On October 11, ThisWeekinWorcester.com published an article titled “Charles Longeway and His Search for Worcester’s Catacombs.” Now, Mr. Longeway has agreed to do a four-part series about his experiences and expanding on some of the details in his book, Worcester’s Forgotten Catacombs.
This is an extra addition to a four-part series. Read part one here: Worcester’s Catacombs a Maze of Mystery
The articles written about the catacombs (as they were called, upon their discovery in the 1930s) were not without challenge as to when and why they were built.
Citizens of the time were interviewed about what they thought might be the true reason for their creation and time period in which they were built.
Some thought that the underground chambers may have been built many years before the Bay State Hotel was erected on its present location. They claimed the chambers dated back to the days of the old Central House, built early in the 18th century.
Others believed that they dated back to those hectic days when the north, foresting a sympathy for the slaves of the south, aided their escape to Canada through a series of tunnels, which became internationally know as the “underground railways”. Slavery began in 1619 in the U.S. and it was abolished in 1865, that’s 246 years of tyranny. Massachusetts was very antislavery for some 30 years, thus inferring that the chambers were built anywhere from 1835 to 1865.
Some even claim that the chambers were the cellars of previously existing buildings that were on the easterly side of Main Street before the re-grading took place around 1825. Some people thought the chambers were used as a county jail dating back to 1722.
It was very interesting reading the different opinions about how the catacombs came into being. Some ideas were plausible while others seemed far fetched. But, the day I was slammed in the head with my own theory was the day I knew it was the only viable scenario. My theory made it clear to me that this was the nature of mankind, it had to be right.
If I were to reveal my theory in this article, it would be like telling someone how a story ends. Then, who would want to read the book. It would totally take away from the journey through the story.
If my theory is wrong and someone can prove different, then I have accomplished what I started out to do – to bring the true story to the surface (pun intended).