer and one yearlinge

Item one White Horse

Item one Peege

Item one Paniere one Cork

Item six Peutter Dishes

Item one Bowle

Item one Duste Beade Furneshed

Item one Cleininge Stoane

Item Fower littell Yarnworks

Item one Coffen

Item two Mattocke

Item one Siltinge Barrell one Tubbe

Item one Buffet one yard of Tool honginges with Holl Dishes and Ladder

Item one Tabbel Boarde one Cubborde and one bedstead and one Sheelf

Item in Bills and bonds and Desporate Debts

Item his Purce and gerdeil and his wearinge apparell

Summa totallis 14 pounds 5 shillings 5 pence

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