The Inventor of the Doughnut

I have begun a little period of rest that I am calling a mini Sabbatical.  During this time of rest and refreshment I am also performing a little research on topics that I find of interest.  The other day I journey to the JFK Presidential Library in Boston.  I have not been there in years.  If you have a chance to go you need to go and see the place.  Even if you are not exactly fond of the Kennedy’s you have to admire the place.

On the way back home I remembered a legend from the days of my youth in Quincy.  There is located in the Beachwood Knoll section a cemetery dating back to the Civil War.  I turned off of Quincy Shore Drive on to Fenno Street and sure enough there is a sign right there on the street leading to the Sailors’ Home Cemetery.  I parked and walked up the path and found a wonderful little cemetery with 119 graves of sailors from the Civil War.

The cemetery was part of the National Sailors Home in Quincy that has been gone since about 1931 but the cemetery is still there maintained by the City of Quincy.  I decided this would be a good topic of research to start off my sabbatical, don’t worry religious topics will return soon, and so I did a quick Google search and found some amazing things.  One of the items I found interesting was the fact that there was another home and cemetery in Quincy much like this one, the Snug Harbor Sailors Home in the Germantown section not far from my boyhood home.

Yesterday I drove out there and could not find the place so I stopped a couple of elderly gentleman and asked them.  Sure enough they knew right where it was and one of them asked me if I was in search of the inventor of the Doughnut!  “Sure” I said not to appear uninformed of the events of the day, he told me that the final resting place of the inventor of the doughnut was just over the hill. This was yet another reason to continue this journey.

I found the place and right there in the entrance is a head stone to Captain Hanson Gregory.  On the stone is the following inscription, “Capt. Hanson Gregory, recognized by the National Bakers Ass’n as the inventor of the doughnut.”  Who would have thought that right here in Quincy, where Dunkin Doughnuts got its start by the way, was the final resting place of such a great man!

I needed more information so I turned again to Google.  I came across this article with a little summation of how it all happened.  It would appear that a 16 year old Hanson Gregory was a cook on a merchant ship and found the doughnuts too greasy and under cooked.  He had a brain storm and cut a hole in the middle the top of the ships pepper box and presto the new creation cooked just right. “Was Columbus pleased? Well, sir, them doughnuts was the finest I ever tasted. No more indigestion—no more greasy sinkers—but just well-done, fried-through doughnuts.”

What a fascinating little discovery behind the Snug Harbor Elementary School on the Germantown section of Quincy.

I am preparing another essay on the Sailors Home itself and that will follow in a few days.  I am constantly amazed by the history that is right under our noses and we don’t even know it is there.

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