Jun 30, 2011

Online tour of the Battle of Hanover

(CivilWarAlbum.com) During the American Civil War, the Battle of Hanover was fought on June 30, 1863. Union cavalry under Judson Kilpatrick encountered Confederate cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart and a sharp fight ensued in the town and in farm fields to the south, particularly along Frederick Street.
The inconclusive battle delayed the Confederate cavalry on their way to the Battle of Gettysburg. Three days before the battle, another detachment of Virginia cavalry had briefly occupied Hanover, collecting supplies and horses from local citizens. Continued

Ron Swoboda

(Wikipedia) Ronald Alan Swoboda (born June 30, 1944 Baltimore, Maryland) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder best remembered as a member of the Amazin' Mets. After one season at the University of Maryland, and a stellar showing in the AAABA tournament in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Swoboda was offered a $35,000 contract to sign with the New York Mets and scout Pete Gebrian on September 5, 1963.
He spent only one season in the Mets' farm system AA Williamsport, PA before making the team out of Spring training, 1965. Continued

Jun 29, 2011

Wilbert Robinson

(Wikipedia) Wilbert Robinson (June 29, 1863 – August 8, 1934), nicknamed "Uncle Robbie", was an American catcher, coach and manager in Major League Baseball. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.
Born in Bolton, Massachusetts, Robinson was a catcher in the minor New England League in 1885 and made it to the major leagues in 1886 with the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association, where he remained until 1890.
He lasted in the majors until 1902, playing much of his career with two separate Baltimore Orioles franchises – from 1890-99 with the Orioles team which folded after the 1899 National League season, and in 1901-02 with the American League team which moved to New York City in 1903 and became the Yankees. Continued

Jun 28, 2011

1863: The burning of the Columbia–Wrightsville Bridge

(Wikipedia) ... To prevent the advance of Confederate troops across the river from the Wrightsville (York County) side during the Civil War, the bridge was burned by Union militia under Maj. Granville O. Haller and Col. Jacob G. Frick on June 28, 1863. Civilian volunteers from Columbia had mined the bridge at the fourth span from the Wrightsville side, originally hoping to drop the whole 200-foot (61 m) span into the river, but when the charges were detonated, only small portions of the support arch splintered, leaving the span passable. As Confederates advanced onto the bridge, Union forces set fire to it near the Wrightsville side. Earlier they had saturated the structure with crude oil from a Columbia refinery.
The entire structure soon caught fire and completely burned in six hours. Confederate generals Jubal A. Early and John B. Gordon had originally planned to save the bridge despite orders from General Robert E. Lee to burn it, and Union forces under the command of Colonel Jacob G. Frick had burned the bridge, originally hoping to defend and save it. Afterwards, the Columbia Bank and Bridge Company appealed to the federal government for reimbursement for damages incurred from the bridge burning, but none were ever paid. Conservative estimates put the cost of damages with interest today at well over $170 million.
In 1864, the bank sold all interest in the bridge and bridge piers to the Pennsylvania Railroad for $57,000. The bank eventually went out of business, although the original building is now being renovated into a museum at Second and Locust Streets. Continued

1865: The Army of the Potomac is disbanded

(Wikipedia) The Army of the Potomac was the major Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.
The Army of the Potomac was created in 1861, but was then only the size of a corps (relative to the size of Union armies later in the war). Its nucleus was called the Army of Northeastern Virginia, under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell, and it was the army that fought (and lost) the war's first major battle, the First Battle of Bull Run. The arrival in Washington, D.C., of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan dramatically changed the makeup of that army.
McClellan's original assignment was to command the Division of the Potomac, which included the Department of Northeast Virginia under McDowell and the Department of Washington under Brig. Gen. Joseph K. Mansfield. On July 26, 1861, the Department of the Shenandoah, commanded by Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, was merged with McClellan's departments and on that day, McClellan formed the Army of the Potomac, which was composed of all military forces in the former Departments of Northeastern Virginia, Washington, Baltimore, and the Shenandoah. Continued

Jun 27, 2011

1664: Maryland declares war on the Senecas

"At a council held June 27th, 1664, the Council taking into consideration the protection of the province against the Senecas who lately killed some English in Ann Arundel county and entered St. Mary's and ordered war there. Now war is to be proclaimed against the Senecas and a reward of a hundred arm's length of Roan Oke to be given to any one who kills a Seneca. That all the Kings of Friend Indians be sent word and all to get ready to go against the Senecas—that all officers are to send intelligence from time to time to the Governor and Council that they keep in correspondence; and whereas there is a Seneca prisoner in Patapsco who alleges he came to seek peace and brought a present intended for us and the Susquehannocks.
It is ordered that the Indian be sent down to St. Mary's and kept in irons and a letter be written to Stuyvesant to give notice to the Senecas trading at Fort Orange that we have such a prisoner, whom we shall keep alive till we see if they want peace or war and if they do not desire peace we will put him to death; and that Col Clawson gave notice to the Susquehannocks of our intentions and to ask them if they will join us or not." Vol. 3, Maryland Archives, p. 502.

Jun 26, 2011

"Lafayette, we are here" - The first U.S. troops arrive in France to fight alongside Britain and France against Germany in World War I

(Wikipedia) ... The first American troops, who were often called "Doughboys", first landed in Europe in June 1917. However the AEF did not participate at the front until late October 1917, when the 1st Division, a formation of experienced regular soldiers and the first division to arrive in France, entered the trenches near Nancy.
Pershing wanted an American force that could operate independently of the other Allies, but his vision could not be realized until adequately trained troops reached Europe. In order to rush as many troops as possible to France, the AEF left its heavy weapons behind and used French and British equipment. Continued

Jun 25, 2011

Gettysburg Campaign: Jeb Stuart's ride

(Wikipedia) Jeb Stuart enjoyed the glory of circumnavigating an enemy army, which he had done on two previous occasions in 1862, during the Peninsula Campaign and at the end of the Maryland Campaign. It is possible that he had the same intention when he spoke to Robert E. Lee following the Battle of Upperville. He certainly needed to erase the stain on his reputation represented by his surprise and near defeat at the Battle of Brandy Station.
The exact nature of Lee's order to Stuart on June 22 has been argued by the participants and historians ever since, but the essence was that he was instructed to guard the mountain passes with part of his force while the Army of Northern Virginia was still south of the Potomac and that he was to cross the river with the remainder of the army and screen the right flank of Ewell's Second Corps.
Instead of taking a direct route north near the Blue Ridge Mountains, however, Stuart chose to reach Ewell's flank by taking his three best brigades (those of Wade Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee, and John R. Chambliss, the latter replacing the wounded W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee) between the Union army and Washington, moving north through Rockville to Westminster and on into Pennsylvania, hoping to capture supplies along the way and cause havoc near the enemy capital. Stuart and his three brigades departed Salem Depot at 1 a.m. on June 25. Continued

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.posix.com/CW

Jun 24, 2011

Ambrose Bierce

(Wikipedia) Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (June 24, 1842 – after December 26, 1913) was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist and satirist. Today, he is best known for his short story, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and his satirical lexicon, The Devil's Dictionary. The sardonic view of human nature that informed his work – along with his vehemence as a critic, with his motto "nothing matters" – earned him the nickname "Bitter Bierce."
Despite his reputation as a searing critic, however, Bierce was known to encourage younger writers, including poet George Sterling and fiction writer W. C. Morrow. Bierce employed a distinctive style of writing, especially in his stories. This style often embraces an abrupt beginning (see cold open), dark imagery, vague references to time, limited descriptions, the theme of war, and impossible events.
In 1913, Bierce traveled to Mexico to gain a firsthand perspective on that country's ongoing revolution. While traveling with rebel troops, the elderly writer disappeared without a trace. Continued

Jun 23, 2011

1683: William Penn signs a friendship treaty with Lenni Lenape Indians

(Wikipedia) The Lenape ( /ˈlɛnəpiː/ or /ləˈnɑːpi/) are a group of several organized bands of Native American people with shared cultural and linguistic characteristics. Their name for themselves (autonym), sometimes spelled Lennape or Lenapi, means "the people." They are also known as the Lenni Lenape (the "true people") or as the Delaware Indians. English settlers named the Delaware River after Lord De La Warr, the governor of the colony at Jamestown, Virginia. They used the exonym above for almost all the Lenape people living along this river and its tributaries. Continued

Photo: The Treaty of Penn with the Indians, Benjamin West, 1771.

Jun 22, 2011

Open house Saturday at Stewartstown Railroad

(YDR) An open house will be held Saturday at the Stewartstown Railroad, according to its website.
It will be from 1 to 5 p.m. at the station in Stewartstown. Continued

The Pennsylvania Civil War 150 Road Show

(pacivilwar150.com) The Pennsylvania Civil War 150 Road Show is a traveling exhibition housed in an expandable 53-foot tractor-trailer created for Pennsylvania residents and visitors of all ages. From 2011 to 2014, it will travel throughout the Commonwealth (making stops in all 67 counties) bringing its interactive exhibits to each host location. Visitors will also experience related programs and performances under a Civil War-era tent.
No corner of the state was untouched by the Civil War. Through images, sound, words, objects and interactive multimedia, the Road Show will convey stories of the many different ways Pennsylvania’s men, women, children and communities experienced the Civil War, both on the battlefield and the home front. Continued

The Good Old Days: Funny Money

(Maryland Morning) Summer is here, bringing with it sunshine and humidity–but also lots of fresh summer fruits. Here in Maryland, we wanted to examine the way people who used to pick and can strawberries, tomatoes, and potatoes used to be paid. This was called piecework, and instead of receiving cash right away, for every bushel or pound or bucket workers picked or canned, they would receive a ticket or a token [scrip], and trade them in for actual money at the end of the week. Continued

See also: What did your folks do for a living - when they were children?

The Chesapeake–Leopard Affair

(Wikipedia) In the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair, also referred to as the Chesapeake Affair, which occurred on June 22, 1807, the British warship HMS Leopard attacked and boarded the American frigate Chesapeake. In early 1807, during the Napoleonic Wars, a number of British Navy warships were on duty on the American Station, blockading two French Third Rate warships in Chesapeake Bay. A number of British sailors - both of British and American birth - deserted and joined the crew of the Chesapeake. Vice-Admiral Sir George Berkeley dispatched the fourth-rate warship Leopard to search for the frigate and recover the deserters. Continued

Jun 21, 2011

Aberdeen historic church to get new life

(The Record) The low-key white church dating to 1866 on the corner of West Bel Air Avenue and Law Street has stood vacant for two decades and has clearly seen better days.
The sanctuary has been allowed to deteriorate, and several congregations who used the property took a bell and pieces of stained glass when they left.
But now, two local men are busy getting the church back on its feet, and hope to see it brought back to life as a house of worship. Continued

'Huge history geek' crowned Miss USA

(Today) Beating out 50 other contestants, an auburn-haired beauty from California who was a favorite among Vegas odds-markers was crowned Miss USA at the end of the pageant's 60th anniversary contest on Sunday in Sin City.
... After revealing on the show that she was a "huge history geek" with a special interest in the Tudor and Stuart periods, Campanella added that her favorite monarch was Mary, Queen of Scots, who was beheaded in 1587. Continued

Photo: Mary, Queen of Scots

The Molly Maguires

(Providence College) The "Molly Maguires" were miners in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania who organized into a union during the 1860's and 1870's. These miners were chiefly, although not exclusively, Irish and the union was called the Workingmen's Benevolent Association. In general, the members of this union were also members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a semi-secret fraternal society, which had its origin in Ireland as a completely secret and anonymous association.
This organization of Irish miners was dubbed the "Molly Maguires," after a group of Irish peasants who dressed up as women to antagonize their landlords. This group was infamously known as murderers and assassins and the press and police in America applied the name to the Irish miners. The label was used by both the press and the owner-operators of the mining companies to their distinct advantage. They called anyone who was pro-union a "Molly," inferring that they were criminals at best. This helped to subdue, even if only slightly, uprisings in the work place. The conditions of the mines were horrendous: there were no provisions for safety nor proper ventilation within the pits. Mine inspectors were figments of the imagination - not until 1870 was legislation passed mandating a second exit for escape in case of explosion, fire, cave-in, etc.
The legislature was largely under the influence of the coal mine operators and ignored the workers, as the mine owners perceived them as having no power. The initiative behind the eventual passage of the 1870 legislation was the Avondale fire in 1869, in which 179 men died. Even then, however, it was only in Schuylkill County that this legislation was passed, which stated there must be a second opening, force ventilation, and the appointment of state mine inspectors.
These laws were, however, extremely weak and rarely enforced. It was not until a mine operator was one of the men killed in a severe explosion in the Ravensdale Collier in the Pottsville district that a need was finally seen for the grievances the miners had been voicing for years. In Schuylkill County alone, 566 miners were killed and 1665 maimed in seven years. Continued

Jun 20, 2011

Clarence Clemons, Springsteen’s Soulful Sideman, Dies at 69

(NYTimes) Clarence Clemons, the saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, whose jovial onstage manner, soul-rooted style and brotherly relationship with Mr. Springsteen made him one of rock’s most beloved sidemen, died on Saturday at a hospital in Palm Beach, Fla. Continued

West Virginia

(LoC) On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the thirty-fifth state in the Union. The land that formed the new state formerly constituted part of Virginia. The two areas had diverged culturally from their first years of European settlement, as small farmers generally settled the western portion of the state, including the counties that later formed West Virginia, while the eastern portion was dominated by a powerful minority class of wealthy slaveholders. There were proposals for the trans-Allegheny west to separate from Virginia as early as 1769. When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, the residents of a number of contiguous western counties, where there were few slaves, decided to remain in the Union. Congress accepted these counties as the state of West Virginia on condition that its slaves be freed. "Montani semper liberi," "mountaineers always freemen," became the new state's motto. Continued

Photo: Split rail fence lining the access road to the Pioneer Farm at Twin Falls State Park (Mary Hufford/Library of Congress).

Jun 19, 2011

The First Father's Day

(Wikipedia) The first observance of Father's Day actually took place in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908. It was organized by Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton, who wanted to celebrate the lives of the 210 fathers who had been lost in the Monongah Mining disaster several months earlier in Monongah, West Virginia, on December 6, 1907.
It is possible that Clayton was influenced by the first celebration of Mother's Day that same year, just a few miles away. Clayton chose the Sunday nearest to the birthday of her recently deceased father. Continued


(Wikipedia) - Over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, Texas, United States, are finally informed of their freedom. The anniversary is still officially celebrated in Texas and 13 other contiguous states as Juneteenth.

Photo: Slave pen, Alexandria, Virginia (Library of Congress).

Jun 18, 2011

Frances Scott Fitzgerald Smith

(AWHoF) - Frances Scott Fitzgerald Smith, the only child of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, won recognition in her own right as a writer, political activist, and patron of the arts. Scottie was a reporter by trade. She worked on the staffs of Time, The New Yorker, The Democratic Digest, and The Northern Virginia Sun, where she was chief political writer. She also wrote for both The New York Times and The Washington Post.
... She was active in preserving history as a member of the Maryland Historical Society and the Alabama Historical Society. Continued

Jun 17, 2011

Susquehanna Heritage seeks national designation

(YDR) For the third time, the Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area is trying to be designated a National Heritage Area, a designation that requires an act of Congress.
And that seems to be the holdup.
"We're hoping...this time it'll be passed," said Susquehanna president Mark Platts.
The Susquehanna area first sought the federal designation in 2008. Its request passed National Park Service muster, meeting the federal guidelines for historic and cultural significance, but by the time the request that would grant the designation got to Congress, its session was ending and it did not pass. Continued

Archaeology work being done at historic Dill's Tavern

(YDR) A couple of years ago, some second-graders digging to learn about archaeological work made a discovery at the historic Dill's Tavern in Dillsburg.
The students hit what appeared to be a foundation, and it ran underneath the tavern, said Sam McKinney, director of restoration at Dill's Tavern.
McKinney and a helper opened up the area a little more and found what appeared to be a fireplace. They stopped working and the Northern York County Historical and Preservation Society, which owns the tavern, hired a professional archaeologist to investigate. Continued

Photograph of Dill's Tavern courtesy of the Northern York County Historical and Preservation Society

Jun 16, 2011

Baltimore museums search for inner beauty

(Baltimore Sun) In the 1990s, crowds packed the Walters Art Museum to see a touring show of artifacts from the reign of China's first emperor. They flocked as well to the Baltimore Museum of Art to see a collection from London's Victoria and Albert Museum. Those were the days of the so-called blockbusters, the traveling exhibits of high-profile art. The prevailing trend now at museums in Baltimore and across the country is to cut down on the number of touring shows.
"They're expensive, and money is so tight," said Gary Vikan, director of the Walters Museum of Art. "We would have brought in two major shows in 2007-2008, but we couldn't afford it."
Museums aren't left with empty galleries, however. They are hunting and scouring — inside their own collections. Continued

Jun 15, 2011

Martin Baum

Martin Baum (15 June 1765 in Hagerstown, Maryland – 14 December 1831 in Cincinnati, Ohio) was an American businessman and politician.
The son of German immigrants Jacob Baum and Magdalena Elizabeth Kershner, Baum fought with General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
After settling in Cincinnati, Baum became active in civic affairs, and was elected mayor in 1807 and 1812. Through his agents in Baltimore, New Orleans and Philadelphia, Baum attracted a great number of German immigrants to work in his various enterprises — steamboats, a sugar refinery, a foundry and real estate. Baum founded the Western Museum, was active in the first public library 1802, and was one of the main pillars of the First Presbyterian Church. He married Anna Somerville Wallace in 1804. Continued

Jun 14, 2011

Flag Day

"Why ain't you got your flag out?" says Mr. Richmond, entering the gas station in which he spends much of his time these days. "You know today is flag day, don't you?"

"I guess the boss forgot to buy a flag, George," says Mr. Davis, the station attendant. "And even if we had one, we ain't got no place to put it."

Mr. Richmond: "That's a fine state of affairs, that is. Here they are tryin' to bring home to you people the fact that you're livin' in one of the few countries where you can draw a free breath and you don't even know it. You're supposed to have flags out all this week. Don't you know that? This is flag day and this is flag week. Where's your patriotism?"

Mr. Davis: "What the hell are you hollerin' about, George? You're always runnin' the country down. They can't do anything to suit you. You're worryin' about taxes and future generations and all like that. Where's your patriotism?"

Mr. Richmond: "Well, that's different. A man got a right to criticize. That's free speech. Don't mean I ain't patriotic."

- Library of Congress

Jun 13, 2011

Shedding Hazy Light on a Midnight Ride

(NYTimes) The potential presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been criticized for her recent description of Paul Revere as “he who warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells.”
The comment was debated in news pages and on cable television in the first week of June, but perhaps nowhere was the controversy fiercer than on Wikipedia, where rival versions of the Paul Revere story played out thereafter.
In the first 10 days of June, the Paul Revere article there had half a million page views.
Ms. Palin’s implication — that Revere’s was a ride to warn the British overlords rather than the fearful colonists, with a gun-rights message rather than a self-government message, and that he used bells rather than his lungs — is very much in the tradition of the telling of the Midnight Ride, which has long been used as an exercise in mythmaking. Continued

The Office of War Information

(LoC) On June 13, 1942, some six months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Office of War Information (OWI) was created. In October of that year, the documentary photography unit of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) was transferred to the OWI to document the war effort, as it had the U.S government’s battle against poverty during the Great Depression. An important U.S. government propaganda agency during World War II, the OWI supported America’s mobilization for the war effort by recording the nation's preparations for war in films, texts, photographs, radio programs, and posters. OWI photographers documented American life and culture during the early years of World War II, focusing on such subjects as aircraft factories, training for war work, women in the workforce, and the armed forces. Photographs were created to inspire patriotism in the American public. Continued

Jun 12, 2011

In the Netherlands, a fallen WW2 soldier from West York 'will be remembered'

York, PA (YDR) It was a Thursday, Dec. 16, 1943, when the Eighth Army Air Force's 413th Bomb Squadron took off from the airfield at Snetterton Heath, on the east coast of England, on the edge of the North Sea, to bomb Bremen, an industrial town in northwest Germany.
The fleet of B-17 Flying Fortresses left the base and climbed above the clouds, leveling off at 25,000 feet over the North Sea, heading northeast toward the coast of the Netherlands.
Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Elwood Slenker was the top turret gunner and engineer on one of those aircraft, one of 10 crew members. He was a 19-year-old kid, the second youngest of the four Slenker boys from West York, all of whom served during World War II. Growing up, Kenneth Slenker never ventured far from his family's home on West King Street -- the family didn't have a car -- and here he was, flying over the North Sea in a bomber. Continued

Couple restores historic log home in Aberdeen

(Baltimore Sun) In 1988, with only three months to relocate from Fort Monmouth, N.J., to Aberdeen, Stephen Hoffman and his wife, Sharon, set out to find a house in Maryland.
The couple started their search with a historic house in Harford County that had been recorded in the Aberdeen Heritage Trust. According to the entry, the "Cole House" was originally a small log house, built in the mid-1700s on a parcel of some 100 acres that had been deeded to Col. James Cole. Continued

Patrick Gass

Patrick Gass (June 12, 1771 – April 2, 1870) served as sergeant in the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1801-1806). He was important to the expedition because of his service as carpenter and he published the first journal of the expedition in 1807, seven years before the first publication based on Lewis and Clark's journals. Continued

June 12, 1897: The Swiss Army Gets Its Own Knife

(Wired) 1897: Karl Elsener legally registers his "soldiers' knife" for use by the Swiss army.
In an age when nationalism was fashionable, Elsener, a Swiss manufacturer of surgical instruments and cutlery, was a very fashionable man indeed. So he was less than thrilled to learn that the Swiss army was importing Solingen blades from neighboring Germany. Elsener set out to develop a homegrown multifunctional tool worthy of being carried by his local Alpine troops. Continued

Photo: Courtesy Victorinox/Wired

Jun 10, 2011

York College lauded for Kings Mill Depot renovation

York, PA (YDR) At one point in the more than 100-year history of the Kings Mill Depot, the building was a storage place for hundreds of pounds of paper.
Today the former warehouse on Kings Mill Road in York is home to two start-up companies ushering in a paperless digital age.
The building's transformation is part of the first major renovation project done by York College on the former Smurfit-Stone site, acquired by the school in 2006. The renovation created a business incubator in the building and recently received an award from Historic York for its successful adaptive reuse. Continued


(LoC) On June 10, 1898, U.S. Marines landed at Guantánamo Bay. For the next month, American troops fought a land war in Cuba that resulted in the end of Spanish colonial rule in the Western Hemisphere. Cuban rebels had gained the sympathy of the American public while the explosion and sinking of the U.S.S. Maine, widely blamed on the Spanish despite the absence of conclusive evidence, further boosted American nationalistic fervor.
Popular demand for intervention in the Cuban-Spanish conflict led Congress to pass resolutions demanding the withdrawal of Spanish armed forces from Cuba, authorizing U.S. aid to effect this, and promising American support for Cuban self-rule. Spain declared war against the United States on April 24, 1898, and the United States promptly replied with a counter-declaration. Continued

Jun 9, 2011

Florence MacBeth

(LoC) Florence MacBeth was known as the Minnesota Nightingale. In 1947, she married James M. Cain [of Maryland], author of "Mildred Pierce," "Double Indemnity" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice." According to Cain's biography, the two remained devoted to each other until her death in 1966.

Jun 8, 2011

Prototype: How Theda Bara Became Silent Film’s Supernatural Siren

(Wired) Theodosia Goodman was a tailor’s daughter from Cincinnati. People who knew her growing up said she was a “nice Jewish girl.” Then she changed her name to Theda Bara and started making movies.
In 1915 she starred in A Fool There Was. Listed in the credits as simply the Vampire, occasionally shortened to the Vamp, she was a temptress who lured men to ruin, mouthing lines like “Kiss me, my fool!” The movie itself was unremarkable, but the way it was marketed was revolutionary. The fledgling Fox Film Corporation tasked its new publicity department, staffed by two former New York World reporters, with fabricating a backstory for the Polish-American starlet.
At a press conference for A Fool, the assembled journalists were told that Bara was the Serpent of the Nile, born in the Sahara to a French actress mother and an Italian sculptor father, and raised “in the shadow of the Sphinx.” Continued

Postcards from Crabland

Jun 7, 2011

After 90 Years, a Dictionary of an Ancient World

(NYTimes) Ninety years in the making, the 21-volume dictionary of the language of ancient Mesopotamia and its Babylonian and Assyrian dialects, unspoken for 2,000 years but preserved on clay tablets and in stone inscriptions deciphered over the last two centuries, has finally been completed by scholars at the University of Chicago.
This was the language that Sargon the Great, king of Akkad in the 24th century B.C., spoke to command what is reputed to be the world’s first empire, and that Hammurabi used around 1700 B.C. to proclaim the first known code of laws. It was the vocabulary of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the first masterpiece of world literature.
Nebuchadnezzar II presumably called on these words to soothe his wife, homesick for her native land, with the promise of cultivating the wondrous Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Continued

Daniel Boone Day

(LoC) On June 7, 1769, frontiersman Daniel Boone first saw the forests and valleys of present-day Kentucky. For more than a century, the Kentucky Historical Society has celebrated June 7 as "Boone Day."
Born on November 2, 1734, in Berks County, Pennsylvania, Daniel Boone spent much of his youth hunting and trapping on the North Carolina frontier. By the late 1760s, Boone had ventured into the Cumberland Gap region, which was little known to whites. Although the westward opening in the Appalachian Mountains had been identified by Virginian explorer Thomas Walker in 1750, the French and Indian War discouraged exploration and settlement of the Kentucky territory. After the war, lacking the manpower or resources to protect their empire's trans-Appalachian frontier, the British prohibited westward migration. Boone was among the many settlers who ignored the Crown's ban. Continued

Jun 6, 2011

D-Day: Operation Overlord

(LoC) In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Americans received word that three years of concerted war efforts had finally culminated in D-day--military jargon for the undisclosed time of a planned British, American, and Canadian action. During the night, over 5,300 ships and 11,000 planes had crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy. The goal of every soldier and civilian involved in that effort was to drive the German military back to Berlin by opening a western front in Europe.
General Dwight David Eisenhower was in command of the invasion, which was code-named Operation Overlord. Continued

Jun 5, 2011

York County set to digitize veterans records as old as 18th century

York, PA (YDR) York County has its share of veterans' memorials. But the most comprehensive one is never seen by the public.
It resides in a walk-in safe in a locked room of the York County Department of Veterans Affairs. And it consists of tens of thousands of index cards, each one of which bears the name of a deceased York County veteran.
The veterans listed on those cards fought in conflicts ranging from the 18th century's French and Indian War all the way up to modern engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to York County Director of Veterans Affairs Phil Palandro.
Soon, the county will start on a project that will involve scanning all of those cards and putting them in digital form. Continued

Photo: Old veterans playing cribbage at Soldiers' Home, Washington, D.C., ca. 1900 (Library of Congress).

Sinking of Clara Nevada had mysterious connection to Baltimore

(Baltimore Sun) The wreck of the Clara Nevada in Alaskan waters at the height of the Klondike gold rush in 1898 has a Baltimore connection and is the subject of a recently published book, "The Clara Nevada: Gold, Greed, Murder and Alaska's Inside Passage." "It's a fairly well-known story in southeast Alaska," said Steven C. Levi, an Anchorage freelance and technical writer. "They tell it on the ferries, and the first time I heard about the Clara Nevada, I didn't believe it and decided to look into it, and the more research I did, the stranger the story became," he said in a telephone interview last week. Continued

Photo: NOAA

Jun 4, 2011

Fort Necessity

(LoC) On June 4, 1754, twenty-two-year-old Colonel George Washington and his small military force were busy constructing Fort Necessity, east of what is known today as Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Washington's men built the fort to protect themselves from French troops intent on ousting the British from the territory northwest of the Ohio River. Washington's troops were surrounded at Fort Necessity, and forced to surrender to the French on July 3, 1754. Continued

Photo: General view of Fort Necessity site, Theodor Horydczak Collection (Library of Congress).

Jun 3, 2011

MTA administrator disavows curbs on photography

(Baltimore Sun) Two photographers who were detained by Maryland Transit Administration police this year and told they were forbidden to take pictures of MTA facilities expressed relief Wednesday after the head of the agency flatly repudiated the officers' actions.
Administrator Ralign T. Wells disavowed police efforts to restrict photography on or around MTA property and said he would take action to head off a threatened lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland before it can be filed.
Wells said MTA officers were not properly representing agency policy when they ordered two amateur photographers to stop taking pictures and video of light rail trains earlier this year. Wells said he would apologize to the photographers and make sure that officers respect the First Amendment rights of photographers. Continued

Note: Falmanac had the same problem with the MTA at a light rail station several years back. We've also had similar problems in Perryville, Brunswick, and Locust Point.

Disunion: Captain Hannum Attends the Philippi Races

(NYTimes) ... The engagement was widely publicized as an overwhelming Union victory, proof that the war would be a quick one. The New York Tribune proclaimed the affair “The Philippi Rout.” Others mocked the fleeing Confederates when they styled it “The Philippi Races.” ... Sardonic soldier-author Ambrose Bierce, who served in Company C of the Ninth at Philippi, wrote with characteristic bitterness after a visit to the town four decades later, “that battery of ours did nothing worse than take off a young Confederate’s leg. He was living near there a year ago a prosperous and respectable gentleman, but still minus the leg; no new one had grown on.” Continued

Battle of Cold Harbor

(LoC) On June 3, 1864, the second battle of Cold Harbor began. After securing a costly victory at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Union General Ulysses S. Grant encountered Confederate troops as he made his way to Richmond. The Confederates, under command of General Robert E. Lee, were entrenched behind earthworks at Cold Harbor, a crossroads ten miles northeast of the Confederate capital. Over the course of the next nine days, the Union lost 7,000 men while the Confederates suffered 1,500 casualties. Continued

Photo: Cold Harbor, Va. African Americans collecting bones of soldiers killed in the battle, Reekie, John, photographer, April 1865 (Library of Congress).

Jun 2, 2011

40 years of Amtrak history at Perryville station

(The Record) Mark on your calendar for the first weekend in June to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Amtrak. See the history of Amtrak and the Marc trains at the Perryville Marc Train Station June 4 and 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This event will feature a special anniversary train with historic locomotives and recent renovated baggage cars. This special train is traveling all over the country and will be quite special to see. Also, there will be special children's corner and displays, including vintage advertising, past menus, dinnerware, uniforms and other memorabilia. Don't miss this special weekend in the life of our train systems. Continued

Special tours offered to save historic Port Deposit landmark

(The Record) Port Deposit town administrator Erika Quesenbery will personally give visitors a walking tour of the historic riverfront town for $5. She'll drop that to $2 with a lunch receipt from one of the town's restaurants.
Why the largesse? Quesenbery wants to raise money to restore Beach Fountain, which sits at the corner of South Main Street and Jacob Tome Highway. Continued

Grover Cleveland Marries Frances Folsom

(LoC) President Grover Cleveland wed Frances Folsom in a White House ceremony on June 2, 1886. Daughter of Cleveland's late law partner, the bride was twenty-seven years younger than her husband.
The self-educated Cleveland came from a poor family. After reading law and clerking at a Buffalo, New York law firm, he was admitted to the bar in 1859. A Democrat, he entered Buffalo's political arena in 1862 and was elected mayor in 1881 and governor of New York State in 1882. As governor, his opposition to patronage raised his national standing, even as it rankled New York City's Democratic machine. Continued