On Thomas Nast’s 176th Birthday

September 27, 2016
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It’s his art and the way he could say so much in it, with so few words. That’s why I take time to remember Thomas Nast on his 176th birthday… and the fact that Facebook reminded me that, for whatever reason that compelled me at the time, I paid tribute to him on his birthday, back in […]

Pine Grove Furnace – the Ironmaster’s Mansion (Gardners, Pa)

September 25, 2016
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Yesterday afternoon, I had a chance for a quick dash through part of the countryside of central Pennsylvania. Having just enough time, I took a short detour toward Pine Grove Furnace. When I saw a sign for the Ironmaster’s Mansion, I wondered… could this be the Ege family home? Even if so, why would I […]

Discussing secession, OTD, 1851

September 23, 2016
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The following clip comes from the Spirit of Jefferson (Charles Town, VA), from 165 years ago, today. Of course, reading through this, there are some lines that seem to see a decade ahead. I was particularly interested in the remarks near the end… Our blood ran cold as he described an army devastating this Valley… […]

“Spirit Rappings” in Port Republic

September 20, 2016
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Not an OTD piece, today, but rather one which just caught my eye when looking for an OTD piece. While some might think it’s just a little early for ghost stories, this piece from the Jan. 21, 1854 issue of the Richmond Dispatch is still entertaining. Clearly, the author had a little fun, tying what was […]

A decade of Southern Unionist studies

September 19, 2016
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After receiving a comment last night on a recent post, and while driving into work this morning, I realized that, for over a decade, I’ve been involved in the study of Southern Unionists in the Shenandoah Valley. It was ten years ago this fall when I started writing my thesis on Southern Unionism and disaffected […]

Virginia’s old SCV license plate – an observation

September 15, 2016
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I saw this article, and taking the time to actually read it… and re-read it… I’m actually able to hear both sides to this argument. For one, the plate is no longer a legal plate in the Commonwealth of Virginia. So, under the law, being no longer legal, I understand the basic thought behind why […]

“I’ve got through crying long ago” – a refugee from the Shenandoah

September 13, 2016
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A few months ago, I came across an old sketch on Ebay showing a woman and her children above the title “Flight from the Shenandoah Valley”. Wanting to know the source, I found it in the Pictorial Book of Anecdotes and Incidents of the War of the Rebellion, by Richard Miller Devens (1824-1900). While there […]

“Perfidious Wretch!” – The developing story of Mr. Dorsey horsewhipping Dr. Gordon, OTD, 1840

September 10, 2016
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I came across a number of articles in the Virginia Free Press pertaining to an altercation between one A.G. Gordon and Dr. H. Dorsey, both… I think… were from Charles Town, (West) Va. There’s a lot going on in the exchanges I’ve found in the various clippings (spanning about four issues, so far), so, I’ll […]

Statue of Washington returns to VMI (150 years ago, today)

September 10, 2016
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Dedicated on the grounds of the Virginia Military Institute, on July 3, 1856, William James Hubbard’s copy of Jean Antoine Houdon’s Washington had, for eight years, been a point of inspiration to cadets of the Institute, and, to the residents of Lexington, a proud reminder of the “Father of the Country”. Therefore, when returned to the grounds […]

In defense of Maryland Christianity… and other things. OTD, 1823

September 9, 2016
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Update: I had to educate myself a little regarding early Maryland laws and a “Religious Test” I read about somewhere along the way, in finding the article below. It seems, at about this time, there was an argument being made in the state regarding non-Christians holding political office in Maryland. As early as 1819, there […]

A Shippensburg, Pa. newspaper on emigration of liberated slaves to Liberia (1856)

September 9, 2016
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As some may recall, last summer, I started transcribing a pamphlet from the American Colonization Society (ACS). It wasn’t because I just then discovered the story of the ACS, but rather, I became intrigued with the activity of the ACS in the Shenandoah Valley. Additionally, my decision to transcribe the pamphlet was based on 1) the fact […]

Following the drinkin’ gourd? OTD, 1831

September 8, 2016
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The clip below is taken from the Torch Light and Advertiser (Hagerstown, Maryland), from September 8, 1831, but the subject of the clipping is a slave named Paul Taylor, who escaped from Frederick County, in the Shenandoah Valley. As he made his escape on August 13, by the time this appeared in the newspaper, he […]

Poke Root poultice for snake bite, OTD, 1826

September 7, 2016
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News had an interesting way in making it up and down the Valley… and even into the next Valley over. Take, for example this clipping which notes how an article about a Poke Root poultice, originally published in the Staunton Spectator and later republished in the Torch Light and Public Advertiser (Hagerstown, Md.), saved a […]

All was not innocence and harmony (OTD, Augusta County, 1852)

September 7, 2016
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I’m thinking that… in between blog posts which take time to construct, I’m going to start posting brief “On This Day” (OTD) material, shedding some light on news within the Shenandoah Valley (and, perhaps, the Cumberland Valley, to offer a chance for comparative analysis), during the antebellum. The hope is to provide a look at what life was really like […]

If you like an interpretation of history, why not also find the flaws in it?

September 6, 2016
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Lately, in the midst of the arguments being made about standing for the National Anthem, I’ve seen a fair number of folks attach themselves to an interpretation of some aspect of history and then attempt to defend that position (actually, it’s more a matter of them going on the offensive, using that interpretation as if […]

An enduring and iconic feature in the Shenandoah

August 16, 2016
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For almost 177 years, the Virginia Military Institute has been an iconic part of the history of the Shenandoah Valley. Today, I happened upon the following clip from the August 13, 1859 edition of the Richmond Dispatch: Having set the context with this clip… the more things change, the more… well, you know.  While the number of new “Rats” […]

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 […]