Great Barrington Historical Society to Present final “Rebels with a Cause” Lecture at Saint James Place

The Great Barrington Historical Society in collaboration with Saint James Place, presents the final program in its Saturday afternoon lecture series “Rebels with a Cause: A Provocative Lecture Series” on November 2nd at 2 PM at Saint James Place  on Main Street in Great Barrington. “Laura Ingersoll Secord: Rebel for the Wrong Cause? It Depends on which Side of the Border you’re on!” features two guest speakers, both descendants of Laura Secord. It will answer the question of why a historical marker for Laura Secord was placed on grounds of the Mason Library,and explore the political aspect of how history is passed down.

Caroline McCormick, President of the Friends of Laura Secord, will provide the Canadian perspective on Secord’s role in the War of 1812. Karen Kiaer, Chapter Historian of the Shelter Island chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, will focus on genealogy methods and resources.

“Rebels with a Cause,” the theme of this 2019 series, has been examining how historians’ research and interpretation of historical events impacts the recorded version of events. The story of Laura Ingersoll Secord offers an excellent example of how the reporting of Secord’s role in the War of 1812 has changed over time and varied across international borders.

Caroline McCormick is President and founder of the Friends of Laura Secord, organized in 2010 to preserve and perpetuate the legacy of Canadian heroine Laura Secord. Since its inception, Friends of Laura Secord has established Laura Secord Legacy Trail (roughly 20 miles), commissioned the construction of the 60 foot “Bridge at Laura’s Crossing,”and organized events to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Laura Secord’s courageous walk.The group was also instrumental in the minting of a new coin and stamp honoring Laura Secord. Ms. McCormick states, “Laura Secord remains a timeless metaphor for courage, determination, perseverance, and fortitude. “Caroline is a proud direct descendant of Great Barrington-born Laura Ingersoll Secord.

Karen Kiaer, Chapter Historian for the Shelter Island chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution(DAR), has written a detailed account of the Ingersoll family in her book “Ancestors Through My Eyes: The Story of An American Family –The Ingersolls of Massachusetts, New York and Michigan: 1620 –1920.”

According to Ms. Kiaer, “I wrote the book to provide a simple genealogy model of how to follow the story of one ancestor over ten generations.” Her presentation will focus on the methods and resources available to those that want to research their own families. Kiaer has received a preservation award from the Long Island DAR for her restoration work on gravestones and monuments in the Colonial Burying Ground on Shelter Island, NY. She is also a descendant of Laura Ingersoll Secord.

In preparing for this lecture, McCormick and Kiaer discovered they are 7th cousins once removed. Their most recent common ancestors were Thomas Ingersoll (1668-1732) and Sarah Ashley (1673-1705).

In addition to the lecture, the program offers a guided tour of the Saint James Place Sanctuary and Parish House and refreshments,including Laura Secord chocolates.Saint James Place is handicap accessible.

The program will take place in the Great Hall of Saint James Place at 352 Main Street in Great Barrington. This former Episcopal Church, built in 1857, was completely renovated and opened to the public in 2017. Saint James Place is a state-of-the-art performing arts center and home to non-profit arts organizations and the People’s Pantry. Free parking is available across the street at Berkshire Community College South.

For tickets ($20),please call 413-591-8702. Tickets may also be purchased at,, or by mailing a check payable to Great Barrington Historical Society with “Rebels with a Cause” in memo line to: Great Barrington Historical Society P.O.Box 1106 Great Barrington,MA 01230.  Tickets may also be purchased at the door for $20 but seating is limited.

The Great Barrington Historical Society is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, and promoting the history and culture of Great Barrington for the benefit of its residents and visitors. The Society seeks to advance an appreciation of historical events, and of residents who played major roles in national, international, and Town history.