May 31, 2010

A local family gets caught in the Johnstown Flood

... Toward the latter part of May, Mr. Day, in company with his daughter Grace, left home for the purpose of visiting Mr. Henry Robinson and family, at Saltsburg, Indiana County, Pa., they being old friends of the family. They reached their destination in safety, and after a pleasant visit, started to return on the 31st of May. It had been raining incessantly for twenty-four hours, and the streams were all greatly swollen. They boarded the Day Express at Blairsville Intersection and proceeded as far as Johnstown. Here the streams were found to be so high and rapidly rising that the train was brought to a halt a short distance east of the Johnstown station. Washouts were reported ahead, and it was not deemed safe to proceed. Here the train stood on the track from 10 A. M. to 4 P. M., when the mighty volume of water from the broken dam came rushing down the valley with irresistible force and overwhelmed them in the twinkling of an eye.

Before the avalanche of waters came, the passengers had manifested great uneasiness, and many left the train and clambered up the side of the mountain and escaped. Mr. Day is reported by the survivors to have shown great calmness while they were lying on the track, and comforted them with the assurance that there was no danger. Mrs. Towne, of Washington, D. C, was on the ill-fated train, and was in conversation with Mr. Day while they were waiting at East Conemaugh. She afterwards wrote of the affair as follows: "I talked much with them. Grace looked pale and nervous, not with fear, but with anxiety about her mother, knowing she would expect them that day. Mr. Day was calm and feared nothing except delay. We were some hours there together. The bursting of the dam was talked about by the passengers. Mr. Day said the Pennsylvania Railroad would not leave them there if there was danger. I proposed that they should join me and we would go to some house on the hill till next day; he said no, but that he would assist me if I so desired to go. Grace thought they had better go, yet if there was a possibility of getting on home she would like so much not to disappoint her mother. Just then the shrill shriek of a steam whistle startled me, and I sprang to my feet exclaiming: 'What does that mean ?' ' It means,' replied Mr. Day, 'that we shall move on.' But seeing people running as if in danger, I sprang out of the car alone and ran towards the hill with the crowd. The first time I looked back the place was swallowed up, and I very likely heard his last words, ' It means we shall move on.' Poor man, he little thought it meant to eternity!"

Others say that when the whistle blew the danger signal, Mr. Day came out on the platform of the car, and seeing the mighty torrent bearing down on them, turned back for his daughter. She divined the danger, and exclaiming, " Oh Pa!" rushed after him. He seized her in his arms and tried to cross to the hillside, but she fainted and fell in the torrent. He quickly threw his coat off and tried to save her, but in a moment they were engulfed and lost!

The body of Grace was found next day near the railroad station, but as there was no one there to identify her, it was soon buried and the grave marked. In the meantime Mr. Robinson came from Saltsburg and had the grave opened, when he identified Grace, and had her remains sent to his home. Mrs. Day, the wife and mother, had supper waiting for them that night, but they came not. The table sat as it had been prepared, all night, and as time passed her anxiety increased. Still no tidings. Rumors of a great disaster flew thick and fast. Finally hope fled and she resolved on sending
some one to search for their bodies. She called for her brother Morris McGinness and begged of him to proceed to Johnstown and make a search for the lost. He made hurried preparations for the journey, but owing to the broken condition of the Pennsylvania Railroad he was compelled to take the Baltimore and Ohio, and go via Washington and Cumberland, which made the journey much longer. He reached Johnstown in due season, when he soon learned that the body of his niece had been found and taken to Saltsburg, whither he proceeded with all possible dispatch. Here he had the remains placed in a casket and shipped home by express via New York and Philadelphia.

The sad affair caused a great excitement, and it is estimated that fully one thousand persons attended her funeral. Miss Day was a young lady of excellent standing in the community, and numbered her friends by the hundred. She was a favorite among her associates, an active worker in the Church and Sunday School, and possessed a lovely Christian character that shone with a resplendent lustre wherever she appeared. Cut off in the purity and bloom of her young womanhood, under the most distressing and appalling circumstances, it is no wonder that her sad fate has been the cause of so much sorrow, and that her memory is so fondly cherished by her friends.
The following poetic tribute by Caroline L. Love, a friend and associate, is as touching as it is beautiful and appropriate:

Mysterious Death ! Thy ways are dark,
No human eye can pierce thy gloom ; Thy shaft has struck a shining mark
In womanhood's full and vigorous bloom.
Why death should strike this dreadful blow
Is not to us made clear and plain ; Save Death, she had no other foe,—
God's acts, we know, are not in vain.

Her womanly form and pleasant face On earth we cannot meet again ;
Who, let us ask, will fill the place She nobly tilled without a stain.
'Twas not in springtime's joyous hours,
Nor when the winter winds were high, But in the summer month of flowers, 'T was then the hand of Death too soon Conveyed this loved one to the tomb. - Prospect, Md.

Her watch, chain and ring were found, identified and returned, and are now preserved by her mother as sacred souvenirs of an only daughter who perished in the greatest calamity of the age.

While at Johnstown Mr. Morris McGinness made diligent search for the body of Mr. Day, but finding no trace, he was compelled to return home without it. Months passed away, and all hopes of finding the remains were about abandoned, when, in November following, another rise occurred in the river and a number of bodies were washed out of the sand near the Company store. Mr. Robinson was called on again and assisted in identifying the remains of Mr. Day. His shirt, on being shown to his wife, was identified as her work, on account of the peculiarity of the stitching. And the clothier who had sold him a suit also identified the goods, so that there could be no mistake about the remains being those of Mr. Day. From the location of the place where the November flood disinterred the body, Mr. McGinness thinks that he must have walked over the spot many times when he was searching for it in June, five months before it was found. The body was buried under a great sand and gravel bar, and when found the coat was missing, showing that he had thrown it off in his desperate efforts to save his daughter. The remains were taken home to Prospect, Md., and buried by the side of his daughter. The widow, bereft of husband and children, has caused a beautiful monument to be erected over their graves as a last tribute of her love and affection, and the memories of her loved and lost will always remain green in her heart.

" There is no death, 'tis but a change,
From life to life more bright, And through eternity's vast range We soar to higher light."

It is truly said that misfortunes scarcely ever come singly. Mrs. Day, the sorrowing wife and mother, met with a remarkable accident on the 12th of May, 1891, at her home at Prospect, Maryland. She was pumping water from a well at the barn. An insecure board gave way beneath her feet and she was precipitated to the bottom of the well, a distance of fifty-eight feet! Fortunately she was not stunned by the fall, and immediately realizing that no one knew of her plight, she at once began to climb upward, and succeeded in reaching the top of the well with the aid of the pump stock as a brace to rest her back against. At this point her cries were heard, and help appeared at once, when she was rescued from her perilous position. She was found not seriously injured, with the exception of some severe bruises and a deep gash on one of her limbs. Her escape from death was a narrow one; and few persons, under the same conditions, would have succeeded in reaching the top of the well, when its great depth is considered, as quickly as she did.

(From Origin and history of the Magennis family: with sketches of the Keylor, Swisher, Marchbank, and Bryan families Heller Brothers Printing Co., 1891)

May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

In 1868, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued General Order Number 11 designating May 30 as a memorial day "for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land."
The first national celebration of the holiday took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers were buried. Originally known as Decoration Day, at the turn of the century it was designated as Memorial Day. In many American towns, the day is celebrated with a parade.
Southern women decorated the graves of soldiers even before the Civil War's end. Records show that by 1865, Mississippi, Virginia, and South Carolina all had precedents for Memorial Day. Songs in the Duke University collection Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920 include hymns published in the South such as these two from 1867: "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping," dedicated to "The Ladies of the South Who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead " and "Memorial Flowers," dedicated "To the Memory of Our Dead Heroes." Continued

The Joy of (Outdated) Facts

(NYTBR) ... Of course, ideas of what’s worth knowing, and even what’s interesting, are constantly changing: The fascination with trigonometrical formulas certainly seems to have receded. But in a world where ever fewer people care about, or even understand the nature of, fiction, where readers and viewers demand facts and reality, outdated books of supposedly impartial information can be a useful reminder of just how slippery facts are — as unreliable as the most unreliable narrator.
Douglas Adams once told me that shortly before he wrote “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” he was working on a screenplay with the premise that all human civilization had been obliterated, except for a single copy of the Guinness book. Aliens from another planet tried to use it to reconstruct what life on Earth had been like: people sitting atop poles for 152 days at a time, eating 77 hamburgers at a sitting, talking nonstop for 127 hours. Continued

May 29, 2010

York Barbell man removed for repairs

(YDR) Part of the spinning York Barbell man along Interstate 83 in Manchester Township had been coming apart near the belt and backside of the local icon, prompting a repair, a representative for the company said Friday.
The statue has been removed for repairs, said Mike Locondro, of York Barbell.
The material that the figure is made of had been cracking around the seat of the barbell man's pants, he said. Continued

1677: Treaty of Middle Plantation

(Wikipedia) ... on May 5, 1677, Acting Governor Sir Herbert Jeffryes invited the weroances of the neighboring Indian tribes to his camp to seek a lasting peace.
On May 29, 1677, King Charles II's birthday, attendees included the queen of the Pamunkey, her son, Captain John West; the queen of the Weyanoke, the king of the Nottoways, and the king of the Nansemonds. By the articles which they all signed, the Indian leaders agreed to live in due submission to the English people. As a guarantee of good treatment, Jeffryes presented each of them with a coronet or frontlet adorned with false jewels. (One of the frontlets, presented to the queen of Pamunkey, is now held by the Virginia Historical Society).
As Bacon's forces had destroyed the statehouse and all other buildings at Jamestown, the first General Assembly summoned after the rebellion was held in February, 1677, at Berkeley's residence, Green Spring Plantation. In October, the assembly met at Major Otho Thorpe's house in Middle Plantation. That year, the Assembly discussed idea of moving the capital from Jamestown, but instead rebuilt the state house at Jamestown. Continued

May 28, 2010

Battle of Jumonville Glen

(Wikipedia) The Battle of Jumonville Glen, also known as the Jumonville affair, was the opening battle of the French and Indian War fought on May 28, 1754 near what is present-day Uniontown in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. George Washington had been sent to the Ohio Country, an area then under dispute between British and French colonists, as a British emissary in December of 1753, to tell the French, who had been building forts in the area, to leave. French officers politely told Washington they were not obliged to obey his summons, and that they were going to stay, since the letter had not been addressed to their General or Governor in charge.
Washington returned to Virginia and informed Governor Robert Dinwiddie that the French refused to leave. Continued

May 27, 2010

A Treasure Trove of Maryland History Moves Online

(Reflections on Delmarva’s Past) Marylanders and historians worldwide can now access and text search 100 years of the Maryland Historical Magazine, the most definitive journal on Maryland history, directly from their computer screens for free, thanks to a joint project of the Maryland Historical Society and the Maryland State Archives.
Starting June 1, 2010, all issues of Maryland Historical Magazine published between 1906 and 2005 will be available, for free online search and retrieval at These issues contain an enormous wealth of well-documented, peer-reviewed research covering subjects with far-ranging popular and scholarly appeal, says Patricia Dockman Anderson, the journal’s editor. Continued

Image: The rebel chivalry as the fancy of "My Maryland" painted them; as "My Maryland" found them. From Harper's Weekly, 1862. (Library of Congress)

When Liquor Was Prescribed as Medicine

Author Daniel Okrent describes how wealthy people managed to evade Prohibition in this episode of Slate V's Bookmark. Link

May 27, 1931: Wind Tunnel Lets Airplanes ‘Fly’ on Ground

(Wired) 1931: The world’s first full-scale wind tunnel opens at Langley Field near Hampton, Virginia. With a test area 60 feet wide and 30 feet high, aerodynamic testing is performed on everything from World War II fighters and space capsules to submarines and modern jets.
Since the beginning of powered flight, wind tunnels have proven to be a critical part of the aerodynamic research needed to develop new aircraft. The Wright Brothers themselves built a small, 6-foot-long wind tunnel to test scale models of wing sections before their historic first flight in 1903. Continued

York Harley's Open House not being held this year

(YDR) Harley-Davidson's manufacturing site in Springettsbury Township is not hosting its annual Open House this year.
The event, when it is held, coincides with the area's annual York Bike Night festivities and features events at the company's local manufacturing operations.
The decision was made because of ongoing restructuring activity at the local facilities, with the company feeling it does not have enough resources to make the event what it should be. Continued

Image: Jimmy Murphy, winner of 500-mile auto race at Indianapolis, Ind., May 30, 1922, and Ernie Olson, mechanic, seated on Harley-Davidson motorcycle and in sidecar (Library of Congress).

Dashiell Hammett

... He had made up honor early in his life and stuck with his rules, fierce in the protection of them. In 1951 he went to jail because he and two other trustees of the bail bond fund of The Civil Rights Congress refused to reveal the names of the contributors to the fund. The truth was that Hammett had never been in the office of the Committee and did not know the name of a single contributor. The night before he was to appear in court, I said, "Why don't you say that you don't know the names?" "No," he said, "I can't say that." "Why?" "I don't know why." After we had a nervous silence he said, "I guess it has something to do with keeping my word, but I don't want to talk about that. Nothing much will happen, although I think we'll go to jail for a while, but you're not to worry because—" and then suddenly I couldn't understand him because the voice had dropped and the words were coming in a most untypical nervous rush. I said I couldn't hear him and he raised his voice and dropped his head. "I hate this damn kind of talk, but maybe I better tell you that if it were more than jail, if it were my life, I would give it for what I think democracy is and I don't let cops or judges tell me what I think democracy is." Then he went home to bed and the next day he went to jail. - Lillian Hellman

May 26, 2010

No lard for Navy plebes in yearly academy ritual

(AP/Google) As they have for 70 years, students at the U.S. Naval Academy celebrated the end of their grueling first year by scaling a 21-foot obelisk on Monday. But this time, without a lard coating on the monument, students completed the task in minutes. Continued

Image: Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., May 20, 2004 (US Navy/Wikipedia)

'Winds and Words of War' exhibit set to end May 31

(Aegis) Just a few days remain for Harford County residents to visit “The Winds and Words of War” exhibit at the Bel Air and Jarrettsville branches.
The exhibit, which features 40 framed World War I posters, ends May 31. It’s free and open to the public. Continued

Image: Library of Congress

May 22, 2010

Before I got rid of my Maryland accent

30 Rock Clip of Avery Jessup's early work... a commercial for

United Steelworkers Founded

(Wikipedia) ... Early attempts to organize steelworkers encountered resistance, even violence. An example is the Homestead Strike. In 1889, after a strike at a mill in Homestead, Pennsylvania, the Carnegie Steel Company signed a contract with the workers. Three years later, however, the mill cut wages, triggering another strike. Management sent in 300 Pinkerton detectives to break the strike, resulting in a pitched battle on July 6, 1892, that left 10 dead and many wounded. Eventually, strikebreakers, backed by state militia, broke the strike, eliminating the early union from its mills.
The USW was established May 22, 1942, by a convention of representatives from the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers and the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, after almost six years of divisive struggles to create a new union of steelworkers. The drive to create this union included such violent incidents as the infamous Memorial Day, 1937, when Chicago policemen supporting the rival American Federation of Labor (AFL) fired on workers outside a Republic Steel mill and killed 10 men.
The founder and first president of the USW, Philip Murray, led the union through its first organizing drives and dangerous first decade, when the workers of USW went on strike several times to win concessions such as the right to bargain collectively with steel companies, higher wages, and paid vacations. Continued

Photos: 1. Bethlehem, PA 2. Steelton, PA 3. Sparrows Point, MD (Falmanac)

May 21, 2010

Pretty Dam Devoted

(North County News) George Lang has been such a regular visitor at Prettyboy Dam while crews have been stabilizing the gatehouse since July 2008, that he has his own hardhat and safety vest hanging in the construction trailer.
When murky water prevented divers from seeing the gatehouse's foundation below the surface, Lang, who lives less than a mile away, came to the rescue. He sorted through more than 2,000 of his own photographs of the dam and delivered detailed images he took in 2002 when the dam's water level was down 62 feet. Continued

Mary Campbell

(Wikipedia) Mary Campbell was an American colonial settler, taken captive as a child by Native Americans during the French and Indian War, and believed to have been the first white child to travel to the Western Reserve.
... On May 21, 1758, at the age of ten, Campbell was abducted from a place in or near the town of Penn's Creek, probably the town of that name situated in Cumberland (now Snyder) County, Pennsylvania. Her captors were a band of Lenape, an American Indian group also called the Delaware. It is widely believed that during her captivity she stayed in the household of, or with the tribe of, a principal chief of the Lenape called Netawatwees, also known by his English name, Newcomer. Continued

Reverdy Johnson

(LoC) On May 21, 1796, attorney and statesman Reverdy Johnson was born in Annapolis, Maryland. Johnson represented Maryland, a slaveholding state south of the Mason-Dixon line, as a Whig, in the U.S. Senate from 1845-49 and again following the Civil War as a Democrat from 1863-68. Under President Zachary Taylor, he served as attorney general from 1849 until Taylor's death in 1850. Johnson was considered a brilliant constitutional lawyer and won an 1854 Supreme Court decision in favor of a patent for the McCormick reaper. Continued

May 20, 2010

Civil War Hero Gets Medal of Honor

(Discovery) Seven score and seven years ago, a wounded Wisconsin soldier stood his ground on the Gettysburg battlefield and made a valiant stand before he was felled by a Confederate bullet.
Now, thanks to the dogged efforts of modern-day supporters, 1st Lt. Alonzo Cushing shall not have died in vain, nor shall his memory have perished from the earth. Continued

Image: 1. Lt. Rufus King, Lt. Alonzo Cushing [standing, center], Lt. Evan Thomas and three other artillery officers in front of tent, Antietam, Md. (Library of Congress) 2. Alonzo Cushing, (Wikipedia)

Historic Slave Cabins Slated For Demolition

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WXII) Several historic cabins that formerly housed slaves are in violation of city housing codes, but the property owner said he needs more time to renovate before the city -- which classifies the property as an eyesore -- orders its demolition. Continued

The Homestead Act

(LoC) President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act on May 20, 1862. The act provided settlers with 160 acres of surveyed public land after payment of a filing fee and five years of continuous residence. Designed to spur Western migration, the Homestead Act culminated a twenty-year battle to distribute public lands to citizens willing to farm. Concerned that free land would lower property values and reduce the cheap labor supply, Northern businessmen opposed the act. Unlikely allies, Southerners feared homesteaders would add their voices to the call for abolition of slavery. With Southerners out of the picture in 1862, the legislation finally passed. Continued

Harvest time at my great-grandfather's homestead (Quay County, NM), circa 1907.

May 19, 2010

Mr. Johns Hopkins

(LoC) Johns Hopkins was born on May 19, 1795, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, to a Quaker family. Convinced that slavery was morally wrong, his parents freed their slaves. As a result, Johns had to leave school at age twelve to work in the family tobacco fields. Hopkins regretted that his formal education ended so early. Ambitious and hardworking, he abandoned farming, and, at his mother’s urging, became an apprentice in his uncle's wholesale grocery business when he was seventeen. Within a decade, he had created his own Baltimore-based mercantile operation. Hopkins single-mindedly pursued his business ventures. He never married, lived frugally, and retired a rich man at age fifty. A series of wise investments over the next two decades—he was the largest individual stockholder in the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, for example—further increased his wealth. He used his fortune to found The Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, incorporating them in 1867.
Hopkins died in 1873. His will divided $7 million equally between the hospital and the university. At the time, the gift was the largest philanthropic bequest in U.S. history. Hopkins also endowed an orphanage for African-American children. Continued

May 18, 2010

Down-home whoopie pie gets a trendy twist

(Baltimore Sun) Anyone who grew up in Maine, or near Pennsylvania's Amish country, or in parts of New England knows all about whoopie pies - the tooth-achingly sweet white icing sandwiched between two enormous, cakelike chocolate cookies.
And boy, would those folks be surprised to know that their unassuming hometown treat has become a full-blown foodie phenomenon, desired by fashionable Manhattanites, noted in gourmet magazines and reinterpreted with sophisticated ingredients. Continued

Story via the blog Only in York County. Photo by Arnold Gatilao, some rights reserved.

Archeology Day at Historic Elk Landing – June 5th

(WoCCP) Ever held a 500 year old arrow head in your hand? Ever examined a piece of 150 year old china? Ever rolled a piece of charcoal in your fingers that could be from a pre-historic fireplace? You could do just that on Saturday June 5th at Historic Elk Landing during our Archeology Day. Continued

Plessy v. Ferguson

(LoC) On May 18, 1896, the Supreme Court ruled separate-but-equal facilities constitutional on intrastate railroads. For some fifty years, the Plessy v. Ferguson decision upheld the principle of racial segregation. Across the country, laws mandated separate accommodations on buses and trains, and in hotels, theaters, and schools.
The Court's majority opinion denied that legalized segregation connoted inferiority. However, in a dissenting opinion, Justice John Marshall Harlan argued that segregation in public facilities smacked of servitude and abridged the principle of equality under the law. Continued

Photo: Marion Post Wolcott/FSA

May 17, 2010

Harold Geiger

(Wikipedia) Major Harold C. Geiger (October 7, 1884 - May 17, 1927) was a pioneer in Army aviation and ballooning born in East Orange, New Jersey and killed in a plane crash in 1927. The Spokane International Airport is designated with the International Air Transport Association airport code GEG in his memory. ... Geiger was commandant of Phillips Air Field at Aberdeen, Maryland. Continued

Flight Leader Dies in Flaming Crash

Major Geiger, Commander of Aberdeen (Maryland) Field, Is Burned to Death Fails in Desperate Jump
Accident Occurs at Olmstead Field, Pennsylvania - Was a Native of East Orange, New Jersey
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - May 17, 1927 - Apparently only slightly hurt when his De Haviland plane took a fifty-foot nose dive, Major Harold Geiger, commandant of Phillips Air Field at Aberdeen, Maryland, could not extricate himself before the machine burst into flames and he was burned to death at Olmstead Field, near here, at noon today.
Six mechanics and officers of the Middleton Air Station saw the plane rise gracefully on its return to the Aberdeen Field, then suddenly plunge, nose downward. Major Geiger had the presence of mind to release his safety belt and leap out when the plane struck, they said.
The instant of the crash, as the machine swung over on its wing, eighty gallons of gasoline from the fuel tank burst into flames, covering the ship from end to end. Major Geiger made desperate efforts to get clear of the wreckage and, according to the onlookers, half crawled and ran as far as the tail of the machine before he was overcome. There he dropped and the flames prevented the watchers from getting near enough to rescue him.
His body was recovered, lying under the rear part of the fuselage, when the flames has been put out by the officers and men of the depot.
Major Geiger had flown here this morning with Lieutenant Steele, who was to take back to the Aberdeen Field a Curtis plane which was being reconditioned. Geiger, in a No. 4 De Haviland, took the air expecting Steele to follow him, and had risen hardly more than fifty feet when something went wrong and the plane went into a dive.
The accident is the first fatality at the Middleton Field since six years ago, when Captain Donald J. Neumiller, attached to the field, was killed when his plane struck an air pocket belt and leap out when the plane struck, they said (sic). (New York Times, 18 May 1927 via

May 16, 2010

Red Dead Redemption: The good, the bandits and the coyotes, and a vivid scenic backdrop, from Rockstar Games

(NYTimes) ... In an interview last month, Dan Houser, one of Rockstar’s founders and the company’s creative leader, described the challenge and opportunity quite aptly. “Westerns are about place,” he said. “They’re not called outlaw films. They’re not even called cowboys-and-Indians films. They’re called westerns. They’re about geography.”
“We’re talking about a format that is inherently geographical,” Mr. Houser added, “and you’re talking about a medium, video games, the one thing they do unquestionably better than other mediums is represent geography.” Continued

Are museums sinking Harrisburg?

(Reuters) The story of how Pennsylvania's capital city Harrisburg has lurched toward the precipice of financial ruin is a cuckoo tale involving one man's vision of creating a hub for museum lovers, a possible FBI investigation, and a $45,000 tomahawk that may or may not have been owned by Chief Crazy Horse.
But if this historic city of nearly 50,000 does end up defaulting on its debt — a move that would send shockwaves through the $2.8 trillion municipal bond market — most of the blame can be placed squarely on a single incinerator. Continued

H. B. Reese

(Wikipedia) - Harry Burnett (H.B.) Reese (May 24, 1879 – May 16, 1956) was the inventor of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and founder of the H.B. Reese Candy Company. He was born in Frosty Hill, York County, Pennsylvania. Reese first tried his hand at candy making in Hummelstown and Palmyra, Pennsylvania, where he made Johnny Bars and Lizzy Bars. Continued

May 15, 2010

Bartholomew Gosnold

(Wikipedia) Bartholomew Gosnold (1572 – August 22, 1607) was an English lawyer, explorer, and privateer, instrumental in founding the Virginia Company of London, and Jamestown, Virginia. He is considered by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) to be the "prime mover of the colonization of Virginia." Gosnold also led the first recorded European expedition to visit Cape Cod, on May 15, 1602. Continued

Image: Albert Bierstadt's 1858 painting: "Gosnold at Cuttyhunk, 1602"

May 14, 2010

Archive of ancient British miscellanies goes online

(Reuters) - A remarkable archive of antique manuscripts which opens a window on to the experiences, hopes, fears and interests of people who lived during the 15th to 18th centuries has been put online. The University of Cambridge Scriptorium Project, which can be found online at features thousands of pages taken from 20 different handwritten "miscellanies," some of which date back as far as the Wars of the Roses.
Project team leader Richard Beadle said miscellanies of this sort have not always received the treatment or attention that they deserve. Continued

The Lost Tribes of RadioShack: Tinkerers Search for New Spiritual Home

(Wired) ... The story of RadioShack’s evolution over the past half century turns out to be the story of America’s changing relationship with technology. The RadioShacks of old catered to customers who could diagnose a busted TV on their basement workbench. They might be messing around with some project on a Saturday afternoon, find that they were missing a part, and hustle out to the nearest RadioShack for some of the very gear Cohen still stocks.
But his shop is a lone outpost; in a single generation, the American who built, repaired, and tinkered with technology has evolved into an entirely new species: the American who prefers to slip that technology out of his pocket and show off its killer apps. Once, we were makers. Now most of us are users. Continued

1986: Pride of Baltimore is lost at sea

(Wikipedia) ... On May 14, 1986, returning from Britain on the trade route to the Caribbean, what the US Coast Guard later described as a microburst squall, possibly a white squall, 250 nautical miles (463 km) north of Puerto Rico struck the Pride. Winds of 80 knots (150 km/h; 92 mph) hit the vessel, capsizing and sinking her. Her captain and three crew were lost; the remaining eight crewmembers floated in a partially-inflated life-raft for four days and seven hours with little food or water until the Norwegian tanker Toro came upon them and rescued them.
A memorial on Rash Field in Baltimore's Inner Harbor memorializes the Pride's lost captain and crewmembers (Armin Elsaesser 42, Captain; Vincent Lazarro, 27, Engineer; Barry Duckworth, 29, Carpenter; and Nina Schack, 23, Seaman). Continued

May 13, 2010

History Under Siege: Most Endangered Battlefields 2010

(CWPT) Although many battlefields are in danger of being lost forever, CWPT is making significant progress toward ensuring their protection. In 2009, CWPT rescued 2,777 acres of hallowed ground at 20 sites in five states – legendary battlefields like Raymond in Mississippi and Chancellorsville and the Wilderness in Virginia. Since CWPT was created more than two decades ago, we have protected more than 29,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states.
Despite such success, our work is far from done. We hope this report energizes both longtime supporters and new allies to continue the fight to protect and preserve these priceless treasures. Continued

Image: War Correspondent's Memorial, South Mountain Battlefield (Gathland State Park), Maryland.

Tinkering With History: Historic Aircraft, Winged Survivors

(American Heritage) Across the nation, dedicated engineers have brought vintage aircraft back to life—and with them a glimpse of our rich technological past. Continued

Image: RF-84 at the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum.

The Parking Meter

(Wired) If it weren’t for Pearl Harbor, FDR might have called May 13 a day that will live in infamy. It was 75 years ago that Carl C. Magee of Oklahoma City sought a patent for the world’s first parking meter. Many will come to see the invention as a bane of urban living.
Soon after Magee filed to protect his intellectual property, the world’s first installed parking meters were put into nickel-gulping service right there in Oklahoma City in July 1935. Continued

Photo: John Vachon (FSA/OWI).

May 12, 2010

Senate Bill to Preserve America’s Historical Record Introduced

(NCH) The “Preserving the American Historical Record Act (PAHR)” (S. 3227) was recently introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Carl Levin (D-MI). The PAHR legislation would establish a new federal program of formula grants to the states and territories to support archives and the preservation of historical records at the state and local level. Continued

Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, sometimes simply referred to as the Battle of Spotsylvania, was the second major battle in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign of the American Civil War. The battle was fought in the Rapidan-Rappahannock river area of central Virginia, a region where more than 100,000 men on both sides fell between 1862 and 1864.
The battle was fought May 8–21, 1864, along a trench line some four miles (6.5 km) long, with the Army of Northern Virginia under Gen. Robert E. Lee making its second attempt to halt the spring offensive of the Union Army of the Potomac under the command of Lt. Gen. Grant and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade. Taking place less than a week after the bloody, inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness, it pitted 52,000 Confederate soldiers against a Union army numbering 100,000. Continued

Images: Battle of Spottsylvania [sic] by Kurz and Allison. George H. "Maryland" Steuart.

History of Maryland Crimes: From Colonial to Modern Times

Edgewood Branch Thursday, 05/13/2010 - 6:30 PM
Meet Ed Okonowicz, award-winning author and storyteller, as he shares mysteries from his latest book, True Crime: Maryland, the State's Most Notorious Criminal Cases. In addition, we will discuss other solved and unsolved cases, and crime and punishment in the Free State. Book signing and sales afterward, along with a raffle for free books!
For: Ages 14 and up
Sponsor: Edgewood Friends of Harford County Public Library Registration required and begins 2 weeks prior to all program/class dates. To register or for more information, call 410-612-1600.

Also coming soon to the library: Meet the Author - Russell Freedman
Abingdon BranchWednesday, 05/19/2010 - 4:00 PM
Meet Newbery-Winning Author Russell Freedman as he discusses his new book The War to End All Wars: World War I. Books will be available for purchase (this title as well as selected backlist titles) and signing. In The War to End All Wars, his newest title, Freedman-truly a master of nonfiction-illuminates for young readers the complex and rarely discussed subject of World War I. The tangled relationships and alliances of many nations, the introduction of modern weaponry, and top-level military decisions that resulted in thousands upon thousands of casualties all contributed to the great war, which people hoped and believed would be the only conflict of its kind. In this clear and authoritative account, the author shows the ways in which the seeds of a second world war were sown in the first.
For: Grade 5 to 12 For: Adult
Registration required. To register or for more information, call 410-638-3990. Link

Image: "Maryland--The oyster war--A state police steamer overhauling a pirate boat on Chesapeake Bay, off Swan's Point" (Library of Congress)

May 11, 2010

Mapping Ancient Civilization, in a Matter of Days

(NYTimes) For a quarter of a century, two archaeologists and their team slogged through wild tropical vegetation to investigate and map the remains of one of the largest Maya cities, in Central America. Slow, sweaty hacking with machetes seemed to be the only way to discover the breadth of an ancient urban landscape now hidden beneath a dense forest canopy.
Even the new remote-sensing technologies, so effective in recent decades at surveying other archaeological sites, were no help. Imaging radar and multispectral surveys by air and from space could not “see” through the trees. Continued

Pinchot Park kicks off statewide observance honoring parks

(YDR) A group of employees, volunteers and just-plain-fans of Pennsylvania's parks gathered in Warrington Township's Pinchot State Park Monday morning for a ceremony to mark a national award. ... Former Gov. Gifford Pinchot, for whom the park is named, was a major figure in both state and national conservation. In addition to serving as Pennsylvania governor from 1923 to 1935, he was also the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service from 1905 to 1910. Continued

Photo: President Theodore Roosevelt and Chief Forester Gifford Pinchot (Library of Congress).

May 10, 2010

Jefferson Davis Captured!

(LoC) On May 10, 1865, Union troops captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis near Irwinville, Georgia. Davis and his Cabinet had retreated from Richmond after General Lee's defeat at Petersburg on April 2, 1865. For several weeks the Confederate government had been in flight from the Union Army. Davis' plan was to escape by sea from the east coast of Florida and to sail to Texas where he hoped to establish a new Confederacy.
En route, the Cabinet disbanded, taking payment from the gold of the Treasury. With rumors spreading among the Southern troops of the defeat of the Confederacy, the Davises were in hourly anticipation of attack by marauding Confederate soldiers in search of treasure. When the Union soldiers charged their camp, Jefferson Davis mistook them at first for the expected marauders. Continued

May 9, 2010

Anna Jarvis: Founder of Mother’s Day

(History's Women) Anna Marie Jarvis was born in Webster, West Virginia on May 1, 1864. According to historical records, at an early age, Anna heard her mother express hope that a memorial would be established for all mothers, living and dead. Anna’s mother, Mrs. Anna M. Jarvis, had been instrumental in developing “Mothers Friendship Day” which was part of the healing process of the Civil War. Mrs. Jarvis had established a group of Mothers' Day Work Clubs in Webster, Grafton, Fetterman, Pruntytown, and Philippi, (West Virginia) to improve health and hygiene practices and conditions, before the beginning of the Civil War. During the Civil War, Mrs. Anna Jarvis urged the Mothers' Day Work Clubs to declare their neutrality and to help both Union and Confederate soldiers. The clubs treated the wounded and fed and clothed soldiers that were stationed in the area. Continued

May 8, 2010

National Train Day

The heyday of passenger rail travel in the U.S. may be a thing of the past, but millions of Americans still have a soft spot in their hearts for anything related to the rails. That’s why this year's celebration of National Train Day (Saturday, May 8) at train stations, depots and transportation museums around the country will draw crowds. Continued

Photo: MDRails

Betsy Ross and the Making of America

(NYTBR) ... Buried beneath the legend was a real woman, Elizabeth Griscom Ross Ashburn Claypoole. Born in 1752, she married and buried three husbands before her own death in 1836. Her first husband, the upholsterer John Ross, introduced her to Revolutionary politics. The second, a mariner named Joseph Ashburn, died in a British prison after being captured as a privateer toward the end of the Revolutionary War. John Claypoole, whom she married in 1783, was the father of all but one of her surviving children. In fact, for most of her adult life, she was known as “Mrs. Claypoole.” That is the name that her grandson, William Canby, used in 1870 when he first began to tell the story about the flag. Only later, as the story took off, did she become the beautiful and patriotic “Betsy Ross.” Continued

V-E Day

(Wikipedia) Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day or VE Day) was on May 8, 1945, the date when the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. On 30 April Hitler committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin, and so the surrender of Germany was authorized by his replacement, President of Germany Karl Dönitz. The administration headed up by Dönitz was known as the Flensburg government. The act of military surrender was signed on 7 May in Reims, France, and ratified on 8 May in Berlin, Germany. Continued

May 7, 2010

William Bainbridge

(Wikipedia) - William Bainbridge (May 7, 1774 – July 28, 1833) was a Commodore in the United States Navy, notable for his victory over HMS Java during the War of 1812. Continued

The former United States Naval Training Center, Bainbridge (USNTC Bainbridge), just above Port Deposit, was named for him.

May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo

(LoC) Mexican troops under General Ignacio Zaragoza successfully defended the town of Puebla on May 5, 1862, temporarily halting France's efforts to establish a puppet regime in Mexico. With the U.S. absorbed by the Civil War, Emperor Napoleon III hoped to create a French sphere of influence in Latin America. The victory is commemorated as a national holiday in Mexico.
The Mexican victory at Puebla was short-lived. French reinforcements seized the town in March 1863. The following June, Maximilian, younger brother of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria and a member of the Hapsburg dynasty, was crowned emperor of Mexico. He remained in power until 1867, when Napoleon III abandoned his Mexican adventure and withdrew his troops.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become an occasion to celebrate Hispanic culture. Fairs commemorating the day feature singing, dancing, food, and other amusements, and provide a means of sharing a rich and diverse culture. More

May 4, 2010

Delmarva Legends & Lore at Perryville Library May 20th

On May 20th at 7:00, local author David Healey will talk about his soon-to-be-published book, Delmarva: Legends and Lore, in which he explores the sometimes quirky, sometimes spooky, history of our unique region between the Chesapeake and Delaware bays. In his talk patrons will meet slavecatchers, duelists, outlaw oyster boat captains, and a peach baron or two! Registration is required by calling the library at 410-996-6070, ext. 3. (Via Window on Cecil County's Past)

Bird Day

(LoC) On May 4, 1894, Bird Day was first observed at the initiative of Charles Almanzo Babcock, superintendent of schools in Oil City, Pennsylvania. By 1910, Bird Day was widely celebrated, often in conjunction with Arbor Day. Statewide observances of the two holidays inculcated conservation training and awareness in a broad spectrum of the public, especially school children.
In 1901, Babcock published Bird Day: How To Prepare for It. The book included a history of Bird Day, suggestions for its observance based on contemporary school practices, and informative material stressing the importance of bird protection. It also offered guidance on how to integrate bird conservation education into the school curriculum. Continued

Photo: Bush River, Maryland (Falmanac).

May 3, 2010

Preservation preserved: Historic Towson plans second life

(Baltimore Sun) Reports of the death of Historic Towson Inc. appear to have been premature. Things looked bleak in winter for the organization launched 33 years ago by people hoping to save the distinctive architectural features of the Baltimore County seat in a world of look-alike suburbs. The group's president said the organization's active members had run out of steam, meetings were sporadic and the board was planning a vote to disband in February. Continued

Virgil Fox

(Wikipedia) Virgil Keel Fox (born Princeton, Illinois May 3, 1912– died Palm Beach, Florida October 25, 1980) was an American organist, known especially for his flamboyant "Heavy Organ" concerts of the music of Bach. ... He was an alumnus of the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore, Maryland, where he became the first student to complete the course for the Artist's Diploma within a year. ... Beginning in 1936, Fox was organist at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Baltimore while teaching at Peabody. Continued

May 2, 2010

Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted

(NYTimes) The world was young, leafy green and overrun with dinosaurs so many eons ago that stories from prehistoric times are mostly fantasy and supposition. But the medical world was exactly that young, primitive and full of unusual creatures barely a century ago, giving historians ample fodder for true stories stranger than any fantasy.
Few of them surpass the biography of the man often credited with founding modern American surgery: William Halsted, professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, and lifelong drug addict. Gerald Imber’s new biography is the first retelling of Halsted’s story in many decades and a particularly expert and thought-provoking narrative. Continued

May 2000: GPS for All!

(Wikipedia) ... Initially, the highest quality signal was reserved for military use, and the signal available for civilian use intentionally degraded ("Selective Availability", SA). This changed in 2000, with U.S. President Bill Clinton ordering Selective Availability (SA) turned off at midnight May 1, 2000, improving the precision of civilian GPS from about 1000 feet to about 65 feet. Continued

May 1, 2010

Baseball exhibit opens in Elkton to a crowd of nearly 150

(WoCCP) Down on Main Street this evening, a lively crowd gathered for a reception marking the opening of historical society’s baseball exhibit. Attended by nearly 150 guests and members, the place was almost transformed into an old-time baseball field. The Elkton Eclipse, the county’s 1860s team, was there talking about the national pastime as they played it in the era when the umpires were addressed as sir and dressed formally. Continued

Photo: Three young men in baseball uniforms, Victor High School, Victor, Colorado; identified by Mabel Barbee Lee as "three of my boys": Henry Black, Homer Huffaker & Leslie Schoen. They wear padded knickers, baseball gloves & caps, and initials "V.H.S." on shirt. (Library of Congress)