Mar 27, 2020

Babe Ruth Caught the 1918 Flu—Twice

(Slate) ... The stories of Ruth’s home runs overshadowed a curious development on the team. During their time in Hot Springs, two of his teammates, George Whiteman and Sam Agnew, fell ill with “the grippe,” and several other players soon became sick. “The reign of the grippe and sore throats continues,” noted Boston Globe reporter Edward Martin. That same day, Henry Daily of the Boston American reported, “A perfect epidemic has run through the entire city, and almost everyone complains.” Continued

Jan 12, 2020

‘Horrific’ legacy: ‘Ghost River’ a ‘story of resilience’ of tribe after massacre

(Albuquerque Journal) Lee Francis and writing are a match made in heaven.
The Albuquerque-based writer was chosen to work on the graphic novel “Ghost River: The Fall & Rise of the Conestoga.”
It’s a project has kept him busy for the better part of a year.
The novel is a reinterpretation of the Paxton Boys massacre of 1763 and Pamphlet War of 1764. Continued

Nov 11, 2018

How Edgar Allan Poe Got Kicked Out of the U.S. Army

(Library of Congress)
(Daily Beast) In discussions of great American writers who were also military veterans, the name Edgar Allan Poe is unlikely to come up. Yet it should: the iconically doomed poet and inventor of the modern detective story served as a soldier for several of his formative years.
Furthermore, in considering a life often marked by painful loss and failure, it might surprise many readers to learn Poe was something of a successful and motivated soldier—that is, until he wasn’t. Continued

Apr 3, 2018

'Ma & Pa' historical group to purchase land

Muddy Creek Forks Pennsylvania
Photo: MDRails
(Trains Magazine) MUDDY CREEK FORKS, Pa. – The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society, which operates the Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village in southern York County, Pa., announced that it plans to buy 6.67 acres along it railroad right of way and has begun fund-raising. The closing on the purchase is planned for late April.
The property, at High Rock, is about half a mile north of society headquarters at Muddy Creek Forks. Craig Sansonetti, president of the society, told Trains there are three reasons the group wants this site. Continued

Mar 22, 2018

Rumors of Lost Civil War Gold Stir Hope in Pennsylvania

gold bars
(NYTimes) For decades, treasure hunters in Pennsylvania have suspected that there is a trove of Civil War gold lost in a rural forest in the northwestern part of the state.
But the mystery about where it is hidden, or if it even exists, has recently deepened.
Last week, F.B.I. representatives showed up at a site in Dents Run, Elk County, an area known for its seasonal elk viewing activities that feed the economy of nearby Benezette Township. Continued

Jul 4, 2017

A woman’s name on the Declaration of Independence

(Washington Post) This Fourth of July, look closely at one of those printed copies of the Declaration of Independence.
See it? The woman’s name at the bottom?
It’s right there. Mary Katherine Goddard. Continued

Feb 9, 2017

Teenagers Who Vandalized Historic Black Schoolhouse Are Ordered to Read Books

(NYTimes) After five teenagers defaced a historic black schoolhouse in Virginia with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti last year, a judge handed down an unusual sentence. She endorsed a prosecutor’s order that they read one book each month for the next 12 months and write a report about it.
But not just any books: They must address some of history’s most divisive and tragic periods. Continued

Aug 31, 2016

1807: Jenkin Ratford, Chesapeake-Leopard affair casualty

( On this date in 1807, the British navy hanged Jenkin Ratford from the yardarm of the HMS Halifax off the coast of Maryland — an incident destined to become a rallying cry for the United States in the ill-fated War of 1812. Continued

Jul 4, 2016

Who's Killing America’s Chain Bookstores?

(Lost Bookseller) Hastings, the country's third largest book retailer, has gone under. Hastings management blames the internet, but the internet didn’t kill Hastings. No mention of its ancient POS system or its bloated headquarters full of neurotics. No mention of their bright idea to buy an East Coast DVD retailer. When was the last time anybody on the East Coast bought a DVD? Let’s call internet retailers what they are: competition. Hastings couldn’t compete because it was a bad company.
Same goes for Borders, which was a tragic case as it started out as such a good company. Continued

Mar 18, 2016

Aberdeen mayor promises continued city help with restoration of historic B&O station

(The Aegis) Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady pledged this week that the city would continue to support the ongoing community project to restore the historic B&O Railroad station off West Bel Air Avenue.
"The City of Aberdeen wants to see it done as much as you do," McGrady told Bob Tarring, who is the head of an ad hoc citizen committee formed to oversee the restoration, as Tarring and his associates gave the mayor and City Council an update Monday.
Tarring, along with Rick Herbig, of the Historical Society of Harford County Board of Trustees, and Jon Livezey, treasurer for the Aberdeen Room Archives and Museum, provided the update during Monday's city council meeting. Continued

Nov 6, 2015

Harford officials hope to preserve historic Bel Air house, golf course barn being dismantled


(Aegis) Harford County officials and the Historical Society of Harford County are working to move and preserve the historic Joesting-Gorsuch House, which had been slated for demolition to make way for five new houses to be built on the north side of the Winters Run Golf Club property near Bel Air.
The historic red barn next to the house is being dismantled this week, however, as golf club officials and Forest Hill home builder Gemcraft Homes go through the final stages of obtaining county approval to build the new houses on nearly 12 acres off of North Tollgate Road near the club entrance.
The Joesting-Gorsuch House dates to the 1730s, making it one of the oldest standing structures in Harford County. Continued

May 24, 2015

How Kentucky [and Maryland and Delaware] Became a Confederate State


(NYTimes) ... On Feb. 20, the president wrote to Missouri’s new governor, Thomas C. Fletcher, troubled by persistent violence and distrust among civilians there. “Waiving all else, pledge each to cease harassing others, and to make common cause against whomever persists in making, aiding or encouraging further disturbance.” The president implored. “At such meetings old friendships will cross the memory, and honor and Christian charity will contrive to help.” Less than two months later, Lincoln was dead, at the hands of a Marylander, John Wilkes Booth. Had he lived, he would have learned, painfully, in slaveholding border states that amity would be difficult to find, especially over the end of the peculiar institution there. Continued

Sep 10, 2014

'Our Good Frank's Patriotic Song'


(Historynet) On September 1, 1814, after the British had left the city of Washington in flames, the noted D.C. lawyer Francis Scott Key rode from his stately home in Georgetown to the White House. Key, 35, came to the torched presidential mansion to ask permission to undertake a delicate mission involving a longtime family friend, Dr. William Beanes, a prominent local surgeon.
A few days earlier, British troops had raided several farms just east of Washington, including Beanes'. The physician then organized a posse that captured several British soldiers and threw them in a local jail. One escaped and returned with company the next night, August 28, capturing Beanes and two other Americans—Dr. William Hill and Philip Weems. The men were rousted from their beds at midnight and forced to ride 35 miles to Benedict in southern Maryland, where the British were about to embark for Baltimore. Continued

The House that Mencken Built

(City Paper) ... To read “Happy Days” in Baltimore is a disorienting experience. Mencken brings the city, especially Hollins market, to such vivid life that to walk out into the actual city of the present feels both familiar and uncanny. It is almost like science fiction. He writes of his father’s cigar shop, the saloons, the African-American culture in the alleys, the Arrabers, the police, the country house in Mount Washington, and everything is at once familiar and different. As Mencken wrote in 1925, “the old charm, in fact, still survives, despite the boomers, despite the street-wideners, despite the forward-lookers, despite all the other dull frauds who try to destroy it.” Continued

Sep 8, 2014

Let the River Run Wild

Conowingo Dam
(NYTimes) IF the Chesapeake Bay is America’s Estuary, then its largest tributary, the Susquehanna River, could arguably be called America’s River. But we certainly don’t treat it as a national treasure: This once magnificent watercourse, which runs through New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland toward the coast, is today an ecological disaster — largely thanks to four hydroelectric dams, built along its lower reaches between 1904 and 1931.
An impending license renewal by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for two of these dams will lock in another half-century of measures woefully inadequate to remediating the dams’ environmental consequences. Instead, all four should be removed. Continued 
Holtwood Dam
Safe Harbor Dam
York Haven Dam

Aug 31, 2014

The Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935

After World War One, veterans were offered a service bonus payable in 1945. And that was a fine and good thing, but along came the Great Depression and many of the veterans, displaced by the economic hard times, lobbied Congress to pay the bonus sooner. In 1932 thousands of them demonstrated in Washington D.C. They set up a camp and there they stayed. President Hoover eventually ordered the marchers out of the city by force. It wasn't a pretty sight.
The next year the marchers returned and President Roosevelt persuaded many of them to take jobs building the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys.
While working on this project, they were hit by a hurricane on Labor Day, 1935. It was the most intense hurricane ever to make landfall in the United States. 164 Keys residents were killed that day, along with 259 veterans. The stories from this storm are gripping and I won't go into them here; there are several books that do a better job of it than I could in a little blog entry.
How does this relate to our area? It doesn't really, except that some of those bonus marchers stayed at my mothers house in Washington D.C. all those years ago, and every Labor Day I wonder if any of them made it out of the Keys alive.

Top Photo: The 1935 Hurricane memorial on Upper Matecumbe Key, Florida. Bottom Photo: Florida Keys at sunset, both Canon EOS 20D.

Aug 30, 2014

The odd objects looted from Washington DC in 1814

(BBC) Other than an off-colour tweet and subsequent apology by the British Embassy, the bicentennial of the punitive mission of 1814 that left the US capital in flames has received little attention this week.
The burning was one of the final events of the often-forgotten War of 1812, a conflict which saw the US try and fail to grab bits of Canada and Britain try and fail to blockade the US. British troops torched the White House, Treasury and parts of the Capitol Building in a punitive mission near the end of the war. They also looted what they could, effectively collecting "souvenirs".
After the attack, the Royal Navy sailed to Bermuda with their spoils, included four paintings of King George III and Queen Charlotte, a grandfather clock and President James Madison's personal government receipt book. Continued

Jul 8, 2014

Harry Gilmor's Raid

(Wikipedia) Gilmor's Raid, also known as The Magnolia Station Train Raid, was a foraging and disruptive cavalry raid that was part of an overall campaign against Union railroads, led by Maj. Harry W. Gilmor with 135 men from the First and Second Maryland Cavalry regiments. It was authorized by Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early during his Valley Campaigns of 1864, which threatened Washington, D.C., during the American Civil War.
As Early advanced north and east toward Baltimore, Maryland, a Union force led by Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace met Early's forces and was defeated in the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864. The cavalry brigade of the Second Corps, led by Brig. Gen. Bradley T. Johnson advanced further eastward into Maryland, led by cavalry forces under the command of Maj. Harry W. Gilmor. Upon reaching Westminster, Maryland, on July 10, Gilmor attacked Union cavalry forces, driving them out. Johnson's main cavalry force continued pressing Wallace's retreating Union troops, pursuing them into Cockeysville-Hunt Valley, Maryland, north of Baltimore, and then turned south destroying tracks and trestle bridges along the North[ern] Central Railroad. Upon reaching Timonium, Maryland, Johnson divided the Second Corps cavalry brigade. Continued

Images: 1. "The invasion of Maryland--capture of a train on the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad at Magnolia, near Gunpowderb sic [B]Ridge, July 11" 2. Harry Gilmor. 3. Bradley Johnson. 4. Wade Hampton and Bradley Johnson, long after the war.

Jun 20, 2014

The Civil War in Dry Fork, WV: The Historic Ride of Jane Snyder

(Rural Librarian) There is a lot of history in Harman, West Virginia. Indians migrated through here and hunted here. Early settlers came here after the American Revolution, some as Tories defeated by the Colonials. Many settlers were Scotch-Irish, German, or Dutch. And then came the American Civil War. As all good West Virginians know, we were the only state created out of war because the entire state of Virginia was literally split on the issue of slavery. In many local areas, sentiments were mixed as to whom supported the Federal North, or who supported the Confederate South. Continued

Jul 8, 2013

Battle of Boonsboro


(Wikipedia) The Battle of Boonsboro took place on July 8, 1863, in Washington County, Maryland, as part of the Retreat from Gettysburg during the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War. While Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia retreated toward Virginia following its defeat in the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate cavalry held the South Mountain passes. The cavalry fought a rearguard action against elements of the Union 1st and 3rd Cavalry Divisions and supporting infantry. This action was one of a series of successive cavalry engagements around Boonsboro, Hagerstown, and Williamsport. Continued
Pictured: Earthworks in Lee's Potomac line (Last stand of the Army of Virginia, commanded by General Lee), painting by Edwin Forbes.

Jul 4, 2013

Fight at Monterey Pass

(Wikipedia) The Fight at Monterey Pass (or Gap) was an American Civil War military engagement beginning the evening of July 4, 1863, during the Retreat from Gettysburg. A Confederate wagon train of Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, withdrew after the Battle of Gettysburg, and Union cavalry under Brig. Gen. H. Judson Kilpatrick attacked the retreating Confederate column. After a lengthy delay in which a small detachment of Maryland cavalrymen delayed Kilpatrick's division, the Union cavalrymen captured numerous Confederate prisoners and destroyed hundreds of wagons. Continued

The Goddess of Liberty

"There would be floats in the morning and the one that got the eye was the Goddess of Liberty. She was supposed to be the most wholesome and prettiest girl in the countryside — if she wasn't she had friends who thought she was. But the rest of us weren't always in agreement on that…Following the float would be the Oregon Agricultural College cadets, and some kind of a band. Sometimes there would be political effigies.
Just before lunch - and we'd always hold lunch up for an hour - some Senator or lawyer would speak. These speeches always had one pattern. First the speaker would challenge England to a fight and berate the King and say that he was a skunk. This was known as twisting the lion's tail. Then the next theme was that any one could find freedom and liberty on our shores. The speaker would invite those who were heavy laden in other lands to come to us and find peace. The speeches were pretty fiery and by that time the men who drank got into fights and called each other Englishmen.
In the afternoon we had what we called the 'plug uglies' — funny floats and clowns who took off on the political subjects of the day…The Fourth was the day of the year that really counted then. Christmas wasn't much; a Church tree or something, but no one twisted the lion's tail." - Nettie Spencer

Jul 3, 2013

Pickett's Charge

“For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago.”

– William Faulkner

Image: Pickett's Charge from a position on the Confederate line looking toward the Union lines, Ziegler's Grove on the left, clump of trees on right, painting by Edwin Forbes 

Jul 2, 2013

Battle of Gettysburg - The Second Day

  The men who fought there

Were the tired fighters, the hammered, the weather-beaten,

The very hard-dying men.

They came and died

And came again and died and stood there and died,

Till at last the angle was crumpled and broken in…

Wheatfield and orchard bloody and trampled and taken,

And Hood's tall Texans sweeping on toward the Round Tops…

- Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown's Body