Huckleberries, mountain fires, and meaning

May 14, 2016
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Perhaps it’s the mountain fires we’ve had in the Shenandoah Valley recently, but I’ve found myself thinking about something more commonly associated with summer… that incredible wild fruit known as the humble huckleberry. What do mountain fires have to do with huckleberries? Well, ultimately fires help huckleberry crops, of course. Yet, these raging mountain fires […]

Special “representation” at the Carlisle Blue-Gray Reunion of 1881

May 10, 2016
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Yesterday, an article (“South Dakota tribe seeks children’s century-old remains from War College site“)* popped up in my news feed which, ironically, followed some information I came across just last week regarding “Indian School” attendees at the Blue-Gray reunion at Carlisle, in September 1881. That reunion was actually the second in two months, the first […]

Bartlett’s Harper’s Ferry art… in the style of the Hudson River School?

May 9, 2016
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Among the earliest (and perhaps my favorite) pieces portraying Harper’s Ferry is by William Henry Bartlett, looking toward the Shenandoah River from Jefferson’s Rock. I’ve mentioned the piece once before in a post from 2012, and having used the image several times in my personal Facebook background, commenters twice remarked on how the print is remarkably reminiscent of the “Hudson River School“. But… was Bartlett […]

Faulkner explains his Confederate service

April 30, 2016
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150 years ago this past week, a letter (though dated April 13) from Charles J. Faulkner (he appears in a few of my blog posts from the past) appeared in the Charles Town, West Virginia newspaper, detailing his “connexion” with the Confederate army. At first I thought, perhaps, he was replying to those who doubted any […]

Selling Col. R.K. Meade’s livestock (1833)

April 26, 2016
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The title of this post might lack the hook that would draw in a crowd, but that shouldn’t detract. For those who are truly curious about what antebellum life was like in the Valley (and might be well-acquainted with the area of the Valley in which this piece discusses), this piece offers an opportunity to […]

The SPLC’s report… more “purposed” opinion than history?

April 22, 2016
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I saw, today, that the Southern Poverty Law Center issued their “Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy” report, yesterday. Anyone who has watched the SPLC over the years knows how they are inspired and, to be clear, they simply don’t recognize complexities in the story of anyone associated with the Southern Confederacy. Of course, it’s […]

In the news 150 years ago, today – General Lee’s Testimony Before the Reconstruction Committee

April 10, 2016
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The following appeared in the Staunton Spectator, 150 years ago, today. Good stuff about postwar Virginia, from Lee’s perspective. In the House of Representatives, on Tuesday week, Mr. Conkling, from the Joint Committee of Fifteen, reported a large amount of evidence on the condition of the Southern States. The following is the testimony of General […]

A year after Appomattox – the Hagerstown mayoral election, Unionism, and the continued “Negro question”

April 9, 2016
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Looking among the archives of Hagerstown newspapers this week, I took time to pay particular attention to anything found from 150 years ago. In an editorial in the Herald and Torch Light (Hagerstown), of April 18, 1866, I ran across an interesting piece discussing the mayoral election, candidates, loyalty, and Union. At the center of […]

Revising a revised version of Maryland’s state song

March 27, 2016
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If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s an interesting article on History New Network, today, regarding the latest changes to Maryland’s state song. I’ve followed the news about the efforts, and frankly, I’m 1) surprised on the “memory” (in the legislative body) of versions going back only to 1939 (and, seemingly skipping all the years […]

The passing of Earl Hamner

March 24, 2016
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I touched base with Mr. Hamner last year, in the hopes of having an interview with him. Regretfully, it wasn’t long after his surgery, and he encouraged me to reach out to him again, later. Regretfully, things continued to decline. Hamner was, without a doubt, an incredible inspiration to me. Sad, sad news… You can’t […]

Cdr. S.W. LeCompte, Sir Walter Scott, and a sailor’s book

March 19, 2016
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As I’ve demonstrated several times before in other posts… finding a rare book is great, but finding the story of the original owner of the rare book is even better. Some time ago, I had the opportunity to land a first edition (American) copy of Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake. Published by T.B. […]

Wars… and wishing those buildings could talk

March 12, 2016
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Seeing a Facebook friend’s post, today, of all that remained of an ancestral home… a hearth and chimney… I felt compelled to post one of my own. While I can’t say for sure if it is the remains of an “ancestral” homestead, it is located in Nicholson Hollow. If not an ancestral homestead, it’s likely a place […]

150 years ago this week – properties listed for sale in the Rockingham Register

March 5, 2016
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Does a listing of properties for sale, as of March 1866, tell us something about the Shenandoah Valley and the inability of some to recover from war? From the March 2, 1866 issue of the Rockingham Register (Harrisonburg):      

Northern aid to the Shenandoah Valley (1865)

March 2, 2016
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  Scanning through some (relatively) local postwar newspapers, I ran across the mention of a relief society for the Shenandoah Valley… that’s right, Northern aid for civilians of the Shenandoah Valley in the wake of “The Burning”. The only article (in Hagerstown’s Herald and Torch) available to me via newspaper.com, about this society, dated to […]

The “battle” for the eastern panhandle of West Virginia

February 29, 2016
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I posed a question yesterday, via Facebook, asking if it was only historians who wondered what Berkeley and Jefferson counties would be like if they were returned to Virginia in the years immediately after the Civil War. Of course, I have my doubts that it is only historians that wonder about such things, but I suspect, […]

Looking forward in the Shenandoah (Jan. 1866)

February 19, 2016
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Perusing some Valley newspapers recently, I ran across an interesting article in the Spirit of Jefferson (Charles Town) which did not reflect on the devastation left by war, but on the future of the Valley and its residents. There is no portion of the whole agricultural district of the Union richer than the Valley of […]

The future of historical content delivery?

January 25, 2016
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Since I’ve officially (as of Thursday night) launched on my next great adventure in academia, as a PhD student in Writing and Rhetoric, I’ve decided it might be a good idea to begin a spin-off blog. Even if you don’t necessarily “geek out” over “writing as process”, rhetoric, Augmented Reality, or all that stuff… you […]

Would you have gone to war?

January 13, 2016
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This week on Facebook, Manassas National Battlefield Park posed a really good question… While I know a lot of folks would disagree with me, I don’t think we should look to give an answer to the question so quickly. One might feel confident in answering, based on ancestry, “heritage”, “patriotism”, etc., but keep in mind… […]

Back to college… at 50?

December 5, 2015
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As I mentioned earlier this fall, back in September I enrolled in a college course to test the waters to see if the time (mostly, if I had the time) was right to take the plunge back into academia. Though I only made my way through one course (finishing up this week), I did find […]

A Richmond editorial (1864) targets Lincoln’s Thanksgiving

November 25, 2015
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As my previous Thanksgiving posts show, I’m always fascinated over how there is this back and forth between Virginia and Massachusetts when it comes to Thanksgiving. I’m sure this year will see the same old posts on Facebook, arguing that Berkeley Hundred was the actual “first” Thanksgiving. Of course, as I’ve pointed out before (2010), it’s […]

A recent acquisition with ties to a Virginia Unionist

November 1, 2015
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Though I usually limit myself to collecting titles written by residents of the Shenandoah Valley during the antebellum period, or those focused on the antebellum Shenandoah written after the fact by those who lived it, I do stray from that path from time to time. In one such instance, not too terribly long ago, I […]

Which has greater value – Literary Product or Revealed Intellectual Process?

October 26, 2015
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Not long ago, I ran across an article (2011) from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in which the author (Kirk Richardson) seems to have minimized the significance of an early Virginia author. Alone [the first published book (1854) by Marion Harland, aka Mary Virginia Terhune] is a lot like other sentimental novels of the mid nineteenth-century; it’s […]

Writing history for the Web… back to some theory

October 22, 2015
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So, this college course I decided to take… I’m mid-way through the semester now, still trying to adjust to the addition of another element to my real life “portfolio” (husband, father/soccer dad, dad to several furry family members, full time worker, and part-time student). Somewhere in that mix, a bathroom renovation (the shower tiling is all that remains) […]

Marion Harland reflects on “fear” of slave insurrection

October 17, 2015
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Portion of the wood engraving (1831) showing imagery of Nat Turner's Rebellion. Imagery that added to Hewes' fear, perhaps... and despite the trust she placed in the family slaves.

On this night 156 years ago, John Brown and several of his men held the small engine house in Harper’s Ferry. The contingent of Marines that successfully put an end to the “raid” would not arrive until the next day. Between this story and that of Gabriel’s Rebellion, and then later, Nat Turner’s Rebellion, I […]

Just having missed a “Nathaniel Parker Willis, of the Shenandoah”

October 4, 2015
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In my pursuit of the “Shenandoah Literari” of the nineteenth century, I encounter some unusual twists and turns in the history of the Valley. One family’s “brush” with the area’s history, for example, presents an interesting “what if”. Now, I’m not really a fan of “what ifs” in regard to history, but I do find […]

Where ya been, and where ya goin’?

September 26, 2015
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As the last two years have shown, it isn’t unusual for this blog to go silent for a while, but the most recent round of silence came rather unexpectedly in mid-August. For the past month and a half I’ve dealt with a serious health issue in the family, a major veterinary issue (ongoing), returned to […]

A placemarker in my considerations of the American Colonization Society

August 12, 2015
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For those who have continued to follow my ramblings through old annual reports of the American Colonization Society, I’ve got a little more to follow. I’ve skipped around a bit between the 1820s and the 1850s, and looking at a few other resources at my disposal, I found something worthwhile from the 1850s regarding the […]

Opposing another form of ignorance? Finding value in the antebellum South

August 8, 2015
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My well-worn copies of Conjectures. Fortunately, I've maintained the dust jackets by removing them every time I have a return visit to the volumes.

When glancing over my bookshelves last night, I pulled a book which I ordered about a year ago, yet had not yet taken time to read. The reason I purchased it was because the author spent time in the book, providing an argument about Southern antebellum authors who went against the grain of many other […]

American Colonization Society: Growth of Auxiliaries, 1823-1828

August 7, 2015
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Though I’m still gathering data, I figured I would go ahead and give something to consider, at least up to a point. As readers may recall, I presented some raw numbers on life members (as of 1847), and the places that these people represented doesn’t even begin to show how many places had active auxiliaries. […]

History in context(?): the ACS, “National racism” in the early 19th century, and our path forward

August 4, 2015
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While I continue to hash out details about the ACS, I’m certainly not blind to what we consider (under our modern lenses) “racist” views held in the actions of people in the past. The difference is, however, that I think I’m able to realize the difference in views between today and yesterday, as more properly evaluated within […]

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