Category: U.S. History

Am I a 49er?- The History of My Times: According to Me

Two questions should arise when you read the title of this series. First, “Who am I?” That question is easy to answer. I am History Present. A good place to expand on that answer is this blog’s “About Page.” The second question should be, “When, exactly, are my times?” I was born on the 26th of March 1959. So, my times are from then, until now. If only life were that simple. You see, it is that date which brings me to question my very being. To which era do I belong? More precisely, to which U.S. flag do I belong?

49-star US Flag

49-Star U.S. Flag from USFlag.org

This question did not arise until I began studying history on a serious level. Most people are aware that Alaska and Hawaii became States in 1959. But, when in 1959? Whether you like it or not, dates are important to history and six dates are critical to this story. As was previously mentioned, March 26, 1959 is certainly critical. The second is January 3, 1959. That is the date of Alaska’s admission to the Union.1 OK, cut and dry, there were at least 49 States in Union when I was born. But, what about Hawaii? On August 21, 1959, the third critical date, Hawaii was admitted to the Union.2 Yes! I can claim a certain uniqueness, I am a “49er”! Only those born between January 3 and August 20, 1959 can make this claim. I can always point to a 49-star flag as I claim my tie to history. Or can I?

St. Joseph, MI (History)

Lighthouse

St Joseph, MI North Pier Lighthouse

Back in June, I made a business trip to St. Joseph, MI. Since I had never been to St. Joseph, I checked it out before I left. What a great little town! There are many things to do, both in St. Joseph, and in the immediate area. The town boasts an Art Museum, a Children’s Museum, a lakefront beach, a beach park, and a vibrant food and drink culture. St. Joseph’s beachfront, restaurant, and shopping area is concentrated in a small area. Everything is easily within walking distance.

After I shared what I had learned, Mrs. Present decided to accompany me. We left a few days early so we could experience the town together. Once I began my work schedule, Mrs. Present was forced to sit on the beach, eat real ice cream, and read books. Poor her! St. Joseph is a town that firmly embraces its history. Placed smartly long the narrow park that rests between Lake Boulevard and the bluff that hangs above Lake Michigan’s shore, are Memorials to area citizens that gave their lives in service.

Prince Mongo’s Castle

I am drawn to this blog… fascinated at the things we abandon. What was it like when the last person to use these spaces walked out?

Abandoned Southeast

Prince Mongo’s Castle, also known as Ashlar Hall, is a mock castle in Memphis.  After Robert Brinkley Snowden graduated from Princeton in 1890, he decided to return to his hometown to design and construct his family estate. Snowden, a prominent real estate developer, completed Ashlar Hall in 1896.

Ashlar HallThe 11,000 square foot home has two floors with 8 rooms plus a full basement and a large attic with servants’ quarters. An irregular shaped swimming pool is located outside, southwest of the house. The Snowden property stretched for 3,000 acres, well into Mississippi. The final cost for construction was around $25,000, roughly equivalent to $725,000 today.

Ashlar Hall

Snowden’s great-grandfather, Col. Robert C. Brinkley started the Peabody Hotel several years prior. The Snowden family was considered Memphis royalty by the early 1900s and Brinkley Snowden was considered one of the premier real estate developers. The mansion was named Ashlar Hall due to it being almost entirely constructed of Ashlar Stone which was brought to town on barges. The past few decades have not been…

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Book Review: The Heart of Everything That Is

Red Cloud

Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend. (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2013).

On Christmas night 1866, a man rode into Fort Laramie. Near death from riding 236 miles in four days, through a blizzard, Portugee Phillips completed his mission. Phillips delivered dispatches from Colonel Henry Carrington, the commander of Ft Phil Kearny. The news was shocking. Days earlier, on December 21st, warriors from several Indian tribes staged a coordinated assault that annihilated a unit from the US Army. “Fetterman’s Massacre” marked the first time the United States military lost to a Native force.

In their book, The Heart of Everything That Is, authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin provide an excellent work of history. Red Cloud, the Sioux Chief who orchestrated Captain Fetterman’s stunning defeat, is the book’s subject. Opening a window to humanity in the old west, Red Cloud’s story is told in vivid narrative.

Gettysburg National Military Park

In February I spent two weeks in York, PA on business. While there most of my time was filled with work related activities. Wanting to take a break, I took the advice of several coworkers and visited Gettysburg National Military Park one Saturday. Eight hours after arriving at the park I sat down for dinner at a local restaurant. I could have easily spent another day. There is so much material available about the battle that I will not provide a description here. Rather, I will post pictures and try to describe my impressions of the museum and battlefield.

What it Means to Wear the Green

Very informative.

Emerging Revolutionary War Era

This St. Patrick’s Day millions of people around the world will wear green and celebrate the Irish holiday.  However there was a time when wearing the color green in Ireland could be punishable by death.

In the wake of the American Revolution, revolutions and rebellions began to breakout across Europe.  While much has been written on how the American Revolution helped inspire the epic and violent French Revolution in 1789, the Irish rebellion of 1798 has largely been forgotten.

Arklowflag.svg One of the green banners carried by Irish rebels in 1798.  This one uses a phrase common in the American Revolution.

Ireland watched with wonder as the American colonies united and declared independence from England in 1776.  They read about how the rag tag American Army defeated the British empire.  In France they watched the lower classes overthrow the aristocracy and execute their monarchs while creating a new republic.  In 1794…

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Greatest Leaders of the American Revolution You Have Never Heard Of

Excellent history, posted on a great site! Please pay it a visit.

Emerging Revolutionary War Era

Part One 

When I was completing my graduate degree in American history from George Mason University a few years back, I took on the challenge of trying to examine the motivations of American soldiers during the American Revolutionary War.

The basis was to examine, “why they fought” if I can borrow a line used frequently by Civil War scholars and historians.

Being a native Marylander, I narrowed my focus on soldiers from that colony/state.

Yet, I was struck by the continued emergence of one name in particular and this gentleman became a focal point of mine.

This gentleman became through the war and could not be ignored with any mention of Maryland and her patriotic citizenry’s service in the war. His name is Otho Holland Williams.

Otho Holland Williams Otho Holland Williams

First a little background on Otho Holland Williams. Otho Williams’ early life mirrors that of many early American colonists. His parents…

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Hardship and Tragedy

Hey folks, please visit this blog. Great histories.

Firelands History Website

George Woodruff and the other men started work the day after they arrived at Village House, clearing enough land to plant corn that spring. The soil in the area was a clay loam “well suited for agriculture, but before they could take advantage of its fertility, they needed to clear away the trees.

snowy-woodsThis was no easy matter. The forests were heavily timbered with enormous white oaks, whitewood and black walnut, generally eighty to one-hundred feet in height and three feet in diameter. Some were as much as six foot in diameter, and as they began to cut them down, George and the others found by their rings that those giants were upwards of three-hundred years old.

Game was abundant; deer and wild turkey, especially, and provided them with much needed food to supplement what they had brought with them. Wolves were also numerous, and their howling kept George…

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November 14, 1970

fountain-2

Marshall University Memorial Fountain HistoryPresent

On this day, we, the daughters and the sons of Marshall, remember 75 people. These 75 people were football players, coaches, and trainers. They held positions in the Athletic Department. They were fans. They were members of a flight crew, a pilot, a co-pilot, a Charter Coordinator. Two were flight attendants. They were husbands and wives. They were parents. They were sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. These 75 people, are daughters and sons of Marshall.