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Secret Mission: A Spy, Ohio Soldiers, and a General Hijack “The General”

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During the winter of 1861-1862, Kentucky resident James Andrews, recruited 23 volunteers from three Ohio regiments for a special secret mission behind Confederate lines. All three of the Ohio regiments were serving in Tennessee when James Andrews told them about the General and his mission.

With the backing of General Ormsby Mitchel, James Andrews recruited soldiers from Company H of the 33rd Ohio Infantry, the 2nd Ohio Infantry, and the 21st Ohio Infantry.  The oldest man was 32 and the youngest 18, One man, William Campbell, was a civilian. All of them wore civilian clothes and were armed with pistols.

One of the soldiers described how impressed he and his comrades were with James Andrews. He noted that Andrews was about 35, “a large, well-proportioned, gentleman with a long black silken beard, black hair, Roman features.”

The recruiter with Roman features told his new recruits that their secret mission called for a hijacking, but not of a person, place, or living thing. General Mitchel and James Andrews wanted the Ohio volunteers to highjack a steam locomotive. The locomotive named The General, hauled supplies for the Confederacy between Atlanta and Chattanooga. Civil War conditions convinced James Andrews that he had to take the actions he did with is Ohio volunteers and The General.

The Civil War that divided the United States in 1861, also deeply divided Kentucky. Union and Confederate advocates competed for the loyalty of Kentucky citizens, and sowed the seeds for CIA type intrigue in the Blue Grass State. During the winter of 1861-1862, James Andrews participated enthusiastically in this intrigue. He smuggled medicines into the Confederacy and returned with intelligence reports for the Union forces Kentucky.

In the course of his intelligence work, James Andrews had seen many Confederate railroads and came up with a brash plan to sabotage one of them. He pitched his idea to General Ormsby Mitchel, then the head of a division of Union Forces in Kentucky. General Mitchel appreciated the possibilities of Andrews’ sabotage plan because he recognized that railroads were the key to winning battles. The South found itself at a railroad disadvantage to the North. It had less than half of the North’s railroad mileage and its system, at least for military purposes, was erratically laid out. Only one direct line linked the eastern and western theaters of the Confederate armies.

To complicate things more, only one line linked Atlanta, the second most important munitions center after Richmond, into the one Confederate line to the battlefront. Chattanooga, Tennessee was the tie in point for these important railroads. Chattanooga also happened to be just seventy miles from General Mitchel’s headquarters tent. Andrews and General Ormsby and according to his later report, General Buel, came up with a plan to eliminate Chattanooga from this important Confederate railroad equation.

General Ormsby Mitchel Helps James Andrews

Andrew’s focused his plan on the Western & Atlantic Railroad, which wound 138 miles north from Atlanta through the mountains of northern Georgia to Chattanooga. One of the premier railroads of the South, the railroad was financed and owned by the state of Georgia. Its single-track line with sidings at all principal stations crossed several major streams on covered wooden bridges and tunneled under Chetoogeta Mountain. It Chattanooga it tied into a line from Lynchburg, Virginia, and from Memphis,  it tied into the Memphis & Charleston Railroad.

James Andrews Reveals His Plan

Andrews revealed his plan. They would form small parties and make their way through enemy lines to Chattanooga. Everyone would meet there the following Thursday afternoon. From Chattanooga they would take the Western & Atlantic evening train south to Marietta, Georgia, just above Atlanta. If anyone stopped and questioned them, the story would be that they were Yankee-hating Kentuckians on their way to enlist in the Confederate Army. On Friday morning at Marietta, they were to board the first northbound train and commandeer it. Their goal, Andrews told them, was to burn enough bridges behind them to cripple the Western & Atlantic. They would ride their stolen train through Chattanooga and westward on the Memphis & Charleston to meet General Mitchel’s division, which by then would have pushed southward across the Tennessee border to Huntsville, Alabama. This action would enable Mitchel to capture Chattanooga and move on through Tennessee and Alabama from there.

James Andrews and His Men Hijack the General

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John Alfred Wilson

Although the party was two men short, Andrews and his men boarded the evening train at Chattanooga on Friday April 11, 1862. They rode without incident, noting the numerous bridges across Chickamauga Creek that had to be burned. At midnight they left the train at Marietta to barter for beds in the town’s two hotels. On Saturday morning, April 12, 1862, Andrews assembled his men in his hotel room for a final briefing. He told them to board the northbound morning mail train and get ready to act during the 20 minute breakfast stop at Big Shanty, Georgia, eight miles up the line. Andrews told them that when the crew and passengers left the train for breakfast, he and engineers William Knight and Wilson Brown and fireman Alf Wilson, all recruited from the Ohio Regiments for their previous railroad experience, would commandeer the engine. The other men were to move quickly into one of the head cars after the railroad men had uncoupled it from the cars behind.

The morning mail train from Atlanta arrived at Marietta station right on schedule. Pulling it was a locomotive called the General, a powerful wood burner built for the Atlantic & Western in 1855 by Rogers, Ketchum and Grosvenor Works in Paterson, New Jersey. The General pulled three empty boxcars which were to bring commissary stores out of Chattanooga on the return trip, and a string of passenger cars. The Yankees boarded the train, still two short, and rode to Big Shanty. When the train hissed to a stop at 6:45 a.m., everyone hurried over to Lacy’s Hotel for breakfast. The train crew consisting of conductor William Allen Fuller, engineer Jeff Cain, and foreman of the W & A’s machine shops went for their breakfast as well.

As soon as the hotel door closed behind the last person, Andrews, Knight, Brown, and Wilson swiftly got down on the off side of the train, pulled the coupling pins from the three boxcars and made sure the switches were in their favor. The other Yankees sauntered up to the General and climbed aboard and Andrews waved the rest of the men into the third boxcar. They did this right under the puzzled noses of sentries at a Confederate training camp just 50 feet away. Andrews signaled and Knight threw open the throttle. The General’s wheels spun for a minute, and then the locomotive chugged away.

The Confederates Pursue the General

Meanwhile, in the hotel dining room, Murphy shouted to conductor Fuller and his crew that someone had moved the General. The crew piled out to the platform, rousing the nearby Confederate camp. The sentries fired a few futile shots at the General, disappearing around a curve. Fuller, Cain and Murphy decided to pursue the stolen train, but they had to immediately find something to use for the pursuit. Big Shanty didn’t have a telegraph station so they couldn’t even send a warning up the line. Conductor Fuller, 25, didn’t give up, though. He took the hijacking of his train personally, so he acted personally. He started running along the track, and Cain and Murphy tagged along. The Yankee hijackers, in the meantime, rolled towards the North and freedom and fame. They stopped to get a crowbar from a repair crew working on the track and tore up rails to slow down anyone chasing them. They stopped again past the first telegraph station to cut the telegraph wire. They rushed on towards Kingston, thirty miles north of Big Shanty. According to their timetable, at Kingston they would meet the first of the southbound trains from Chattanooga.

In the meantime, conductor Fuller continued to pursue the trainjackers. He ran two and a half miles down the track and reached the repair crew. They told him about their earlier encounter with the train, and Fuller began to suspect that he was dealing with professional trainmen and not Confederate deserters heading for home. Fuller took the repair crew’s pole car, a small handcar pushed along by poles, and hurried to pick up Murphy and Cain. They headed north and discovered the break in the telegraph line. This made Fuller even more certain that they were chasing a band of Yankees bent on serious mischief.

The Yankees and Confederates Fight over the General

During the next six hours, the fortunes of the chase seesawed between the Yankees and the Confederates. Fuller and his two fellow Georgians managed to impress a small switching engine named the Yonah from Etowah station, which made it easier to pursue the Yankee hijackers. The Yankee hijackers themselves were delayed for over an hour at Kingston by extra trains on the line. Fuller and his small crew were stymied by the extra trains and switching problems as well and once again, Fuller had to take to his feet to commander a train at Rome, Georgia to continue his pursuit.

The Yankee hijackers continued on their mad dash for Chattanooga, now pushing hard for Adairsville, which was ten miles north of Kingston. So far as they knew, there was no pursuit. They had a good cover story about hauling extra ammunition for General P.G.T. Beauregard, commander of the field army at Corinth, Mississippi, and they had cut the telegraph lines and torn up track as extra precautions. Just to be safe, Anderson stopped four miles short of Adairsville to take up more rails and load up with crossties to use as fuel for their bridge burning.

While the men were busy taking up the track, they spotted the smoke of a pursuing train. They wretched the last rail loose and continued their trip to Adairsville. Stopped by the wrecked track, Fuller abandoned the Rome engine and once again headed north on foot. He felt both anger and desperation. He knew the timetable and he realized that once the General got beyond Adairsville, the Yankees would have a clear track all the way to Chattanooga. The Yankee hijackers pulled into the Adairsville station and found the local freight waiting on the siding. There was still confusion in Chattanooga because the high command in the city was evacuating stores and rolling stock to counter the threatening Yankee force at Huntsville. The confusion meant extra trains and more delays for the Yankee hijackers.

Andrews talked his way out of the Adairsville station by promising to run slowly and send a flagman ahead at every curve. As soon as they pulled out of Adairsville, he ordered Knight to open the throttle wide, because they had to reach Calhoun station before the Chattanooga train did or they would be blocked in. The Yankees reached Calhoun by a narrow margin. The southbound passenger train had just pulled out of the station when its engineer heard the General’s whistle and moved far enough to clear the siding switch.

Again, Andrew’s used his story of rushing to General Beauregard’s rescue and again gained the main line. The hijackers had a clear track ahead, but behind them the Confederates worked steadily to equalize the race. Just below Adairsville Fuller and Murphy had met a southbound local freight. It was pulled by a locomotive, the Texas, the same class as the General. They hurried aboard, put all of the freight cars off at the Adairsville siding, and raced north. Now the Georgians commanded a locomotive capable of overtaking the General. They too, stopped at Calhoun, and told the local militia about the Yankee hijackers.

The long trestle over the Oostanaula River, five miles north of Calhoun, about halfway between Big Shanty and Chattanooga, was one of the Yankee Bridge burner’s main targets. They stopped to cut the wire, and take up rail for what they hoped was the last time. As they bent their backs, prying up the spikes with their crowbar and trying to wrench the rail loose with a fence rail, they heard the whistle of the pursuing Texas, loud and clear from the south.

Here, James Andrews seemed to lose his nerve. He had brought his nineteen men through improbable adventures and peril. He had every reason to believe the track ahead was clear. The rail they were trying to lift was nearly loosened and just needed a few more minutes of effort to come off. When this rail was off, they could go about their bridge burning in peace and safety. But Andrews didn’t stand and fight long enough to finish tearing up the rail. None of the men knew why. One of the men wrote that Andrews “delighted in strategy” rather than “the plain course of a straight out- and-out fight with the pursing train.”

The Locomotive Texas Finally Captures the Locomotive General

The General started up again, leaving the rail loose but still intact. The pursing Fuller and Murphy guided the Texas over the loose rail and continued the chase. Andrews tried to take advantage of his dwindling lead. He ordered the last boxcar uncoupled, reversed the General, and sent the boxcar hurtling down the track toward the Texas. Fuller too reversed course, skillfully picked up the runaway boxcar in full flight, and headed after the General, pushing the boxcar ahead of him. The Yankees dropped a second box car in the middle of the covered bridge over the Oostanaula. Fuller just shunted the two cars off at Resaca and continued north. Above Resaca, the Western & Atlantic wound through rough country.

The Yankees tossed crossties on the track behind nearly every curve. Fuller perched on the tender and signaled to Murphy and Pete Bracken, the Texas’ engineer, when the track ahead was blocked. They heaved over the forward lever, and the Texas, spinning its driving wheels, would stop, sometimes on a dime. On a straight stretch of track near Tilton, the Yankees lengthened their lead enough to stop of wood and water. With their engine refueled, they tried again to stop Fuller’s pursuit. One team of men cut the telegraph line, another pulled up wood on the track, engineers Knight and Brown checked and oiled the locomotive, and the rest of the party labored to lift a rail.

Several of the Yankees pleaded with Andrews to conduct an ambush assault on the Rebel train, but he refused to do so. The pursing Texas chugged into view. and the Yankees chugged off, leaving the track undamaged. The General and the Texas thundered on, sometimes running a mile a minute. They raced through Dalton, through the long tunnel under Chetoogeta Mountain, across the first of the long bridges over Chickamauga Creek, and past Ringgold Station. Near the Georgia-Tennessee border, about a mile short of Graysville, the General started to slow down. Water for the boiler was low and the firewood gone. The General had carried them nearly one hundred miles from Big Shanty, but now it could carry them no further. Later, fireman Alf Wilson testified that “Andrews now told us all that it was ‘every man for himself,’ that we must scatter and do the best we could to escape to the Federal lines.”

Before dashing into the woods, engineer Knight threw the General into reverse, but by now steam pressure was very low. The Texas easily picked up the slow moving engine. Fuller sent a messenger back to the militia garrison at Ringgold to order a roundup of the fugitives. “My duty ended here,” he said. After six hours of pursuing the Yankee hijackers, he had recaptured his train.

The Yankee hijackers didn’t fare well in Georgia. Within hours, Confederate cavalry patrols guarded every crossroad and examined every farm lane. The farmers formed posses and tramped the fields with tracking dogs, hunting the Yankees. James Andrews posed as a Confederate officer and got within 12 miles of Bridgeport, Alabama, with two of his men before they were captured. All twenty two of the Yankee raiders were captured in civilian clothes deep inside Southern territory.

James Andrews and His Volunteers Are Tried and Convicted of Spying

The Confederate authorities were urged to try them as spies. The Yankees realized their one hope was the claim that they had acted under orders and were subject to the rules of war for military prisoners. James Andrews knew this line of defense wouldn’t work for him. The Confederate authorities knew about him because of his earlier medicine smuggling into the South. It was now obvious to them that he was a double agent, and he knew exactly what they would do to him. Late in April, 1862, a military court in Chattanooga tried him as a spy. Secretary of War Leroy P. Walker and President Jefferson Davis reviewed the case and on May 31, the verdict was announced. James Andrews was found guilty as charged and sentenced to death by hanging.

On the night of May 31, 1862, James Andrews and Private John Wollam used a jackknife they had managed to conceal to pry the bricks loose in the wall of their Chattanooga jail and escape. The Confederates recaptured JamesAndrews two days later and John Wollam a month later.

James Andrews wrote two letters from prison before he died. He addressed the letters to County Attorney David McGavic of Flemingsburg, Kentucky, and said that he was to be executed. James Andrews asked Attorney McGaiv to settle his affairs and sent regards to Mr. and Mrs. Eckels, and the young ladies of Flemingsburg, “especially to Miss Kate Wallingford and Miss Nannie Baxter.”

In another letter, James Andrews asked Attorney McGavic to take possession of a trunk and black valise at the City Hotel in Nashville and asked him to take an empty lady’s trunk he would find at the Louisville Hotel to Mr. Lindsey’s near Mill Creek Church on the Maysville and Flemingsburg Pike and “request him to present it to Miss Elizabeth J. Layton for me.”

Perhaps the most interesting request James Andrews made of Attorney McGavic was dated Flemington, February 17, 1862 and directed the cashier of the Branch Bank of Louisville, at Flemingsburg, to pay to David S. McGavic a sum of twelve hundred dollars. When he gave Attorney McGavic the note, James Andrews told him that he was engaged in a rather critical business and might never get back. If he should not get back, James Andrews said, “I want you to draw the money out of the bank, loan it out and the proceeds to go to the poor of Fleming County perpetually.”

On June 7, 1862, James Andrews was taken to a gallows a block from Peachtree Street and hanged. Conductor of the General, William Fuller, said that he “died bravely.”

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The determined Confederates hunted down the remainder of the Yankee hijackers. John Alfred Wilson and his comrade Mark Woods eluded capture for almost two weeks, traveling through dense woods and foraging food wherever they could. They were finally captured within five miles of the point where they had left the General.

After spending many months in Southern prisons, and after seven of their fellow soldiers, including James Andrews, had been hanged at Atlanta, the 14 remaining raiders escaped from the prison at Atlanta. Six of them were recaptured, but John Wilson and Mark Woods managed to elude the pursuing Rebels. They spent two weeks traveling through the countryside, receiving but four meals and sparse shelter from Union sympathizers.

Finally reaching the Chattanooga River, they traveled down it at night until they reached the Gulf of Mexico where they located the United States fleet. The gunboat Somerset picked them up and the government sent them to Key West , Florida and eventually back home to the Northern states.

John Wilson returned to his company, Company C, 21st Ohio Infantry and in September 1863, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in the face of the enemy. He continued to serve the Union until he mustered out of the service on September 18, 1864, Eventually settled in Perrysburg, Ohio.

John Alfred Wilson  wrote the story of his adventures as a member of the band of Mitchel’s raiders which the Toledo Blade serialized and then printed as a book that he called “Adventures of Alf Wilson, a member of Mitchel’s Raiders During The Dark Days of the Rebellion.”

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In the preface of his book, John Alfred Wilson wrote:  “I am not , however, aware to this day, what effect our efforts had, if any, on the stock of the Georgia Central Railroad , yet had we succeeded,  I do not think it would have been beneficial to the owners of that time.  I need not perhaps, say to the reader, that I never have had any further desire to engage in railroad enterprises, and all the credit I claim for myself in this expedition, is that I believe I cheated the rebels out of the pleasure hanging me, and did all in my power to carry out the orders of my General, and I tried to serve my country faithfully.”

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John Alfred Wilson died on March 28, 1904 and he is buried in Union Hill Cemetery in Bowling Green, Ohio.

 

 

 

 

The General survived the Civil War and all of its soldiers and enjoys a permanent home and visitors at The Kennesaw Civil War Museum in Kennesaw, Georgia.
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References

Bonds, Russell. Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor. Westholme Publishing, 2006.

O’Neill, Charles. Wild Train: The Story of the Andrews Raiders. Random House, 1959.
Pittenger, William. Daring and Suffering: A History of the Andrews Railroad Raid. Cumberland House Publishing, 1999.

Rottman, Gordon. The Great Locomotive Chase – The Andrews Raid 1862: The Andrew’s Raid 1862. Osprey

Wilson, John A. Adventures of Alf. Wilson, Dark Days of the Rebellion. Toledo Blade Printing & Paper Company, 1880.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eugene Linn: A Solitary Soldier’s Grave in a Kingsville Cemetery

Eugene.S. Linn. 2D Ohio Battery, G.A.R. Civil War Monument. Died April 17, 1867. 2nd Independent Battery, Ohio Light Artillery. Civil War Veteran. Old Kingsville Corners Cemetery or possibly Lulu Falls Cemetery, Kingsville, Ohio.

The record of his grave in the Old  Kingsville Corners Cemetery lists his birth and death unknown, and that he is a veteran of the 2nd Independent Battery of the Ohio Light Artillery in the Civil War. Records show that Eugene S. Linn is not unknown and that he has not entirely disappeared from the historical record or recognition of his service in the Civil War.  They also show Eugene’s connections to Kingsville.

It’s necessary to trace some of Eugene’s family tree to understand what happened to him and his family and why he is buried in a lonely grave in the Old Kingsville Corners Cemetery in Kingsville, Ohio or possibly in Lulu Falls Cemetery in Kingsville.

Edmund S. Linn, son of James S. Linn and Theodosia Lemira Pettibone Linn, moved to Ohio around 1841.His father, James Linn, served as a private in the First Texas Foot Riflemen unit in the Mexican War. James married, possibly twice, and settled with his family in Lima, Ohio.

James’ son, Edmund, married Minerva Barney in Franklin County, Ohio, on October 31, 1841, and they settled in Lima in Allen County. By 1848, Edmund had become the Allen County Recorder, charged with the safekeeping of all records, deeds, mortgages, and other documents connected with the title to lands.[1]

As well as being a civil servant and successful merchant, Edmund belonged to Lima Lodge 205 of the Free and Accepted Masons. Records show that Lodge 205 buried Edmund S. Linn, who had been a victim of the 1851 cholera epidemic. The site where his Lodge brothers buried Edmund S. Linn is unknown..[2]

There is also a historical mystery about the whereabouts of Edmund’s father James, Edmund’s wife Minerva, his daughter Laura and his two sons Arthur and Eugene.

The 1850 Census of Allen Township, Lima, Ohio shows that James S. Linn, age 54, a printer, lived in Lima, Ohio, with his son Edward (Edmund) S. Linn, age 30, born in Connecticut. Edward S. Lynn is listed as a merchant owning $6,300 worth of real estate. Other records list him as a cabinet maker.

Also listed are his wife, Minerva Linn, age 31 who was born in New York; their children Eugene S. Linn, age 8, born in Ohio,  Arthur L. Linn, age 2, born in Ohio, Laura M. Linn, age 10 months, born in Ohio.  James S. Linn, age 54, is listed as born in Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Busheart, age 20, born in Ohio. Two store clerks are listed, David Brinkley, age 21, born in Ohio and Elijah Adams, 22, born in Massachusetts.[3]

It is difficult to trace Edmund, Minerva, Eugene, and Laura, in records after the 1850 Census. Arthur,11, appears in the 1860 Federal Census and is shone living with Ira Maltby, 55, and Emily Maltby, 48 in Ashtabula Township, Ashtabula County, Ohio. Records show that Emily Maltby and Minerva Linn were sisters. Index to New York Death certificates, 1862 to 1948 shows that Minerva W. Linn, the spouse of Edwin S. Linn and their child is Arthur L. Linn.  Her maiden name is listed as Barney.

Ira and Emily Barney Maltby would later play an important role in the lives of Arthur and possibly Eugene Linn. Census records show that Arthur Linn and his brother Eugene didn’t live with the Maltbys in 1850, but Arthur is listed as living with them in 1860.

Cholera Creates Epidemics

Cholera epidemics were one of the unpleasant facts of 19th Century life in the United States. From about 1832 to the early 20th Century, cholera epidemics killed thousands of Americans. Spread by drinking water or food contaminated with human waste, cholera causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps. People can die from dehydration within a few hours or days after they experience the first symptoms of cholera. Cholera usually followed the pattern of flourishing during spring, summer and, fall. States like Ohio which had cold winters, enjoyed a winter respite from cholera.

The water and cholera equation with people in between equaled disaster for people. In 1832, cholera came to Cleveland and Clevelanders first, when travelers and businessmen carried it across Lake Erie. By the fall of 1832, people traveling along the Ohio River brought cholera to Cincinnati. Lakes like Lake Erie and lesser lakes and rivers like the Ohio and Mississippi enabled cholera to speed across the United States in all directions.

Inland Ohio didn’t escape the clutches of cholera, either. Ohio’s network of canals provided laboratory petri dish calm breeding grounds for cholera and drinking water for canal workers, an often-fatal combination for the workers. Canals, railroads, and steamboats created prosperous transportation and travel networks for Ohioans, but they also brought cholera to the heartland.

The cities proved to be the most fearsome and fatal harvesting grounds for cholera. Between 1832 and 1835, St. Louis lost 500 people to cholera; Cincinnati, 732; and Detroit, 322. The most severe cholera epidemic in Ohio struck in 1849-1851, and 5,969 people died in Cincinnati alone, including the baby son of Harriet Beecher Stowe. The total Ohio death toll for those years is estimated to be about 8,000 people. Officials had to postpone the first Ohio State Fair and the Ohio State Constitutional Convention. In the 1849-1851 outbreak, St. Louis lost 4,557 people; Cincinnati, 5,969; and Detroit, 700. In each outbreak, the deaths totaled five to ten percent of the population.

Despite the number of cholera deaths in the cities, they managed to survive, stumbling for a time, but they rebuilt their economies and worked to discover the source of cholera. After John Snow found that drinking water in London had caused a cholera outbreak, and German microbiologist Robert Koch discovered that cholera bacillus in 1884, scientists and public health officials across the country campaigned for cities to install water purification systems.

Cholera epidemics continued to march across the United States. until the early 1900s. By then, sanitation measures, including sewer systems and clean water facilities, had become commonplace enough to make cholera less commonplace.

Cholera Also Stalked Small Towns in Mid America

When cholera came to Nineteenth Century small towns, it not only threatened the health and lives of its residents, but the social structures of their communities. Some fearful residents noted what they considered the sinful behavior of vulnerable groups like poor black people and Irish immigrants. These fearful people accused them of incurring the wrath of God that He expressed through cholera epidemics on the entire population. Many times, they drove out those they considered to blame for the epidemic.[4]

Often, the governing authorities of these small towns denied the existence, origins, and scope of the cholera. Even historians tend to divide the cholera epidemics into 1832, 1849, 1866, and the late 1870s sections of time, when a closer look at the epidemic boundaries weren’t so neatly divided.

Officials and the general public didn’t understand cholera and its ability to easily sweep through populations. They didn’t make the connection between drinking contaminated water and getting sick. They didn’t see the cause and effect of disposing sewage and other household waste in streams and cesspools close to drinking water supplies and people contracting cholera.

Especially before the Civil War, the diagnosis and attempted cures for cholera were often as severe as the disease itself.  Doctors prescribed bleeding, purging, and opium. Often, they told people to use lead acetate as a disinfectant and calomel as a medication. calomel contained mercury and many people died for mercury poisoning or suffered negative side effects from calomel.

A Proper Burial

Cholera pandemics also created a problem for its survivors. How could they safely bury the victims of the contagious disease? Edmund Linn was fortunate that his lodge gave him a Masonic Burial. Family and friends of cholera victims frequently had no grave to visit. Most of the time, the bodies of cholera victims were collected, put on wagons, and since there was no time to make coffins for them, they were taken to cemeteries and buried at night in mass graves. Often the bodies were wrapped in cotton or linen and doused in coal tar or pitch. Sometimes the bodies were burnt before they were buried. If coffins were available, they were placed in coffins. Each body was placed in an eight foot deep pit and liberally sprinkled with quicklime.

Many cemeteries and other locations featured what were called cholera pits, burial places used when cholera ran rampant. Such mass graves often went unmarked and they were placed in remote or especially selected locations. Lack so space in graveyards, fears of contagious cholera, and laws restricting the movements of people during cholera epidemics were factors in establishing cholera pits.

Often, there was no time or inclination to record the names of the victims. During particularly severe and widespread pandemics, cemeteries submitted bodies and last names by location instead of victim. Many of the victims were poor and couldn’t afford memorial stones, although memorial markers were sometimes added at a later date.[5]

Cholera Shatters the Linn Family

The 1851 cholera epidemic shattered the Linn family. Rumors swirling around Lima had it that a man named Linn, who kept a store in the old log courthouse went to Cincinnati for goods in 1845 and he brought cholera to Lima. Is it possible that Edmund Linn , 1850 merchant in Lima, had been partners with a brother who died in a cholera epidemic? There is an Andrew Linn listed as a storekeeper in Lima in the History of Allen County.[6]

Although there are conflicting stories about who brought cholera to Lima, Edmund’s will clearly states that Eugene and Arthur Lynn are orphans, which indicates that their mother, father, sister, and grandfather had perished in the 1851 cholera epidemic in Lima.

The Last Will and Testament of Edmund Linn, dated August 25,1851, appoints Henry Grove guardian of Eugene Linn, age 9, and on September 2, 1851, he was named guardian of Arthur L Linn, age 3, orphans of Edmund S. Linn, late of the county of Allen, the state of Ohio.

Lima Lodge 205 of the Free and Accepted Masons buried Edmund Linn with a Masonic funeral, but where they buried him and probably his wife, daughter, and father has not been discovered. Eugene and Arthur Lynn were the only surviving members of their immediate family. They probably stayed with relatives or friends while Edmund’s will was being probated and living arrangements were made for them. The 1860 Federal Census lists Arthur as living with his mother’s sister Emily Barney Maltby and her husband Ira Maltby in Kingsville, Ohio.

The Kingsville Academy catalog of 1860 lists Eugene S Linn as a student and his residence as Kingsville.  Seventeen years old by now, Eugene could have lived at the Academy or with another relative or worked for a nearby farmer.[7]

The Maltby Connection

Genealogy and history are interchangeable in reconstructing the lives and the events in the lives of people. A brief look at the Maltby genealogy sheds some light on the relationships between the Linn and Maltby families, their connection to Kingsville, and the fate of Eugene and Alfred Linn, sole survivors of their immediate family.

William Maltby

William Maltby was born June 3, 1768, in East Hartford, Connecticut. He married Rachel Kerr Maltby in 1790. There children were:

Benjamin Kerr Maltby; Charles Milton Maltby; Daniel Maltby; David Maltby; George Washington Maltby; Hester Ann Maltby Doty; Ira Maltby; Isaac Newton Maltby; John F. Maltby; Joseph Maltby; Lydia Maltby; Mary Maltby; and William Wesley Maltby.[8]

William died on June 17, 1835 and he is buried in St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery in Worthington, Ohio. His epitaph reads: “Adieu my friends, Dry up your tears, I must lie here, ‘Til Christ appears.”  His wife Rachel Kerr Maltby died July 20, 1839, and she  is buried in Lulu Falls Cemetery in Kingsville.

William and Rachel’s son Ira, born in 1805, and his wife Emily Barney Maltby were most closely connected to the Linn family, since Minerva Barney Linn was Emily Barney’s sister. Both members of the Methodist Church, Ira and Emily lived in Kingsville with their children Minerva Adelle and Oliver A. Mary died in infancy and Lydia Augusta died when she was three. The grave of Mary A. Maltby is located in the Old Kingsville Corners cemetery. A Daniel Maltby, age 9, is also buried there. Ira and Emily are buried in Lulu Falls Cemetery.

Eugene and Arthur came to Kingsville to live with their Uncle Ira and Aunt Emily  after their father, mother, sister, and grandfather died in the 1851 cholera epidemic in Lima, Ohio.

Arthur and Eugene Linn most likely attended school and worked for the first few years of the Civil War.

Eugene and Arthur Linn in the Civil War

Eugene and Arthur Linn both appear on the roster of the  2nd Ohio Independent Battery of the Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery, but they were mustered in at different times and served in mostly different campaigns.  On December 28, 1863, Arthur joined the 2nd Ohio Independent Battery of the Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery.  According to his service record, Arthur was 21 years old when he entered the service. According to his father Edmund’s will, Arthur was three in 1851. No matter what his age, Arthur mustered into in the 2nd  Ohio Independent Battery of the Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery in 1863.

His brother Eugene, who according to his father Edmund’s will, was nine in 1851, entered the service on September 2, 1864 when he was 22 years old, also serving in the 2nd Ohio Independent Battery of the Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery.

The 2nd Ohio Independent Battery of the Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery had made much history before Arthur and Eugene were mustered into it. Organized at Camp Chase near Columbus, Ohio and mustered into service by Howard Stansberry, Captain of Topographical Engineers, to serve three years.

When its term of service expired, the original members, except veterans, were mustered out, and the organization composed of veterans and recruits stayed in service until August 10, 1865. On August 10, 1865, Captain Walker, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, mustered out the battery.[9]

The battles the Second Battery participated in included:

  • Pea Ridge, Arkansas, March 5-8, 1862.
  • Port Gibson, Mississippi, May 1, 1863
  • Raymond, Mississippi, May 12, 1863
  • Champion Hills, Mississippi, May 16, 1863
  • Red River Expedition, March, April, and Early part of May, 1864
  • Vicksburg, Mississippi, May 18 to July 4, 1863
  • New Orleans and Plaquemine, August 1863, March, 1864
  • Retreat to Morganza May 13-20, 1864
  • Duty at Plaquemine, Louisiana,  February 1865
  • Duty at Ship Island, Mississippi, until July 21, 1865
  • Mustered out July 21, 1865[10]

Ship Island is a barrier island twelve miles off the coast of Mississippi, in the Gulf of Mexico. Two months after the Confederates had evacuated Ship Island, a detachment of Yankee sailors and Union Marines held it. In November 1861, Union General Benjamin Butler arrived. Almost as soon as General Butler set foot on the island, he used it as a place to imprison and detain Confederate prisoners. By June 1862, the General had sent his first civilian detainees from New Orleans to Ship Island, a month after he captured New Orleans. He also sent Union soldiers convicted of serious crimes to Ship Island.

Despite General Butler’s accommodations for them, the first Confederate prisoners didn’t arrive on Ship Island until October 1864, when General E.R.S. Canby ordered more than 1,200 Confederate captives transferred from New Orleans. In April 1865, the Union Army captured Mobile, Alabama, and sent 3,000 prisoners of war were sent to Ship Island, swelling the prison population to its highest number. The prisoners remained there until late April or early May, when they went sent to Vicksburg, Mississippi, to be exchanged for Union soldiers. By June 8, 1865, no prisoners remained on Ship Island, and by October 11. 1865, the Civil War occupation of Ship Island had ended.

Arthur and Eugene Linn were mustered out of the 2nd Ohio Light Artillery in July 1865.  When Arthur filed for his Civil War Pension on February 23, 1893, his brother Eugene had been resting under his GAR marker in the Kingsville Corners Pioneer Cemetery for 26 years. [11]

Civil War Germs Were More Lethal Than Guns

Civil War movies and reenactments as well as Civil War literature frequently portray gallant Union and Confederate soldiers charging each other and fighting to the death for their respective causes. The reality for Civil War soldiers on both sides is less glorious.  The reality is that of the 620,000 military deaths recorded in the Civil War, about two thirds of them were from disease and not combat. Some studies even estimate that the number of deaths came closer to 750,000.

The conditions that brought about the sky-high death toll included crowded camps, poor health practices, no sanitary way of getting rid of garbage and human wastes, inadequate diets, an no treatments to match the specific disease. At the beginning of the war, soldiers built latrines close to streams which contaminated the water for people downstream.  Diarrhea, dysentery-defined as bloody diarrhea, and typhoid fever were the most lethal diseases. Diarrhea and dysentery accounted for 57,000 deaths alone. Other diseases that took their toll included rheumatic diseases, typhus and cholera, and about 30,714 cases of scurvy were recorded.

Both Union and Confederate Civil War doctors had to wage their own wars against lack of knowledge or remedies while striving to meet the challenge of the largest number of diseased people in 19th century America. Millions of soldiers left military service with chronic diseases of the intestines and lungs that killed them even though the Civil War had been over for a decade.[12]

Since Eugene Linn died in 1867, only two years after the Civil War ended, it is possible he was one of the soldiers who mustered out f the military with a chronic disease, especially since he had spent the last months of the war in the unhealthy climate of the Mississippi bayous and swamps.

One of his relatives, a Malty general, also died in 1867, but in Mississippi instead of Ohio.

The Maltby Civil War

Henry Alonzo Maltby

Arthur and Eugene’s Uncle Ira’s brother David and his wife Lucy had a son named Henry Alonzo Maltby who was born in Ashtabula in 1830 and lived until 1906.  Henry moved to Texas in 1851, and became the mayor of corpus Christi. In 1857, he resigned his office, raised a militia company in Corpus Christi, and joined General William Walker’s filibuster forces in Nicaragua.[13]

Like Eugene and Arthur’s father James Linn, Henry Alonzo Maltby was a newspaperman, and in 1859, after he turned to Texas from Nicaragua, he started publishing the Corpus Christi Daily Ranchero. He continued publishing the Daily Ranchero sporadically through the Civil War and finally he moved to Brownsville where if published it from 1866 through 1870. Eventually, the Ranchero merged with the Rio Grande Democrat to form the Brownsville Democrat and Ranchero which lasted until 1880. After he returned from the convention, he started a paper in Brownsville he called the American Flag, a Confederacy newspaper targeted to advance Confederate interests in foreign countries. When Brownsville came under Union control, Henry moved the newspaper headquarters to Matamoros.

In 1861, his fellow citizens elected Henry Alonzo Maltby to represent Nueces County in the Texas Secession Convention. In April 1861, he served on the executive committee of the Nueces County Committee of Safety and in June 1861, he unsuccessfully for the state legislature. He was an officer in the Confederate Army. [14]

On March 21, 1862, Henry Alonzo Maltby married Hannah A. Franks in Nueces County, and they eventually had five children.  Their children were:

Henry Alonzo Maltby, (Jr.) 1862-1934; Jasper Adelmon Maltby, 1869-1917; Ida Maltby Combe, 1874-1946; Texas Bird Maltby, 1877-1878; and David Maltby,1882-1947.

A dedicated Mason, Henry was the oldest past master of the Rio Grande Lodge, Ancient Order of Free and Accepted Masons. He owned and operated a successful hardware store in Brownsville, Texas.

Henry died on May 18, 1906, and his obituary in the Brownsville Herald paid tribute to him as “quiet and unassuming, a man of staunch principles, loyal to his friends, and true to his conception of right. His death removes from our midst one of the men who have been connected with the border history of Texas for many years, and whose demise is universally regretted.”[15]

He is buried in the Old Brownsville Cemetery.

Jasper Adalmon Maltby

Malvina James Maltby outlived her husband Brigadier General Jasper Aalmon Maltby by 23 years. During the years she spent in Chicago after his death, she clung to the American flag and her memories of her life with him.

Malvina James was born in Missouri in 1835. She married Jasper Adalmon Maltby on March 25, 1852, in Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois. The 1860 Federal Census shows that they had a five-year-old son named Henry. In the 1870 Census, Henry was age 15, and in the 1880 census, a 27-year-old printer. The 1889 Chicago City directory listed him as a printer.

Jasper Adalmon Maltby, husband of Malvina James Maltby and a brother of Henry Alonzo Maltby, was born in Kingsville, Ohio on November 3, 1826. He learned the gunsmith trade, and later moved to Illinois. He served as a private in the Mexican War and he was severely wounded at Chapultepec. When he returned to private life, he operated a gunsmithing and other mercantile pursuits at Galena, Illinonis until the Civil War broke out. .When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted as a private in the 45th Illinois Infantry.

Jasper Maltby rose through the ranks and on December 26, 1861, he became lieutenant colonel of his regiment. On March 5 1863 he was promoted to Colonel.  and in August 1863, he assumed command of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, XVII Corps which fought in northern George and later in Tennessee. He was wounded at Fort Donelson.[16]

General Ulysses S. Grant chose Jasper Maltby and his regiment for a desperate mission at the siege of Vicksburg which began in May of 1862 and lasted until July 4, 1863. Some historians call the mission of the 45th Illinois one of the most desperate missions of the Civil War.[17]

Fort Hill Library of Congress

A week before July 4, 1863, the day General John Clifford Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg to the Union Army, a council of the Union generals met. They decided that the blowing up of Fort Hill, the anchor of the left flank of the rear Confederate defense line, and Union control of the crater after the explosion would be of strategic value to the Union cause. Confederate artillery and  sharpshooters in a hundred rifle pits commanded Fort Hill.

The Union generals understood that a successful blowing up of the Fort would mean that few of the men who rushed into the debris would survive. Only a single regiment could bring about the necessary explosion and manpower to jump into the yawning crater that the explosion created and hold it against the Confederate hell fire while their comrades constructed protective works.

A multitude of volunteers stepped forward, but the Union generals in General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army chose the 45th Illinois, the Lead Mine Regiment, with Colonel Jasper A. Maltby in charge. The 45th regiment silently waited for the explosion. The signal given, and they heard a mighty roar and the earth shook from a heavy explosion. Colonel Maltby, his Lieutenant Colonel Malancthon Smith, and the men of his 45th Regiment hurled themselves into the smoking crater.

Shot through the head and mortally wounded, Lieutenant Colonel Smith died as his feet touched the bottom of the pit. Colonel Maltby was shot twice, but ignored his wounds to continue the fight. A Confederate artillery battery rained sheets of shrapnel into the ranks of the 45th Illinois and Confederate sharpshooters provided continuous volleys of bullets. The Union regiment had to throw up some kind of protection before the Confederates entirely annihilated it. Colonel Maltby designed certain of his men divert the sharp shooter’s fire and provide some resistance to the Confederate artillery. The 45th diversionary soldiers desperately fired to save their comrades who toiled to throw up protective barriers to deflect Confederate firepower. Both Union and Confederate soldiers fell.

The surviving Union soldiers passed beams into the pit and placed them in positions to protect their comrades.. They placed joists lengthwise and piled dirt around them. Colonel Maltby helped his men lodge the beams. He went to one side of the crater that had no elevation where he stood fully exposed, a tantalizing target. Although weak from his wounds, Colonel  Maltby put his shoulder under a heavy piece of timber and pushed it up and forward into place. Bullets chipped the woodwork, erupting the sand all around him. One Confederate artillery gunner trained his piece dead center on Colonel Maltby and a solid shot hit the beam that the Colonel had just set into place. The beam shattered into kindling, driving sharp pieces of wood into the colonel’s side and back.

After the 45th Illinois Regiment had succeeded in securing the crater, they picked up Colonel Maltby who was still alive, and carried to a surgeon at the field hospital. Afterward, the surgeon said that it would be time-consuming work to count his wounds. Colonel Maltby had only been in the field hospital about an hour when the clicking over the telegraph wires from Washington carried a message announcing the recommendation that Colonel Jasper A. Maltby of the Lead Mine Regiment be appointed a brigadier general of volunteers for conspicuous personal gallantry in the face of the enemy. A week later, General Grant’s victorious forces marched into Vicksburg.

Colonel Jasper A. Maltby, now Brigadier General Jasper A. Maltby, lived through the rest of the Civil War, and was mustered out of the service on January 15, 1866. The military appointed him the commander of the district mayor of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on September 3, 1867, but as time went on, it  became medically impossible for his body to withstand the shock and pain of the gaping wounds he had suffered a the Siege of Vicksburg. He died on December 12, 1867, in Vicksburg, the city that he had helped to conquer.

His widow, Malvina Maltby, received his flag and embraced it for the rest of her life, still treasuring it and his memory when she died in St Luke’s hospital in Chicago on December 28, 1901. She is buried with her husband in Greenwood Cemetery in Galena, Illinois. [18]

William Henderson Maltby

William Henderson Malty took a different military path than his brother General Jasper Maltby and the same Confederate path as his brother Henry Alonzo Malthy.

Born in Worthington, Ohio, on March 14, 1837, William Henderson Maltby worked as a typesetter for the Cleveland Herald in 1859. When his older brother Henry Alonzo Maltby founded the Ranchero in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1859, William moved to Texas to help his brother with his newspaper.

William and Henry lived in a boarding house. William met a young woman named Mary Grace Swift there and they were married on July 15, 1860.

At the beginning of the Civil War, William Malty joined an artillery battery, earning the rank of lieutenant and later becoming its captain. His artillery unit later became Company I of the 8th Texas Infantry Regiment.

When the Civil War began, William Maltby earned the rank of lieutenant in an artillery battery. and later became its captain. This unit later became Company I of the 8th Texas Infantry Regiment. On November 17, 1863, the 8th Texas Infantry Regiment fought the forces of Union Brigadier General Thomas E.G. Ransom to take a Confederate earthen fortification on Mustang Island called Fort Semmes. The Confederate garrison had les than 100 men, made up of detachments from the 3rd Texas State Militia commanded by Major Gorge O. Dunaway and the 8th Texas Infantry under Captain William N. Maltby.

The small Confederate garrison of Fort Semmes wasn’t prepared to fight the Union forces so Major Dunaway decided to unconditionally surrender his entire garrison instead of trying to fight the way back to the mainland.[19]

General Ransoms forces sent their Confederate prisoners to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where Captain Maltby had an influential advocate. His other brother Jasper Maltby, who had just been named a brigadier general. Through Brigadier General Jasper Maltby’ s influence Captain William Maltby was exchanged. He returned to Corpus Christi and reunited with his wife Mary Grace and their son Jasper who was born, while he served in the Army. Their daughter Mary was born three years later.

Soon after, William Maltby became publisher of the Corpus Christi Advertiser. A disastrous yellow fever epidemic swept the community in 1867,  claiming the lives of at least 157 residents, including his wife Mary Grace. Their two children, Jasper and Mary survived. On July 22, 1870, William married Anna Maria Headen, and the couple added three more children to their family.

In 1877, William Maltby and  Eli T. Merriman established the Corpus Christi Free Press, which became the forerunner of the Corpus Christi Caller.

William Maltby continued to work  in the newspaper business until his death on August 20, 1888. He is buried in Old Bayview Cemetery, Corpus Christi, Texas.

The Fate of the Maltby Nephews, Arthur and Eugene Linn

Because of Ira and Emily Malthy’s willingness to provide a home for her sister Minerva’s sons who survived the cholera epidemic, Arthur Linn and Eugene Linn had the opportunity to grow into adulthood.

The 1880 Federal Census revealed that Arthur L. Linn, age 31, was living in Cleveland with his wife Elizabeth C. Linn, age 27. They had a son Arthur L. Linn Jr, age 8; and a daughter, Minerva E. Linn, age 6. Elizabeth’s mother Jerusha R. Boyd, 52, and her brother, David A. Boyd, 24, lived with the Linns as well. Arthur listed his occupation as a traveling salesman.

The New York Index to Death Certificates 1862-1948 showed Arthur, a widower, living on Park Lane South in Kew Gardens, Long Island, New York. He died in the Veteran’s Hospital in Bronx, New York. on August 29, 1935 and he was buried on September 1, 1935 in Rensico Cemetery in New York. [20]

Although the Lima cholera epidemic orphaned Arthur Linn at age three, with the help of his Aunt Emily, his mother’s sister, and her husband Ira Maltby, he persevered and lived a long and productive life. His brother, Eugene, was not so lucky.

Is This Really Eugene Linn’s Grave?

Like his uncle by marriage Brigadier General Jasper Maltby, Eugene Linn could have died young from a wound he received in battle during his Civil War Service. Other possibilities are he could have returned home with disease viruses and bacteria like cholera alive and fatally attacking his immune system, or he could have contracted a disease or died in an accident locally. Whatever the cause of his early death, Eugene Linn died on April 17, 1867, at approximately 25 years of age.

At some point in the final days of his life, Eugene Linn either returned to his Kingsville ties with the Ira Maltby family or his brother Arthur brought him back to Kingsville to be buried. His tombstone can be found in the Old Kingsville Corners Cemetery.

But there is one more mystery and irony connected to the death of Eugene Lynn. His grave marker is in the Old Kingsville Corners Cemetery, but his Army record states that he is buried in Lulu Falls Cemetery. There is no marker for him in Lulu Falls Cemetery. Was he lost in the shuffle of moving bodies from the Old Kingsville Cemetery to Lulu Falls, an event that took place in the late 1800s according to a Kingsville Tribune article? Is Eugene’s grave marker the only part of him that rests in the Old Kingsville Cemetery and his body lies in an unmarked grave in Lulu Falls Cemetery?

The final irony of Eugene’s short life is that is resting place is as obscured as those of his father, mother, grandfather and younger sister.[21]


References

[1] James S. Linn Enlisted in the First Texas Foot Riflemen at Nacogdoches on June 13, 1846. He served at Point Isabel, Texas.

[2] History of Allen County Ohio and Representative Citizens, Dr. Samuel A. Baxter, Chicago, Illinois:  Richmond & Arnold,1906, p,  297. Most of the graves and grave stones were removed from the Old Lima Cemetery and transferred to Woodlawn Cemetery., The history of the Old Lima Cemetery states that some of the graves remained there and are covered by modern day industries. There are Linns buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.  Is it possible that Edmund is buried in Old Lima Cemetery?

[3] James S. Linn was listed as editor of Western Intellingencer in Delaware, New York.[Columbian Centinel, Mar. 1920, from Index to Marriages in Massachusetts Centinel and Columbian Centinel 1784-1841, at the American Antiquarian Society Library, Springfield, Massachusetts].  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Linn-285#_note-0

[4]  “The Black Cholera Comes to the Central Valley of America in the 19th Century-1832-1849 and Later.” Walter J. Daly, MD. American Clinical and Climatological Association, 2008. 119:143-153.

[5] “The Black Cholera Comes to the Central Valley of America in the 19th Century-1832-1849 and Later.” Walter J. Daly, MD. American Clinical and Climatological Association, 2008. 119:143-153.

[6] A Standard History of Allen County, Ohio, Vol. I, Chicago and New York (1921), pp. 365,

[7] Twenty-sixth annual catalogue of the officers and students of Kingsville Academy, 1859-60: Kingsville, Ashtabula . Kingsville Public Library Archives.

[8]Maltby Genealogy

[9] Louisiana and the Civil War

[10] 2nd Independent Battery, Ohio Light Artillery

[11] Ship Island

[12] Behind the Lens: A History in Pictures

Diseases in Civil War Camps

[13] William Walker, an adventurer and soldier of fortune from San Francisco, California, aspired to control Latin American countries and annex them to the United States. General Walker and his small army briefly invaded Nicaragua in 1855.  In 156, he gained control of the country, but by 1857, a coalition of Nicaraguan Liberals and Conservatives ousted General Walker and his forces.

[14] Henry Alonzo Maltby

[15] Houston Post, May 19,1906; San Antonio Daily Express, May 19,1906.

[16] The Union Army Volume 8

[17] U..S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles about Jasper Adalmorn Maltby  Name: Jasper Adalmorn Maltby  Residence: Galena, Illinois  Age at enlistment: 35  Enlistment Date: 17 Sep 1861  Rank at enlistment: Lieut Colonel  State Served: Illinois  Survived the War?: Yes
Service Record: Commissioned an officer in Company S, Illinois 45th Infantry Regiment on 26 Dec1861.
Promoted to Full Colonel on 29 Nov 1862. Promoted to Full Brig-General on 04 Aug 1863.
Mustered out on 04 Aug 1863. Commissioned an officer in the U.S. Volunteers General Staff Infantry Regiment on 04 Aug 1863. Mustered out on 15 Jan 1866.
Birth Date: 3 Nov 1826  Death Date: 12 Dec 1867
Death Place: Vicksburg, MS Sources: Illinois: Roster of Officers and Enlisted Men Dyer: A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion Heitman: Register of United States Army 1789-1903Generals in Blue, Lives of the Union Commanders Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS

[18] Greene County Herald, Leakesville, Mississippi. December 8, 1911.

[19] Howell, Kenneth Wayne, ed. The Seventh Star of the Confederacy: Texas During the Civil War, University of North Texas Press, 2011

[20] New York Index to Death Certificates 1862-1948. Arthur Linn.Gender:  Male. Race: White. Marital Status:  widowed.  Age:  87. Birth Date:  August 3, 1848. Birth Place: Lima, Ohio. Residence Street: 116-40 Park Lane So Kew Gardens, L.I. Residence Place:  New York. Years in United States:  Life. Death Date:  August 29, 1935.  Death Street Address:  130 West Kingsbridge Road. Hospital:  Veterans Administration Facility. Death Place;  New York City, Bronx , New York. USA  Burial Date:  September 1, 1935.  Burial Place:  Rensico Cemetery. (Kensico Cemetery?) Occupation: Bookkeeper. Father’s Birthplace: Pennsylvania. Father: Edwin (Edmund) S. Linn. Mother: Minerva W. Linn.  Informant: Arthur L. Linn. Executor:  Minerva Linn Warren.

[21] After the incorporation of the new cemetery in Kingsville (Lulu Falls?), the heart of the people seemed to leave the old one. It has alternately been cared for and neglected. The burial ground is located on the south side of Main Street and west of the center of the village. According to the custom of our fathers, the site was fixed up almost in the center of the town. It has long been a burial place for the dead and every inch of ground, set apart at first should be forever holy and consecrated to this use. The surface of the ground slightly and pleasant and the earth for the determined purposed most fit. It not really wisely, it was most justly set apart and should never be converted to any other use. Here from time to time, the people have buried many of the members of the most prominent families. These have not for the greater part been disturbed. The ashes of some have been moved to the new cemetery, but we believe only a few. Professor WE, Cooper. Kingsville Tribune, Friday August 13, 1886.

Featured

Maple Tree Murder, Magic, and Memorials in Ashtabula County

mr. tiffany

Mr. Tiffany stood stirring a huge kettle of boiling sap in a grove of sugar maple trees on his Nineteenth Century Geneva Township homestead, resolving to protect himself.  He knew beyond knocking on the wood of his log cabin door that his French neighbor Lamont was a witch. He debated what to do about it as he boiled the sap waiting for it to sugar.

Lamont was bad business; Mr. Tiffany knew that far beyond the shadow of the Lake Erie horizon. Lamont even mistreated Old Stannystone, because he hated Native American Indians.  According to a memoir by Mrs. Doris Webster Foret, who got the story from her grandfather Norman Webster,* the settlers were friendly toward Old Stannystone, a Native American who pitched his wigwam in the woods near their cabins. They considered him a harmless, community character, who added color and interest to their hard-working lives.  Old Stannystone’s worst habit surfaced when he had imbibed too much local firewater. The potent brew, mainly whiskey, inspired him to throw vegetables at the cabins of his white neighbors while shouting “Scare! Scare!” Then he cackled with glee at his joke as he ran away. *(From the Ohio Room of the Ashtabula District Library in Ashtabula).

oldstannystone

Everyone liked Old Stannystone except Lamont. Lamont ‘s dark French eyes radiated cold hatred when he saw or heard about Indians and he had a special dose of hatred for old Stannystone. Mr. Tiffany mused that Lamont didn’t seem to like his white neighbors either or maybe not even himself. No one knew where Lamont had come from and he didn’t volunteer any information about himself, Lamont’s face resembled a wolf and his eyes were as cold as an axe blade. with a heart that appeared to match. Lamont scowled so fiercely that his neighbors believed that he could and did keep their butter from coming, and their cows from giving milk. He put a spell on the leaven so the bread wouldn’t rise. He bewitched the rifles of hunters so that even though the woods teemed with game, they never hit their targets.  He bewitched their sap from turning into maple sugar. Lamont didn’t try to change his neighbor’s beliefs about him, using the power he had over them to benefit himself.  Mrs. Foret wrote that Lamont savored the fact that his neighbors believed he had supernatural powers.

Throwing more sticks of wood on the fire, Mr. Tiffany stirred the sap more vigorously. He inhaled the steamy fragrance of the boiling sap, expecting it to grain into sugar at any minute.  The sap stubbornly remained maple sap instead of hardening into maple sugar. Mr. Tiffany knew as surely as his trees were sugar maples that Lamont had bewitched his sap.  Just a week ago Lamont had asked him for some maple syrup and Mr. Tiffany had given him a half gallon.  Yesterday, Lamont had asked Mr. Tiffany for more maple syrup and received a quart from Mr. Tiffany. This morning, as Mr. Tiffany built his sugaring fire, Lamont had appeared and asked for more syrup. This time, Mr. Tiffany had refused to give up any more of his maple syrup. This time, Lamont had gotten his revenge by bewitching the sap so it wouldn’t sugar.

Fancying himself gifted with supernatural powers of his own, Mr. Tiffany decided to counter Lamont’s bewitching of his sap with a counter charm. In Mrs. Foret’s words, Mr. Tiffany had boasted that he could “overcome all enchantments.”

witch

In common with his neighbors, Mr. Tiffany believed that to effectively punish a witch, the bewitched object should be burned and if the witch could be separated from the burned object, the witch would be destroyed as well. Mr. Tiffany built a huge fire under his kettles and waited for his syrup to burn. He opened his eyes after he had rubbed them because the smoke stung them, and he saw Lamont standing in front of a smoking kettle.

“Oh, neighbor, I am in great pain! I do believe a little syrup would ease it!” Lamont cried.

“Begone! You cannot have one drop! We shall soon be rid of you and your evil spell!”

“Have pity.  I am in great distress,” Lamont cried.

Shouting a few more “Begones!” Mr. Tiffany continued to pile wood on his fires, putting a heap of live coals in each kettle to be certain that the sap burned. The sap in all of the kettles burned to charred globs and he rejoiced that the witch soon would be gone forever. Lamont finally slunk away, still writhing and moaning.

After he watched Lamont disappear into the woods, Mr. Tiffany cleaned his sap kettles thoroughly and started making maple sugar all over again. He hung his buckets on the sugar maples and while the sap collected, he ventured into the woods searching for Lamont. Mr. Tiffany expected, even anticipated, finding Lamont’s body lying in the woods, but he couldn’t find any trace of Lamont. He went back to his sap buckets and emptied the sap into his kettles, stirring it to boiling, but the sap still wouldn’t sugar.  And to add to his anger and bewilderment, Mr. Tiffany caught a glimpse of Lamont stalking him from behind his sugar maple trees.

One of Mr. Tiffany’s Yankee neighbors dropped by for a visit  after the maple sugar spell incident, and Mr. Tiffany told him about Lamont and his bewitched maple sugar.  Instead of sympathizing with him and the failure of his counter spell, Mr. Tiffany’s Yankee neighbor doubled over with laughter, slapping his knees for emphasis.

“I see nothing to laugh at,” Mr. Tiffany growled.

sugarmaple

“I’m sorry if my laughter has offended you, but your sugar would not grain because your trees are budding,” Mr. Tiffany’s Yankee neighbor said.  He added, “It never will you know. Old Lamont is having a great laugh at your expense and you might as well know the truth. When the trees bud, it’s time to stop making sugar!”
Not content with casting a winning spell on Mr. Tiffany, Lamont later lured Old Stannystone on a hunting trip. The two were last seen disappearing into a grove of sugar maple trees growing on the banks of the Grand River. Mr. Tiffany and his neighbors later heard that Lamont had gotten Old Stannystone intoxicated with firewater and murdered him. They never saw Old Stannystone or Lamont again, but at least the witch was gone!

Did the magic of maple sugar story really appear and disappear with Lamont and Old Stannystone, his murder victim?

The story of maple sugar goes as far back as the coming of the white man to North America. When Europeans and Native Americas first encountered each other, maple sugar sweetened their interactions. Native Americans taught white people how to boil down sap and make maple sugar, one of their most important foods. Native American legends about their discovery of maple sap are as numerous as grains of maple sugar. One version of the of the sap discovery story says that a tribal chief threw a tomahawk at a tree and collected the sap from the cut. His wife boiled venison in the sap and sugar maples were forever marked. Another version of the legend has it that Native Americans stumbled on sap running from a broken maple branch, test tasted it, and brought it into their diets.

To tap the sap, Native Americans cut a V-shaped gash in a tree with a sharp stone or ax, and often collected the sap in hollowed out three-foot logs of basswood or white pine. Others used birch bark vessels with inner bark sewed with basswood fibers and waterproofed with pitch from boiling Jack pine cones. They stored their sugar in “mokoks”, birch bark vessels usually shaped like a canoe or animal or like the lower half of a pyramid. Other Native American tribes caught maple sap in clay bowls and boiled it until the water in it evaporated. This boiling left hard blocks of maple sugar that they carried with them when they traveled.

A scarcity of salt motivated Native Americans to season almost all of their cooking especially meat, with maple sugar instead of salt. They soured maple sap with vinegar, allowing it to ferment into an alcoholic drink, and they created a mixed drink of maple sap combined with sap from box elder, silver maple, yellow and black birch and shag bark hickory. They cooked venison in vinegar and sweetened it with maple sugar. Native American children poured thick maple syrup on snow to make candy and greased their hands to pull it into taffy.

From the 17th Century into the 21st Century enterprising farmers and other maple sugar lovers have tapped sugar maple trees to produce maple syrup and other maple sap delicacies. Utilizing maple sap involved drilling small holes in sugar maple trees during the open weather window between winter and spring, drilling on days when the temperature hovered around 40 degrees after a night of below freezing temperatures. Ohio farmers called their maple tree groves sugar bushes and hung buckets under drilled holes. Every few days, depending on how fast the sap ran out of the trees, the farmers emptied their buckets into larger containers or tanks and hauled the sap to a sugar house, usually built in the woods.

The magic of maple sugar took and still takes place in the sugar houses. Since maple sap is about 98 percent water, it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. Sugar makers boiled off most of the water over a wood fire until only a brown sweet syrup remained and the more adventurous continued boiling the sap further until it turned into crystallized sugar. As time and the industry evolved, companies from Quebec to Vermont to Ohio produced improvements to sap processing, including evaporators that streamlined sap boiling

According to Ohio Maple History. org, in the United States, there are 12 maple sugar producing states, including Ohio. The United States Agricultural Census of 1840 listed Ohio as the largest maple producing state and in the early 21st Century Ohio is ranked fourth to fifth in maple production. More than 900 maple sap producers yield approximately 100,000 gallons of sap each year and the maple industry contributes about five million dollars to Ohio’s economy every year.

Some interesting historical facts about Ohio maple syrup include that fact that during the Civil War, Abolitionists in Ohio used maple sugar to protest the cane sugar that slave labor produced in the South. Since Ashtabula County rocked the cradle of Ohio Abolitionists, it is easy to imagine Joshua Giddings and Betsey Cowles stirring maple sugar into their tea instead of tainted cane sugar.

French Lamont would have called the sugar maple trees Erables a sucres. There is no record that he provided even one Erable a sucre for Old Stannystone.  Perhaps his unmarked grave lies beneath a sugar maple tree growing along the banks of the Grand River near Mr. Tiffany’s homestead, an ironic connection between the Native American and European relationship with sugar maples and maple sugar as well as pioneer witchcraft superstitions.

The descendants of the sugar maple trees of Old Stannystone, Mr. Tiffany, and Lamont in Geneva Township serve as a living memorial for U.S. Army Sergeant Kurt Schamberg along Grand Valley Avenue West in Orwell.  Born on July 16, 1978, in Warren, Ohio, to Thomas and Pamela Schamberg, he grew up in Orwell, Ohio. Six years after he graduated in 1997 from Grand Valley High School, he enlisted in the army in April 2003, and completed his basic training at Ft. Benning, Georgia in July 2003. He was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum, New York, and served with Charley Company, 2nd Bat. 14th Infantry, 2nd Brigade.

While Sergeant Schamberg was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq since January 25, 2005, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, on April 12, 2005, presented him with a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during a fire fight while on patrol on March 31st. A little more than a month after receiving his Purple Heart, Sergeant Kurt Schamberg, age 26, was killed on May 20, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq from a roadside blast while on patrol near the Abu Grahib prison.

According to Sergeant Schamberg’s family, he enjoyed sports, politics, and having a good time with family and friends. He loved to draw, paint, and make home movies with his family and friends, documenting his unit’s tour of duty in Iraq. He believed in his unit’s mission and helping the people of Iraq, and urged people to support and believe in American troops. Hundreds of Orwell and area residents, relatives, high school friends, and a U.S. Army guard from the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, attended Sergeant Schamberg’s funeral. He is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery on North Maple Street in Orwell, Ohio.

kurtsgrave

An Ashtabula Star Beacon story by Doris Cook, dated April 25, 2006 and located on page three, continues the legacy of Sergeant Kurt Schamberg. His aunt Katie Schamberg and memorial donations from family, friends, and fellow citizens made it possible to plant rows of 26 sugar maple trees along Grand Valley Avenue West in Orwell in his memory.

 

On Sunday morning April 23, 2006, almost a year after Sergeant Schamberg’s death in Iraq, twenty volunteers began their work shortly before 9 a.m. under sunny skies with a brisk breeze blowing. Paul and Jane Byler who owned Best Buds, a local nursery, helped select the sugar maples.  His aunt Katie watched as friends, village officials, and relatives carrying shovels and wearing boots, planted the trees. Orwell Street Department Supervisor, Mark Calabrese operated the backhoe and dug the holes for the 17-foot-tall maple trees. Dividing into teams, some of the volunteers did the initial plantings and others piled up soil and mulch. They planted five trees on each side of the drive near the main school sign.

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From left, Peggy Bottoms, Brenda DeLuca, John Mikus, Lee Covell and John Glavickas were among 20 Orwell volunteers planting 26 sugar maple trees on Sunday, April 23 along Grand Valley Avenue West.

“We wanted to do something for Kurt to be remembered. What better way than planting trees,” Sergeant Schamberg’s Aunt Katie said.

 

Maple Leaf Prints

Maple leaves stamp the lives of seasons

Wax paper pressed in a life scrapbook

Drifting past human rhymes and reasons

Dancing in individual nooks..

Winter leaves rustle and whisper the past

Spring leaves sail in sugar bush smoke

They act solo, but succumb at last

To the teamwork of a wheel spoke.

Summer leaves hint possibility,

Returning like a true faithful friend

Covering the steady maple tree,

Restoring the will to dance again.

Maple trees watch for sentinel years

Throughout life’s blazes and faint embers,

Creator’s comfort to human tears

Steadfast reminders to remember.

 

Featured

William Henry Jones, Jefferson, Ashtabula County, Ohio, Freedom Walker

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 Joshua Reed Giddings Law Office, Jefferson, Ohio. The Giddings Post of the G.A.R. conducted Henry’s funeral.
‘Tis coming! Truth’s triumphal car,
With lamps of boundless lustre bright –
And Liberty’s translucent star
Burns lovely in their holy light;
We see, we own! a Pow’r Devine
Speaks Freedom to the immortal mind;
And – spurning from the world the chain
Bids millions walk erect again.  Platt L. Spencer[1]

 
William Henry Jones, a mulatto man from Jefferson, Ohio, walked many miles in his 73 years, some of them working as a janitor in Jefferson, some of them through the southern states to claim his freedom in the north, and others while he served with the Union Army. Some of the most significant miles he walked involved the legislative steps he took to participate in work of Reconstruction in the South.

His obituary in the Jefferson Gazette dated January 1, 1920, provides fascinating glimpses of the contributions William Henry Jones made to win racial equality a century ahead of the Civil Rights Movement and although the jackbooted efforts of white supremacists like the Ku Klux Klan left deep muddying imprints on these early efforts, they didn’t and couldn’t erase them. Using records to put Henry’s life in the larger historical picture reveals the important part that Jefferson played in it as well.

An article by Jerry Hanks in the Jefferson Gazette dated May 4, 1943, includes some of his reminisces about his boyhood adventures in Jefferson. He remembered Henry Jones as a black man, part Choctaw Indian and probably part white.  He said that the Ku Klux Klan and driven Henry out when he had the courage to serve as a member of the legislature in one of the Southern states.[2]

Depending on the document of record, Henry Jones is listed as Henry Jones, William Henry Jones, or Henry William Jones. He was the son of Jordan Jones, who according to a Jefferson Gazette article, was part Choctaw Indian and part Mulatto and according to the 1860 census record was born in 1820 in Germany. He married Louisa Sweitz who the census of 1860 also says was born in Germany, but she and Jordan were married in Bibb, Georgia.[3]

Henry’s obituary states that he was born in Augusta, Georgia in 1846. The 1860 Federal Census records that Henry was born in 1848 in Germany. The rest of the information in this census states that Henry, age 12, was a mulatto and lived in Jefferson. It identifies his mother as Louisa and his father as Jordan Jones, and describes them both as mulattos.

At first glance, it seems that the census taker might have made a mistake in listing the birthplace of Henry and his parents as Germany. The census taker might be in error, but there is a strong possibility that Germany might be the correct location of their births. Although Germany did not become a unified country until 1871, independent German states and regions and municipalities established slave forts and brought slaves from the west coast of Africa in the 17th century to sell to the Dutch East India Company.  In 1717, King Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia sold his estates in Africa that had been the home of the approximately 30,000 slaves that he sold to the Dutch East India Company. German slave cartels and individual traders in the 18th and 19th centuries enabled the German states to become important contributors to the Atlantic Slave Trade.[4]

Henry and his family may have crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a trans-Atlantic slave ship and been sold to slave buyers in Georgia which could account for his birthplace being listed as Germany in some census records and Georgia in others. Events in Henry’s adult life took place against a backdrop of Jefferson, Ashtabula  County, Ohio, history, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement.

In the 1840s when Henry was born, Jefferson, the county seat of Ashtabula County Ohio, had already been growing for at least forty years. Gideon Granger, U.S. Postmaster General during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, officially founded Jefferson in 1803, basing his plans for the village on the layout of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He also dreamed that Jefferson would grow like Philadelphia, and in 1804 he had his agent build a cabin as a start toward making his dream a reality.

Another of Gideon Granger’s land agents convinced the Samuel Wilson family to move to Jefferson in 1805, and when they arrived on Granger’s land, they searched for their new home in a bustling settlement. They found a wilderness with scattered trees bearing Philadelphia street names that implied future growth, but no present houses or goods.  Samuel Wilson died after two weeks of strenuous labor preparing for winter, but his wife and children remained in their new home and were the first citizens of Jefferson.

Although Not Philadelphia, Jefferson Grows

The Wilsons witnessed the establishing of Ashtabula County in 1807 and Jefferson’s slow growth over the next fifty years. By the time Henry Jones appeared on the scene, Jefferson had expanded to four churches and 73 homes and provided a place for farmers to buy seed and other provisions from the three stores in town.

Advertisements in the Ashtabula Sentinel of March 5, 1857, reflected the growing commerce in  Jefferson.

Jefferson Cabinet. John Ducro’s Headquarters. The subscriber would respectfully remind his old friends and the public generally that he is still in hand at the southeast corner opposite the courthouse, Jefferson, where they will find him with every variety of cabinet, furniture, finished in best style and in the process of making. March 5, 1857, Ashtabula Sentinel. The same issue also contains advertisements for Barbers Water Elevator, and for J.A. Hervey and Company’s harnesses, trimmings, trunks, hardware, and carriage and race trimmings.

A Hotbed of Abolitionism

The pioneer Wilson family also welcomed new citizens of Jefferson. Benjamin Wade and Joshua Giddings were both lawyers and Republican Abolitionists. In 1831, the two lawyers established a law practiced which lasted until Benjamin Wade won a seat in the Ohio State Senate in 1837 and Joshua Giddings was elected to Congress in 1838. State senator Wade became Congressional Senator Wade in 1851. Both senators helped create the Republican Party and were solid Abolitionists, sheltering and aiding fugitive slaves in their law office and homes.

Abolitionists were as plentiful as oak trees in Jefferson and several houses served as stations on the Underground Railroad John Brown frequently visited the village and made speeches to its citizens. many of them active participants in the Underground Railroad. Wilbur Henry Siebert wrote in the Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom that Underground Railroad operations in Ohio featured defined routes from the border of Kentucky throughout the state, with most of them ending at Cleveland, Sandusky and Detroit. [5]

When William Henry Jones was about two years old, or four years old, depending on which date of birth from the documents is correct, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 as part of the Compromise of 1850, making the Federal government responsible to find, return, and try escaped slaves. It mandated that slaves be returned to their owners even in free states and required ordinary citizens to assist in their capture as well as making it illegal to harbor fugitive slaves. Abolitionists called the law the “Bloodhound law” because slave catchers used bloodhounds to recapture the fugitives.

By 1860, the year that William Henry Jones and his family were enumerated on the United States Census and listed as living in Jefferson, Underground Railroad operations in Ohio followed broad and defined patterns. Wilbur Siebert described Ohio’s Underground Railroad operations as “ culminating chiefly at Cleveland, Sandusky, and Detroit, led by broad and defined routes through Ohio to the border of Kentucky. Through that State, into the heart of the Cumberland Mountains, northern Georgia, east Tennessee, and northern Alabama, the limestone caves of the region served a useful purpose.”[6]

According to Wilbur Siebert, not everyone in Ohio admired the Underground Railroad or welcomed fugitive slaves. Ohio law prohibited slavery, but some people opposed ending it. They worried that former slaves would move to Ohio, take jobs away from white people, and demand equal rights with white people. These people despised the Underground Railroad. Some of them attacked conductors while others worked to return fugitive slaves to their owners to collect rewards.[7]

The obituary of Henry Jones in the Jefferson Gazette stated that he was a runaway slave, but because of his young age in 1860 when he lived in Jefferson, it is likely that if he ran away from slavery, he escaped from the South with his entire family.[8]

Jordan Jones and William Henry Jones Fight for the Union

At the beginning of the Civil War, black people numbered 36,700 people or two percent of the Ohio population. After the Federal Conscription Act passed in 1863, the state of Ohio began to enroll blacks in volunteer units, where they served under white officers and were paid half of the pay that the white volunteers received.

During the Civil War, recruits for the Union Army received their training at Fort Giddings, which stood in Jefferson Village at the site of the future Ashtabula County fairgrounds. Senator Benjamin Wade stood one vote away from acting as president because President Andrew Johnson had been impeached. By the end of the Civil War, 5,000 black soldiers served in state or federal units during the conflict.

Jordan Jones and his son William Henry Jones, both served in the Civil War. Jordan Jones enlisted in Company K of the 103rd U.S. Colored Infantry. The 103rd was organized at Hilton Head, South Carolina, on March 10, 1865, and became attached to the District of Savannah, Georgia, Department of the South from June 1865 to April 1866. The 103rd performed garrison and guard duty at Savannah Georgia and at various points in George and South Carolina. It mustered out on April 15, through 20th, 1866.[9]

William Henry Jones joined the 11th Regiment of the United States Colored Heavy Artillery. Organized from the 14th Rhode Island 11th Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery, the regiment was renamed the 8th Colored Heavy Artillery on April 4, 1864, and finally the 11th Colored Heavy Artillery on May 21, 1864. The 11th Colored Heavy Artillery participated in the Defenses of New Orleans, Louisiana, Department of the Gulf, until October 1865 and it was mustered out on October 2 1865.[10]

Henry Jones Helps Legislate Black Rights

At the end of the Civil War, Northern and Southern leaders confronted the question of how to reunite and reconstruct the country, with the right to vote a central issue. In the last half of the 1860s, the United States Congress passed a series of acts called the Reconstruction Acts created to address the questions of voting and other civil rights and how the Southern states should be governed. The Reconstruction Acts created the Freedmen’s Bureau, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and imposed military rule over Southern states until they could establish new governments. The Constitutional Amendments and Reconstruction Acts gave former male slaves the right to vote and hold public office.

Each former Confederate state was required to forge and adopt a Constitution including voting and civil rights for all of its citizens. Henry’s obituary in the Jefferson Gazette noted that he had been a member of the legislature in one of the Southern states. Henry walked the twisted legislative paths to democratic government and wrestled with its white backlash. In South Carolina with its black majority, the backlash against a democratic government was especially toxic. The website Political Graveyard records a Henry Jordan of Horry County, South Carolina as being a delegate to the South Carolina State Constitutional Convention in 1868 and it specifically states that he was of African ancestry. [11]

Perhaps the Henry Jordan who participated in the Constitutional Convention mandated to write a new state constitution is Jefferson’s Henry Jordan. His obituary said that he was “a man of good intelligence and kept well informed upon public affairs.” Jerry Hanks in his reminiscence in the Jefferson Gazette stated that  the Ku Klux Klan drove Henry out of the state capital as a reconstruction senator in the carpetbagger days. Ashtabula County Abolitionist and writer Albion Tourgee of Williamsfield, described conditions in the Reconstruction South  in his book Fool’s Errand by One of the Fools. Although a novel with a love story, Tourgee based the themes and settings of his story on his actual experiences in Greensboro, North Carolina, during Reconstruction and graphically illustrates the impact of the Klan, and the efforts to rebuild a shattered South.[12]

Judging by the way he had conducted his life, Henry walked slowly and purposefully away,  instead of being driven.

Henry Jones Comes Home to Jefferson, Ohio

After he had fought in the Civil War and contributed to creating  a democratic South, Henry Jones married Rebecca Lewis of Toronto, Canada in 1877. They raised a son, Joseph P. Jones, and a daughter, Henrietta Jones Leek.

By 1880,  the  year that Henry became a school janitor in Jefferson, approximately one thousand people resided in Jefferson. In 1886, the town had two newspapers, five churches, and two banks. Henry began his janitorial duties in 1880 and continued them until 1910. The 1910 census lists him as a school janitor. In his newspaper recollections of Henry Jones, Jerry Hanks in the Jefferson Gazette noted that one day “I nearly missed getting to school before the last toll of the morning bell, rung by janitor Henry Jones, who was one of the many famous actors about the village.”[13]

Jerry also mentioned that in those days a number of former slaves lived in the vicinity of Jefferson. He that a man named Crooms had a large family and Cassius, one of the sons, a musician, traveled with a black orchestra. Another former slave, Ned Sikes, lighted the street lamps.

After thirty years of serving as janitor of the public school building in Jefferson Henry resigned because of his age and his worsening diabetes. He died at his home on West Ashtabula Street on Monday evening, December 29, 1919, from his diabetes.

Henry’s funeral took place at his home on Wednesday, December 31, at 1:30 p.m. The Giddings Post of the G.A.R. conducted the funeral. with Reverend H.W. Buckles, pastor, presiding. John M. Miller was the funeral director.

 

Sharing a Living Legacy

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William Henry and Rebecca Jones, Jordan and Louisa Jones, their son John Paul Jones and their daughter Nettie J. Leek, are all buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Jefferson, Ashtabula County, Ohio.  Two of Jefferson’s famous Abolitionists Joshua Giddings and Benjamin Wade are buried in Oakdale Cemetery as well.

The lives and causes of the Jones family and Joshua Giddings and Benjamin Wade were united in life and they rest near each other in death. Their legacies live on. but there are still many steps to take toward the finish line. They are not yet resting.

The Seesaw Steps Toward Equality

Despite the fact that the 13th and 14th Amendments of the 19th century mandated equal treatment and civil rights under the laws of the reunited United States, African Americans continued to be treated unequally and unfairly. Jim Crow Laws in the South, urban ghettos in the North, unequal schools and economic inequality were persistent 20th Century issues.

The prevalent inequality in the South also existed in the North. Most Northern states have taken seesaw steps in the march toward racial equality. The Ohio Accommodations Law of 1884 banned discrimination based on race, but skating rinks, pools, hotels, and restaurants were still segregated in Ohio through the 1950s. In 1959. the Ohio Civil Rights Commission was created to monitor and enforce laws preventing employment discrimination.

Founded in 1865 in Tennessee to keep newly freed slaves in economic and social bondage, the Ku Klux Klan two years later elected General Nathan Bedford Forest its Grand Wizard.  During the 19th and early 20th centuries the Ku Klux Klan expanded its white supremacist operations from South to North, enjoying a degree of support in 1920s Ohio even in major cities like Columbus, its capital.

In 1912, the first Ohio Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded in Cleveland and 100 years later in 2012, chapters of the NAACP exist in countless cities around Ohio. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and other Civil Rights pioneers walked and ran down the twist path to equal rights, but did not fully arrive at the finish line.

In the 21st century, the goal of racial equality still gleams in the distance, like yellow finish line tape. Steps are slow, faltering, and sometimes stop.  Jefferson and the rest of Ohio have pioneers like William Henry Jones,  hometown walkers and sprinters who had the vision to see rainbows instead of segregated colors and they kept walking.

This February, Black History Month, let’s walk with Jordan and William Henry Jones from Jefferson, Ohio all across America.

Notes

[1] ANTI-SLAVERY
‘Tis coming! Truth’s trimphal car,
With lamps of boundless lustre bright –
And Liberty’s translucent star
Burns lovely in their holy light;
We see, we own! a Pow’r Devine
Speaks Freedom to the immortal mind;
And – spurning from the world the chain
Bids millions walk erect again.
THE next meeting of the Ashtabula County Anti-Slavery Society will be held in Rome, on Thursday the 25th of April inst. at 10 o’clock a.m. Several speakers will address the meeting, and a general attendance is requested, as matter of importance will require consideration and action.
By order of the Executive Committee. P. R. SPENCER, Corresponding Secretary
Dated 1st April, 1838.  Conneaut Ohio Gazette, April 1, 1838.

[2] Jerry Hanks, Jefferson Gazette, January 1, 1920.

[3] The 1870 census lists his mother Louisa as a mulatto and that her father was of foreign birth  Maybe that is where the Germany comes in.  Susan Bowdre, age 14 lived with them.

[4] Not So Plain as Black and White: Afro-German Culture and History, 1890–2000, Patricia M. Mazón, Reinhild Steingröver, page 18

German entanglements in transatlantic slavery: An introduction

Heike Raphael-Hernandez &Pia Wiegmink. Pages 419-435 | Published online: 29 Sep 2017

[5] Wilbur Henry Siebert. The Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom – Wilbur Henry Siebert

[6] Wilbur Henry Siebert. The Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom – Wilbur Henry Siebert   p. 119

[7] Ibid.

[8] The 1860 Federal Census lists 12 year old Henry as living in Jefferson, Ohio.

[9] Jordan’s wife, Louisa, filed for a pension In Georgia, dated November 27, 1900, based on Jordan’s service. Louisa Jones filed for a pension for her husband Jordan Jones.

[10] Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the United States Colored Troops:  Artillery Organizations. Henry filed for a pension April 2, 1883.

[11]Political Graveyard

[12] A Fool’s Errand by One of the Fools   

[13] Jerry Hanks, Jefferson Gazette, January 1, 1920.

Featured

The Waters of the Walk-in-the-Water

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Huron Village

Chief Walk-in-the-Water, Chief Tarhe, Isaac Zane, and Princes Myeerah Tarhe Zane, lived through their life stories along waterways including the Detroit, Potomac, Ohio, Thames, and Mad Rivers and Lake Erie. The struggle between the British and French for domination of the Ohio Country and the Mississippi Valley, and the fate of the Walk-in-the water, the first steamship on Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan combined to make a human and historic drama as powerful as a Lake Erie storm tossing sand, shells, and waves on its beaches.

Chief Walk-in-the-Water

Maera…Awmeyeeray…Mirahatha…The syllables of his Wyandotte name whisper in the winds blowing down the Detroit River to his Wyandot village. English tongues spoke and transcribed his name as Walk-in-the Water, a name that is connected to Tarhe, the Crane. Chief Tarhe had a daughter named Myeerah which means The White Crane and literally translated means Walk-in-the-Water. As well as their names, their lives and times are connected.

Walk-in-the-Water was born in the late 1700s in the Great Lakes region. By the early 1800s he lived in the Detroit River village of Maquaqa, the present site of Wyandotte, Michigan, in a village consisting of about twenty houses and at least 1,300 fellow Wyandots.

Walk-in-the-Water grew tall, nearly six feet and stood arrow straight. He could smile with good nature and treat his fellow Wyandots kindly, but he could also fight as fiercely as a wolf. Walk-in-the-Water made passionate speeches and worked to help his people survive and prosper in their villages. His name appears as one of the 1795 Treaty of Greenville signers, a Treaty that the Native American tribes signed after their loss in the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers. The Treaty of Greenville ended the Northwest Indian War in the Ohio County and redefined the boundary between Indian and white lands in the Northwest Territory.

The Native American tribes were caught between the British and the Americans in the War of 1812 and were forced to choose sides. Influenced by Tecumseh and his Indian Confederation, Walk-in-the Water sided with Tecumseh and the British, although he realized that he and his people were caught in a vise grip between two super powers. He told the British that his people had no wish to be involved in a war with the Americans and they had nothing to be gained by it. He begged the British not to force the Wyandots in the War of 1812. He said, “We remember, in the former war between our fathers, the British and the Long-Knife (Americans) we were both defeated, and we, the red men, lost our county; and you made peace with the Long-Knife without our knowledge, and you gave our country to him. You said to us, ‘My children, you just fight for your country, for the Long-Knife will take it from you.’ We did as you advised and we were defeated with the loss our best chiefs and warriors, and our land.”[1]

Chief Tarhe remained true to his belief that the terms of the 1795 Treaty of Greenville prohibited aggression against the United States. He sided with the United States [2]

After Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie, General William Henry Harrison, General Lewis Cass, and Commodore Perry defeated a combined force of British and Indians at the Battle of Thames near Lake Erie on October 5, 1813. Walk-In-the-Water and 60 of his warriors surrendered to General Harrison. Chief Tarhe moved to Sandusky on Lake Erie and Chief Walk-in-the Water returned to his home and farm on the banks of the Detroit River near the present day village of Trenton, Michigan.[3]

Chief Tarhe, Warrior, Orator, Sachem

chief tarhe

Tarhe was born into the Porcupine Tribe of the Wyandotte Indians in 1742, and he lived in a  Wyandot village along the Detroit River.  Some accounts say that his name is the French translation of  grue, “the crane,” describing Tarhe’s slim build.[4] Other accounts contend that the Tarhe is a Wyandot word meaning “the tree,” again describing his six foot four inch, slender build. [5]

As a boy, Tarhe learned the customs of his people, and as a young man, he developed the heart of a warrior and the determination to fight to preserve the lands and culture of his people. Chief Tarhe and most American Indians were alarmed at the increasingly numbers of white settlers coming into the Ohio Country. Although the British had issued the Proclamation of 1763, ordering their colonists not to move west of the Appalachian Mountains, they still continued to settle on Indian lands.

Fighting between the settlers and Indians increased to the point that in 1774, the governor of Virginia, John Murray, Lord Dunmore, sent troops to attack the hostile Indian groups. Chief Tarhe sided with Cornstalk, a Shawnee leader, against the colonists who were generally victorious in Lord Dunmore’s War. When Lord Dunmore’s War ended, Chief Tarhe advocated peace between the white settlers and American Indians, but his efforts didn’t produce a lasting peace between the two sides.

At the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, the troops of General Anthony Wayne defeated the Indian forces. The Wyandot clans lost many of their warriors and Chief Tarhe was the only chief to survive the battle, although he suffered a badly wounded arm. After this first decisive defeat of the American Indians in the Northwest Territory, Chief Tarhe and Chief Little Turtle of the Miami advocated peace with the white settlers, because Chief Tarhe believed that without peace the Indians would be destroyed.

In 1795, a delegation of American Indians met with General Anthony Wayne in Greenville, Ohio, and the Ohio tribes chose Chief Tarhe to speak for all of the nations and keep the calumet and wampum belt of peace. Chief Tarhe had the honor of being the first of 90 chiefs to sign The Treaty of Greenville.  with Isaac Zane serving as translator and also signing it. The Treaty ended the wars between American Indians and white settlers, and moved all of the Indian tribes to the northwestern third of Ohio. When Tecumseh and other American Indian leaders formed an American Indian confederation in the Ohio County to unite against the settlers, Chief Tarhe counseled his people to honor the Treaty of Greenville that they had signed.

Chief Tarhe married Ronyougaines La Durante, a French Canadian girl. Some stories about Ronyougaines La Durante state that the Wyandots had captured her at a young age and raised her as one of their own people. In his biography of Chief Tarhe on the Wyandotte Nation website, Charles Aubrey Buser says that version of the Ronyougaines La Durante story probably isn’t true because the French and the Wyandots got along well and capturing a young French girl would have been unlikely.  The young couple had a daughter, Myeerah, who the settlers called “the white crane,” because of her fair skin. The literal translation of Myeerah is “Walk-in-the-water,” referring to the white crane who walks in the water. Chief Tarhe later married another captive woman named Sally Sharpe and they had a disabled son who died at age 25.[6]

During the War of 1812, Chief Tarhe, now 70, went to war again. This time he fought with American troops under General William Henry Harrison in his campaign into Canada and helped secure an American victory in the Battle of the Thames. After the War of 1812 ended, Chief Tarhe settled near Upper Sandusky and died there in 1818 at the age of 76, two years after his daughter Myeerah and her husband Isaac Zane. The Ohio tribes honored Chief Tarhe, and hundreds of American Indians attended his funeral. General William Henry Harrison expressed his admiration for Tarhe as “the noblest of them all.” [7]

Colonel John Johnston, then United States Indian Agent, attended Chief Tarhe’s funeral. In his “Recollections”, he writes  that Chief Tarhe represented his race in the northwest and as well as his own tribe, Shawnees, Delaware, Senecas, Ottawas, Mohawks, and Miamis mourned his death. The early settlers of central Ohio also considered Chief Tarhe a wise and honorable chief and they benefited from his friendship and influence. He often camped on the west bank of the Scioto River, eight miles north of Columbus, later known as Wyandot Grove. He was the friend of Lucas Sullivant and his comrades who founded what is now Columbus, Ohio.

According to Colonel Johnston, Chief Tarhe “belonged to a race whom we are usually please to call savages,” but “should have his memory perpetuated as far as possible by an enduring monument. This is a duty which the white race owes to one of the best representatives of a race which has passed away and whose territory we have taken for permanent occupation.”[8]

Princess Myeerah and Isaac Zane

princess myeerah

This painting of Princess Myeerah by artist Hal Sherman is at the Logan County Historical Society Museum in Bellfontaine, Ohio.

Further complicating an already involved story, but adding much to the romanticized version, Zane Grey, a descendant of the Zane family and famous novelist, contributed his own romanticized vision to the story of the struggle for the Ohio County and the role that his family played in it. In his book, Betty Zane, Zane Grey wrote that Indians had captured Isaac Zane,9, and his brother Jonathan, 11, near their home on the Potomac River as they were returning from school. Their captors took them to Detroit and eventually Sandusky, where they lived with the Porcupine Tribe of the Wyandot. The two boys lived in the home of Wyandot Chief Tarhe and his wife Ronyougaines La Durante and their daughter Myeerah.

Since the Zane family had helped lay out the National Road, helped found the town of Zanesville, and were important pioneers in settling Ohio, Zane Grey’s version of the Isaac Zane and Myeerah story rang true to most people settling along the Ohio River.

The Wyandots ransomed Isaac in 1764, but Chief Tarhe and his family had grown so fond of Isaac that he insisted Isaac remain with the tribe as his adopted son. In 1771, at age 18, Isaac left the Wyandots, but he eventually returned. He served as an intermediary between the Native Americans and the settlers of the region. In 1777, he and Myeerah were married in Logan County, Ohio, when he was 24 and she 19 and they eventually had three sons and four daughters. Most of their children married Wyandot tribesmen.[9]

Myeerah Zane is credited with saving the lives of many white captives and the life of her husband Isaac Zane himself more than once. She can be listed among Native American women who, like Pocahontas, served as intermediaries between the white and Native American factions, striving for peace. Zane Grey casts her role a little more romantically, focusing on her love for Isaac Zane as the focal point of her life and chronicling her visits to Zanesville on the Ohio River.

isaaczane

In 1795, the United States government ceded Isaac Zane 1,800 acres of land near what is now Zanesfield, Ohio. During the War of 1812, white settlers drove out the resident Shawnee Indians occupying the area and established a settlement that they called Zanesfield after Isaac Zane. Isaac and Myeerah Zane were the first settlers in Zanesfield and the Zanes also established the first fort in the region. They lived there until they died – Myeerah in February 1816, and Isaac on May 6, 1816. He and Myeerah are buried in the Isaac Zane Burial Ground in Zanesfield, Ohio.

The Walk-in-the-Water- the First Steamboat on Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan

walkinthewatersteamer

In 1818, just two year after the deaths of Isaac and Myeerah Zane, the Walk-in-the-Water’s name appeared on a steamboat built at Black Rock, New York. Accounts about the origin of the Walk-in-the-Water’s name vary. Captain Barton Atkins of Buffalo, New York, held the opinion that the steamer name originated from a Native American’s comment when he saw Robert Fulton’s first steamboat, the Clermont, plying the Hudson River in 1807. The Native American exclaimed the steamboat “walks in the water.” Other accounts say the steamboat was named for Wyandot Indian Chief Walk-in-the-Water and has connections with Myeerah and Tarhe.

Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan’s First Steamboat

In 1818, Noah Brown and Harris Fulton supervised the construction of a paddlewheel driven vessel at Black Rock, New York. Her machinery had to be hauled across the 300 miles from Albany to Buffalo in wagons pulled by five to eight horses each.

Their new steamboat measured 132 feet long and 32 feet across the beam, with a smokestack 30 feet high set between two sails for use when the winds blew strong. The steamer could hold 100 cabin passengers and many in steerage and it featured smoking, baggage, and dining rooms. Captain Job Fish was the first captain of the Walk-in-the-Water.

The Walk-in-the-Water began her maiden voyage from Buffalo on August 25, 1818, carrying 29 passengers bound for Erie, Grand River, Cleveland, Sandusky and Detroit. It took the steamer about nine days, achieving about eight to ten miles per hour, to complete her entire voyage. The trip cost her passengers $18.00 for a cabin and $7.00 for steerage.

When the Walk-in-the-Water arrived in Cleveland, most of the population of the village stood on the shore of Lake Erie to greet her. The people living along the shores of Lake Erie were interested and astonished at the sight of the Walk-in-the-Water and stopped in their tracks to watch her as she steamed past. She blew her whistles, and fired her cannon as she neared each port and her smokestack belched a dark cloud of smoke as she steamed across the lake.

Native Americans who didn’t know about the power and possibilities of steam gazed in wonder at the “thing of life” moving through the water without oars or sails propelling it. The few who heard the name of the magical ship gazed at it until it passed over the horizon, perhaps reminded of the famous Wyandot chief and the daughter of another chief who had given their names to the white man’s invention.  When the Walk-in-the-Water safely docked in Buffalo after her experimental round trip, convincing her owners, passengers, and people who watched her progress along Lake Erie that steamboats could safely and successfully navigate the lake.

Since the Walk-in-the-Water ran regularly from and to Black Rock Harbor, not the harbor at Buffalo, she had to travel a short distance down the Niagara River. She navigated the down stream trip successfully, but didn’t have enough power to prevail against the strong current at the head of Niagara River. Her owners and operators used what was called “the horned breeze,” which meant that a number of yokes of oxen regularly towed the ship up the Niagara River. [10]

In September 1818, the ship ran aground near Erie, but her owners quickly repaired her. The Walk-in-the-Water became the first steamboat to navigate Lakes Michigan and Huron when it voyaged to Mackinaw and Green Bay in 1819. The Walk-in-the-Water’s successful voyage was a 19th Century navigation miracle, because of the scarcity of harbors and unimproved conditions of landing places where ships could anchor and load and unload cargoes and passengers. Navigation aids and ship to shore communication advances were still a century away.[11]

For three years, the Walk-in-the-Water successfully navigated these obstacles- until a sudden Lake Erie squall hit the steamship on October 31, 1821.

Captain Jedediah Rogers had commanded the steamship since 1820, and its consistent, multiple runs each season had proven to be a sound investment for its owners. On October 31, 1821, the Walk-in-the-Water left Buffalo at 4 p.m., carrying about 75 passengers and a full load of merchandise. Although a steady rain fell, the skies weren’t dark and threatening until the ship had travelled up Lake Erie about six miles from Buffalo and run into a squall complete with high winds, torrential rain, and crashing waves.

Captain Rogers faced a difficult decision. He knew he couldn’t keep moving into such a wind, but neither could he return to Black Rock. He decided to anchor where he estimated the Buffalo pier should be. The wind pounded all night and an earlier leak grew so much that the engine had to be used to pump out the water. Even with these measures, the water continued to rise inside the steamer. Frightened passengers listened to the howling wind, the creaking timbers, and felt the listing of the steamer as the anchors begin to drag.

At 4:30 a.m., the captain summoned all passengers on deck and notified them of his plans to beach the steamer. The Walk-in-the-Water, with the force of the gale and her anchors dragging, approached the shore of Buffalo Bay. Passengers, though frightened, took comfort in the prudence and intelligence of Captain Rogers, and with one last tremendous blow of an Lake Erie wave, the Walk-in-the-Water slammed firmly onto the beach. The steamer’s 75 drenched passengers, many of them women, huddled on deck and, together, waiting for daylight. As dawn lurked above the horizon, a sailor in a small boat ferried the thankful passengers to land. About a mile in the distance, though obscured in the storm, the Buffalo lighthouse waited to welcome the weary travelers.[12]

The Cleveland Weekly Herald reported that “everyone on board with whom we have conversed speak in the highest terms of the master, Captain J. Rogers, whose calmness and persevering endeavors to save the boat, excited the admiration of all.”[13]

The Walk-in-the-Water’s hull had been damaged beyond repair, as was her cargo, resulting in an estimated loss of $10,000 to $12,000, but her legacy, like those of Chief Walk-in-the-Water, Chief Tarhe, and Isaac and Myeerah Zane, survived into modern forms. The Detroit Gazette of May 31, 1822, recorded the legacy of the Walk-in-the-Water when it reported the new location of her engine.

The New Steam Boat

On Saturday last arrived at this port, the elegant new steamboat Superior, Captain J. Rodgers, with a full freight of merchandize and ninety-four passengers. This excellent vessel was built at Buffalo the past winter, and is owned by the proprietors of the old steam-boat Walk-in-the-Water which was wrecked in the fall of last year. [14]

References

[1] Wyandotte Nation Biographies, Chief Walk-in-the-Water

[2]Walk-in-the Water,  A Wyandot Chief.” Sallie Cotter Andrews.

[3] John F. Winkler.The Thames 1813: The War of 1812 on the Northwest Frontier (Campaign Book 302) Osprey Press, 2016

[4]Chief Tarhe

[5] Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, Volume 9, July 1900, No. 1

[6] Wyandotte Nation

Ohio History Journal, Tarhe the Crane

[7] Ohio History Journal, Tarhe the Crane

[8] William Alexander Taylor, Centennial History of Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio, Volume 1. Chicago: S.J Clarke Publishing Company, p. 87.

[9] Granville- Licking Pioneer’s Minutes and Isaac Smucker Scrapbooks, Pioneer Papers No 100:  The Zanes, a Family Sketch, September 1, 1926, p. 273.

[10] The Marine Review, Thursday, March 30,1893.

[11] Cleveland Weekly Advertiser. Thursday, January 28, 1836, page 1.

[12] Cleveland Weekly Herald, Tuesday, November 13, 1821

[13]  Ibid.

[14] Detroit Gazette

May 31, 1822, p. 3

 

Featured

Festive Feasting, Christmas Cards, and Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

candle

21 Days of Christmas Album:  Christmas and Afterwards!

The holiday season stealthily sneaks up on the unorganized, multi-tasking millions of us whose intentions are good, but who never miss turning down the fork in the road to unrealized ambitions. I just sent out my Christmas cards this Christmas week, crossing my fingers and with this verse, a handwritten message, and an appropriately harried Christmas cartoon. For close friends, I included a heart melting picture of a little girl holding a walking doll to set the appropriate tender, sentimental tone to warm their hearts into sentimentality and forgiveness for the tardy Christmas greeting. There is also the potential to make fun of the younger me to relieve some of their annoyance at receiving a tardy Christmas card!

Christmas Card For Christmas Latecomers  

chrstmascard

Feel free to use the verse. I would love some company to alleviate the guilt and the psychological self talk that keeps pounding in my ear, if you really care, you’d be on time.  I really care, but I’m just better at making excuses than I am being on time!

I Just Wanted to Say

In case this misses Christmas Day:

I had such good intentions this year,

The house would be full of Christmas cheer,

The cookies all baked, the stockings all hung,

I’d be relaxed and full of fun.

The gifts aren’t wrapped, the tree is askew,

I still have a million things to do,

Reality hits me extra hard,

I’m late sending you this Christmas card.

Yes I’m late, but I wanted to share,

That you’re in my thoughts and I really care,

Next year I’ll get an early start,

This year, Merry Christmas from my heart!

Realistic Rules (Tongue in Cheek) For a Sleek, Resolute New Year

newyearcard

The procrastinating, unorganized, and umotivated among can apply our lifestyle to Holiday Festive Feasting and New Year’s Resolutions. The most important thing to remember about Festive Feasting, other than all of the correct, well meant advice about calories and longevity is that eat and treat both are the same word, rearranged.  Treat without the tr leaves eat which is an activity of choice during the holiday season. Customize this list of Ten Tenets of Festive Feasting and repeat before you get out of bed every morning in December and January. Print the list on an index card, pin it to the inside of your coat and take it to the holiday parties with you.

Ten Tenets of Festive Feasting

christmastable

Avoid carrot sticks unless you are a rabbit. Run to the holiday spread that includes rum balls, eggnog and pumpkin pie.

Guzzle as much eggnog as you can as long as you can. Remember that eggnog doesn’t survive and thrive outside of the holiday season. Don’t count its calories-about 10,000 a nip- or if you do put a negative symbol in front of the number and keep drinking.

Treat yourself to lakes of gravy. After all, the gravy container is called a gravy boat. Gravy does not live by gravy alone. It needs mashed potatoes or biscuits to be fulfilled. Use it liberally on mashed potatoes mountains and bales of biscuits.

Forget that calorie and cookie both begin with C.  Remember that cookies caress your craving for sweets and can change your holiday frazzled snares to smiles.

Arrive at holiday parties with a growling stomach instead of sensibly eating a snack before going to the party to curb your eating. After all, someone else slaved all day over the party food and there is no admission charge at the door.

Avoid exercise except giving your chewing muscles a workout and walking between the television and the refrigerator in December and January. Those long, cold winter months after the holidays are better for pain and pushups and there is always plenty of snow to pat on your aching muscles.

Troll the Buffet Table. If you see a plate of Santa cookies with icing or a pan of lemon bars, be a troll and pile a skyscraper of them on your plate. Ignore the banner across the door that says the holidays are for sharing. After all, it doesn’t mention food.

Pleasure yourself with pie. Pumpkin pie, mince and apple. Make all of that pie self discipline your practiced all year worthwhile and don’t be stingy with the ice cream or Cool Whip topping.

Remember that life is short, and eternity is a long time to ponder a sleek, well preserved body that never experienced the joys of chocolate or wine.

Maintain safety and alcohol intake common sense and after the holidays, return to your measured eating, exercising self.

  Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

resolutions Every year I resolve not to procrastinate or backslide or feel guilty when I do both. This year I am making a list of Realistic New Year’s Resolutions.  I am trying to improve myself in small increments instead of doing a comprehensive one hour, Oprah makeover. I can comfortably cross out and add to my list of Realistic New Year’s Resolutions and try to be realistic about keeping them. Make a Resolution Reminder card and a template to customize for Realistic New Year’s Resolutions. Just remove the underline with a click of the mouse and your list is revised.

Resolution Reminder

I resolve to improve myself this year,

I will lose fifty pounds, stop drinking beer,

I will be kind to family and friends,

Be quick to forgive and slow to offend.

But whatever resolution I make,

I will leave room to make a mistake,

Forgive falls from grace and keep on sleeping

Renew resolutions and keep on keeping.

Customize This List of New Year’s Resolutions and/or Add Your Own

I will not procrastinate, and will not take my time while doing it.

I will evaluate myself and my goals and try to achieve at least three of them this year.

I will work toward my goals in hops instead of broad jumps.

I will be kinder to others and kinder to myself.

And most important of all, Have a blessed, Food Festive holiday season and a Happy, Resolute New Year!

newyear

 

 

 

Featured

Christmas Eve 1942: A Sailor Considers Going AWOL

The 21 Days of Christmas Album, Day 21

sailortrumpet

The Sailor Longs to Extend His leave in Milwaukee

Christmas Eve, 1942. He stared at the Chicago and North Western Railroad tracks running near Great Lakes Naval Base and imagined following them the 95 miles to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A month after Pearl Harbor the United States Navy had announced an expansion in its recruitment capacity to 45,000 men and by the end of 1942, about 75,000 were training at Great Lake Naval Base. Over the course of World War II, the Great Lakes Naval Base supplied about a million men, more than a third of all of the personnel serving in the United States Navy. The sailor was one of the men in training at Great Lakes Naval Base.

It wouldn’t be hard to go AWOL and return home to Milwaukee for an extended visit. It had been so hard to leave his family the day before Christmas. He didn’t understand why he had to be back before Christmas. His mother had cried and even his father had tears in his eyes. His leave had been far too short.

bing

He had to travel only about two miles from the Chicago and North Western Depot at the Milwaukee lake front to get home. Through a misty haze of home sickness he visualized the house on the corner of 58th and Chambers Streets. His cocker spaniel, Bing, would be in the window waiting and watching for him. His mother had told him that Bing rarely left the living room picture window.

The Sailor Has Family Reasons for An Extended Leave

The sailor’s brother already served on the Battleship Texas and even though his mother and father were carefully cheerful in their letters, he knew that they were worried about both of their sons. When his father had come to see him off at the Chicago and Northwestern Depot, he had let the tears run unashamedly down his cheeks. In his own youth, the sailor’s father had tried to volunteer with the troops chasing Poncho Villa, but over indulgence in the bribery beer and the fact that his wife was already pregnant with their oldest son, had kept him from serving.

Four years later he, the youngest son, had been born in Milwaukee.  He loved Lake Michigan even when he fell off the break wall as a boy and nearly drowned before a fisherman rescued him. Now he was going far beyond lake Michigan. The Navy had told him he was going to the Mediterranean and that he could not go home for Christmas.

The Sailor Would Have An Easy Time Going AWOL

It wouldn’t take much to go AWOL. All he had to do was jump on the train and he’d be home in less than an hour and a half. Bing would rush from the window and greet him with tail wagging and a tongue dripping shower. With tears of joy in her eyes, his mother would ask him to go to the attic and get the special Christmas box. In it she kept the ornaments that he had made for her every year since he had been a small boy. With surprisingly gentle big hands, he had fashioned a church and other small buildings out of paper Mache and animals out of cardboard. He had rigged up electric lights for the buildings and even made a manger scene.

What would his mother do this year with both of her sons gone? Would she set up the manger scene and the church anyway? If he started for home right now, he would get there in time to go downtown shopping with her for last minute decorations. His mother loved to go into the stores at Christmas time because she thought Christmas brought out the magic buried in people’s hearts the rest of the year. His mother loved the lights, the decorated Christmas trees and the carols. She loved the Christmas cooking and baking and basting and tasting and even the Christmas clutter and constant vigilance it took to keep Bing from biting a certain blue light on the Christmas tree. He ignored all of the other lights, but the blue one which he tried to attack and destroy. The sailor laughed, thinking of the yearly battle between his mother and Bing.

A Christmas When the Sailor’s Father Wouldn’t Let Him Go AWOL

The sailor remembered another Christmas tree that had been damaged when he and his brother and cousin were in their early teens. They had received pop guns for Christmas, the kind with corks that made satisfying thunks when they hit their targets. Before any of them realized it, the ornaments on the Christmas tree had become their targets. Before any of them realized it, at least one third of the ornaments had ended up under the tree in shattered colored pieces. His brother had finally stopped the shooting frenzy by remind them that their parents would be home soon.

Like good soldiers, they tried to cover their tracks. They swept up all of the glittering, colorful glass and rearranged the remaining ornaments on the tree. He had thought about making new ornaments to cover the painfully obvious bare spots, but there wasn’t time. His father had noticed the steep decline in the ornament population immediately and figured out its cause. He had confiscated the pop guns and ordered him and his brother to make or buy new ornaments. The sailor hadn’t been able to go AWOL then!

This Christmas the Sailor Could Go AWOL

Close by, the sailor heard the whistle of the train and his feet started walking toward the depot. He knew that if he went home again, the day would light up for his mother and father. Bing would even abandon his post by the blue light. He would be in a normal world for a few more hours before he had to re-enter this twisted, strange, war-world.
tracksHe stood rooted to the spot, listening to the train whistle, the same whistle that his mother and father and Bing would eventually hear in Milwaukee.  As much as his mind and heart old him to go, something held him back. There was something inside of him that his parents had instilled there – a hard, often barren something they called “doing the right thing.” He called it responsibility. Sometimes he cursed it, but he had it. He felt responsible to his country, so he turned around and headed back to the barracks.

The Sailor Earns His Stripes in the Mediterranean

The sailor took special training and passed his sonar exams. The United States Navy assigned minesweepers to sweep mines ahead of the invasion forces at Anzio Beachhead and Sicily. When his minesweeper wasn’t taking part in invasions, it visited different Italian and French ports to clear mine fields that the Germans had planted. The sailor earned his third stripe for minesweeping off the coast of France.

The Sailor Still Would Resist the Train Whistle
platform
The sailor survived World War II. He knew that a minesweeper was one of the most dangerous places to serve in a war, but  he still would serve again because it was the right thing to do for his country. Train whistles still stir memories of the night he didn’t go AWOL!

 

 

Featured

The Green Christmas Beer Feud

The 21 Days of Christmas, Day 20

boysled

Jim started the green Christmas beer feud between Uncle Patrick and his Dad two weeks before Christmas 1926 when most houses in Milwaukee had Christmas trees in their windows and Santa Clauses on their doors. The air was crisp and cold enough to throw your breath back. If the wind blew right, Jim could hear the sleigh bells on Santa’s sleigh tinkling.

Since Jim was only seven, he was wrapped up in unwrapping Christmas presents and trying to find out what Ma had hidden in the hall closet. When he burst in the kitchen door that Friday night after school, his cheeks were cherry red from the cold. ”

“Hurry and get washed up. Uncle Patrick is coming for the night,” Ma said.

Jim danced an Irish jig and sniffed the tangy smell of corn beef and cabbage. Uncle Patrick was Dad’s youngest brother and favorite uncle.

An hour later, Uncle Patrick burst in the door in a wave of cigar smoke and with bear hugs for everybody. He was wearing a new green cloth hat.

greenhat

“Gee, I like your hat, Uncle Patrick.” Jim touched a corner of the smooth, green expanse with his fingertips and admired the fur-line ear flaps. He touched Uncle Patrick’s ears. They were warm.

“Sit down, sit down, Patrick. Supper’s just about ready, “Dad said.” How about a glass of home brew to warm up your insides?”

Uncle Patrick winked at Jim. “I like my insides toasty warm, maybe even boiling hot!” He laughed his hearty, deep laugh that made everyone laugh right along with him. “Still making that good stuff?” Uncle Patrick watched Dad, settle the crock of beer closer to the radiator behind the kitchen table.

“I’m making up a new batch. It should be ready for Christmas,” Dad said, patting the crock. Jim sniffed the yeasty odor rising from the steaming warmth of the radiator and listened to the sighs of bubbling of content coming from the fermenting mixture.

“Have you changed your mind about telling me your secret recipe?” Uncle Patrick asked sitting his green cloth hat on top of the crock of beer.

“No, Patrick, you ought to know better than to ask that,” Dad chuckled. “It’s Prohibition and we have to make our own secret brew. No, I haven’t changed my mind.”

Uncle Patrick grinned and slapped dad on the back. “Sure and begorrah I would have been disappointed if you’d said anything else, Dan.”

Once in awhile at the supper table, Jim glanced at the green cloth hat sitting on top of Dad’s new batch of brew, Then after supper he helped Ma with the dishes, everybody played gin rummy and Jim forgot about the hat on the beer.

 

Uncle Patrick could have used his hat at bedtime. He slept in the day bed in Jim’s room while Jim slept in the twin bed. “Sure and begorrah, are you going to leave that window wide open all night, lad? It must be 20 below zero in here!”

“Uncle Patrick, I gotta leave the window open in case Santa and his reindeer fly over and need a place to stop and get warm. Ma told me they make scouting trips sometimes just to be sure of their Christmas Eve route. And I sure wouldn’t want them to freeze to death on our roof!”

“Don’t worry your head about that!” Uncle Patrick’s teeth chattered and he pulled the bedclothes tight enough around him to be a glove. “They’ll freeze to death quicker in here than they will outside.”

Jim didn’t sleep very well, because Uncle Patrick didn’t sleep very well. He kept Jim awake with his shivering and “Sure and begorrah, it’s iceberg chilly in here” every few hours.

Finally, Jim heard Ma rattling around in the kitchen and jumped out of his warm bed. “Uncle Patrick, it’s time to get up. Santa Claus didn’t stop last night, but maybe tonight,” he said, closing the window.

“I can’t get up until I thaw the icicles off my feet,” Uncle Patrick moaned.

Uncle Patrick was still grumbling when he staggered into the warm kitchen where Ma fried pancakes, eggs and bacon. Dad and Uncle Patrick ate them as fast as she could fry them, and Jim gobbled not far behind them. Jim stopped eating to ask a question. “Dad, do you think Santa Clause might stop tonight?”

Jim moved his chair around a little as he reached for another piece of bacon. As he moved, he exposed Uncle Shamus’ green cloth hat on the beer to Dad’s full view. Dad stopped in mid-bite. “What the devil is that sitting on my beer?”

“It’s my hat, Dan,” Uncle Patrick growled. “And too bad I didn’t have it on my head last night. I nearly froze to death sleeping in that bedroom with that snow man son of yours.”

Dad rushed over to that crock of beer faster than an Irish jig. He grabbed the hat off the top of the crock. The hat made squishing sounds as Dad held it and Jim saw green drops of water dripping down on the floor. The muslin cloth on top was also green. The dye from the cloth hat had seeped into the beer and turned it a bright Shamrock green.

Dad glared at Uncle Patrick. “You’ve ruined my Christmas beer. The whole batch is green!”

Uncle Patrick jumped out of his chair and grabbed the still dripping hat from Dad’s hands. “Beer! Never mind your precious beer, what about my hat? I paid a pretty price for it and your beer took all of the color out of it. What do you put in that stuff, vinegar?”

“None of your business!” Dad bellowed. “And is this another one of your fool schemes to get my beer recipe? If it is, it’s not gonna work.” Dad put his finger in the green beer and then in his mouth. He made a face. “Awful, just awful! Patrick, you ruined my beer!”

“Dad,” Jim said.

Dad stared at his beer, a broken-hearted expression on his face.
Uncle Patrick stomped to the closet and took out his coat. He rammed the soaking wet, beer-smelling hat on his head. “Never again will I darken your door, Dan!”

“Dad, I have to tell you!” Jim cried.

Dad glared at Uncle Patrick. “All you care about is your hat!” he hollered. “What about my beer? Beer is harder to replace than a hat! This is Prohibition!”

Uncle Patrick stomped to the door. He bowed to Ma. “I’m sorry for any inconvenience I may have caused you, Rose.” He slammed the door so hard that the breakfast dishes rattled.

“Inconvenience!” Dad shouted. “I just have to throw out a whole batch of green beer that tastes like baked skunk!”

Ma went over and put her arm around Dad. “Calm down, Dan. The beer isn’t worth losing your brother over, is it?”

By the time Ma had calmed Dad down a little, Jim had on his coat. “I’m going after Uncle Patrick.”

Uncle Patrick was almost to his apartment before Jim caught up with him. “Please Uncle Patrick., I have to talk to you.”

Uncle Patrick stared straight ahead and kept walking. “We don’t have nothing to talk about. His beer ruined my new hat and he hollers at me!”

“It was my fault, Uncle Patrick. I saw you put your hat on the beer and I wanted to see what would happen, so I didn’t say anything. I’m sorry, Uncle Patrick. If you come back, I’ll leave the bedroom windows closed when you stay overnight, I promise.”

Uncle Patrick hugged Jim. “Sure and begorrah, how can I resist an offer like that?” he chuckled.

Ma was waiting for them in the kitchen doorway. “Finish your breakfasts,” she ordered. Dad and Uncle Patrick shook hands and slapped each other on the back.

momkitcheb

“I’ll hang up your coat and hat, Uncle Patrick,” Jim said. Jim took Uncle Patrick’s coat and hung it in the closet and went back for his hat. Uncle Patrick could not get that hat off his head. The beer soaked hat had frozen solidly to his hair. It took Ma two hours to get that hat thawed out enough to take it off Uncle Patrick’s head and five days before Dad and Uncle Patrick would speak to each other.

Finally, Dad and Uncle Patrick wished each other a Merry Christmas. Jim got them laughing when he said, “I guess I’ll have to give you beer hugs instead of bear hugs!”

merrychristmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Twinkle Finds the Manger

starmanger

The 21 Days of Christmas Album, Day 19
SCENE I. Heaven. Twinkle and his friends are standing around talking.

SARAH:         Here comes Twinkle, the brightest guy in the sky!

He’s so bright he even shines in his sleep.

(The rest of the stars laugh)

TWINKLE:     I’m not that bright, Sarah.

sarah
Twinkle

SARAH:         (Pointing at Twinkle) He’s even brighter than a light bulb. (She holds up a light bulb. Everyone laughs harder)

twinkle
Sarah

TWINKLE:     I can’t help it if I shine bright. I want to shine just like the rest of you, but my light’s too strong.

BUSTER:        Turn it down Twinkle, that’s all you have to do.

TWINKLE:     I try Buster, but it won’t turn down. It just gets brighter.

BUSTER:        Ouch, Twinkle, don’t shine in our eyes!

(The rest of the stars put their hands over their eyes and walk away from Twinkle).

TWINKLE:     Oh dear, they won’t play with me again. What’s wrong with me!

SUN STAR:    Twinkle, come here.

TWINKLE:     What do you want with me, Sun Star?

SUNSTAR:     God, the Creator of this universe, has a special job for you to do.

TWINKLE:     What does He want me to do? Why doesn’t He tell me about it himself? He probably doesn’t want to be around me either.

SUNSTAR:     Sometimes God lets other people or stars in our case, speak for Him. He wants you to go to earth. Look for a baby in a manger. Beside the manger are his parents, Mary and Joseph. You must stand over the manger and shine your brightest so the wise men and shepherds can find it through the dark night.

TWINKLE:     Earth! Earth is so far away! Besides, if I’m too bright for heaven I’ll surely be too bright for earth. And how will I get to earth?

SUNSTAR:     Twinkle, are you going to trust God or keep telling me reasons why you can’t do what He asked you to do?

TWINKLE:     Let me say goodbye to my friends, and then I’ll go.

(He walks over to Sarah)

TWINKLE:     Sarah, I need some advice. How does a star act on earth?

SARAH:         That depends on how the people on earth act towards the star and on what there is to do down there. I hear there are lots of stores for shopping and places for eating. Could you bring me back a souvenir, Twinkle?

sarah.jpg

TWINKLE:     I’ll try, Sarah. But why don’t you come with me and bring back your own souvenir?

SARAH:         I wouldn’t go to earth with you if you were the last star in heaven, Twinkle!

TWINKLE:     God asked me to go Sarah and I want you to come along because I need company.

SARAH:         God didn’t mean He wanted you to really go to earth. You can light up any manger on earth by shining from right here in heaven. I can’t talk to you anymore, Twinkle. I have to go home and eat supper. (She flounces away)

TWINKLE:     (Walks over to Buster) Buster, wanna play catch?

BUSTER:        Sure, Twinkle. (They toss a baseball back and forth)

TWINKLE:     Buster, would you consider taking a trip to earth with me?

BUSTER:        Earth! Why on earth do you want to go to earth, Twinkle? I know me and the other stars tease you a lot, but we would miss you if you went away!

TWINKLE:     God wants me to go to earth and shine on a manger with a baby in it.

BUSTER:        Shine on a manger! If God wanted you to go, why would He have you shine on a manger? Wouldn’t God have you shine on a skyscraper or a church instead? After all, it says in our history book that churches are where you find God on earth.

TWINKLE:     I don’t know why He wants me to shine on a manger, but I’m going to do what He says. Will you come with me?

BUSTER:        My folks won’t let me go all the way to earth, Twinkle. And what are you going to tell your folks?

TWINKLE:     They probably won’t even notice I’m gone, Buster. Dad’s busy at the office and mom plays with my baby sister Susie all day. They won’t miss me. But just in case, I’ll leave them a note. See yah when I get back, Buster. (Twinkle walks over to the back of the stage. He slides down a ladder)

TWINKLE:     Wow, I’s a long way down to earth! (He rubs his bottom) Ouch! I ran into a splinter. I hope I’m almost there. (Twinkle lands with a thud in front of two children, Jason and Jennifer.)

TWINKLE:     Oops! Sorry for landing on your foot like that!

JASON:          That’s okay. You sure were going fast!

JENNY:          I thought you were a shooting star you were going so fast.

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Jenny

TWINKLE:     Actually, I’m Twinkle, a star with a big job to do. I have to find a manger with a baby in it and the baby’s parents Mary and Joseph and some shepherds and wise men. Then I have to shine on them all. Isn’t that a big job for one star? Will you help me, uh…uh…what’s your name anyway?

JASON:          I’m Jason and this is my sister Jenny. Why do you have to shine on all of those people and a manger?

TWINKLE:     God said that’s what He wants me to do, so I have to do it!

JENNY:          We have a manger under our Christmas tree at home.

TWINKLE:     I don’t think that’s the manger God meant. I’ll just have to look around for it.

JENNY:          Can we help you look for it, Twinkle? After all, you’re a stranger here on earth and you might get lost or something.

JASON:          We wouldn’t want anything to happen to you, Twinkle.

jason
Jason

TWINKLE:     I’m so happy you’re coming I can feel my light shining extra bright! Where should we look first?

JENNY:          Why don’t we look on Golden Hill? That’s where all the rich people live. They have pretty lights in front of their houses and Santa Clauses on their doors and reindeer on their lawns. That’s probably where the manger is.

(They walk to a picture of a big house with a Christmas tree in the picture window. There is a manger on the front lawn of the house with animals standing around it and Mary and Joseph guarding it.

JASON:          I see a donkey and sheep and cows! And there’s Mary and Joseph. That must be the manger God wants you to shine on, Twinkle.

TWINKLE:     I’ll shine as hard as I can.

(He walks up to the artificial manger scene and stands in front of it)

JASON:          Maybe God’s trying to tell you something, Twinkle. I don’t think this is the manger that you’re supposed to shine on,

TWINKLE:     I guess not, Jason. We’ll have to look somewhere else, but where?

JENNY:          We could walk downtown, Twinkle. There’s a manger with Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus in Browning’s front window.

TWINKLE:     What’s Brownings? Something to eat?

JENNY:          Brownings is the biggest department store in the city. Every Christmas they have a manger scene in their front window, People come from all over the city just to see it.

JASON:          They already have lights on it, jenny. They don’t need Twinkle.

JENNY:          We could check it out.

JASON:          Let’s go.

(They walk more and come to a set painted to resemble a department store window with a manger scene in it. But there are no lights shining.

JASON:          It’s dark, Jenny. Maybe this IS where God wants Twinkle to shine.

JENNY:          I wonder what happened to the lights. Maybe the power went out. Twinkle, why don’t you stand in front of the window and shine?

(Twinkle walks to the front of the window)

TWINKLE:     So far, so good. My light’s still working.

JASON:          It’s still working Twinkle, but it’s flashing off and on like you’re doing Morse Code. Is something wrong?

TWINKLE:     I feel eyes, like a lot of people are watching me.

JENNY:          They are. This man over here wants to know what you’re doing.

TWINKLE:     I’m shining on the manger scene so the wise men and shepherds can find their way to it.

MAN:              Shepherds! There haven’t been shepherds in this city for years and why would they come here to Brownings front window? And what are they going to do with their sheep?

TWINKLE:     I don’t know. All I can do is shine like God asked me to do.

MAN:              Watch out, everybody! This star’s a phony! He’s really here from Russia to spy on us!

VOICES:        Go home where you belong, spy. Go home or we’ll send you home!

(The crowd throws pine cones from the manger scene at Jason, Jenny, and Twinkle.)

JASON:          (A pine cone hits him in the nose) Let’s get out of here while we still can.

TWINKLE:     But what about he shepherds and the wise men. How will they find their way to the manger without my light?

JASON:          If they find their way to that manger, the people will throw pine cones at them, too.

TWINKLE:     God must want me to shine somewhere else. Let’s keep looking for the manger, Jason.

JASON:          I know somewhere there’s a manger.

JENNY:          Where?

JASON:          Where?

JENNY:          I hope it’s not very far. My feet hurt.

JASON:          It’s over at that church by the boarded up houses. Do you know where I mean?

JENNY:          Jason, that’s way on the other side of town!

JASON:          So what! Twinkle came all of the way here from heaven, so it’s not so far to the other side of town.

JENNY:          Let’s go so we can get there fast!

TWINKLE:     I just want to find Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, shine on them, and then go home!

(They walk to a painted manger scene in front of a church. Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus are real. The animals are made of cardboard.)

JASON:          Wow! I think we found it!

JENNY:          Twinkle, turn your light down a little bit so you won’t wake up the baby Jesus.

TWINKLE:     I’m trying to turn it down, but it keeps getting brighter.

JASON:          I can throw my coat over you.

(Sound of baby crying)

JENNY:          Never mind. It’s too late. The baby’s awake.

JASON:          God can put him back to sleep. After all, Jesus is His son.

TWINKLE:     I don’t think God will do that here, Jason. I think as long as Jesus is on earth, God will let him do things by himself, Maybe if I stand back a little way, my light will dim.

(He stands back, but his light gets brighter.)

JASON:          I hear someone singing “Silent Night,”

JENNY:          That was Twinkle, silly. Let’s help him! (They sing “Silent Night.” While they are singing, Spike and two other boys sneak up behind them. Spike and his en are about Jenny and Jason’s age, but tough guys.)

SPIKE:            Silent Night? It might have started out silent, but it ain’t now!

(Spike and his boys yell the words at the top of their voices)

JENNY:          SHHHHHH! You’ll wake up the baby!

(They yell louder and the baby Jesus wakes up. He cries)

JASON:          That was a mean thing to do.

TWINKLE:     I’ll rock His manger back and forth. Maybe that will make him go back to sleep.

(As Twinkle steps closer, Spike steps in front of him.)

SPIKE:            You touch that manger, I’ll punch out your light!

JASON:          I’d like to see you try it. Zap him, Twinkle!

TWINKLE:     I’d like to see you try it!

(Spike swings at Twinkle, but Twinkle ducks. His light shines brighter than ever)

JENNY:          You can’t keep His light from shining, no matter how hard you try.

SPIKE:            I’m not finished yet. Come on guys, let’s show this star a thing or two!

(They surround Twinkle and hold up their hands to keep the light from shining. The wall of hands doesn’t work because the light still shines through).

TWINKLE:     I can’t help it. I shine no matter who tries to cover me up. Sun Star says that’s because I love God.

SPIKE:            I’ve got another idea. Come here, men.

(Spike and the boys huddle together and whisper. Then one of the boys runs and

scoops up a handful of snow. He runs over and dumps it all over Twinkle.)

SPIKE:            That oughtta dim your light a little.

(Twinkle’s light shines as brightly as ever).

JASON:          I told you no matter what you do, Twinkle’s light will shine.

SPIKE:            I got another idea. Come here, men.

(Spike and the gang huddle again. One of Spike’s boys runs off and brings back a bushel basket. Spike throws the basket over Twinkle’s head.)

JENNY:          Be careful of your points, Twinkle.

TWINKLE:     I’m being careful, Jenny.

(He moves around Bits of light shine from between the slats of the basket. They get stronger and stronger until finally the entire basket is bathed in light.

SPIKE:            I can’t stand all of this light What do I have to do to get it dark in here?

TWINKLE:     The earth will never be dark again. The Baby Jesus will see to that.

JENNY:          He’s got light around him too,

JASON:          And I see some men with robes on and shepherds with their sheep beside them.

TWINKLE:     I see the wise men and the shepherds too. Why don’t you argue with that shepherd over there with the big staff, Spike?

(The shepherd with the big staff chases Spike and his boys off the stage)

TWINKLE:     They’re here, Baby Jesus. You can shine on them now. I have to get home before my mom and dad get too worried.

JENNY:          Can we sing a lullaby to Baby Jesus before you go?

JASON:          We’ll miss you, Twinkle.

TWINKLE:     I’ll be watching you. I’ll wink hello at you from heaven. Goodbye Baby Jesus. I’ll see you again.

JENNY:          (Kisses Twinkle) Goodbye, Twinkle.

JASON:          (Shakes Twinkles hand) See you, Twinkle.

(They all sing away in the manger as Twinkle slowly climbs back to heaven and Baby Jesus sleeps in the manger. )

manger

Everyone Sings Away In A Manger.

 

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Alfred Burt and Wihla Hutson’s Carols: A Musical Christmas Card to the World Every Year

christmas bells

The 21 Days of Christmas Album:  Day 18

“Caroling, caroling, now we go,

Christmas bells are ringing.

Caroling, caroling, through the snow,

Christmas bells are ringing,

Joyous voices sweet and clear,

Sing the sad of heart to cheer.

Ding, dong, ding, dong!

Christmas bells are ringing.”

Reverend Bates Burt Started a Family Christmas Card Custom

christmas card

Reverend Bates Burt began the custom of sending carols in his Christmas cards when he moved to Pontiac, Michigan, with his family to become pastor of the Episcopal Church in 1922. He wrote both the lyrics and music to his carols. Born April 22, 1920, in Marquette, Michigan, the Burt’s son Alfred was two when the Burts moved to Pontiac.

His parents gave Alfred a cornet when he turned ten, because had a shown an interest in music. Eventually, he learned to play several instruments including the piano, but he spent most of his life playing the cornet and trumpet in bands and orchestras. Alfred studied music at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and he graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1942.

Reverend Burt asked Alfred to write the music for the 1942 carol, “Christmas Cometh Caroling.” From that point on, Alfred wrote the music for the family Christmas cards.

During World War II, Alfred served as a United States Army officer stationed at San Angelo, Texas, and played with the Army Air Force Band. Reverend Burt in Michigan sent him the lyrics for the 1943 and 1944 carols and Alfred wrote the music for them.

The 1947 Christmas card marked the end of the collaboration between Reverend Bates Burt and Alfred Burt, because Reverend Burt died of a heart attack early in 1948. Alfred and his wife Anne Burt continued the family Christmas card tradition in his honor.

Anne Burt Asks Wihla Hutson to Help with Writing the Christmas Carols

Alfred Burt joined the Alvino Rey Orchestra in California in 1949, while his wife Anne remained in Michigan where their daughter Diane Bates Burt was born on March 8, 1950. Anne and Alfred asked an old family friend Wihla Hutson, organist at Reverend Bates Burt’s Pontiac Episcopal Church to write the Christmas poems for their cards while Alfred wrote the music to them.

Wihla Hutson and Alfred Burt seemed fated to be collaborators. She was born in East Gary, Indiana, in 1901 and her family moved to Detroit, Michigan, in 1913. She was educated in the public schools, but she had a private tutor for piano and organ and studied at the Detroit Conservatory of Music. She graduated from the College of the City of Detroit which is now Wayne State University.

In 1929, when she was 28 years old, Wihla became the organist at All Saints Church in Pontiac, Michigan, the church were Reverend Bates Burt was pastor. Pontiac is about 25 miles from Detroit, so when the weather turned bad or during the holidays, Wihla would stay at the rectory. She became like a member of the Burt family.

The Christmas Card List Grows
In 1949, after the death of Reverend Bates Burt, Wihla Hutson eagerly agreed to become part of the Burt Christmas Carol Card tradition by writing the words to the card carols. The Christmas card list grew over the years as the circle of Burt friends grew and soon the list had expanded from 50 to 450 people.

Anne Burt recalled that she would periodically drop the names of some people from the list because of the cost of sending out so many cards, but they wouldn’t stay dropped. She said that people would either call or write her and say that the post office must have lost their card. She would put their name back on the list.

The Reverend Bates Burt and Alfred Burt Carols

carolbook
“Christmas Cometh Caroling” (1942)

“Jesu Parvule” (1943)

“What Are the Signs” (1944)

“Ah, Bleak and Chill the Wintry Wind” (1945)”All on A Christmas Morning” (1946)

“Nigh Bethlehem” (1947)

“Christ in the Stranger’s Guise” (1948)- Reverend John Burt, Alfred’s brother, provided the rune.

Life and Friendship Stories in Carols

“Sleep Baby Mine” (1949)

Expecting the Burt’s first child, Anne Burt asked Wihla Hutson to write a lyric that could also be a lullaby. Wihla wrote “Sleep, Baby Mine,” and the Burts used the first eight bars of the carol in March 1950 to announce the birth of their daughter Diane Bates Burt.

“This Is Christmas” (also known as “Bright, Bright, the Holly Berries”) (1950)

“Some Children See Him” (1951)

“Come, Dear Children” (1952)

This carol reflects Al and Anne’s happiness as they settled into their first home in the San Fernando Valley of California. Anne carried their second child and musicians all over California wanted to use Al’s talents as an arranger and trumpeter.

Alfred Burt finished writing the music for the 1952 carol, “Come, Dear Children,” during the rehearsal of the Blue Reys, the vocal group with Rey’s orchestra. He asked them to sing it so he could make sure the harmonies worked and the Blue Reys liked the carol so much that they asked Alfred if they could sing it at the annual King Family Christmas party.

“O, Hearken Ye” (1953)

James Conkling, husband of Donna King Conkling, and president of Columbia Records organized a choir of Hollywood singers to perform Alfred Burt’s carols. Many of them were recorded in 1953 in the North Hollywood Mormon Church with Burt present.

In 1953, doctors diagnosed Al Burt who was described as a “heavy smoker” with incurable lung cancer. For their 1953 carol, the Burt’s chose the triumphant “O Hearken Ye.”

“Caroling Caroling” (1954)

“We’ll Dress the House” (1954)

“The Star Carol” (1954)

This carol was the last of the four carols Alfred Burt hurried to finish before he died and the final Alfred Burt Christmas card. In an interview, Anne Burt said that Al realized that death was near and “The Star Carol” reflects his state of mind at the time. It is so beautiful and pure.”He completed the Star Carol on February 5, 1954 and died on February 6, 1954.

Wihla Huston Continues to Write Carols

wihlahutson

After Alfred Burt died, Wihla Hutson began to write her own Christmas carols and compose the music for them. In 1982, 18 of her carols were printed and the choir from Reverend Bates Burt’s old Pontiac parish in performed some of them. For many years she was organist and choir director of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Southfield. She died March 24, 2002 in Southfield, Michigan, just a few days short of her 101st birthday.

Alfred Burt and Wihla Hutson’s Carols Live On

Twelve of Alfred Burt’s carols were released in time for Christmas 1954 in an album called The Christmas Mood. The Voices of Jimmy Joyce brought out the first recording of all 15 of the Burt carols in 1964 in an album called This is Christmas: A Complete Collection of the Alfred S. Burt Carols. Artists from Nat King Cole to Andy Williams to James Taylor have recorded the Burt-Hutson carols.

Alfred Burt’s daughter, Diane, leads “The Caroling Company, in performing her father’s carols and composer Abbie Betinis, Alfred Burt’s grandniece, revived the family tradition of sending Christmas cards with an original carol in 2001. She also introduces the yearly carol cards on Minnesota Public Radio.

“We’ll dress the house with holly bright and sprigs of mistletoe

We’ll trim the Christmas tree tonight and set the lights aglow

We’ll wrap our gifts with ribbons gay and give them out on Christmas Day

By everything we do and say, our gladness we will show.”

References

Burt, Alfred. The Alfred Burt Christmas Carols: 50th Anniversary Edition (Piano/Vocal/Guitar Songbook). TRO-The Richmond Organization, 2004.

Burt, Alfred. The Christmas Mood. Primarily A Cappella, 1954

Caroling, Caroling

Some Children See Him

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Bird Coloring Book Stories and Songs

christnas bird coloring book

 

The 21 days of Christmas, Day 17

Christmas Bird Coloring Book Stories and Songs

The Goldfinch and the Crown

goldfinch

 

I sing sweetly and flash my color gold,

My eyes scan worlds and my heart beats bold,

I sweep the blue sky with powerful wings,

They help me conquer whatever life brings.

I feast on thistles and thrive on thick thorns,

I build strong nests where my babies are born.

Then one year seeking a newer face

I built my nest in a different place,

Weaving tightly, I tucked it snugly thin.

In stable rafters close behind an inn.

My babies chirped for food, but I took manger time,

nest

Laughed at the lambs and waved at the donkey,

Snatch the starlight flooding the room brightly.

As I fed my babies bits of thistle down,

The manger baby clutched a thorny crown,

His mother smiled my mother’s smile,

mary

“I’m Mary, come sit with me awhile.”

Then my hasty heart turned humble and tame,

When she said, “I already know your name.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Tale of the Nightingale

taleof the nightingale

Small, brown and plain, I am a humble bird,

Struggling to make my tiny voice heard,

Mostly contented to live within me,

Yet sometimes I glimpsed what I dreamed could be.

I dreamed myself singing a song so pure,

It hid false notes and screeches for a year.

Waking days my songs came out common brown,

Ordinary as feathers daily grown.

Then one night after I had gone to bed,

A flower song floated above my head,

The notes were daffodils and daisies,

Dancing in a warm and gentle spring breeze.

Other notes carried away all the need

Of using slingshots or buying birdseed,

Sang of a world of plenty and peace,

I didn’t want that song to ever cease,

And I didn’t want to make the mistake,

Of opening my eyes full wide awake.

Then angel faces and angel voices,

boyangel

Shouted, “ Wake up, glad tidings and rejoice,

Wake up and come join the angel chorus,

We need your voice to sing and blend with us.”

“I don’t believe you need my quiet song,

I don’t sing loud and I can’t sing for long,”

They smiled at me, “We know you’re not coy,

You don’t know your voice brings the gift of joy.

You sing of God’s joy and of God’s delight,

In the gift He sends the world this night.”

They flapped their wings, but I still shook my head,

Could it be true what these angels said?

A shining angel tapped me with her wing,

“Come join us and open your mouth and sing.”

angel1

I opened my mouth with hope and great care,

And my heartfelt song of praise filled the air,

I’m still small and brown but I sing with joy,

About a manger and a baby boy.

Click to download the entire coloring book.

christmas_bird_stories_and_songs

 

 

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A Christmas Eve Journey with the Scientific Santa Claus

santareundeer

The 21 Days of Christmas, Day 16

The time and place that Santa Claus starts his Christmas Eve trip around the world delivering gifts is different every year, every century, every millennium. Santa Claus is not new to time travel and time travel is not new to Santa Claus.  Scientists like Albert Einstein, Clifford Pickover, and Carl Sagan believe that time travel is possible, even probable. Santa has time traveled for centuries.

Centuries ago, the scientific Santa Claus materialized in the minds and imaginations of people in lands like Turkey and Finland as a combination of a kaleidoscope of legends and mythical creatures. Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna lived in the 4th century A.D. in what is 21st century Turkey. He expressed his love for children by giving them gifts, often throwing them in through the windows of their houses. In later years, the Orthodox Church made Nicholas a saint and built Russia’s oldest church in his honor. The Roman Catholic Church also honored Nicholas and he became the patron saint of children and mariners, with December 6th as his name day.

Santa‘s Fame and Santa Himself Travel Around the World

santaelf
As his influence spread around the world with the speed of light 186,000 miles per second, St. Nicholas came to be known by many other names. In Germany he answered to der Weinachtsmann. The English called him Father Christmas and when he came to the United States with Dutch immigrants, newly nationally aware Americans changed his name from Sinter Klaas to Santa Claus.

Writers like Washington Irving described the arrival of St. Nicholas on horseback. In 1823, writer Clement Clarke Moore crafted the image of Santa Claus as an elf in his poem The Night Before Christmas. Writer Moore gave Santa Claus reindeer with names and a sleigh. Illustrator Thomas Nast drew popular pictures of Santa Clause in Harper’s Magazine from the 1860s to the 1880s and Nast also invented Santa’s workshop at the North Pole and his list of good and bad children all over the world. In 1931, a series of Coca-Cola advertisements introduced the human sized Santa Claus wearing a red suit. In 1939, an advertising writer for the Montgomery Ward Company introduced Rudolph, the ninth reindeer with a red and shiny nose.

In the 21st century, a white bearded Santa Claus wearing a red suit makes a Christmas Eve journey in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, one named Rudolph with a shiny red nose. He stops at houses all over the world and climbs down chimneys to leave his Christmas gifts in stockings hanging on the fireplace.


Santa Claus Rounds Up His Reindeer and Sings Jingle Bells

reindeer

Santa’s scientific Christmas Eve journey begins early because he can’t sleep. After he tosses and rolls from one side of his bed to the other for an hour, Santa sits up in bed. The weight of his responsibilities rests as heavy as the world his shoulders and his stress level pushes his blood pressure higher than Mt. Everest. His Reptilian Brain, the brain that responds to stress by shutting down thinking processes and operating in survival mode, tells him to round up the reindeer to see if they were ready for their trip around the world.

Santa chooses to ride his horse Noel to round up his reindeer. In fact, for decades before the reindeer were assigned to him, he rode Noel to deliver his toys. Noel helped him improve his balance and coordination so when he shook when he laughed, he didn’t fall over. Riding Noel or any horse burns about five calories per minute and the number of burned calories goes up with the speed and distance of the ride. Santa seriously considers riding Noel on his rounds every time he looks at his belly. Then he looks at Rudolph’s nose, puts Noel in her warm stable and goes to round up his reindeer.

Rounding up his reindeer is a task Santa must perform every Christmas Eve. Many centuries ago, Santa discovered reindeer grazing in Scandinavia, Greenland, Russia, and northern China. Patting them on the head and reminding them of the coming journey, he moved on to Spain and then to Canada and Alaska. He followed the reindeer trail to what later would become the states of Washington, Maine, Nevada and Tennessee.

Santa Claus climbs into his sleigh, wishing that he could convince the reindeer to fly faster than the speed of light so he could visit every house in the world and get home in time for breakfast. Right now the reindeer were just flying at the speed of the sound of jingle bells. Santa listened for the jingle bells. He heard them as he drove through outer space.

Jingle Bells sounds had already been broadcast from outer space. Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sent a message to Mission Control while they were in space on December 16, 1965. The two astronauts had reported spotting an object with a command module and eight smaller modules in front. They said that the pilot of the command module was wearing a red suit. Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra then took out a harmonica and sleigh bells that they had smuggled aboard and played their version of Jingle Bells.

Santa Claus sings Jingle Bells. The reindeer heard Santa singing the Jingle Bells and they moved their 32 feet in time to the music. Santa moved his two feet too. All of them used their mirror neurons, cells located in the cortex, the brain’s central processing unit. Mirror neurons become active when a person is performing an action along with watching another person perform it. Accumulating scientific evidence suggests that sensory experiences are also motor experiences and activities like music and dancing can refine movement skills by improving timing, coordination and rhythm.

Does Santa Carry Enough Gifts in His Sleigh for Everyone?
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Santa Claus hoists his sack of gifts over his shoulder to deliver down chimneys and he adjusts his thoughts to move from his Reptilian survival brain to his Mammalian brain which controls emotions- love lives here. Attachment to others, duty, responsibility, family and social ties also originate in the mammalian brain.  Santa knows that children and grownups are depending on him to deliver gifts, but he also knows that there are not enough tangible gifts in his sack for everyone. He knows that not everyone will welcome him when he slides down the chimney for in some homes the chimney is cold and the rooms barren of hope. Santa squares his shoulders and lands on the first roof in the town beneath him.

Santa Claus slides down the chimney and discovers that the people of the house have left him a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. He sits in a rocking chair by the fireplace, munches cookies and thinks, using his neo-cortex which controls the intellectual processes of the brain.  The neo-cortex is divided into two hemispheres often called the right and left brain. The right brain controls creative imagination. Albert Einstein created the theory of relativity based on a daydream he had on a summer day alone on the top of a hill. Using the power of creative imagination, he visualized himself riding on a sunbeam to the end of the universe, returning toward the sun. He reasoned that if his dream were to be proved correct then the universe must be curved.

Santa dozes in the chair for a time and then wakes with a start and travels back up the chimney. He continues on his rounds, this time using the power of his creative imagination to warm cold chimneys, to fill barren rooms with comfortable furniture, and to create laughter from sorrow. In some homes he uses the gift of seeing goodness that no one else can see. In other homes he returns hope after years of exile. In some places he points out possibilities and in others he develops them.

Santa and the Reindeer Go to the Home of Their Choice
girlandsanta
Finally, Santa Claus and the reindeer’s journey is over. It is time to go home. But where is home? Some legends locate Santa’s home at the North Pole along with his Christmas gift workshop. There is cotton grass at the North Pole in the Arctic for reindeer to graze, but it is sparse and seasonal.

Perhaps the reindeer convinced Santa to move to more plentiful pastures, because in 1925, newspapers reported that Santa Claus had been spotted living in Finnish Lapland in the off season. In 1927, Markus Rautio, “Uncle Markus” broadcast the great secret that Santa Clause lived on Lapland’s Korvatunturi or “Ear Fell.”

Ear Fell, located on Finland’s eastern frontier, resembles a hare’s ears. In legend they became Santa Claus’ ears that he uses to listen to the world’s children to hear if they are being naughty or nice. A busy group of elves who have their own history in Scandinavian legend serve as Santa’s helpers.

The Real Santa Claus

 

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Santa Claus uses his heart and brain together to create legends, toys, possibilities, and hope.

The heart is a hollow, muscular organ, composed of four chambers. Two separate, but coordinated pumps on the right and left side of the heart push the blood around the human body. Each pump has its own atrium, ventricle, inlet valve and outlet valve. They work together to keep a physical body functioning.

Santa Claus inspires the spirits of giving and imagination that work together to help people fill their hearts with love and giving. Christmas happens around the world no matter what the country or century. Over the centuries, Santa Claus – the ageless, timeless, genderless spirit- bestows gifts on Christmas and inspires everyone to give in return.

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Santa Claus doesn’t live at the North Pole or in Lapland during the offseason. The scientific Santa Claus lives in hearts of those who hope, love, and give other others, all year around.

Santa Claus Singing Jingle Bells

 

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Christmas Angels are Walking

angel1

The 21 Days of Christmas Album:  Day 15

Christmas angels are walking,

Walking all over the earth

Christmas angels are talking,

Telling of a Child’s birth,

Spreading news of joy and peace,

Giving love that will never cease.

Christmas angels are walking,

Touching  young and old faces,

Christmas angels are smiling,

Lighting sad and lonely places.

 

 

Christmas angels are walking,

Walking the world around,

Walking away from hate and fear,

Walking to love and hope all year,

angelinthewoods

Christmas Angels are walking,

Let’s walk beside them and sing.

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Christmas Angels Are Walking

( 4/4 time, key of C, C Chords)

Christmas Angels are Walking,

E  D  C  D  E  G  E,

Walking all over the earth,

D  D  D   D   E  D   C,

Christmas angels are talking,

E  D  C  D  E  G  E,

Telling of a Child’s birth,

G  G  E  E   F  D  C.

Spreading news of joy and peace,

A  A   G  E  F D E,

Giving love that will never cease.

G  G  E  E E F E  D.

 

 

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Santa’s Christmas Eve Adventure

The 21 Days of Christmas Album, Day 14

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“Ho, ho, hum,” Santa yawned as he pulled his reindeer to a halt on top of the Brown’s roof.

“Slow down Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. Rudolph, tone down your nose! I’m so tired that I’m going to sit by the fireplace and take a nap after I give Jenny and Adam Brown their gifts.”

Santa eased his chubby body into the chimney opening. “You reindeer wait here for me. I’ll be back in about an hour.”Ho, ho, hum, here I come!” Santa shouted.

He waited for his feet to touch the bottom of the Brown’s fireplace, but his feet still dangled in mid air.

Santa tried again. “Ho, ho, hum, here I come!” he shouted. His feet still dangled in mid air.

“Ho, ho, hum I’m out of luck, Ho Ho Hum, I think I’m stuck!” Santa groaned. “What about my nap? What about the rest of the presents for the rest of the boys and girls?”
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Santa made so much noise that he woke up Adam Brown. Adam hadn’t been sleeping very soundly anyway because he was too busy dreaming about what Santa was going to bring him for Christmas. When he heard Santa’s voice, Adam jumped out of bed and ran to his bedroom window. He saw the reindeer parked on the roof. Adam ran to his sister Jenny’s room.

“Jenny, wake up! Santa’s reindeer are on the roof. Let’s go out and find Santa!”

Adam and Jenny pulled on their winter coats quicker than the blinks of their Christmas tree light. They opened Adam’s bedroom window and climbed out onto the roof.

“Why, it’s Santa Claus,” Jenny said. “Santa, why didn’t you stop by the welcome mat at the front door? What are you doing in our chimney?”

“Wow, Santa, can I pet your reindeer?” Adam asked.

“Get me out of here!” Santa shouted. “I have to finish my deliveries. What about Amy’s doll and Joshua’s truck and..”

“We can push you down the chimney, Santa. Come on Jenny, let’s push!”

Jenny and Adam pushed Santa. Jenny pushed on his red knitted hat and Adam pushed on his arm. Santa didn’t move.

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“Of all the bad luck, I’m thoroughly stuck!” Santa groaned.

“Rudolph’s nose is really glowing. Maybe he can light your way down the chimney,” Adam snickered.

“That’s not very funny,” Santa grumbled. “How will I deliver all of these Christmas presents?”

“I know what we can do, ” Jenny said. “Wait here, Santa. Wait here, Adam.”

“What are we waiting for?” Adam asked.

“You’ll see. Just wait,” Jenny said.

“I don’t think I’m going anywhere,” Santa said. He squirmed and turned and wiggled, but he didn’t go anywhere. Jenny climbed back into Adam’s room through the open window. She ran on tiptoe into the bathroom and grabbed two chunky bars of soap. She ran on tiptoe back to the window and climbed out onto the roof again.

“Here, Adam. Help me.” Jenny handed Adam a bar of soap. “Soap Santa down,” she said.

“Soap Santa down? Don’t you mean soap Santa up? Why should I soap him down or soap him up?” Adam asked her.

“Soap him,” Jenny said.

Jenny slipped her bar of soap on Santa’s right side and rubbed it up and down.

“Ho, ho, ho,” Santa giggled. “Hee, hee, hee,” Santa chuckled. “Ha, ha, ha,” Santa laughed. “That tickles!”

Adam soaped the left side of Santa. “OOOOOFFFFF,” Santa wheezed.

“Oh, my belt buckles that tickles!” Santa laughed harder.

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“Push him,” Jenny told Adam. “See if we can’t push him all of the way down this time.”

They pushed on Santa as hard as they could, but Santa didn’t slide down the chimney. He still stayed stuck in the middle.

“Maybe we can pull him from the bottom,” Jenny said. “Come on!”

They climbed back in the window and ran downstairs. “Shhhh! Don’t make so much noise,” Jenny said. “We’ll wake up mom and dad.

Jenny and Adam ran to the fireplace in the living room. They peered up the chimney. They saw Santa’s feet dangling far up in the chimney.

“Maybe we can pull on his feet and get him down,” Jenny said.

Adam stretched up his arms, but he couldn’t reach Santa’s feet. ‘How are we going to reach them?” Adam asked.

“We can take the poker and pull him down,” Jenny suggested.

Jenny and Adam grabbed the poker and shoved it up the chimney. They tried to hook it on Santa’s boot, but they couldn’t reach. There was at least three inches between the edge of the poker and Santa’s black boot.

“What do we do now?” Jenny wondered.

“We can get the wooden stool from the kitchen and stand on it. Then we can reach,” Adam said.

“I’ll get it.” Jenny walked toward the kitchen.

“No, I’ll get it. You know, it’s too heavy for a girl to carry,” Adam said.

“I told you I’d get it,” Jenny insisted. “I’m just as strong as you are.”

Jenny and Adam both grabbed the stool at the same time.

“I’ll get it,” Jenny insisted, pulling the stool toward her.

“I have it!” Adam pulled the stool toward him. They both tugged on the stool and it slipped out of their grasp. CRASH! The stool fell to the floor.

“What’s going on down there?” Santa shouted from the chimney. “I thought you were trying to get me out of here!”

“What’s going on down here?” Mr. and Mrs. Brown both stood in the living room doorway rubbing their eyes. “What are you children doing out of bed at this hour of the night? Santa won’t come while you’re awake.”

“He already came,” Adam said.

“No, he didn’t,” Mrs. Brown told him. “The cookies we left out for him are still on the plate.”

“He didn’t eat the cookies because he’s stuck in the chimney,” Jenny said. ‘He was on his way down to eat the cookies when he got stuck.”

Jenny’s mother laughed. “Santa stuck in the chimney? You’ve got to be kidding!”

“I’m not kidding. Look up the chimney, Mom,” Jenny said.

Mrs. Brown looked up the chimney. “Santa, is that you?” she shouted.

“It’s me and I’m stuck! Get me out of here!” Santa shouted.

Mr. and Mrs. Brown reached up the chimney and pulled and tugged on Santa’s feet. Chunks of soot fell down into the living room, but Santa didn’t. He stayed stuck in the chimney.

“Oh dear me, what shall we do?” Mrs. Brown said as she swept the soot into the dustpan.

“We could get a crow bar and pry him out,” Mr. Brown suggested.

“I have an idea,” Jenny said.

She ran into the kitchen and got out a can of red pepper from the spice rack.

“Look, this is the same color as Rudolph’s nose,” Jenny cried. “Maybe it will work.”

Jenny hurried back upstairs to Adam’s room. Mr. and Mrs. Brown and Adam ran behind her.

“Jenny, where are you going with the red pepper?” Mrs. Brown asked.

“I know!” Adam shouted. “Hurry up and you’ll see.”

Jenny opened the can of pepper. “It’s just like your nose,” she told Rudolph.

“Look at Rudolph smile,” Adam said.

“Reindeer do not smile,” Mr. Brown said.

“He looks like he’s smiling dear,” Mrs. Brown said.

Jenny held the red pepper under Santa’s nose. “Take a deep breath, Santa,” she said.

Santa took a deep breath. AAACCHOOOOOO!”

Take another deep breath, Santa,” Jenny said.

Santa took another deep breath. “ACHOOOOO!”

Santa sneezed so hard he blew himself right down the chimney. When Jenny and Adam and Mr. and Mrs. Brown raced into the living room, they saw Santa sitting at the bottom of the fireplace rubbing his forehead.

“That was a rough trip,” Santa said. “I won’t have time to take a nap now. Here are your gifts. Let me grab one of those cookies and I’ll be on my way.”

“Are you going back up the chimney, Santa?” Jenny wondered.

“I don’t have time to take the chance. Will you hold Adam’s bedroom window open for me so I can climb out?” Santa asked.

“We will, Santa,” Adam and Jenny said together. They held open the bedroom window while Santa climbed safely out. Jenny kissed Santa goodbye. She and Adam patted Rudolph and the other reindeer on the head while Santa climbed into his sleigh.

“Merry Christmas, Santa,” they shouted as he flew away on a gust of cold wind.

“Merry—-AH…..CHOOOOOO, Christmas.” The breeze from Santa’s sneeze flapped the bedroom window curtains and blew the bed around the room. It pushed Jenny and Adam down the stairs to the Christmas tree.

santasneezing

“Merry Christmas, Santa,” they said as they started to open their Christmas gifts. “Merry Christmas Father Christmas, St. Nicholas, Pere Noel, Papa Noel, in Santa Klaus, Pai Natal, Babbo Natale!”

 

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Is There A Santa Claus? Virginia O’Hanlon and Francis P. Church

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Virginia O’Hanlon, 1890s

The 21 Days of Christmas Album:  Day 13

Eight year old Virginia O’Hanon wrote the New York Sun a letter asking if Santa Claus really existed. Editorial writer Francis P. Church answered her letter and their nineteenth century correspondence still resonates in twenty first century Christmas celebrations.

 Virginia O’Hanlon Asks The New York Sun About Santa Claus

 Some Christmases come with high unemployment rates, losses of loved ones, and loneliness. For some people Christmas brings more care than celebrations. An unnamed Grandpa Scrooge on a recent news broadcast emphasized his feelings by shouting to his grandchildren, “No, Virginia,” there is no Santa Claus!” His rant invoked images of the wistful child, nose pressed against the department store window, experiencing the toys second hand. In many ways, the centuries have distorted Santa Claus, modeled after the good St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, into a symbol of materialism and greed instead of the Christmas spirit of love, goodness, and peace. It’s not always easy to believe in the Spirit of Christmas among a world of doubters.

The Virginia of the grandfather’s rant, eight-year-old Laura Virginia O’Hanlon had the same problem in 1897. The daughter of Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, a coroner’s assistant in Manhattan, Virginia had her doubts about Santa Claus, because some of her friends denied that he existed. She asked Dr. O’Hanlon if Santa really did exist and he suggested that she write to The Sun, a prominent New York City newspaper of the day, assuring her that if she saw the answer in The Sun, “it’s so.”

Following her father’s advice, Virginia wrote a short letter to the New York Sun. It read: “Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says ‘if you see it in the Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?”

Editor Frank Church Answers Virginia O’Hanlon’s Letter

frank p. church

“Is There A Santa Claus?” was published on September 21, 1897, more than three months before the Christmas holiday. Francis Pharcellus Church, one of the Sun’s editors, answered Virginia’s letter and addressed some of the philosophical issues behind it. He had been a war correspondent during the Civil War at a time when much of society had seen and experienced great -suffering and as a result, felt a lack of hope and faith.

Yet, Frank Church had enough faith and hope left to reply: “Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been afflicted by the skepticism of a skeptical age.” He added a few sentences about the narrow human imagination and then he said, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.”

The New York Sun ran Frank Church’s editorial in September, three months before Christmas. The editors put the editorial in the third of three columns of editorials, buried among such items as “British Ships in American Waters,” and stories about the improvements on the chainless bicycle for 1898.

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The Sun’s rivals in New York didn’t comment on the editorial and even the Sun mostly ignored it for the next ten years. The people who read “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” found it moving and every year at Christmas requests to reprint the letter and editorial poured into the New York Sun. Over a century later, it still is the most reprinted editorial ever to run in any English language newspaper and the year 2012 marked the 115 anniversary of the letter and editorial reply.

Some people have doubted that Virginia really wrote the letter, questioning if she would refer to children her own age as “my little friends.” Virginia’s family saved the original copy of the letter and in 1998, Kathleen Guzman, of the Antiques Roadshow authenticated the letter and appraised it at between $20,000-$30,000.

The Real Virginia O’Hanlon and Francis P. Church Laura Virginia O’Hanlon was born July 20, 1889, in Manhattan. In the 1910s, she married Edward Douglas, but he deserted her shortly before their daughter Laura’s birth.

Virginia earned her Bachelor of Arts from Hunter College in 1910, a Master’s degree in Education from Columbia University in 1912, and a doctorate from Fordham University. In 1912, she began her career as a teacher in the New York City School system, and became a junior principal in 1935. She retired in 1959, and died on May 13, 1971, in a nursing home in Valatie, New York. Her grave is at the Chatham Rural Cemetery in Chatham, New York.

All through her life, Virginia received letters about her letter to the New York Sun and when she answered them, she included Frank Church’s editorial. She credited the editorial with influencing her life positively.

Francis P. Church, was born on February 22, 1839, in Rochester, New York and he graduated from Columbia University in New York City in 1859. In 1863, he and his brother, William Conant Church, founded the Army and Navy Journal and in 1866, Galaxy Magazine. William founded the New York Sun and Frank worked on the paper. In 1897, he wrote his famous editorial, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” and earned Christmas history immortality. He died at age 67 in New York City, and he is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

“Yes, Virginia, “ Still Has Meaning in the Twenty First Century

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Historians and other people have tried to explain the popularity of “Yes, Virginia.” The editorial reminds people of their own past Christmases and it stirs memories of the magic of childhood Christmases. The editorial is a bridge to a time when the television and the Internet didn’t exist and it illustrates that despite technological changes, people still have the same hopes and dreams. It is an example of inspiring, quality journalism, and perhaps, most importantly it has a positive, inspiring message. There is enough hope in it to convince ranting grandfathers wise enough to read it that the Spirit of Christmas isn’t found in things or the lack of them, but in hearts. “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!”

References Church, Francis P. “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. The Classic Edition. Running Press Kid, 2004 “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” DVD.

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Silent Night Had Simple Beginnings and a Lasting Impact on the World

nightscene

The 21 Days of Christmas Album:  Day 12

 

Joseph Mohr’s beginnings were as spare and simple as his Christmas carol Silent Night, one of the first known Christmas carols. On December 11, 1792, a poor unmarried knitter named Anna Schoiber gave birth to a son and she named him Joseph. Joseph’s father, Franz Joseph Mohr chose his army position as one of the archbishop’s musketeers instead of his family, leaving Anna and his son to survive as best they could. Besides his mother, the adults in Joseph Mohr’s formative years included his grandmother, his god father Franz Joseph Wohlmuth, and cathedral choirmaster Johann Nepomuk Hiernle. Hierule sent Joseph to the respected Kremsmunster School and he served as a musician for the Cathedral while he was a student.

joseph mohr

Because of his illegitimacy, Joseph had to obtain special permission from the Pope to enter the priesthood. He overcame this obstacle and in 1815, he was ordained a priest. By1816, Father Mohr was assigned to a pilgrimage church in Mariapfarr, Austria. His grandfather lived nearby and possibly Joseph wrote the original six stanzas of Silent Night while walking through the peaceful, starlit countryside on the way to visit his grandfather. He was transferred to Oberndorf in 1817 to be the assistant priest at St. Nicolas Cathedral. That same year he had become acquainted with church verger Franz Gruber while in Salzburg hospital recuperating from an illness. Franz Gruber became his church organist at Oberndorf.

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Franz Gruber

On December 24, 1818, Joseph Mohr found himself making another countryside journey to the home of Franz Gruber, a musician and schoolteacher who lived in an apartment over the schoolhouse in nearby Arnsdorf. He showed his friend his poem and asked him to add a melody and guitar accompaniment so it could be sung at Midnight Mass.
Some versions of his story say that Father Mohr needed a special carol because mice had eaten the organ bellows and the organ wouldn’t work. Other versions of the story say that the assistant pastor loved guitar music and wanted a new carol for Christmas.

Whatever the motivation for the new carol, on December 24, 1818, Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber with the choir behind them, stood in front of the main altar in St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf and sang “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!” for the first time. The Stille Nacht manuscript dated around 1820 is for guitar accompaniment and is probably closest to the version that Fr. Mohr and Franz Gruber sang at Midnight Mass in 1818.

The parishioners liked the carol and slowly it spread to other churches in other regions. Karl Mauracher, master organ builder and repairman, traveled to Oberndorf to work on the organ several times and while doing his work at St. Nicholas he got a copy of Stille Nacht and took it home with him. The simple carol began its globe traveling journey labeled as a “Tyrolean Folk Song.”

Two families of traveling folk singers from the Ziller Valley incorporated Stille Nacht into their repertoire. According to the Leipziger Tageblatt, the Strassers sang Stille Nacht in a concert in Leipzig in December 1832. During this time, several musical notes were changed and the carol evolved into the modern melody.

An Austrian historical plaque says that the Ranier Family sang Stille Nacht in front of an audience including Emperor Franz I and Tsar Alexander I. In 1839, the Rainers performed Stille Nacht for the first time in America at the Alexander Hamilton Monument outside of Trinity Church in New York City.

By the 1840s, Joseph Bletzacher, the Court Opera singer from Hannover reported that Silent Night was already well known in Lower Saxony. He said that “the Royal Cathedral Choir in Berlin popularized Silent Night and it became the favorite Christmas carol of King Frederick William IV of Prussia. He used to have the Cathedral Choir sing Silent Night for him during the Christmas season of each year.”

By the time Silent Night had become famous in Europe, Father Joseph Mohr had died, but he had not received credit for composing the words of the carol. In 1848, Father Mohr died of pulmonary disease in Wagrain where he had served as pastor of St. Johann’s and donated all of his earnings for eldercare and education. The townspeople built a memorial Joseph Mohr School located a dozen yards from his grave. In a report to the bishop, the overseer of St. Johann’s, described Father Mohr as “a reliable friend of mankind, toward the poor, a gentle, helping father.”

Silent Night continued to grow in stature and fame. A myth that Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven had written the music began and persisted into the twentieth century. Franz Gruber wrote to the music authorities in Berlin informing them that he had composed the music to Stille Nacht, and that Father Joseph Mohr had written the words to the carol.

In 1995, a manuscript was discovered that researchers dated to around 1820. Written in Mohr’s handwriting, it revealed that he had composed the words to Silent Night in 1816 when he was pastor at a pilgrim church in Mariapfarr, Austria. It shows that Gruber composed the music in 1818. This is the earliest existing manuscript and the only one in Mohr’s handwriting. Franz Gruber continued to write music and serve as choirmaster until he died in 1863 at the age of 76.

German immigrants brought Silent Night with them to America and sang Silent Night both in German and English, as part of their tradition. It began to be included in many church hymn books. Many publications and hymnbook printings later, on Christmas Eve of 1918, Franz Gruber’s grandson played Silent Night on guitar.

For centuries musicians and historians believed that Father Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber had worked together to write just one song, but in 2006 archivists working in the Salzburg Diocesan Archives found a song called Te Deum. Joseph Mohr wrote the words and Franz Gruber composed the melody. The Waggerl Museum in Wagrain features Te Deum in an audio exhibit.

But Silent Night is still their most popular creation. Today Silent Night, the song with humble beginnings, is one of the most beloved of all Christmas carols and is sung around the world in multiple languages. Even John Denver and the Muppets perform a special rendition of Silent Night. Despite the transitions of time and the translations of languages, Father Mohr’s message of love and peace is a quiet grace note in the clamor of Christmas time in the modern world.

Silent Night

John Denver and the Muppets Sing Silent Night

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Mrs. Santa Claus: A Strong and Supportive Woman for All Seasons

The 12 Days of Christmas Album:  Day 11

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Mrs. Santa Claus has been a part of both the oral and written Santa Claus story as long as Santa himself, but in some centuries she has been a silent partner.

She has been pictured as a smiling, plump, good natured, stay- at- home and back ground wife offering cookies and moral support to Santa Claus as he fulfills his toy delivering responsibilities around the world.  Through the years besides answering to the name of Mrs. Santa Claus, she has also answered to other names including Amelia, Jessica, Mary and Anna.

Mrs. Santa Claus hasn’t always been content to remain an anonymous, silent and often overlooked part of Christmas. Sometimes her transformation and voice have changed so gradually that it takes many Christmas seasons to recognize the change. Often, Mrs. Santa Claus magically changes her personality to reflect her society and her society often reinvents her every Christmas season. Fragments of her history and personality appear in every Christmas season.

Mrs. Santa Claus Stepped Out of Santa’s Shadow

mrs.santaa2One of Mrs. Santa’s first appearances in literature occurred in an 1849 short story by James Rees, a Christian missionary living in Philadelphia. His story, A Christmas Legend, took place on Christmas Eve when Robert Paxson, and his wife Gertrude offered shelter to two weary travelers bent under the weight of the packs they carried on their backs. Robert and Gertrude were sad because they had no Christmas presents for their children. They couldn’t pay their rent and they expected the landlord to come and evict them from their home on Christmas Day. John, their ten year old son fetched some shabby wooden chairs for the guests and their daughter, seven year old Jane, hung up her stocking hoping that Santa Claus would visit even their humble home.

After enjoying a good meal, good conversation and a warm fire, the travelers and the Paxson family went to bed. The next morning when the children Jane and John, woke up, they found Jane’s full stocking and gifts for John as well.

To their amazement, Robert and Gertrude discovered that the couple was not merely “old Santa Claus and his wife”, but Amelia, their oldest daughter and her husband William Sandford who had eloped on Christmas Eve seven years before. After surviving a dissipated youth, William matured and turned out to be an English heir. The family was reunited and their fortunes vastly improved.

The Paxson’s daughter Amelia and her husband William Sandford were Santa and Mrs. Santa in this story. James Rees depicted Mrs. Santa/ Amelia as kind, generous, and forgiving and as the traditional wife and helpmate, the ideal woman at the time.

American magazines have briefly noted Mrs. Santa. In 1851, The Yale Literary Magazine featured a story by student author A.B. who described Santa Claus attending a Christmas party. A.B. wrote that Santa Claus, that “jolly, fat and funny old elf,” had done his best to be fantastically dressed “and we should think, had Mrs. Santa Claus to help him.”

An 1854 story in The Opal  about a Christmas musicale at the State Lunatic Asylum in Utica, New York, featured Mrs. Santa Claus appearing at a Christmas party. After Mrs. Santa Claus had smilingly greeted the group, a lady handed her a baby and Mrs. Santa waltzed around the room with the baby in her arms. An 1862 Editor’s Arm Chair essay in Harper’s Magazine compared a rich lady who provides a Christmas tree to poor children to Mrs. Santa Claus.

Katherine Lee Bates Revealed Goody Santa Claus’ Feminist Side

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Author and poet Katherine Lee Bates transformed Mrs. Santa Claus into a woman with a mind and personality of her own.

Most famous for her poem America the Beautiful, Katherine Lee Bates in her 1889 poem Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride, introduced a much more assertive Mrs. Santa Claus than had appeared in previous literature. Goody Santa Claus, short for Goodwife which means Mrs., used her wifely wiles to convince Santa Claus to take her along on his Christmas Eve sleigh ride to pay her back for tending the Christmas trees, the Thanksgiving turkeys, and the chickens that laid Easter eggs. She asked him,

“Why should you have all the glory of the joyous Christmas story,
And poor little Goody Santa Claus have nothing but the work?”

Goody Santa Claus painted a pretty word picture of herself and Santa snuggling cozily the sleigh like “two loving snowballs in fuzzy Arctic furs,” with sleigh bells jingling in the background. Then she emphasized the reality that Santa continued to get fat from her cooking and lack of exercise while he sent her out to take care of the Christmas trees. She pointed out to him that she performed all of the necessary tasks to get him and his toys ready for Christmas Eve. Santa received all of the credit for her hard work and she didn’t want to stay home working as the silent partner any longer. As Goody Santa Claus put it: “Home to womankind is suited? Nonsense, Goodman!”

Santa Claus relented and took Goody Santa Claus along, but while Santa Claus climbed up and down chimneys delivering gifts, he left her waiting in the sleigh steadying the reindeer. Growing tired of sitting in the sleigh, Goody Santa Claus reminded Santa Claus that although she had worn her snowflake wedding bonnet for the first time since their wedding, it had not lost any of its magical properties.

Finally convincing Goodman Santa to allow her to climb down a chimney, Goody Santa Claus used an icicle for a needle and threaded it with the last pale moonbeam to darn an orphan’s Christmas stocking. After she finished darning the stocking, Goody Santa filled it with gifts.

When their shared tasks were finished, Santa and Mrs. Santa headed home. Goody Santa Claus told Goodman Santa Claus that she considered herself “the gladdest of the glad” because “her own sweet will” has prevailed.

Katharine Lee Bates who imagined  the Goody Santa Claus version of Mrs. Santa Claus infused much of her own personality into Goody Santa Claus, remarkably so, because  Katharine Lee Bates lived in a Victorian world that wasn’t comfortable with a strong women like Goody Claus. Most men in 1889 considered women who were as capable as men threats or devoid of “womanly” qualities. Women didn’t win the right to vote until 1919. Katharine Lee Bates imagined and wrote her anti-war and women’s issues poems far ahead of her time and her depiction of Mrs. Santa Claus as a strong woman with determination and power is timeless.

Goody Santa Claus didn’t guide the sleigh down a straight but slippery road into the 21st century; instead, she and her sleight hit speed bumps and took a few detours during her journey. Since 1889, Mrs. Santa Claus has been pictured in literature and movies as a plump, kind, white haired, cookie baking wife.  Sometimes she helped Santa make toys and supervised his elves, but she didn’t serve on the front lines of Christmas. The vision of Katharine Lee Bates of Goody Santa Claus and her partnership with Santa in making Christmas possible slowly filtered into Christmas customs. In the following decades, Mrs. Santa Claus and her husband became part of a Christmas culture of books, movies, and television programs

 Mrs. Santa Claus Again Changes with the Times

mrs.claus4Another book, this time a book published in the 1960s, reaffirmed the role of Mrs. Santa Claus for new generations of children and adults. Phyllis McGinley in her book How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas, once again gave Mrs. Santa Claus commanding role in her husband’s life and his impact on Christmas.

In the 1970 movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Mrs. Claus assumed the role of a teacher named Jessica who first met Santa Claus, known as Kris Kringle, as a young man trying to illegally deliver toys to a town controlled by a dictator. Jessica helped Santa and they fell in love and got married in the nearby forest. In 1974, Mrs. Santa played a larger role in The Year Without a Santa Claus when she worked to change Santa’s mind about staying home for Christmas that year because he felt that no one appreciated or believed in him any longer. She finally proved to him that the Christmas spirit still existed in the world and he needed to continue Christmas.

Mrs. Santa Claus showed a strong feminist facet of her personality again in a 1996 television musical called Mrs. Santa Claus. Angela Lansbury played Mrs. Santa Claus who in 1910 no longer felt the magic of being married to Santa Claus and decided to take charge of her own life.

Tired of feeling neglected and lonely at the remote North Pole and weary of living in Santa’s shadow, Mrs. Claus decided to change her life. She devised an alternative delivery route for Christmas Eve and set out with the sleigh and reindeer to test it out. A rogue wind plopped the sleigh in the middle of Manhattan’s multi-cultural Lower East side, and Cupid, one of the reindeer, hurt his leg. Mrs. Claus had to stay where they landed until Cupid’s leg healed, and they stayed at the home of a Jewish family who didn’t celebrate Christmas.

Mrs. Santa ultimately led a suffragist parade to win women the vote and organized the children in a toy factory to fight for child labor laws. Back at the North Pole, Santa’s head elf, Arvo, comforted a remorseful Santa. Eventually, Mrs. Santa returned to the North Pole and a welcoming, more sensitive and aware Santa.

Santa Clause, The Santa Clause 2, and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause from 2002 featured a strong, independent Mrs. Claus who knew her own mind and successfully dealt with being Mrs. Claus, motherhood, and an eccentric husband.

In her movie as well as her literary career, Mrs. Claus is increasingly liberated and her own modern person, but her personality rests on a foundation of serenity, kindness and patience. She often serves as a steadying influence to the more excitable Santa Claus

Christmas present is still dominated by classic male figures including Santa Claus, the male reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, and the other colorful and beloved Christmas cast of characters. Using her wit, intelligence, and determination, not to mention her domestic skills, Mrs. Santa Claus has managed to carve and maintain a female Christmas space for herself on her own terms.

References

Claus, Elsbeth. Mrs. Claus Explains It All:  (At Last) Answers to the Questions Real Kids Ask! Source Books, Jabberwocky, 2008.

McGinley, Phyllis. How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas. Lippincott, 1963.

Wharton, Kate. What Does Mrs. Claus Do? Tricycle Press, 2008.

 

 

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Snowflake Christmas Song

Day 10, 21 Days of Christmas Album

snowflakechritmassong

(To the Tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)

Hurry! Hurry! Christmas bells are ringing

Hurry! Hurry! Hear the children  singing!

Dance! Dance! Dance !  Whirl ,twirl and shake,

Swirl  on trees like frosting on a cake.

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Spinning! Spinning!

Blowing across  the sky,

 

 

 

 

Working together snow flakes climb house high

Falling! Falling !   Let Snowflakes never cease

Cover, cover, the earth with silent peace.

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Press snowflakes together fast as you can,

Work together to make a snowman.

 

 

 

snowman

Snowflakes combine to make Christmas jewels,

They twinkle a Merry Christmas to you!

 

 

 

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Cats and Bedraggled Christmas Trees

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Day 9:  21 Days of Christmas Album

 

Thanks to the feline capers of Bob and Harry, my Christmas tree has listed south since the day after I put it up. Twice I have been jolted awake by a nocturnal crash – yes, Bob and Harry are nocturnal cats-and when I investigated I discovered the tree sprawled across the floor in a prone, submissive position.

The tree ornaments have been scattered, stashed under furniture for later, baptized in the bathtub and buried under the rug. They have been placed and replaced and taped back together. The wooden manger underneath the tree has a row of teeth marks that look like a beaver chewed it for lunch. Threats of permanent exile and temporary deportation in the snow hover in the air above the sounds of Christmas carols.

bobandharrycouch

Bob and Harry sleep on the couch, after stashing a few stray ornaments underneath for later in the day, blissfully unaware of Christmas tree transgressions and the peril to their collective eighteen lives.

 

 

The Yearly Battle of the Christmas Cats

Each year when I put up my Christmas tree, I repeat the mantra of their Christmas tree transgressions and my cat safety commandments for cat and Christmas Tree survival. Veterinarians and pet experts do have some suggestions to keep your cat and your Christmas trees safe.

Cat Survival

Avoid using tinsel. Veterinarians warn that Tinsel lures cats with its glitter, but if cats swallow tinsel, it can do much damage to their digestive systems. There isn’t a strand of tinsel in the house. Sigh of relief.

Spray light cords with bitter apple spray to discourage cats from chewing on them. Aerosol deodorant or antiperspirant sprays work too.

Bob thinks bitter apple is catnip and acts accordingly. He isn’t as enthusiastic about tape. Sigh of frustration.

Protect Tree Water. The tree water keeps a Christmas tree from drying out, but thirsty pets want to drink it too. Drinking tree water isn’t good for pets. It can make them sick. Protect your tree water with screen or mesh fabric duct taped over the pan. I have an artificial tree, so I don’t worry about water.  Sigh of weariness.

Clean up pine needles if you have a live tree. Eating pine needles can disrupt and seriously harm a cat’s digestive system. My tree is fabric green branch artificial, so I just have to restrain Harry from nipping off branches and eating them like a chicken leg. Sigh of relief.

Avoid edible ornaments like candy canes. Cats know they are there and relentlessly hunt them down. One year when I was still becoming cat savvy, I put candy canes on the tree and over two nights acquired a new brand of candy cane, the teeth marks clearly visible among the stripes. Sigh of amusement.

Use a strong and steady tree stand. Put a small hook on the ceiling and attach a fishing string from the top of the tree to the hook. My tree stand has the strength of ten, but Bob and Harry combined area twenty. Sigh of Resignation.

Avoid fresh mistletoe with its tempting red berries. Mistletoe and its red berries means a sweet treat instead of a kiss to cats and eating the leaves and berries can cause drops in blood pressure.

Avoid live holly and ivy. Ivy can give cats diarrhea, convulsions and occasionally even kill them if they eat large amounts of it.

Avoid Poinsettias as they can cause digestive harm to your cat. Poinsettias have large, red, white, pink or mottled leaves and they contain a thick milky, irritating sap. Veterinarians say that a cat would have to eat a large amount of poinsettia leaves or stems to harm your cat. Signs of poinsettia reaction include vomiting, anorexia, and depression. Other authorities say that they are not toxic to most cats. I wouldn’t take a chance on Bob and Harry’s Poinsettia self discipline or speculative the effects of ingested poinsettias on their digestive systems.

 

Christmas Tree Survival

Some cats don’t like the way aluminum foil feels. To protect your Christmas tree, wrap the lower trunk of the tree in foil and extend the foil to make a tree skirt. Foil comes in a variety of colors and sparkles in the light, so it looks like part of the holiday décor.

Generally speaking, cats don’t like the feel of pine cones. Pile pine cones around the base of your Christmas tree to keep cats away.

Some cats don’t like the scent or oranges. Placing orange peels under and around the base of your Christmas tree might keep the  cats away.

Use unbreakable ornaments. If you do put glass ornaments on your Christmas tree, place them closer to the top so it will be more difficult for your cats to reach them.

Unplug Christmas lights when you are not using them. Inspect them periodically for chew marks.

Use a baby gate to fence off your Christmas tree or keep it in a closed off room.

Bob and Harry’s Feedback

bobandharry

 

Bob and Harry find the tree survival tip about using a baby gate to protect your Christmas tree particularly hilarious. They can zip to the top of the Christmas tree quicker than a ho ho ho, and bury themselves securely under the bed at a change in voice from indulgent to irate.

The Christmas Tree Will Survive, Bedraggled, but Recognizable and so Will Bob and Harry

I sit in the rocking chair by the Christmas tree after a long, hard day of snatching pieces of it back from the paws and jaws of Bob and Harry. I touch the tree with one glance and Bob and Harry with the other, and I think about the meaning of Christmas. The cats, the Christmas tree, and I are bathed in the light and meaning of Christmas. We all survive another year to wish everyone a Merry Christmas Tree and a Merry Christmas!

Merry Cat Christmas!

References

Davis, Ann. The Wonderful World of Christmas Trees. Mid-Prairie Books, 1997

Hill, Lewis. Christmas Trees: Growing and Selling Trees, Wreaths, and Greens. Storey Publishing, LL, 1989

Rey, H.A. Curious George Christmas Countdown. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2009

 

 

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The Angel’s Song: It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

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Day 8:  The 21 Days of Christmas Album

The Angel’s Song – It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

Unitarian minister Edmund Hamilton Sears wrote his carol, The Angel’s Song –It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, from the well springs of his profound faith in God and the belief that through the centuries God sends his emissary angels to earth with a resounding message of peace. He also wrote his carol while recovering from a devastating illness and from the depths of profound despair.

In 1849, when Reverend Sears wrote his carol, the United States still reeled from the aftermath of the Mexican War and the burning issue of slavery that in another decade would ignite the Civil War. Europe reverberated with revolutions, and people all over the world warred with themselves and each other. No one seemed to be listening to the songs of peace the angels sang.

It’s unlikely that Reverend Sears thought of his song as a carol or that his contemporaries considered it to be a carol – at least not at first. Traditionally carols were defined as celebrating a seasonal topic and they featured alternating verses and chorus and music suitable for dancing. From the 1150s to the 1350s, carols were popular as dance songs and gradually their role expanded to processional songs that people sang during festivals. People also used carols to accompany religious mystery plays.

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Carol singing declined after the Protestant Reformation because Calvinists disliked what they considered “nonessential” practices connected with Roman Catholicism. When Reverend Sears wrote The Angel’s Song in 1849, carols were just beginning a nineteenth century revival as famous composers began to write new and contemporary versions of their ancient forms and It Came Upon The Midnight Clear was one of the first of these new carols.

Farm Boy Edmund Sears Acquires an Education and Becomes a Minister

Like carols and carol singing and dancing, Reverend Sears was experiencing renaissance in his own life when he wrote The Angel’s Song. Born April 6, 1810, on a farm in Sandisfield, a town in western Massachusetts within sight of the Berkshire Hills, Edmund Hamilton Sears was the youngest of three sons of Joseph and Lucy Smith Sears. As a child, Edmund loved the Berkshire hills near his farm and later told friend and colleague Chandler Robbins that he imagined the hilltops touched heaven and that angel messengers rested on the hilltops between heaven and earth on their errands of love.

Edmund’s father Joseph taught him to appreciate poetry and later Edmund wrote that as a child he often did his chores with snatches of poetry running through his head. Both his father Joseph and mother Lucy taught Edmund the importance of moral principles and encouraged his love of study. Although farm work prevented Edmund from regularly attending school, he advanced in his studies enough to be admitted as a sophomore at Union College in Schenectady, New York in 1831, and he won a prize for his poetry while he studied there. He graduated from Union College in 1834 and studied law for nine months with a lawyer in Sandisfield.

After teaching briefly at Brattleboro Vermont Academy, Edmund studied for the ministry under Addison Brown, who was the minister of the Brattleboro Unitarian Church. Edmund became so fascinated with the writings of Boston ministers William Ellery Channing and Henry Ware that he enrolled at the Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, graduating in 1837.

The American Unitarian Association supported his work as a missionary in a frontier area around Toledo, Ohio and in 1838, he served at the First Congregational Church and Society in Wayland, Massachusetts where his congregation was so impressed by his character and preaching that they called him to settle permanently with them. The church ordained and installed him as a minister in February 1839.

While Edmund practiced his student preaching in Barnstable, Massachusetts, he met Ellen Bacon and they were married in 1839. Since he didn’t have ambitions for a large city pulpit, Reverend Sears and his wife settled down for a quiet country life in Wayland.

As his family gradually grew to four children, Reverend Sears discovered that he needed a larger, richer church to support his family and between 1840-1847 he served a Congregational Church in Lancaster. In Lancaster, he suffered illness and depression and his condition grew so severe that he couldn’t project his preaching voice loud enough for a large congregation to hear or endure the physical work required to sustain a large congregation. Reverend Sears returned to Wayland for a year to rest and recovery, and when his health improved the Wayland congregation recalled him and he served there from 1848-1865, the year he retired. His lighter workload allowed him more time to write, and from 1859 to 1871 he served as the editor of The Monthly Religious Magazine. He contributed articles and poems to several magazines and he wrote theology books.

Reverend Sears Writes Theology Books

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Contemporary ministers considered Reverend Edmund Sears as what they termed conservative and not sympathetic with broad church or radical Unitarians. Ironically, his theological writings influenced both Unitarian and non-Unitarian liberals. In his writing, Reverend Sears expressed both idealism and pessimism about the human condition, and explored human nature and the path to salvation. In his 1853 book Regeneration, he rejected the doctrine of original sin, but disagreed with some Unitarians about the perfectibility of human nature. Yet, he wrote that people are fashioned in God’s image and can develop their spiritual nature.

Although some 21st century Christians brand It Came Upon The Midnight Clear a “humanist” carol, the theology of Reverend Edmund Sears centered intensely on Christ. He believed that Christ was fully human and fully divine and the mediator between God and man. He also believed that God reaches down to humanity through his Son and angels, but his Peace depends on a human response.

Lydia Maria Child, novelist, Abolitionist and women’s rights activist, who wrote her own famous song, Over the River and Through the Woods, also lived in Wayland and she sometimes attended Unitarian services and critiqued her friend Edmund’s sermons. Although she wrote that he didn’t have the reforming temperament, she said that Reverend Sears did have the courage to stand up for his beliefs, even if they were controversial like his belief in male and female equality.

When the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law became enforced nationwide, Reverend Sears announced from his pulpit that when human and divine law conflicted, people must obey the Divine law. In his 1856 sermon Revolution or Reform, he declared slavery a crime and predicted that continued and unrepentant slavery of it would reap national retribution.

Reverend Sears Writes Hymns and Carols

itcameuponthemidnightclear

In 1834, student Edmund Sears wrote a Christmas carol that he titled Calm on the Listening Ear of Night, describing the angel’s anthem resounding across the silent Palestine hills and plains.

Many American hymnals printed his first carol, but his second carol, The Angel’s Song- It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, became more popular. In this carol, Reverend Sears describes an angel chorus singing God’s message of peace on the earth, good will to men, but their songs fall on heedless humanity so immersed in wars and strife that they can’t hear the angel songs or God’s message of peace. Reverend Sears is tellingly contemporary in his third verse: Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long; Beneath the angel strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong; And man, at war with man, hears not the love song which they bring; O hush the noise, ye men of strife and hear the angels sing.

In the last verse of his carol, Reverend Sears envisions a future where peace would reign over the earth and humanity would send back the song of peace that the angels have sung in vain for so many centuries. Besides his two carols, he wrote between 40 and 50 hymns.

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear is Controversial

A controversial minister among the Unitarians, the carol that Reverend Sears wrote It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, provoked controversy as well. Some accounts say that his parishioners first performed his carol when they gathered at his home to celebrate Christmas Eve. Other accounts say that he wrote his carol for the Unitarian Sunday school in Quincy, Massachusetts. In December 1849, Reverend Dr. Morrison, editor of the Christian Register, first received the poem and liked it so well that he used it in several Christmas programs. He published it in his magazine, The Christian Register in December 1850.

No one knows what tune the first singers used to perform It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, because New York organist Richard Storrs Willis who had studied music with Felix Mendelssohn in Germany, didn’t adapt the words of Reverend Sears to a tune that he wrote that he called Carol, until about a decade after Reverend Sears first published the poem in 1849. Carol, the tune that Richard Willis wrote, became the most popular tune to sing to It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, but in 1874, in England composer Arthur Sullivan set the poem to a different tune that he called Noel. The carol is widely sung in England and popular in the United States.

When the Civil War ended, Reverend Sears resigned his pastorate in Wayland to write full time, but he accepted a call to succeed Joseph Field at a church in Weston, Massachusetts in 1866. In 1873, Reverend Sears enjoyed a European tour. In 1874, he fell from a tree while working in his garden and spent the next two years in constant pain. He died on January 16, 1876, from his injuries, but his angel carol is still sung over a century after his death.

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear is as contemporary as a computer because instead of focusing on Bethlehem, it unites the time that Reverend Sears wrote it, the 19th century, with sadly still contemporary issues of war and peace. His poem spells out a call for peace and goodwill that echoes as “solemnly and stilly” and some would say futilely as the call that resounded in his time. Some Christians contend that because the “angel song” doesn’t mention Jesus, it should be removed from denominational hymnbooks and others have rewritten the words to include Jesus.

British carol scholar Erik Routley wrote that “in its original form the hymn is little more than an ethical song extolling the worth and splendor of peace among men.” Others appreciate the original carol for its language, images, and expression of angel and human centuries old hopes of peace and consider it a message from “Heaven’s All Gracious King.”

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear– Celtic Woman

The Choir of Selwyn College

Further Reading

Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography

Wayland Historical Society Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Hymnary, Reverend Edmund Sears Erik Routley. University Carol Book.Brighton: H. Freeman & Co., 1961.

Chandler Robbins, “Memoir of Rev. Edmund Hamilton Sears,” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society (1891);

Books by Reverend Edmund Sears

The Pilgrim, 1857

Pictures of the Olden Time, 1857

Hindrances to a Successful Ministry, 1858

Christian Lyrics, 1860

The Town of Wayland in the Civil War of 1861-1865

Christian Life, 1875 Sermons and Songs of the Christian Life, 1875 Christ in the Life, 1877

Featured

Stuart and the Bethlehem Manger

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Day 7:  The Twenty One Days of Christmas Album

 There were enough spruce trees in Stuart Spruce’s family to make up a small woods near the top of Spruce Mountain. His Aunt Matilda, who spread her branches almost to the sky, told everyone that they lived in a copse of trees, which was her snobbish way of saying they lived in a small woods.

Stuart grew fourth in a zigzag line of his thirty brothers and sisters marching up Spruce Mountain. His father grew close to the top of Spruce Mountain and he stood tall and steady against the winds and snows that circled the mountain top and danced up and down its sides.

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Stuart’s mother grew beside his father, slender and flexible, bending with the winds of time and change. Stuart grew across from his sister Molly. In the winter they threw snow at each other and had creaking contests trying to see who could make the loudest noises when the wild, whistling wind blew through their branches.

 

In the spring they showered each other with raindrops and sang for summer with their combined branch music.. In the summer and fall, Stuart and Molly grew and flung their branches toward the sun. They made shade blankets and stretched them out on the ground so the forest animals could play and rest.

One day an old man with a long white beard shuffled through the spruce forest. He moved slowly, leaning on a thick wooden stick much thicker than Stuart’s trunk. The old man stopped and leaned against Molly. Stuart watched, terrified that the old man meant to hurt his sister. The old man muttered and sank down into a heap under Molly’s branches. Stuart continued watching the old man as the black and gray patchwork quilt of night covered Spruce Mountain.

“Molly, is he hurting you?” Stuart whispered.

“No, but he’s breathing like a chattering chipmunk” Molly said.

Stuart whispered to his parents, asking them what to do about the old man collapsed at Molly’s feet.

“Cover him with your branches to keep him warm,” his parents whispered back.

Stuart and Molly bent over nearly double like they did when the wild, whistling wind blew through their family growing on Spruce Mountain. They covered the old man with their branches and the old man sighed and slept.

Stuart gazed up at Father Spruce to see if his father had any more advice to give. The moon and the Northern Lights shone like rainbows and the rainbow came so close that he thought that it  had fallen down from the sky and  come to rest on Father Spruce’s head.

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“Molly, the moon is sitting on Father’s head!” Stuart cried. “It must have fallen down from heaven.”

“Father, there’s a rainbow on your head!” Molly and Stuart shouted. Father smiled. “Watch” he told them.

The moon shone so bright that the other trees in the Spruce family thought that morning had come and they awoke yawning and stretching, ready to spend another day with the sunshine and birds and squirrels traveling through their branches. The moon shone so bright that the old man woke up with a start and grabbed his cane. “I’ve got to keep up!” the old man cried. “Wait for me!” he shouted, struggling to his feet.

Stuart stretched out one of his lower branches to stop the old man and Molly used one of her branches to grab his arm, but the old man kept stumbling through the spruce trees. He had gotten as far as where Stuart’s brother Allen grew in the family row of spruce trees, when Stuart heard an answering shout.  “Ephraim, are you there?”

“I’m here, I’m here,” the old man shouted. “Wait for me, Hezekiah.”

The old man called Ephraim stopped and made his way back to Stuart’s feet. He sat down and leaned his back against Stuart’s trunk. “The moon is bright,” Ephraim muttered. “It and the Northern Lights will light our way the entire journey. But oh, I’m so tired I can’t go beyond these trees.”

“Ephraim, are you so weary you can’t continue?” The man called Hezekiah squatted down beside Ephraim. He had a black beard and his joints didn’t creak when he knelt down beside Ephraim.

“I will continue,” Ephraim said. “I have rested well under these spruce trees.”

Ephraim put his hand against Stuart’s bark and scrambled to his feet, but he swayed and almost fell when he tried to grab his stick and walk away.

“You need a bigger and better cane,” Hezekiah said. “I’ll look around for a tree branch.”

“The moon shows enough light to find many branches, but I don’t see any,” Ephraim said. “I must have a cane strong enough for our journey.”

Stuart called the wild, whistling wind. He had just the branch for Ephraim’s cane. It grew on his left side about two feet from the ground and it was at least six feet long,

“Give him my branch,” Stuart told the wild, whistling wind.

The wild whistling wind tugged the branch loose from Stuart’s trunk. Stuart dropped the branch on Ephraim’s head.

shepherds2“Ouch!” Ephraim said, rubbing his head and beard. “I think I have found the wood for my new cane.”

Ephraim sat under Stuart and Hezekiah sat under Molly with Stuart’s huge branch between them and each whittled and smoothed the branch until they had fashioned it into a large staff.

“It is a true strong cane,” Ephraim said proudly.

“We have a fine new cane and the moon and stars and the Northern Lights will light our way,” Hezekiah said, jumping up and dusting off the back of his coat.” Now we must travel with the moonlight so we can finish our journey.”

“I’m leading the way now,” Ephraim said, walking into the forest ahead of Hezekiah.

Ephraim walked so well with his new cane that Stuart had donated the wood to make that he walked faster than Hezekiah. They traveled over Spruce Mountain and across other mountains, rivers, and plains. They crossed seas and deserts and finally reached the fields outside of Bethlehem where they joined other shepherds. Ephraim still kept up with the other shepherds, even when they ran to a stable.

“Why are we running?” Ephraim gasped.

“A babe is born tonight,” Hezekiah said. “We must witness the birth of this babe.”

Ephraim was the first one to reach the stable and see the baby asleep in the hay inside of the manger.

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He was the only one to see that one side of the manger was coming apart. He took a piece of Stuart’s wood from his cane to fix it before the rest of the shepherds arrived.

Hezekiah walked slowly up to the manger while the rest of the shepherds were still in the distance. ”

“What are you doing, Ephraim?”

“I am helping a miracle,” Ephraim said. He listened to the wind whistling through the olive trees growing around the stable.

“Listen to the wind whistle,” Hezekiah said. “It sounds like the wind on Spruce Mountain.”

“The wind in the olive trees will tell the story of Stuart’s cane to the wild whistling wind and it will blow across the world and tell Stuart,” Ephraim said.

The wild, whistling wind blew the story of Ephraim’s cane back to Stuart on Spruce Mountain and Stuart still whispers the story to the rest of the world if it will lean closer and listen.

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The Card Board Christmas Bear and the Music Stand

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Day 6, The 21 Days of Christmas Album

My legacy from my daughter Jill  is a Christmas bear ornament, a music stand, music, and her life.

Jill made a cardboard bear Christmas tree ornament at a time when I believed as firmly as a whole note that she would care for me in a peaceful old age and lay my weary self to rest with a violin or guitar tribute. Probably both. Not that I spent much time thinking about my death, then. Life still had possibilities, although they weren’t as endless as they had seemed in my twenties, they were still there. I never thought about Jill’s death because I knew she would outlive me.

She didn’t outlive me.

Those words cover days and nights trying to carry on as normal, not inflicting my grief on other people, but being drowned by it as surely as she was drowned while kayaking in that river.  Ironically, she kayaked safely in Lake Michigan and in Alaska, but drowned in a river in Tennessee.

Silently, I added custom made lyrics and melodies to the Elizabeth Kuber Ross stages of grief. Most of the time, disbelief was more harmony than melody. For me, there was nothing more real than watching the wind blow Jill’s ashes over her beloved Lake Michigan. My grief composition included zombie days, sleepless nights, hamster wheels of regret, stiletto memories, and endless notes of sorrow, vibrating with things like taking her violin and guitar out of her camper, finding all of the music she had played including some of the music we played together.

The blue notes included her jeep, her camper, her diaries, her life. The grade school art and diaries and cards and her Christmas bear tore at my heart so savagely that I wanted to tear them up in little pieces to join the pieces of my heart. I didn’t tear them up.  I stowed them away along with my music and shut the lid on the memories as firmly as I closed the lid on the piano. For good measure, I sat some books on the lid, both literally and figuratively.

Or, I thought I had.  Then I found Jill’s Christmas bear. She had tucked the bear in one of her elementary school diaries, the kind that says, “I love you mom from your doughter Jill.

I held it to my heart wondering how many pieces a heart can break into before it dissolves completely. Memories seeped from under the closed piano lid and there we were again. The ear squeaking violin lessons in second and third grade, the fourth and fifth grade orchestra, bus trips downtown to the junior symphony orchestra. High school orchestra and band concerts. At home, her violin and my piano and accordion blended well enough for us to play together at a local nursing home for several years. We loved music together. We loved each other together.

Then her earthly music stopped and my earthly music was so muted with grief that I didn’t think I would  ever hear it full volume again.

Then I looked, really looked at Jill’s Christmas bear. Wasn’t his mouth open just the tiniest bit?  Was he trying to sing? She overflowed her growing up years with songs like Angels Watching Over Me, Old MacDonald, and even some of Glenn Miller and other old old old songs that I loved to sing and play. Then she stopped singing in favor of playing her violin, and later her guitar and mandolin. I was afraid that adult life had reduced her songs to syllables and sixteenth notes.

Then I found the C/D she had sent me. She had written and played tracks of original music and had them professionally recorded. I listened, really listened to her C/D.  She sang one of her original songs.

I transferred the bear from his paper hideaway to the Christmas tree.  She loved Christmas, and I know that in the musical part of heaven where she lives, she is singing Christmas carols. I play her C/D often, and listen to her voice. I know in the musical part of heaven where she lives, she is singing and playing many of her original songs.

Christmas carols contain words like mother, child, joy, music, sing, and faith.

Faith says the music of the waves back dropped her trip to heaven. Faith says she is in the Christmas music I play and sing with my grandchildren. Faith says that Christmas sorrow can contain grace notes of Christmas joy. Even though through all of the Christmas carols I hear the refrain, “I wish she were here.”

Christmas songs also contain words like despair in I heard the Bells on Christmas Day. Sometimes despair is part of my grief song. Despair at the empty days without her visibly in my life. Faith says she is in heaven and faith and imagination say that she is singing and playing right along with me, but I still don’t hear her voice on the telephone or enjoy her sitting across the table from me. Memories can crash like a fist on piano keys.  Music and faith can work together in lockstep with grief, even at Christmas, but Christmas can be a twilight season amid all of the fairy lights and Christmas decorations.

There are words from the carol “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear….’for lo the days are hasting on… Sometimes grief hastens on, other times it lingers for a lifetime. Either way, grief isn’t something you move forward from.  It is something you move forward with.

My daughter Jill left me a Christmas bear ornament and a music stand and her life here and in heaven.  I have put her music on her music stand again and started to play it again.  Her Christmas bear smiles from my Christmas tree and when I open my ears and my heart enough through my grief, I hear her playing along with me.

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Featured

The Christmas Tree Angel

boyanddog

Day  5, 21 Days of Christmas Album

Jackson sat up in bed so quickly that he kicked his dog Sherman who slept on a quilt at the foot of his bed. Sherman jumped off the bed yipping sleepily.

‘Hurry, Jackson, it’s snowing,” his mother called up the stairs.

“Today’s Christmas tree day!” Jackson told Sherman. “Coming, Mama!” he shouted. Quickly he pulled on his knickers and shirt. Quickly he put his collection in his pocket –the fish hook that had belonged to Grandpa, his jack knife, and some of his best stones from the creek.

“Papa’s already in the woods,” Mama said as she sat a plate of pancakes, eggs, and bacon in front of Jackson. “Eat your breakfast so you can catch up with him.”

“Why couldn’t Papa wait for me?” Jackson asked with his mouth full of pancakes.

“One of the pigs got out and ran into the woods,” Mama said. “Papa had to go after him. He said to follow him to the woods on the other side of the pasture. “

Jackson put on his warm coat and hat and gloves and called Sherman.

“Don’t forget your scarf,” Mama said, tucking the warm blue scarf she had knitted for him around his neck. “The wind is busy today.”

When Jackson opened the back door, the wind blew them out into the dancing snow. Since Sherman was a white dog with pieces of black, he looked like pieces of coal dancing in the snow.

Jackson and Sherman followed Papa’s tracks across the barnyard and pasture. The snow was coming down so hard and fast that it quickly filled in Papa’s tracks. Jackson and Sherman entered the silent, snowy woods. Snow topped the tall pine trees like frosting on one of Mama’s apple cakes. Snow piled up on the ground like white haystacks.

fir trees
Sherman jumped into one of the snow haystacks barking, so hard that it sifted into his mouth like flour. Jackson followed him, kicking his feet and spinning his arms to make a snow angel. Suddenly, Sherman stopped barking and froze in his snow tracks. He pointed like the arrow on the weather vane on top of the barn. Jackson sat up. A man wearing a red plaid coat and a coonskin hat stood in front of them. His long brown beard nearly reached down to his black galoshes.

Kindness shone from his blue eyes as he returned Jackson’s stare. “You’d better hurry. Your father needs you,” the man said.

“Where is he?”

“Listen,” the man said.

Jackson listened and he heard the thunk thunk of Papa’s ax as it bit into the trunk of a tree.

Jackson ran toward the sound. “Wait for me, Papa!” he shouted.

He ran through the snow, the fresh tangy scent of the pine tickling his nose. The sound of the ax grew closer and closer and finally Jackson saw Papa standing in front of a pine tree holding his ax high in the air.

“Papa, where’s the  pig?” Jackson cried.

“The pig’s long gone,” Papa said. “He probably went to the Boone’s farm. It’s pretty close to here, you know. We can go get him later.”

“Why are you cutting the Christmas tree by yourself? You said you couldn’t cut down the Christmas tree without me.” Jackson said.

“ I was remembering your Grandpa. We used to come out here every year and cut our Christmas tree when I was a boy,” Papa said.

‘The Grandpa that  got buried up on the hill before I was born? Mama and me planted daises on his grave last summer.”

“That’s the Grandpa. “

“Did you want to be alone with him, Papa?  Is that why you didn’t wait for me?”

“I think about him a lot at Christmas,” Papa said. “But now you’re here. You can pull and tug on the tree after I chop a few more licks.”

Papa lifted his ax just as Sherman rushed barking into the clearing. Sherman’s black spots resembling coal dots danced in a circle around Papa. Sherman so startled Papa that he dropped the ax on his hand.

“Ouch!” Papa cried.  He grabbed his finger.

“Papa,” your finger’s bleeding,” Jackson cried.

Blood spurted out of Papa’s finger. He grabbed his glove and wrapped it around his finger, but blood quickly soaked the glove. Jackson wrapped his scarf tightly around Papa’s finger. He picked up the ax and with a goodbye glance at the half chopped down pine tree, he started up the path. “We have to hurry back, Papa.”  Sherman nipped at their heels making Papa walk quickly.

As they hurried through the woods Papa’s steps got slower and slower and he finally sat down on a tree stump.  “I’m tired, Jackson,” he said. “You run ahead and I’ll rest and follow you later.”

“No, Papa, I’m staying here with you. Sherman, go home and get Mama! Go Sherman!”

Sherman ran ahead of Jackson and he and Papa watched the black spots running through the snow.

“Mama should be here soon,” Jackson said. “Does it hurt, Papa?”

Papa didn’t answer him. His head leaned over on his right shoulder and his eyes were closed. Jackson thought maybe a nap might do Papa good. When he woke up they could keep walking home.

“Papa, wake up,” Jackson said.

“Don’t let him sleep. Keep him talking.” A man in the red plaid coat and coonskin cap stood beside the stump. His long brown beard brushed across Jackson’s hand as he leaned over to examine Papa’s finger.

“Is he bleeding bad?” Jackson asked the man.

“No, it’s slowing down,” the man said. “You did a good job of wrapping his finger. Now we have to pack some moss and snow on it to stop the bleeding even more. “

As the snow continued to sift down, Jackson and the man worked on Papa’s finger. Jackson dug some moss from under the snow and handed it to the man. Then he and the man packed piles of snow on top of the moss. Then they tied Jackson’s scarf firmly around Papa’s finger.

Finally, Papa finally lifted his head up and shook it like he was trying to clear it. “What are you doing, Jackson?” he muttered.

“Me and the man are fixing your finger, Papa.”

“What man, Jackson?”

“That man.” Jackson pointed, but he was pointing to empty air.

“Papa, there was a man here.”

“He was wearing a red plaid coat, a long brown beard, a coonskin hat, and galoshes with latches,” Papa said.

“How did you know, Papa?”
“He’s your Grandpa, Jackson. It’s Christmas tree time.”

“Papa, are you feeling any better?”

“I feel a lot better, Jackson. It’s pretty cold out here. Let’s try to get back home.”

Before Papa could get up from the tree stump, Sherman burst through the pine trees with Mama close behind him.

“Shame, on you, Aaron, to scare me like this,” she scolded Papa. She quickly untied the scarf and examined his finger.  “The bleeding has stopped.  I hitched up the horses to the sleigh and we’re going into town to see Doctor Hewitt.”

Ignoring Papa’s protests, Jackson and Mama helped Papa walk out of the woods and across the pasture to the waiting sleigh. Mama took the reins and they sped away into town to Doctor Hewitt’s office.

Jackson and Sherman stood watching the sleigh disappear. Jackson wondered about the unfinished Christmas tree. “Come on Sherman, let’s go get the Christmas tree,” Jackson said.

He and Sherman went back across the pasture and through the woods again. They had to make new tracks because the snow had completely covered their old ones. They arrived at the Christmas tree clearing, but the Christmas tree wasn’t there. There were no signs that anyone had cut down a tree. Papa’s ax was gone too.

maninwoods

Jackson and Sherman walked slowly home. When he and Sherman finally got home, he saw that the Christmas tree nestled snugly on the back porch like it had grown there. Papa’s ax lay beside it.  As Jackson ran to the tree, he heard someone shout “Merry Christmas!” He looked toward the woods and saw the flash of a red plaid coat through the trees.

And Grandpa, Papa, and Jackson made the Christmas tree angel for the top of the tree that year. Mama put it on top of the tree and smiled.

dogangel

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Katherine K. Davis Reported that The Little Drummer Boy Almost Wrote Itself

drummer boy

Day 4, 21 Days of Christmas Album

Katherine K. Davis wrote the Little Drummer Boy in 1941, and since then he has drummed his timeless message into the hearts of people everywhere.

There are different versions of the story of Katherine Kennicott Davis’s creation of the Little Drummer Boy. One version of the story says that Katherine freely translated a Czech carol called The Carol of the Drum, in 1941.

Another version of the story has it that she arranged the Little Drummer Boy with Harry Simone, Jack Halloran, and Henry Onorati and another version of the story says that she wrote the song herself while “trying to take a nap.”

The bibliography of her musical career indicates that Katherine K. Davis wrote and arranged The Little Drummer Boy in 1941, but she produced a lifetime of music before she wrote the Little Drummer Boy.

Katherine Kennicott Davis Composed Her First Musical Composition at Age 15

“Come, they told me/pa rum pum pum pum/A new born King to see/pa rum pum pum pum/ Our finest gifts we bring/pa rum pum pum pum/To lay before the King/pa rum pum pum pum/rum pum pum pum/rum pum pum pum/So to honor Him/pa rum pum pum pum/When we come.”

Katherine Kennicott Davis was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, on June 25, 1892, and she graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1910. When she was just 15, Katherine wrote her first musical composition called “Shadow March.” She studied music at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and she won the Billings Prize for composition there in 1914. After she graduated, Katherine stayed on at Wellesley and taught music theory and piano as an assistant in the Music Department. She also studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and traveled to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger.

After she returned from Paris, Katherine Kennicott Davis taught music at the Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts, and at the Shady Hill School for Girls in Philadelphia. She wrote many of her more than 600 compositions for the choirs at her school. She was a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and Stetson University in DeLand, Florida awarded her an honorary doctorate.

Katherine Kennicott Writes “Let All Things Now Living”

Katherine told colleagues that in the 1920 she had found the traditional Welsh folk tune, the Ash Grove in the Book of National Songs. She wrote the harmonization and a descant for the tune and published them in 1939, with her text under the name of John Cowley, one of her pseudonyms.

She called her new song Let All Things Now Living, and it became a favorite Thanksgiving hymn of many church choirs and congregations.

Katherine Kennicott Davis Writes The Little Drummer Boy 

Little Baby pa rum pump pum pum/ I am a poor boy too pa rum pump pum pum/ I have no gift to bring pa rum pump pum pum/That’s fit to give our King pa rum pump pump pum, pa rum rum pump pum pum pum pum pum/Shall I play for you pa rum pump pump pum/On my drum.”

The Little Drummer Boy is the story of a poor boy who couldn’t afford a gift for the newborn Christ Child, so he played his drum at the manger with Mary’s approval. The baby smiled, delighted with the Little Drummer Boy’s skillful playing.

rose
The story of the Little Drummer Boy resembles a twelfth century legend that Anatole France retold as Le Jongleur de Notre Dame or Our Lady’s Juggler. The French legend said that a juggler juggled in front of a statue of Mary and the statue, depending on the version of the story, either smiled at him or threw him a rose. In 1902, Jules Massenet adapted the story into an opera and in 1984, the television film The Juggler of Notre Dame the statue both smiled at the juggler and threw him a rose.

In 1955, shortly before they retired, the Trapp Family singers recorded the Carol of the Drum. This song resembles the Little Drummer Boy both in music and lyrics. The only difference is the line “The ox and lamb kept time.” In The Carol of the Drum, the line is the “The ox and ass kept time.”

Henry Onorati Arranges His Version of The Carol of the Drum

Mary nodded/pa rum pum pum pum/The ox and lamb kept time/pa rum pum pum pum/I played my drum for Him/pa rum pum pum pum/

In 1957, Henry Onorati re-arranged The Carol of the Drum for the Jack Halloran Singers to record on Dot Records, but Dot didn’t release the record in time for Christmas. In 1958, Henry Onorati introduced his friend Harry Simeone to the Carol of the Drum. Harry Simeone was a conductor and arranger from Newark, New Jersey, who had worked on several Bing Crosby movies and worked as conductor for a television show called The Firestone Hour from 1952-1959.

Harry Simeone re-arranged the song and re-titled it The Little Drummer Boy. He recorded it with the Harry Simeone Chorale on the album Sing We Now of Christmas. Harry Simeone and Henry Onorati were given joint credit with Katherine K. Davis for the song even though they had only arranged it. This was Harry Simeone’s first album with a chorus and it was released at Christmas time every year from 1958-1962. It became a holiday classic.

The Little Drummer Boy Becomes a Beloved Holiday Carol 

“I played my best for Him/pa rum pum pum pum/rum pum pum/ pum/rum pum pum pum”

Since the 1950s, The Little Drummer Boy has appeared in over 200 versions in seven languages in all kinds of music genres. In 1964 Marlene Dietrich recorded a German version of the Little Drummer Boy. The Beverly Sisters and Michael Flanders recorded hit versions of The Little Drummer Boy in 1959, and in 1972, the Pipes and Drums and Military Band of the Royal Scots Guards had a hit version of the carol.

Bing Crosby and David Bowie recorded the most popular version of the Little Drummer Boy as a duet with Peace On Earth for Bing Crosby’s Television Christmas special in 1977. The duet version was written after David Bowie admitted he hated the song that he was scheduled to sing. Bing Crosby performed The Little Drummer Boy while David Bowie sang the new song Peace on Earth. The duet eventually became a classic.

In 2008, BBC disc jockey Terry Wogan and singer Aled Jones recorded a new version of the Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy duet for a charity album released to help Children In Need. Issued as a single, it climbed to a UK Top hit for them.

Katherine Kennicott Davis Writes a Lifetime of Music 

“Then he smiled at me pa rum pum pum pum/Me and my drum.”

Katherine Kennicott Davis continued writing music until she fell ill in the winter of 1979-1980. On April 20, 1980, she died at the age of 87 in Littleton, Massachusetts. Her musical legacy included operas, choruses, children’s operettas, cantatas, piano and organ pieces and songs like Let All Things Now Living, and The Little Drummer Boy. She left all of the royalties and proceeds from her musical compositions to Wellesley College’s Music Program.

Katherine K. Davis once quipped that The Little Drummer Boy “had been done to death on radio and TV,” but musicians all over the world continue to sing and record her song.

References
Bowie, David and Crosby, Bing. Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy. CD
Keats, Ezra Jack. The Little Drummer Boy. DVD
Vienna Boy’s Choir. The Little Drummer Boy. CD

Little Drummer Boy, Bing Crosby and David Bowie

Harry Simeone Choral

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Carols Silent Night and O, Holy Night Combine Fact and Tradition for a Message of Hope

silentnight

Day 3,  21 Days of Christmas Album

Like the story of the birth of the Savior they celebrate, Christmas carols including Silent Night and O Holy Night are a combination of fact and tradition.

Silent Night

Because of his illegitimacy, Father Joseph Mohr who wrote the words to Silent Night had to petition the Pope for permission to enter the priesthood He was born into poverty and died penniless, but he left a priceless legacy to the world with Silent Night. Franz Gruber did not achieve musical fame beyond his small village of Arnsdorf in Austria until he wrote the music for Silent Night. His melody traveled around the world and across centuries.

On December 24, 1818, Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber with the choir behind them, stood in front of the main altar in St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf and performed “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht” for the first time. It is still sung around the world and is one of the most beloved Christmas carols of all time.

 

Tradition says that Silent Night sounded through the trenches louder than the guns of war on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914 shortly after World War I began. In a brief, spontaneous truce, the soldiers on both sides of the trenches sang their versions of Stille Nacht and traded rations and cigarettes. A similar tradition surrounds the French carol O Holy Night in an earlier war. During the Franco-Prussian War, a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia in 1870, legend said that a French soldier peered over the top of his trench singing O Holy Night or Cantique de Noel.

Instead of firing at the French soldier, a German soldier peered over the top of his trench singing a Martin Luther song. Vom Himmel Hoch da komm icher or From Heaven above to Earth I Come, a popular Germany hymn of the time. The German soldier sang his carol with as much feeling as the French soldier sang Cantique de Noel. The traditional story said that for 24 hours, the soldiers on both sides held a temporary truce to honor Christmas Day, still singing their respective carols.

Silent Night     

 

O, Holy Night

church

Like Silent Night, O Holy Night began with a parish priest and Christmas Eve Mass. In 1847, his parish priest asked Placide Cappeau, a wine merchant with just one hand, an anti-slavery activist, and for a time mayor of Roquemaure, France, to write a poem for Christmas Mass. An amateur and occasional poet, Placide Cappeau waited until he was bouncing down a bumpy road on a business trip to Paris to answer his priest’s request.

As he traveled to Paris in the reality of the dusty coach, he traveled in imagination to Bethlehem to witness the birth of Jesus. He used the book of Luke in the Bible to guide him and by the time he arrived in Paris he had written a poem that he called Minuit, Chretiens or Midnight, Christians. It became more widely known as O Holy Night.

Placide Cappeau felt that his Cantique de Noel poem deserved to become a song, but since he didn’t know anything about music he asked his friend Adolphe Charles Adams to set his poem to music. Placide had chosen a well qualified friend. At this point in his career, Adolphe Adams had composed over eighty operatic stage works including his masterpiece Giselle in 1841, but this request from a friend challenged Adolphe Adams more than writing scores for orchestras and ballets performed in Paris and Berlin.

Adolphe Adams faced the reality that as a Jew, the words of Cappeau’s song celebrated Christmas, a day that he didn’t observe, and Jesus who he didn’t believe was God’s son. Despite these obstacles, Adams merged his original musical score with his friend Placide Cappeau’s inspired words. Both lyricist and musician were pleased with Cantique de Noel and its first performance took place at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, 1847, in Roquemaure, France. In the beginning the French church embraced the song and it quickly became featured in countless Catholic Christmas services. Then it became less popular because of the reputations of both Placide Cappeau and Adolphe Adams. Cappeau left the church later in his life and renounced its teachings. He became an active social radical and freethinker.

The Church leaders also discovered that Adolphe Adams was Jewish. The Church quickly and thoroughly denounced O Holy Night which had become one of the most beloved Christmas songs in France. They pronounced it inappropriate for church services and said that it had a lack of musical taste and did not reflect the spirit of religion, but ordinary parishioners and church goers did not stop singing O Holy Night.

By 1855, O Holy Night had been published in London and translated into many languages. John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian minister, American music critic, journalist, and ardent abolitionist translated O Holy Night into English. He lived at the Transcendentalist community at Brook Farm, Massachusetts and he was involved in the Abolitionist movement in America.

According to one tradition that some historians dispute, John Dwight saw something beyond the story of the birth of the Christ child in O Holy Night. He embraced the third stanza of the carol as an expression of his views about slavery and. his English translation of the third stanza was published in his Journal of Music magazine. The third stanza became especially popular during the Civil War.

Truly he taught us to love one another, his law is love and his gospel is peace, chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in his name all oppression shall cease.”

On Christmas Eve 1906, when Placide Cappeau and John Sullivan Dwight had grown old and Adolphe Adams had been dead for fifty years, thirty-three-year-old Reginald Fessenden, a university professor and chemist, read the nativity story from the Gospel of Luke into a microphone and then picked up his violin and played O Holy Night. It was the first song to be broadcast over the radio as well as the first radio broadcast, and from its literal translation to its many versions, O Holy Night it is a still one of the most recorded and broadcast carols.

Traditional Christmas carols like Silent Night and O Holy Night and their creation stories come from different and often conflicting traditions. They touch the hearts of ordinary and famous people alike and they teach us that Christmas is for both saints and sinners. Most of all they show us that saints and sinners can write beloved sacred carols that offer heavenly hope to an earthly imperfect world.

O Holy Night

 

 

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“Do You Hear What I Hear?”, A Christmas Carol and a Prayer for Peace

doyouheawhatihear

The Twenty-one Days of Christmas Album, Day 2.  “Do You Hear What I Hear?” A Christmas Carol and a Prayer for Peace

Noel and Gloria Regney wrote Do You Hear What I hear? a timeless Christmas prayer for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the Cold War

In October 1962, musician Noel Regney walked through the streets of Manhattan, the weight of despair in his heart reflected on the unsmiling faces of the people that he passed on the street. A war of words and maneuvers called the Cold War held the world in an icy grip, with the United States and the Soviet Union the principal combatants.

During these last two weeks in October 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union were heating the Cold War to the nuclear boiling point in a confrontation over the Soviet Union installing missiles capable of striking most of the continental United States in Cuba, just 90 miles away. History labeled this confrontation the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Noel Regney Feels the Weight of Despair and the Lightness of Hope

Said the night wind to the little lamb,/Do you see what I see/Way up in the sky little lamb,/Do you see what I see/A star, a star, dancing in the night/With a tail as big as a kite,/With a tail as big as a kite.

Noel Regney felt terrified for his family, his country, and for the survival of the human race. He had fought in World War II and had experienced the fear and terror of war and death first hand. Now he worried that the secure life he had built for himself and his family in the United States teetered on nuclear brinkmanship.

He tried to think about something else. Christmas, the time of peace on earth and good will, hovered just a few months away and a record producer had asked him to write a Christmas song. He later recalled that he thought he would never write a Christmas song because Christmas had become so commercial.

Then on his way home, Noel saw two mothers taking their babies for a walk in their strollers. He watched the two babies looking at each other and smiling and his mood lifted from despair to hope. Noel’s mind turned to poetry and babies and lambs. By the time he arrived home, he had composed the lyrics of Do You Hear What I Hear? in his head.

Noel and Gloria Shayne Regney Compose Do You Hear What I Hear? Together

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, /“Do you hear what I hear? / Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy, /Do you hear what I hear? /a song, a song, high above the tree/with a voice as big as the sea.

As soon as Noel Regney arrived home, he jotted down the lyrics that he had written in his head and he asked his wife Gloria to write the music to match his words. The Regneys usually collaborated using the exact opposite method – Gloria would write the words and Noel would write the music. This time they switched roles.

Gloria Regney later said, “Noel wrote a beautiful song and I wrote the music. We couldn’t sing it through; it broke us up. We cried. Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time.”

Noel Regney Experienced War First Hand

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king, /“Do you know what I know? /In your palace warm, mighty king, /Do you know what I know? /A Child, a Child shivers in the cold—/Let us bring him silver and gold.”

Noel Regney seemed destined for a brilliant music career in his native France. He studied at Strasbourg Conservatory and at the Conservatorie National de Paris. Then Hitler’s Nazi troops invaded France and the Germans forcibly drafted Noel Regney into the Army. While in the German Army, Noel joined the French underground. He collected information and warned French resistance fighters of upcoming attacks from the Germans and he still wore the German Army uniform while he carried out his missions.

One mission in particular haunted Noel Regney. The French underground assigned him to lead a group of German soldiers into a trap so that French fighters could catch them in a crossfire. The memory of dead German soldiers falling to the ground haunted Noel. The French fighters suffered only minor injuries, and although Noel , too, was shot he sustained minor injuries. Shortly after the raid, Noel deserted the German army and lived with the French underground until the war ended.

After the war ended, Noel worked as the musical director of the Indochinese Service of Radio France from 1948 to 1950.. After that he became musical director at Lido, a popular Paris nightclub. In 1951, Noel Regney left France for a world tour as musical director for the French singer Lucienne Boyer.

Noel Regney Moves to Manhattan and Marries a Musician

Said the king to the people everywhere,/“Listen to what I say!/Pray for peace, people, everywhere,/Listen to what I say!/The Child, The Child sleeping in the night/He will bring us goodness and light,/He will bring us goodness and light.”

In 1952, Noel Regney immigrated to the United States and moved to Manhattan. As well as writing serious musical compositions he composed, arranged and conducted music for many early TV shows and wrote commercial jingles for radio.

One day he walked into the dining room of a Manhattan hotel and saw a beautiful woman playing popular music on the piano. He introduced himself and in a month he and Gloria Shayne were married. Their daughter Gabrielle Regney describes her mother as “an extraordinary pianist and composer who has perfect pitch.”

Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Regney composed music together and separately. The songs they composed together include Rain, Rain, Go Away, recorded by Bobby Vinton, but Do You Hear What Hear? is their Christmas classic masterpiece.

Some of Gloria’s popular songs include Goodbye Cruel World, and The Men in My Little Girl’s Life, and Almost There. In 1963 Noel composed Dominique, made world famous by the Singing Nun and in 1971, he wrote Slovenly Peter, a concert suite derived from a German folktale. In 1974, he wrote a five part cantata called I Believe in Life. Gloria and Noel divorced in 1973. Noel Regney died in 2002 and Gloria Shayne Regney Baker died in 2008.

Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Robert Goulet, Susan Boyle, and Andy Williams are just a few of the artists that have recorded the more than 120 versions of Do You Hear What I Hear? in musical styles from jazz to reggae. Bing Crosby’s version in 1963 sold more than a million copies.

According to his obituary, Noel Regney favored the Robert Goulet version of the song.

“I am amazed that people can think they know the song- and not know it is a prayer for peace, but we are so bombarded by sound and our attention spans are so short that we now listen only to catchy beginnings,” he said in a 1985 interview.

“Listen to what I say, pray for peace people everywhere.”

Robert Goulet Version, “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

References

Fox, Margalit “Gloria Shayne Baker, Composer and Lyricist Dies at 84. The New York Times. March 11, 2008

Martin, Douglas. Noel Regney, Songwriter Known for ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ Dead at 80. The New York Times, December 1, 2011

Link to Day One. Christmas Album

 

 

 

 

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The 21 Days of Christmas: A Christmas Album

threewisemen

Historic Ohio Christmases include runaway bridges, hometown banks staying open Christmas Eve and stories of compassion, forgiveness, and hope.

The 21 days of Christmas is a daily Christmas Album featuring Ohio stories expanding outward into the magic of Christmas dreaming and the miracle of the Christmas story.

Day One

Coming Home for Christmas

Ashtabula, Ohio. The force of the water and ice was such as to carry out the bridge at the Harbor, which had just drifted out of sight at light on Wednesday morning.  It was brought to homeward somewhere off Conneaut. The tug Dexter also broke away from her moorings. She was fired up and sent after the missing bridge, and got back with it about midnight. Ashtabula Telegraph.  Friday morning, December 24, 1875

Christmas at the Christmas Market, Redemption and New Beginnings

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Cincinnati. Baskets, five cents apiece,” timidly piped a wee tot of a girl, poorly dressed, from her safe retreat between the steps of a building and a few fruit barrels. The feeble voice of the poor tot could not assert itself in the din of the Christmas market, and but few in the throng were attracted by it sufficiently to cast a  passing glance in the dark corner, where the little market fairy presided over her four or five ordinary, home-made market baskets.

“Baskets, five cents a piece,” monotonously repeated the frightened little vender

Just when three young men, who had been stopped by a blockade in the crowd stood right in front of the dark nook.“  What was that?” asked one of them, turning around and peering into the darkness, until he espied the little girl, who seemed to be badly Intimidated by the crowd.

“What do you sell, sissy ? ” asked the young man, and scarcely audible came the reply, “Baskets—five cents apiece.”

“Won’t you sell us three for a quarter? “asked the young man Jokingly, at the same time ‘taking up one of the baskets to examine it.

“No-o-o-o,” the tot began to cry, now thoroughly frightened, while the tears ran down her cheeks faster and faster.  That offer was evidently too much for her arithmetic.

Laughingly, the young men moved on after the last one of them had stealthily dropped a big orange in the crying girls lap. It was in one of the obscurest corners in front of one of the shabbiest market booths that the writer was treated to one of the rarest experiences, perhaps not so rare as many think . which soften the heart and make one think better of the sinners.

A poor woman, with four young children hanging on her skirts, and a fifth one a baby, perhaps four months old in her arms, stood in front of the booth, torturing her brain how to most advantageously the few cents which the hard times had left her to spend for Christmas.

Full of intense longing, the eyes of the little ones were gazing at the treasures in the booth and every now and then one of the children would gently call the mother’s attention to some of the good things which seemed to him the most desirable.

But there Is not much choice, even in the poorest market brooch for one who has

but eleven cents in his purse. One pound of candy for six cents and a diminutive bag full of nuts for five cents swallowed the whole capital and nothing remained to satisfy even the modest wishes of the ill-fed and poorly, but cleanly dressed children. Another look into her empty purse, and with tears in her eyes, the poor woman and her little ones turned away from the stall.  Then, it was when the unexpected happened.

A gaudily-dressed woman, whose hectic cheeks and painted brows spoke unmistakably of sin and dissipation, had been a witness to the little episode, and when the woman turned away to carry her light purchases and her heavy heart back

to her cheerless home, the modern Magdalene grasped the thin and tiny hand of one of the children, and, ‘murmuring in a low voice, “You shall have your Christmas, too,” put a shining silver dollar in the outstretched palm, closing it tenderly over the coin.

Before the mother of the child knew what, had happened, the woman of sin was rapidly walking away in the opposite direction. When she passed the writer, who had witnessed the pathetic scene, a blush, perhaps the first one in many years, arose in her face, and, as if an apology for her action were needed, she sighed; ” I once had a child of my own.”

Cincinnati Commercial Gazette, December 25, 1895

Merry Christmas, One and All

bankad

 

 

One and All

MERRY CHRISTMAS! to teacher and to the little girl around the corner,

to the fellow who fires the furnace in the morning, and to Mike the policeman. Merry Christmas to all the tired folks who’ve been standing behind counters, to the dependable delivery boy who got the last gift here on time, to Jack the mailman, almost down but by no means out under his hundred-pound load of greeting cards. . .. “A Merry Christmas . . . and God bless us (‘every one.”

Through droughts, through cornucopian harvests; through wars, through peace; through depressions, through prosperity; this bank has always stood ready to serve. . to aid and to advise all. And in this capacity, the rightful capacity, the Citizens

National Bank wishes the best of the Season’s Greeting’ to all Greene Countians and expresses the wish of good fellowship . . . that if we have not mutually become acquainted that the coming year will see us friends . . . and that if we can serve you, that 1938 will mutually benefit each of us.

ANNOUNCEMENT

For the convenience of those who may wish to dispose of funds received after regular banking hours,  the Citizens National Bank will be open two hours Christmas Eve, from 8 p. m. to 10 p. m.

Citizens National Bank

Corner Main and Green Sts.

Xenia Evening Gazette, Xenia, Ohio, US

Dec 24, 1937

Christmas Mittens

christamasmittens

God’s love is a pair of  Christmas mittens,

When your hands are bare blue and frost bitten,

Your heart races through dark and empty folds,,

Aching with desolate despair and cold.

God’s love is a pair of Christmas mittens,

When the snow gathers so cold and so deep,

That teeth chatters follow you through your sleep.

God’s love is a pair of Christmas mittens,

He slips on with  His tenderness seamed in,

He threads them through yarn  so warm and so soft,

You have no desire to take them off!

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Ashtabula County’s Captain Leverett Barker Goldsmith: The Possibilities of Lake Serpents

ashtabula county anecdotes
Ashtabula County Anecdotes

lakeserpent1In June 1860, the 40th year of Captain Leverett Barker Goldsmith’s career on the Great Lakes, he saw his first lake serpent off Fighting Island in the Detroit River. He had been piloting a steady course at the wheel of his schooner, the Nevermore, when he spotted a lake serpent approximately 75 feet long and five feet wide with a dark brown back, deep green sides, and a dingy white belly. It had small, green, glistening eyes encircled in red, but no fins or bumps and it slithered its slim body through the water. Captain Goldsmith watched the lake serpent through his mariner’s glasses, trying to decide whether or not to believe his own eyes.

Captain Leverett Barker Goldsmith of Conneaut and Kingsville, Ohio, had heard rumors and whisperings that sailors had seen lake serpents  had been spotted cavorting in the Great Lakes. Newspaper stories of the time reported sea serpent sightings in all of the Great Lakes with skeptical over and under tones.

With the help of his Baptist upbringing, Captain Goldsmith had built a solid reputation for honesty and integrity, but he had never experienced a lake serpent. Lake serpent stories were as old as Captain Goldsmith and his maritime career. Twenty-five years earlier on May 13, 1835, the Detroit Democratic Free Press, recorded a lake serpent sighting on the Detroit River. The story described the lake serpent as approximately 75 feet long and five feet wide with a dark brown back, deep green sides, and a dingy white belly. It had small, green, glistening eyes encircled in red, but no fins or bumps and quite slim.  Concluded the Free Press, it floated down the Detroit River “stretching forward at full length as if to exhibit himself for the gratification and astonishment of his beholders,” before disappearing into the depths to be seen no more.

Despite past lake serpent sightings and the parallels to his own life, Captain Goldsmith pondered and then decided.  Busy with his career, and of a pragmatic turn of mind, Captain Goldsmith decided to anchor his lake serpent sighting in the back of his mind.

The Captain and His Family

The Detroit River, the strait connecting the waters of the Great Lakes, shaped Captain Goldsmith’s life with his lake serpent sightings discretely in the background. Born in Pomfret, New York, on March 4, 1820, he sailed the lakes as a cabin boy by the time he turned twelve in 1832, and he had worked his way to ships master by the time he turned twenty years old in 1840. He sailed every season on the Great Lakes except one for 55 years, perhaps the season that Ashtabula County historian William W. Williams noted in his 1878 History of Ashtabula County that Captain Goldsmith kept a store in Kelloggsville, Some sources show Captain Goldsmith and his family settling in Ashtabula in 1844, but census records place his home port more often in Conneaut and Kingsville.

On December 5, 1839, Captain Goldsmith married Sophronia Maria Runnels who hailed from Mentor, Ohio. The couple eventually had seven children and Moina W. Large in her History of Ashtabula County traces their lives. James Leverett Goldsmith was born April 4, 1841 in Conneaut and died in August 1842. Minerva Goldsmith was born in 1843 in Conneaut and grew up to marry William Gilbert Travers on December 24, 1860 in Ashtabula.

Charles William Goldsmith was born December 10, 1844, in Conneaut and grew up to be a Great Lakes captain like his father. His son Leverett became harbor foreman of the Pittsburgh & Conneaut Dock Company at Conneaut.

Henry Lake Goldsmith was born November 5, 1847, in Conneaut and as an adult operated a grocery store in Cleveland. Cecelia Rebecca Goldsmith was born on September 27, 1849, in Kingsville, Ohio, later married Charles Benson, and spent the later years of her life in Cleveland. Jeanette Emeline Goldsmith was born February 21, 1852, in Kingsville, later married Arthur Hawke, and also spent the later years of her life in Cleveland. George H.  was born August 13, 1860, in Conneaut and married Nella Bovee in Kingsville Township in November 1884. The 1910 Census lists his occupation as sailor on the Lakes.

The Captain and his Crafts

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In the early 1840s, Captain Goldsmith’s began his career as master by sailing the schooner called the Alert, and next the schooner Columbus. During the 1840s he also commanded the Minerva, and then the Florida, which wrecked at the end of the 1844 season. He briefly captained the schooner Algonquin, one of the first ships to pioneer the Lake Superior trade. In November 1851, Captain Goldsmith and his steamer Hudson helped rescue a cargo from a wrecked ship and in July 1853, he served as first mate of the Queen of the West.

In 1855, the Captain commanded the Empire State, the first steamship he ever sailed and the next year its owners removed the Empire State’s engine and put it into a new steamer called the Western Metropolis,  The Western Metropolis, the City of Buffalo, the Michigan Southern, and Northern Indiana were four fine passenger vessels sailing between Cleveland and Buffalo and sometimes Buffalo and Toledo, sometimes between all three. They did an immense trade and passenger traffic up to the era of the Lake Shore Railroad when the railroad bought them.

During his years on the lakes, Captain Goldsmith sailed as mate one season on the schooner Albany which was lost about two years after she was built on a voyage between Mackinac and Sault Ste. Marie in the days when schooners carried passengers. She had on board at the time the vessel went ashore about 125 passengers all of whom were taken off. The owners abandoned the vessel but several years later with better wrecking facilities the Albany was gotten off and her new owners operated her for 25 years. In 1857, Captain Goldsmith was involved with a Cleveland built vessel called the Scotia which he rigged. Other ships he captained included the propellers Buffalo, Idaho, and Hendrick Hudson and the Jay Cooke.

The Buffalo Daily Courier recorded that Captain Goldsmith commanded the new propeller B.F. Wade in October 1862 and for the remainder of the Civil War, he served as master of the Western Metropolis, a passenger vessel with a route between Buffalo, Chicago, and Duluth. The 1870s added the Jay Cooke and the steamer Alaska to Captain Goldsmith’s roster of ships he commanded.

 Captain Goldsmith to the Rescue

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Captain Goldsmith rescued two cargoes and crews in November 1851. The Buffalo Daily Republic reported that Captain Goldsmith and his steamer Great Western, arrived in port, bringing a portion of the cargo from the wreck of the steamer Atlas. He reported that he believed that it wasn’t possible to salvage the Atlas. He successfully pumped out about two feet of water, but he couldn’t lower the level any further. He stated that the wind of yesterday didn’t disturb the wreck, and perhaps he could save more of the cargo in a damaged state.

In the same month, the Morning Express of Buffalo reported that Captain Goldsmith and his steamer Hudson took off the crew of the schooner W.D. Tollcott promptly and safely.

Over two decades later, the Sandusky Daily Register of September 5, 1873, highlighted Captain Goldsmith’s part in the coroner’s inquest into the capsizing of the barge Colorado and the drowning of three men in Sandusky Bay. Captain Leverett B. Goldsmith of the steamer Jay Cooke, being duly sworn stated:

Am master of the steamer Jay Cooke. The wind was blowing down the bay, blowing quite hard, from about southwesterly direction. Got ready as usual to start from the Baltimore & Ohio dock. Gave orders as usual to let go the tern line. Second mate aft and first mate forward, same as usually. Had position in place on pilot house. Last whistle had blown. Cast off stern line. This was about fifteen minutes to seven o’clock.

The Second Mate sung out, ‘all gone, all clear aft,’ as he usually does when there is nothing in the way. Sprung her off by the heat line, then commenced backing. At this time my attention was drawn to see if there was anything in the way astern. Saw everything was clear. At that time looked a saw a fish boat coming in from a northeasterly direction. I couldn’t make out exactly what direction she might take to pass us at the time. While watching her I became satisfied she would make her course between the barges where I wanted her to go (meaning the Cooke). At this time having left the fish boat, I became satisfied we had gone far enough astern for the bell to stop and the engine stopped. Just then heard a hallooing- a tremendous hallooing. The wind was blowing so hard and there was so much noise I couldn’t exactly hear what was said. After this hallooing, I saw a man on the barge to the north of us, think it was the Colorado. Thought I heard him say, ‘a boat couldn’t make out exactly what.

Thinking we were going back into a boat, I immediately rang the bell to go forward, but the boat ran back the length of her rudder to her wheels Then the steamer was lying still. The next thing I saw was the boat bottom upwards, and the men swimming in the water on both sides of the boat. We immediately threw down wooden life preservers around the men in the water, but all seemed to be able to take care of themselves except one, and we threw a heaving line to him which he caught in his left hand.

Immediately after that the man was hauled into a small boat which came from the barges to rescue the men in the water. The rest of the men laid around or swam until picked up by the other boats and rescued. We then discovered a man hanging onto the wheel. He was also picked up by the boats. We laid still until all the boats aside were out of the way and then moved ahead.

Was not aware at the time that anybody was drowned. I saw the First Mate walking along on the port side at the time of the accident. Could not see the Second Mate from where I stood. Should think the distance between the Cooke and the Colorado when we stopped was about 150 feet. Second Mate is a sober, trustworthy man. L.B. Goldsmith, Master of Steamer Jay Cooke.

 Captain Goldsmith’s Second Serpent Sighting

longpoint

In November 1883, Captain Leverett Barker Goldsmith stood at the wheel of the Morley studying the acrobatic lake serpent through his glass. There was always a possibility of sighting shipwrecks in the notoriously dangerous waters off Long Point in Lake Erie, but in the navigation of his career, he had almost forgotten about lake serpent sightings.

 Previous lake serpent sightings and Captain Goldsmith’s sterling reputation still didn’t deter the Detroit Post and Tribune of Saturday November 25, 1883, from printing a skeptical lake serpent story under the headline, “What Kind of Stuff Do They Drink?”

At this point in his career, the captain served as master of the Wabash steamer Morley and on November 22, 1883, he had anchored the Morley under Long Point in Lake Erie to ride out a fierce Lake Erie storm.

As he stood watching the tumbling waves, Captain Goldsmith spotted what he first thought to be part of a shipwreck in the middle of the dancing waves. He grabbed his powerful binoculars and discovered that instead of being tossed by waves, the living “ship” moved through them with the speed of at least five miles an hour. It raised its barrel sized head out of the water and used its arms or wings measuring about five feet and its two tails to move through the water fast enough for the waves to chase it. The captain identified the lake serpent’s color as orangish brown, and his steward, a man by the name of Brown, also viewed the sea serpent and verified Captain Goldsmith’s observations.

Captain Goldsmith and the Progress

progress

In October 1880, W. H. Wolf and Thomas Davidson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, built the Progress as a Bulk Freighter and she was launched on October 12, 1880. By August 7, 1884, the Detroit Post noted that the steamer Progress, Capt. L. B. Goldsmith, master, recently went from Cleveland to Escanaba and return in less than five days. On the down trip she carried 1,820 tons of ore and towed the steamer S. P. Marsh, laden with 1,000 tons of ore.

The Marine Record of October 2, 1884, reported that the steamer Progress, which had been making rapid trips between Cleveland and Escanaba left for Buffalo where she loads coal for Milwaukee, a brief change in her sailing for the past month or two. She would have gotten away Monday but for the breaking of an eccentric to her engine, one of the few slight mishaps she has ever had. Her master, L.B. Goldsmith, is one of the most successful if not the oldest commanders on the lakes.  The former is evidenced by the good time his vessel has made this season, and the significant fact that while the ship Progress hails from Milwaukee, her master’s home is in Kingsville, this state. (Ohio). “That he is now 64 years old and has been sailing since he was age 12, undoubtedly establishes his claim as one of the oldest men on the lakes.”

The Kingsville Tribune published in Kingsville, Ohio, one of Captain Goldsmith’s home ports, told the story of his next voyage in July, 1887, when it reported in his obituary that he died as he lived, at his post. On Friday, July 22, 1887, at midnight as the Progress approached the dock on the Detroit River at Oakland, Michigan, Captain Goldsmith clutched his bell rope and didn’t release it. Eventually, the engineer observed that something was wrong with the captain’s bell signals. Going to the pilothouse, he found Captain Goldsmith lying unconscious, felled by a stroke, his hand still grasping the bell rope.

The engineer called for help and the crew carried the captain to the house of his old friend W.D. Hart near Oakland, Michigan. Eventually, his wife Sophronia and son-in-law A.E. Hawk arrived from Ohio to watch over him. Captain Goldsmith remained speechless until he died the following Tuesday, July 26, 1887.

goldsmithtombstone

Sophronia Goldsmith and A.E. Hawk accompanied Captain Goldsmith’s body to Kingsville and his funeral service took place on Thursday, July 28, 1887 at the Baptist Church where he had been a member for several years. Pastor C.A. Raymond preached from Second Corinthians 5:4.

Said one man who knew Captain Goldsmith intimately: “He was an ideal commander and a Christian gentleman. had a loftier scorn of anything petty, mean, or dishonorable. His voyages were remarkably exempt from disaster. Other seamen might regard this fact as due to the captain’s sagacity or good fortune, but he ascribed the praise for Him alone whom the winds and waves obey. “

Captain Goldsmith, his wife Sophronia, and some of their children are buried in Lulu Falls Cemetery in Kingsville, Ohio.

Lake Serpents and Lake Legacies

The writer of his obituary in the Kingsville Tribune concluded that Captain Goldsmith was universally esteemed as one of the ablest and best. Commanding in person, a master of his craft, alert, sagacious, courageous, and fertile in expedients in the time of peril, he was also winning in address, genial, fun loving, courteous, with a large warm heart – a man to admire and trust in calm or storm.

A few days after Captain Goldsmith’s death, another lake serpent appeared in Lake St. Clair. The Windsor Evening Record dated July 29,1887, said that Captain Ed Donahue; George Marks of Detroit, the brewer; and Frank W. Andrews and his wife of New Baltimore all stood in the bow of the Hattie, watching a lake serpent swim past. Frank Andrews reported that “it was nothing but a tremendous black snake, but he was 16 feet long at least, and swam with his head out of the water about a foot.”

 

Captain Leverett Barker Goldsmith would have examined the lake serpent with his glass, determined its gender, and followed it through calm or storm.

Download this PDF for the children’s fiction story of Captain Goldsmith and the sea serpent in the Detroit River.

Captain Goldsmith,

 

The Waters of the Walk-in-the-Water

huronvillage

Chief Walk-in-the-Water, Chief Tarhe, Isaac Zane, and Princes Myeerah Tarhe Zane, lived through their life stories along waterways including the Detroit, Potomac, Ohio, Thames, and Mad Rivers and Lake Erie. The struggle between the British and French for domination of the Ohio Country and the Mississippi Valley, and the fate of the Walk-in-the water, the first steamship on Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan combined to make a human and historic drama as powerful as a Lake Erie storm tossing sand, shells, and waves on its beaches.

Chief Walk-in-the-Water

Maera…Awmeyeeray…Mirahatha…The syllables of his Wyandotte name whisper in the winds blowing down the Detroit River to his Wyandot village. English tongues spoke and transcribed his name as Walk-in-the Water, a name that is connected to Tarhe, the Crane. Chief Tarhe had a daughter named Myeerah which means The White Crane and literally translated means Walk-in-the-Water. As well as their names, their lives and times are connected.

Walk-in-the-Water was born in the late 1700s in the Great Lakes region. By the early 1800s he lived in the Detroit River village of Maquaqa, the present site of Wyandotte, Michigan, in a village consisting of about twenty houses and at least 1,300 fellow Wyandots.

Walk-in-the-Water grew tall, nearly six feet and stood arrow straight. He could smile with good nature and treat his fellow Wyandots kindly, but he could also fight as fiercely as a wolf. Walk-in-the-Water made passionate speeches and worked to help his people survive and prosper in their villages. His name appears as one of the 1795 Treaty of Greenville signers, a Treaty that the Native American tribes signed after their loss in the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers. The Treaty of Greenville ended the Northwest Indian War in the Ohio County and redefined the boundary between Indian and white lands in the Northwest Territory.

The Native American tribes were caught between the British and the Americans in the War of 1812 and were forced to choose sides. Influenced by Tecumseh and his Indian Confederation, Walk-in-the Water sided with Tecumseh and the British, although he realized that he and his people were caught in a vise grip between two super powers. He told the British that his people had no wish to be involved in a war with the Americans and they had nothing to be gained by it. He begged the British not to force the Wyandots in the War of 1812. He said, “We remember, in the former war between our fathers, the British and the Long-Knife (Americans) we were both defeated, and we, the red men, lost our county; and you made peace with the Long-Knife without our knowledge, and you gave our country to him. You said to us, ‘My children, you just fight for your country, for the Long-Knife will take it from you.’ We did as you advised and we were defeated with the loss our best chiefs and warriors, and our land.”[1]

Chief Tarhe remained true to his belief that the terms of the 1795 Treaty of Greenville prohibited aggression against the United States. He sided with the United States [2]

After Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie, General William Henry Harrison, General Lewis Cass, and Commodore Perry defeated a combined force of British and Indians at the Battle of Thames near Lake Erie on October 5, 1813. Walk-In-the-Water and 60 of his warriors surrendered to General Harrison. Chief Tarhe moved to Sandusky on Lake Erie and Chief Walk-in-the Water returned to his home and farm on the banks of the Detroit River near the present day village of Trenton.[3]

Chief Tarhe, Warrior, Orator, Sachem

chief tarhe

Tarhe was born into the Porcupine Tribe of the Wyandotte Indians in 1742, and he lived in a  Wyandot village along the Detroit River.  Some accounts say that his name is the French translation of  grue, “the crane,” describing Tarhe’s slim build.[4] Other accounts contend that the Tarhe is a Wyandot word meaning “the tree,” again describing his six foot four inch, slender build. [5]

As a boy, Tarhe learned the customs of his people, and as a young man, he developed the heart of a warrior and the determination to fight to preserve the lands and culture of his people. Chief Tarhe and most American Indians were alarmed at the increasingly numbers of white settlers coming into the Ohio Country. Although the British had issued the Proclamation of 1763, ordering their colonists not to move west of the Appalachian Mountains, they still continued to settle on Indian lands.

Fighting between the settlers and Indians increased to the point that in 1774, the governor of Virginia, John Murray, Lord Dunmore, sent troops to attack the hostile Indian groups. Chief Tarhe sided with Cornstalk, a Shawnee leader, against the colonists who were generally victorious in Lord Dunmore’s War. When Lord Dunmore’s War ended, Chief Tarhe advocated peace between the white settlers and American Indians, but his efforts didn’t produce a lasting peace between the two sides.

At the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, the troops of General Anthony Wayne defeated the Indian forces. The Wyandot clans lost many of their warriors and Chief Tarhe was the only chief to survive the battle, although he suffered a badly wounded arm. After this first decisive defeat of the American Indians in the Northwest Territory, Chief Tarhe and Chief Little Turtle of the Miami advocated peace with the white settlers, because Chief Tarhe believed that without peace the Indians would be destroyed.

In 1795, a delegation of American Indians met with General Anthony Wayne in Greenville, Ohio, and the Ohio tribes chose Chief Tarhe to speak for all of the nations and keep the calumet and wampum belt of peace. Chief Tarhe had the honor of being the first of 90 chiefs to sign The Treaty of Greenville.  with Isaac Zane serving as translator and also signing it. The Treaty ended the wars between American Indians and white settlers, and moved all of the Indian tribes to the northwestern third of Ohio. When Tecumseh and other American Indian leaders formed an American Indian confederation in the Ohio County to unite against the settlers, Chief Tarhe counseled his people to honor the Treaty of Greenville that they had signed.

Chief Tarhe married Ronyougaines La Durante, a French Canadian girl. Some stories about Ronyougaines La Durante state that the Wyandots had captured her at a young age and raised her as one of their own people. In his biography of Chief Tarhe on the Wyandotte Nation website, Charles Aubrey Buser says that version of the Ronyougaines La Durante story probably isn’t true because the French and the Wyandots got along well and capturing a young French girl would have been unlikely.  The young couple had a daughter, Myeerah, who the settlers called “the white crane,” because of her fair skin. The literal translation of Myeerah is “Walk-in-the-water,” referring to the white crane who walks in the water. Chief Tarhe later married another captive woman named Sally Sharpe and they had a disabled son who died at age 25.[6]

During the War of 1812, Chief Tarhe, now 70, went to war again. This time he fought with American troops under General William Henry Harrison in his campaign into Canada and helped secure an American victory in the Battle of the Thames. After the War of 1812 ended, Chief Tarhe settled near Upper Sandusky and died there in 1818 at the age of 76, two years after his daughter Myeerah and her husband Isaac Zane. The Ohio tribes honored Chief Tarhe, and hundreds of American Indians attended his funeral. General William Henry Harrison expressed his admiration for Tarhe as “the noblest of them all.” [7]

Colonel John Johnston, then United States Indian Agent, attended Chief Tarhe’s funeral. In his “Recollections”, he writes  that Chief Tarhe represented his race in the northwest and as well as his own tribe, Shawnees, Delaware, Senecas, Ottawas, Mohawks, and Miamis mourned his death. The early settlers of central Ohio also considered Chief Tarhe a wise and honorable chief and they benefitted from his friendship and influence. He often camped on the west bank of the Scioto River, eight miles north of Columbus, later known as Wyandot Grove. He was the friend of Lucas Sullivant and his comrades who founded what is now Columbus, Ohio.

According to Colonel Johnston, Chief Tarhe “belonged to a race whom we are usually please to call savages,” but “should have his memory perpetuated as far as possible by an enduring monument. This is a duty which the white race owes to one of the best representatives of a race which has passed away and whose territory we have taken for permanent occupation.”[8]

Princess Myeerah and Isaac Zane

princess myeerah

This painting of Princess Myeerah by artist Hal Sherman is at the Logan County Historical Society Museum in Bellfontaine, Ohio.

Further complicating an already involved story, but adding much to the romanticized version, Zane Grey, a descendant of the Zane family and famous novelist, contributed his own romanticized vision to the story of the struggle for the Ohio County and the role that his family played in it. In his book, Betty Zane, Zane Grey wrote that Indians had captured Isaac Zane,9, and his brother Jonathan, 11, near their home on the Potomac River as they were returning from school. Their captors took them to Detroit and eventually Sandusky, where they lived with the Porcupine Tribe of the Wyandot. The two boys lived in the home of Wyandot Chief Tarhe and his wife Ronyougaines La Durante and their daughter Myeerah.

Since the Zane family had helped lay out the National Road, helped found the town of Zanesville, and were important pioneers in settling Ohio, Zane Grey’s version of the Isaac Zane and Myeerah story rang true to most people settling along the Ohio River.

The Wyandots ransomed Isaac in 1764, but Chief Tarhe and his family had grown so fond of Isaac that he insisted Isaac remain with the tribe as his adopted son. In 1771, at age 18, Isaac left the Wyandots, but he eventually returned. He served as an intermediary between the Native Americans and the settlers of the region. In 1777, he and Myeerah were married in Logan County, Ohio, when he was 24 and she 19 and they eventually had three sons and four daughters. Most of their children married Wyandot tribesmen.[9]

Myeerah Zane is credited with saving the lives of many white captives and the life of her husband Isaac Zane himself more than once. She can be listed among Native American women who, like Pocahontas, served as intermediaries between the white and Native American factions, striving for peace. Zane Grey casts her role a little more romantically, focusing on her love for Isaac Zane as the focal point of her life and chronicling her visits to Zanesville on the Ohio River.

isaaczane

In 1795, the United States government ceded Isaac Zane 1,800 acres of land near what is now Zanesfield, Ohio. During the War of 1812, white settlers drove out the resident Shawnee Indians occupying the area and established a settlement that they called Zanesfield after Isaac Zane. Isaac and Myeerah Zane were the first settlers in Zanesfield and the Zanes also established the first fort in the region. They lived there until they died – Myeerah in February 1816, and Isaac on May 6, 1816. He and Myeerah are buried in the Isaac Zane Burial Ground in Zanesfield, Ohio.

The Walk-in-the-Water- the First Steamboat on Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan

In 1818, just two year after the deaths of Isaac and Myeerah Zane, the Walk-in-the-Water’s name appeared on a steamboat built at Black Rock, New York. Accounts about the origin of the Walk-in-the-Water’s name vary. Captain Barton Atkins of Buffalo, New York, held the opinion that the steamer name originated from a Native American’s comment when he saw Robert Fulton’s first steamboat, the Clermont, plying the Hudson River in 1807. The Native American exclaimed the steamboat “walks in the water.” Other accounts say the steamboat was named for Wyandot Indian Chief Walk-in-the-Water and has connections with Myeerah and Tarhe.

Lake Erie’s First Steamboat

 

        walkinthewatersteamer

In 1818, Noah Brown and Harris Fulton supervised the construction of a paddlewheel driven vessel at Black Rock, New York. Her machinery had to be hauled across the 300 miles from Albany to Buffalo in wagons pulled by five to eight horses each.

Their new steamboat measured 132 feet long and 32 feet across the beam, with a smokestack 30 feet high set between two sails for use when the winds blew strong. The steamer could hold 100 cabin passengers and many in steerage and it featured smoking, baggage, and dining rooms. Captain Job Fish was the first captain of the Walk-in-the-Water.

The Walk-in-the-Water began her maiden voyage from Buffalo on August 25, 1818, carrying 29 passengers bound for Erie, Grand River, Cleveland, Sandusky and Detroit. It took the steamer about nine days, achieving about eight to ten miles per hour, to complete her entire voyage. The trip cost her passengers $18.00 for a cabin and $7.00 for steerage.

When the Walk-in-the-Water arrived in Cleveland, most of the population of the village stood on the shore of Lake Erie to greet her. The people living along the shores of Lake Erie were interested and astonished at the sight of the Walk-in-the-Water and stopped in their tracks to watch her as she steamed past. She blew her whistles, and fired her cannon as she neared each port and her smokestack belched a dark cloud of smoke as she steamed across the lake.

Native Americans who didn’t know about the power and possibilities of steam gazed in wonder at the “thing of life” moving through the water without oars or sails propelling it. The few who heard the name of the magical ship gazed at it until it passed over the horizon, perhaps reminded of the famous Wyandot chief and the daughter of another chief who had given their names to the white man’s invention.  When the Walk-in-the-Water safely docked in Buffalo after her experimental round trip, convincing her owners, passengers, and people who watched her progress along Lake Erie that steamboats could safely and successfully navigate the lake.

Since the Walk-in-the-Water ran regularly from and to Black Rock Harbor, not the harbor at Buffalo, she had to travel a short distance down the Niagara River. She navigated the down stream trip successfully, but didn’t have enough power to prevail against the strong current at the head of Niagara River. Her owners and operators used what was called “the horned breeze,” which meant that a number of yokes of oxen regularly towed the ship up the Niagara River. [10]

In September 1818, the ship ran aground near Erie, but her owners quickly repaired her. The Walk-in-the-Water became the first steamboat to navigate Lakes Michigan and Huron when it voyaged to Mackinaw and Green Bay in 1819. The Walk-in-the-Water’s successful voyage was a 19th Century navigation miracle, because of the scarcity of harbors and unimproved conditions of landing places where ships could anchor and load and unload cargoes and passengers. Navigation aids and ship to shore communication advances were still a century away.[11]

For three years, the Walk-in-the-Water successfully navigated these obstacles- until a sudden Lake Erie squall hit the steamship on October 31, 1821.

Captain Jedediah Rogers had commanded the steamship since 1820, and its consistent, multiple runs each season had proven to be a sound investment for its owners. On October 31, 1821, the Walk-in-the-Water left Buffalo at 4 p.m., carrying about 75 passengers and a full load of merchandise. Although a steady rain fell, the skies weren’t dark and threatening until the ship had travelled up Lake Erie about six miles from Buffalo and run into a squall complete with high winds, torrential rain, and crashing waves.

Captain Rogers faced a difficult decision. He knew he couldn’t keep moving into such a wind, but neither could he return to Black Rock. He decided to anchor where he estimated the Buffalo pier should be. The wind pounded all night and an earlier leak grew so much that the engine had to be used to pump out the water. Even with these measures, the water continued to rise inside the steamer. Frightened passengers listened to the howling wind, the creaking timbers, and felt the listing of the steamer as the anchors begin to drag.

At 4:30 a.m., the captain summoned all passengers on deck and notified them of his plans to beach the steamer. The Walk-in-the-Water, with the force of the gale and her anchors dragging, approached the shore of Buffalo Bay. Passengers, though frightened, took comfort in the prudence and intelligence of Captain Rogers, and with one last tremendous blow of an Lake Erie wave, the Walk-in-the-Water slammed firmly onto the beach. The steamer’s 75 drenched passengers, many of them women, huddled on deck and, together, waiting for daylight. As dawn lurked above the horizon, a sailor in a small boat ferried the thankful passengers to land. About a mile in the distance, though obscured in the storm, the Buffalo lighthouse waited to welcome the weary travelers.[12]

The Cleveland Weekly Herald reported that “everyone on board with whom we have conversed speak in the highest terms of the master, Captain J. Rogers, whose calmness and persevering endeavors to save the boat, excited the admiration of all.”[13]The Walk-in-the-Water’s hull had been damaged beyond repair, as was her cargo, resulting in an estimated loss of $10,000 to $12,000, but her legacy, like those of Chief Walk-in-the-Water, Chief Tarhe, and Isaac and Myeerah Zane, survived into modern forms. The Detroit Gazette of May 31, 1822, recorded the legacy of the Walk-in-the-Water when it reported the new location of her engine.

The New Steam Boat

On Saturday last arrived at this port, the elegant new steamboat Superior, Captain J. Rodgers, with a full freight of merchandize and ninety-four passengers. This excellent vessel was built at Buffalo the past winter, and is owned by the proprietors of the old steam-boat Walk-in-the-Water which was wrecked in the fall of last year. [14]

References

[1] Wyandotte Nation Biographies, Chief Walk-in-the-Water

[2]Walk-in-the Water,  A Wyandot Chief.” Sallie Cotter Andrews.

[3] John F. Winkler.The Thames 1813: The War of 1812 on the Northwest Frontier (Campaign Book 302) Osprey Press, 2016

[4]Chief Tarhe

[5] Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, Volume 9, July 1900, No. 1

[6] Wyandotte Nation

Ohio History Journal, Tarhe the Crane

[7] Ohio History Journal, Tarhe the Crane

[8] William Alexander Taylor, Centennial History of Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio, Volume 1. Chicago: S.J Clarke Publishing Company, p. 87.

[9] Granville- Licking Pioneer’s Minutes and Isaac Smucker Scrapbooks, Pioneer Papers No 100:  The Zanes, a Family Sketch, September 1, 1926, p. 273.

[10] The Marine Review, Thursday, March 30,1893.

[11] Cleveland Weekly Advertiser. Thursday, January 28, 1836, page 1.

[12] Cleveland Weekly Herald, Tuesday, November 13, 1821

[13]  Ibid.

[14] Detroit Gazette

May 31, 1822, p. 3