Sep 30, 2011

William Henry Hurlbert and the ‘Diary of a Public Man’

(NYTimes) ... Hurlbert’s “diary” has had a rollercoaster history. It attracted many readers when first published, but it swam against the dominant tide of postwar public opinion: people both North and South needed to believe that they had sacrificed for a worthy cause, and they were not likely to accept that the crisis somehow could have been settled without war. Historians found it valuable, especially those after World War I who were as skeptical about the war fought in their lifetimes as Hurlbert was about the one fought in his. Today, however, the diary is once again in the shadows because we have come to view the Civil War as an essential purifier — the only way to excise the cancer of slavery. Continued

MDRails calls it quits, almost

I took down MDRails, our railroad photography website today. It had a good run, but we've been cutting down on expenses and it just had to go. I will be reconstituting the site on blogger under the same name. You can find the new MDRails at I will also be adding some railfan location information and camera stuff to the posts.

The roaring '20s are back at Havre de Grace's Graw Days Festival

(The Record) During an era of sophisticated fun, The Graw drew locals and travelers alike to the racetrack in Havre de Grace to watch the eleganthorses run and, most likely, bet a dollar or two.
Celebrating these golden years of the town's historic racetrack, Havre de Grace Main Street is holding its fourth Graw Days Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 8 downtown on Pennington Avenue and Washington, St. John and Congress streets. The festival will go on, rain or shine.
The Graw operated from 1912 until the 1950s and brought in well-known characters, such as Al Capone, who often visited the racetrack and other town establishments. People traveling up and down the East Coast would stop at the racetrack to gamble, drink and have a good time. Continued

Photo: Noted gambler, gangster, and partial owner of the Havre de Grace Racetrack (with August Belmont II), Arnold Rothstein. Rothstein was also know as the man who fixed the 1919 World Series. Says Wikipedia, "His criminal organization included such underworld luminaries as Meyer Lansky, Jack "Legs" Diamond, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, and Dutch Schultz."

Sep 29, 2011

Historians Politely Remind Nation To Check What's Happened In Past Before Making Any Big Decisions

(The Onion) With the United States facing a daunting array of problems at home and abroad, leading historians courteously reminded the nation Thursday that when making tough choices, it never hurts to stop a moment, take a look at similar situations from the past, and then think about whether the decisions people made back then were good or bad.
According to the historians, by looking at things that have already happened, Americans can learn a lot about which actions made things better versus which actions made things worse, and can then plan their own actions accordingly. Continued

Lookout cookouts

(National Archives) Those who manned fire lookout towers were essentially camping out for weeks at a time. They had to pack their rations, which were mostly canned or nonperishable food, and prepare what meals they could.
... At the National Archives at Seattle, we have a Historical Collection created by the Region 1 Office of the Forest Service in Missoula, Montana. In it are lookout cookbooks from 1938, 1942, 1943, and 1966. Continued

Sep 28, 2011

War’s Lingering Devastation In the Antietam Valley

(Historynet) ... With winter approaching there would be no harvest, and with 700 bodies buried in the despoiled fields, planting was out of the question. Although the armies moved on, the wounded would remain for up to a year, and disease would descend on the valley, carrying off many Sharpsburg civilians. Continued

Photos: 1. Antietam, Maryland. Ruins of Mumma's house on the battlefield. 2. Keedysville, Maryland (vicinity). Straw huts erected on Smith's farm used as a hospital after the battle of Antietam. (Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress)

Mrs. Damon Runyon's Serving Suggestion

Somehow, it just never occurred to me that Damon Runyon had a wife. I guess I confused his writing with his life, assuming he spent all his time screwed to a bar stool, drinking rye whisky and pounding out stories about gangsters and the such.

Sep 27, 2011

‘Bully for Garibaldi’

(NYTimes) ... The conversation began promisingly. “I will be very happy to serve a country for which I have so much affection,” Garibaldi replied to preliminary inquiries. He had lived in exile in New York and considered himself a citizen of what he fondly referred to as his “second country.” But what he wanted to hear, and what Sanford could not tell him, was that this would be a war against slavery. Continued

Sep 26, 2011

Introduction to Library of Congress Film Archive Tribute: 9/28-29

(Turner Classic Movies) IN AN ONGOING SERIES of tributes to great American film repositories, TCM salutes the Library of Congress Film Archive, which houses 140 million feet of nitrate film dating back to the 1890s and has been responsible for restoring and preserving numerous movies. The Library of Congress is also responsible for the National Film Registry, an eclectic mix of "culturally, historically or aesthetically important" films. Programming in our 24-hour tribute includes several TCM premieres from the Library's collection: The Constant Nymph (1943), a romantic drama starring Joan Fontaine and Charles Boyer; Two Heads on a Pillow (1934), a comedy about competing, once-married lawyers; four Will Rogers travelogue shorts once considered "lost films." Also showing is the television premiere of the Library's restoration of Lewis Milestone's Oscar®-winning All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) in a silent version markets and includes footage missing from the sound version. Acting as co-host in the introduction of some films will be Dr. Patrick Loughney, Chief of the Library's Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation. Link

Johnny Appleseed

(LoC) Jonathan Chapman, born in Leominster, Massachusetts, on September 26, 1775, came to be known as "Johnny Appleseed." Chapman earned his nickname because he planted nurseries and individual apple trees across 100,000 square miles of midwestern wilderness and prairie—resulting in settlers' planting their own orchards.

The first record of Chapman's presence in the Midwest dates to 1801 when he was known to be on the Ohio River transporting bushels of apple seeds from western Pennsylvania for his nurseries. Chapman's first apple-tree nursery was along the Allegheny Valley in northwestern Pennsylvania; he then ventured into central and northwestern Ohio and to eastern Indiana. Chapman scouted routes that he thought pioneers would settle and planted his seedlings ahead of the new settlements.

Chapman lived in Mansfield, Ohio, for about twenty years. Years before the Homestead Act he acquired about 1,000 acres of farmland in Mansfield through a local homestead arrangement. Chapman used the land to develop apple-tree nurseries. His reputation as a conservationist, a brave frontiersman, and as an eccentric (in dress and well as mannerisms) grew, as did stories of his kindness to animals and his heroic exploits. Continued

Illustration: "Johnny Appleseed by William Gropper, lithograph, 1941 (Library of Congress)

Sep 24, 2011

How many people really died because of the Civil War? And why does it matter?

(NYTimes) Even as Civil War history has gone through several cycles of revision, one thing has remained fixed: the number of dead. Since about 1900, historians and the general public have assumed that 618,222 men died on both sides. That number is probably a significant undercount, however. New estimates, based on Census data, indicate that the death toll was approximately 750,000, and may have been as high as 850,000. Continued

Sep 23, 2011

"Boardwalk Empire" State of Drink

(Cigar Aficionado) How do you celebrate the season premiere of a television show centered on the Prohibition era? By taking a drink, of course.
That's the premise behind the promotions for two separate whiskies as HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" starts it second season on Sunday. Canadian Club and Templeton Rye, both of which have historic connections to the dry era that ensued after America's 18th Amendment took effect in 1920, are suggesting a libation may go best with the return of the critically acclaimed cable series. Continued

Photo: Enoch L. ("Nucky") Johnson

Mary Church Terrell

(Wikipedia) - Mary Church Terrell (September 23, 1863 – July 24, 1954), daughter of two former slaves, was one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree. She became an activist who led several important associations and helped to work for civil rights and suffrage.
... Terrell lived to see the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, holding unconstitutional the segregation of schools by race. She died two months later at the age of 90, on July 24, 1954, a week before the NACW was to hold its annual meeting in Washington at her home in Annapolis, Maryland at Anne Arundel General Hospital. A short distance from her summer home in Highland Beach. Continued

Sep 20, 2011

White Trash Cooking: 25th Anniversary Edition

A quarter-century ago, while many were busy embracing the sophisticated techniques and wholesome ingredients of the nouvelle cuisine, one Southern loyalist lovingly gathered more than 200 recipes—collected from West Virginia to Key West—showcasing the time-honored cooking and hospitality traditions of the white trash way.
Ernie Mickler’s much-imitated sugarsnap-pea prose style accompanies delicacies like Tutti’s Fancy Fruited Porkettes, Mock-Cooter Stew, and Oven-Baked Possum; stalwart sides like Bette’s Sister-in-Law’s Deep-Fried Eggplant and Cracklin’ Corn Pone; waste-not leftover fare like Four-Can Deep Tuna Pie and Day-Old Fried Catfish; and desserts with a heavy dash of Dixie, like Irma Lee Stratton’s Don’t-Miss Chocolate Dump Cake and Charlotte’s Mother’s Apple Charlotte. Link

Sep 19, 2011

Battle of Shepherdstown

(Wikipedia) - The Battle of Shepherdstown, also known as the Battle of Boteler's Ford, took place September 19–20, 1862, in Jefferson County, Virginia (now West Virginia), at the end of the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War.
After the Battle of Antietam, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia prepared to defend against a Federal assault that never came. After an improvised truce for both sides to recover and exchange their wounded, Lee's forces began withdrawing across the Potomac River on the evening of September 18 to return to Virginia. Lee left behind a rear guard of two infantry brigades and 45 guns under his chief of artillery, Brig. Gen. William N. Pendleton, to hold Boteler's Ford. Continued

Photo: "Ford near Shepherdstown, on the Potomac. Pickets firing across the river. Alfred R. Waud, artist, Sept. 1862." (Wikipedia/Library of Congress)

Sep 17, 2011

Burnside's Bridge

"Go and look at [Burnside's Bridge], and tell me if you don't think Burnside and his corps might have executed a hop, skip, and jump and landed on the other side. One thing is certain, they might have waded it that day without getting their waist belts wet in any place." - Henry Kyd Douglas

Sep 16, 2011

Poe Museum Nevermore?

(Reuters) Of all the U.S. cities that claim a connection to the troubled author Edgar Allan Poe, Baltimore likes to think its case is strongest.Poe's family is from Baltimore, his literary career began in the city, he died a mysterious death at a Baltimore hospital and his body was buried here in 1849.
But the city may soon lose a key physical connection to Poe. The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, where the writer lived for four years in the early 1800s, is in danger of closing next year, due to budget cutbacks by the city. Continued

The great pumpkin flood

From "The History of Columbia and Mountour Counties" There was an old tradition, or rather a prophecy, among the Indians that roamed about the Susquehanna, that great floods in this river occurred at regular intervals of fourteen years. The first great flood of which we have any account was in 1744; the second in 1758; the third in 1772, and that which is known as the great 'pumpkin flood' was in 1786--there being just fourteen years between each of these floods.
The 'pumpkin flood' was in the month of October, and was so designated on account of the immense number of pumpkins that floated down the stream from the fields above. It began to rain on the 5th of October, 1786, and rained incessantly for several days. The water rose rapidly and swept all before it. Several persons were drowned near the place now called Rupert, and at Sunbury houses were overflowed and many people were lost. Northumberland was also flooded and much damage was done. This flood was long remembered and known among the old settlers as 'the great pumpkin flood.' Continued

Sep 15, 2011

W.C. Fields Juggles

W.C. Fields performs one of his best routines, 1934.

Sep 11, 2011

Baltimore's reconstructed railroad station opened 100 years ago this week

(Sun) The doors of Baltimore's new Union Station, now Pennsylvania Station, swung open a century ago this week to welcome enthusiastic crowds of Baltimoreans, travelers and gawkers alike. Its completion was considered a great civic triumph after years of agitation from Baltimoreans, both prominent and humble, and newspapers calling for a new station that was worthy of the city.
The present station, the third on the site, was constructed of granite, terra cotta and built on a structural steel frame. It replaced a drafty, antiquated and lugubrious brick Victorian pile that squatted below street level between North Charles and St. Paul streets. Continued

The Annapolis Convention

(Wikipedia) The Annapolis Convention was a meeting at Annapolis, Maryland of 12 delegates from five states (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia) that called for a constitutional convention. The formal title of the meeting was a Meeting of Commissioners to Remedy Defects of the Federal Government. The defects that they were to remedy were those barriers that limited trade or commerce between the largely independent states under the Articles of Confederation.
The convention met from September 11 to September 14, 1786. Continued

Sep 10, 2011

Louis Wernwag

(Wikipedia) Louis Wernwag (b. Alteburg, W├╝rttemberg, Germany, 4 December 1769; d. Harpers Ferry, Virginia, 12 August 1843) was a prominent bridge builder in the United States in the early 19th century.
... He constructed the first Conowingo Bridge in 1818 and rebuilt Theodore Burr's Port Deposit Bridge in 1824, both crossings of the Susquehanna River in Maryland. His last bridge was across the Potomac River at Harper's Ferry for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and was built in 1833. Continued

Sep 8, 2011

The Maryland Campaign

(Wikipedia) The Maryland Campaign, or the Antietam Campaign (September 4–20, 1862) is widely considered one of the major turning points of the American Civil War. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North was repulsed by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac, who moved to intercept Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia and eventually attacked it near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The resulting Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.
Following his victory in the Northern Virginia Campaign, Lee moved north with 55,000 men through the Shenandoah Valley starting on September 4, 1862. Continued

Sep 5, 2011

Labor Day Cigars

(YDR via Firecured) When I was about 10 ... I used to sell crab cakes and fish for a man down Mason Alley. ... I used to go to a place out on Poplar Street and Dewey Street in West York called T.E. Brooks cigar factory, and they were not allowed to have breaks back then. They worked constantly for their eight hours. Anything they needed was right there where they worked. . . . I went to a lot of different factories doing this job selling crab cakes and fish . . . all around York on my bicycle, but T.E. Brooks cigar factory always stands out to me because I (had) to go from person to person. Any of the other factories, they came to me during their break time, but this place here did not have a break. . . . That always stood out in my mind.

Steven A. Hatterer, 46, of York

I was raised one mile below Red Lion off Route 74. I very well remember the cigar factories in Red Lion. They had quite a few, but the thing that I remember mostly was we had a strike (in 1934), and a man was blinded during the strike (reportedly because tear gas was fired by police), and in 1935, he had a Ford coupe . . . and I bought that from him for $150. The man was from Windsor that was blinded. A friend of mine told me about this man that became blinded, and he had a Ford coupe, and I borrowed the money from my father and bought it.

Mildred Knisely, 92, Springettsbury Township


Sep 3, 2011

Antique coverlet lending history's weight to Lancaster Co. auction

(YDR) Ancient objects have a magic allure -- providing a bridge through time, a connection to lost worlds, while simultaneously evoking the unknown.
"This was there," we say, and suddenly a setting we knew only in our minds becomes real. The object is an anchor, a physical foothold of one reality in the next.
Hospice of Lancaster County, whose benefit auctions are no strangers to antiques, received an artifact of this caliber for this weekend's 27th annual Hospice Labor Day Auction, which runs Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Visitors to the Lampeter Fairgrounds will have the chance to bid on a woven wool coverlet that predates the Civil War by more than 20 years. Continued

Cisco Houston - The Mysteries Of A Hobo's Life

The Big Rock Candy Mountain

Sep 1, 2011

Baltimore’s Unlikely Confederates

(NYTimes) ... Given these strong ties to the Union, it is surprising that Baltimore produced even one Isaac Trimble, much less another 5,000 volunteers for the Confederate military. So who were these men? Like Trimble, Baltimore Confederates had few ties to slavery or the traditional, rural way of life that Confederate nationalists often claimed to defend. Take, for example, the infantryman Augustus Albert, a 31-year-old, Maryland-born wallpaper hanger who lived with his wife and infant son above an ornament store. Or Jonas Friedenwald, captain in a Virginia regiment and the son of a German-Jewish dry goods merchant. Continued