history

Looking Back

Photo by Callam Barnes on Pexels.com

As you may or may not know I am interested in my genealogy. I spend hours down the rabbit hole at Ancestry.com finding tidbits. My current obsession involves my mother’s great grandmother who came from Perthshire, Scotland. I am planning a trip to visit the place next year so it is kind of cool to read about the farms they owned and rented over the years. A bunch of them were ministers so they worked in different parishes around the area. Mostly I just want to go to soak up the atmosphere and imagine what it was like back in those days.

A very old small photo of my great great grandmother (on the left)

On another note… I found this recently and am pretty amazed by the detail. My great grandfather (this one came from Ireland) was born in Ohio on March 2, 1841. In 1861 he was teaching district school in Monmouth, Illinois. At the breakout of the Civil War he enlisted in Company C, Thirty-sixth Illinois Infantry, and was sent to Missouri. The first battle in which he participated was at Pea Ridge. He helped to save Missouri to the Union. He was transferred to the Army of the Tennessee, and was at the siege of Corinth. In September, 1862, he was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, and took part in the battle of Perryville and in the campaign of Stone River. The following spring he was in the Tullahoma campaign, then went to Bridgeport and through Georgia, and took part in the battle of Chickamauga, where he was wounded, being shot through the cheek, the ball coming out the back of the neck. He was then sent to the hospital at Nashville, Tennessee, remaining there till the expiration of his term of service, when he was mustered out in September 1864.

My Great-grandfather

After that he taught for six more years, got married, had four children, farmed for a couple of years, and ended up in Iowa in the grocery business. He died at 66.

I actually have his discharge papers from the Army. When he died in 1907, his wife started to collect a pension of twelve dollars a month. In 1916 an Act of Congress approved by the President granted “increase of pension of a widow who was the wife of a soldier, sailor or marine during the period of his service in the Civil War, or who is the widow of a soldier, sailor or marine who served in the Civil War, the War with Mexico, or the War of 1812, and who has reached the age of 70 years”. The pension was increased to $20 per month. And then in 1917, it was again increased to $25 per month. I don’t know what happened after that. She died in 1923.

My Great-grandmother

Anyway I have tons of info. I hope to put it all together at some point. Like I said, I have no shortage of projects.

Week in Review

Happy Bastille Day (yesterday)! The French stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789. It was the spark that started the French Revolution. Ten years later it ended in a coup with Napoleon at the helm as “First Consul”. They were able to end feudalism, kill their king, come up with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, draft a new constitution, but in the end they could not agree on how to rule and those in power fought between themselves to the point where the military stepped in. Napoleon went on to conquer most of Europe. Today Bastille Day is celebrated in France and around the world as National Festival Day to symbolize harmony. I find that a little confusing but hey, it’s an excuse to each yummy French food.

I watched the first couple of episodes about Patagonia on CNN this week – “Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World”. What I have seen so far is animal conservation. They are concentrating on species native to the land who are being threatened by the changing environment and humans in general. It is good to know that there are a lot of people out there doing good things to help our planet. I don’t think we hear enough about those things. It is a six part series. You can learn more about it here.

The new version of Jane Austin’s “Persuasion” just came out on Netflix. It did not get a favorable review in the New York Times so I am a bit mixed about it. I will probably watch it since it is one of my favorites. My favorite version is the one from 1997 with Fiona Shaw, Amanda Root, and Ciaran Hinds.

In the news – arrrgghhh. Seems like so many horrible things are happening right now it is hard to take it in. I lived in Russia during both of the Chechen wars and the one thing I remember vividly was the mass killings of civilians and children. What is happening in Ukraine is nothing new.

I made a pretty good casserole last night. The prep was a bit time consuming but it came out yummy.

Chicken Pesto Casserole

Boil 3 medium russet potatoes for about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Two chicken breasts, cubed (I cut them up and cooked them with some shallots and garlic, basil, tarragon, and a little bit of chili powder)
I made a pesto with about a cup of frozen spinach, half cup of sun dried tomatoes, and a small jar of artichoke hearts. (Whizzed in the food processor)
Then I made a white sauce with salt, pepper, basil, tarragon, a little garlic powder. (2 tbsp. butter, 2 tbsp flour, 2 cups milk.)

I added the pesto into the white sauce to combine.
I peeled and thinly sliced the potatoes.

I greased a pyrex baking dish with avocado oil and placed a layer of potatoes in the bottom. Then covered the potatoes with half the pesto mixture, then all the chicken, then another layer of pesto, and topped it off with a mixture of cheeses (about a cup). I used parmesan and a Mexican mix.

Throw it in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes. I made everything but the white sauce the day before.

I’m heading to Duluth and a spot right on Lake Superior next week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The Lindberghs

I just finished reading The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin. It is historical fiction about Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The author explains that what makes it fiction is her lengthy descriptions of Anne’s emotions and inner turmoil. The facts are there but she is guessing at how Anne felt about the events of her life. She did have an eventful life.

The daughter of the American Ambassador to Mexico, Anne met Charles Lindbergh in Mexico City in December of 1927. In May of that same year he had flown solo, non-stop from New York to Paris. It made him one of the most famous people of the time. He was 25 years old. Two years later, when Anne was 23, she and Charles were married.

I learned that Anne became a pilot, a navigator, the first woman to earn a Glider Pilot license, and a successful writer. Not to mention raising six children and running a household on her own. She lived in the shadow of her famous husband but she was really the star.

The book takes us through the pain of losing her first born to kidnappers and murderers. The trauma of being doggedly pursued by journalists and photographers. The confusion about her husband’s feelings toward the Nazis. The sorrow of seeing her husband spend less and less time at home. And the discovery of his infidelity.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote Gift from the Sea, reflections on life, love, marriage, and how things change over time. It was the top non-fiction bestseller of 1955, and is still enjoyed by many today having sold over 3 million copies and been translated into 45 languages. She also wrote about their flight to the Orient. They were the first to fly from Africa to South America and explored polar air routes from North America to Asia and Europe.

She was extraordinary.

Lindbergh and other things in Little Falls

I am currently reading The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin. It is about Charles Lindbergh, written from his wife, Anne’s point of view. A few years back I took a trip to Little Falls, Minnesota, where Charles Lindbergh grew up. Charles lived in Little Falls until he went to the University of Wisconsin in 1920. The original house was a three-story mansion built by the river just outside of town. It burned to the ground and was replaced with the more modest two-story building we see today. Charles lived with his mother since his parents were not on the best of terms, his father had a place in town. In 1931 the 110 acres and the house were donated to the State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Historical Society took over the house and 17 acres. The remaining 93 acres are now the Charles A. Lindbergh State Park.

Lindbergh House

In 1927, Lindbergh was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In December of that same year he met Ann Morrow in Mexico City and married her two years later. She was the daughter of the US Ambassador to Mexico. Their first-born child, Charles A. Lindbergh Jr. was kidnapped and killed in 1932. Lindbergh ended up having 13 children, many were illegitimate. Apparently he was not the greatest guy in the world. Not only did he carry on several simultaneous relationships but also was a Nazi sympathizer.

He did know a lot about airplanes, though. In later years he was a consultant to Pan American Airways and helped design the Boeing 747. He did some writing and in 1953, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his book about his transatlantic flight. In the late 1960’s, he campaigned for the protection of endangered species and became concerned about what the effects of supersonic transport planes might have on the atmosphere. At the end of his life he lived on Maui in Hawaii and died of cancer in 1974.

We visited a small museum on the grounds of his former home in Little Falls. It was full of newspaper clippings, news reels, and artifacts pertaining to Lindbergh’s life. The plane he flew across the Atlantic, the Spirit of St Louis, is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Down the road from the Lindbergh house, there was a small county museum, the Charles A Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum. Frederick Weyerhaeuser was a German immigrant who started a lumber business in Rock Island, Illinois in 1858. From there he moved to St Paul, Minnesota where he ended up in a joint venture with James J Hill, owner of the Great Northern Railway Company who expanded the railway out to the Pacific Ocean. The Weyerhaeuser Timber Company was incorporated in Tacoma, Washington in 1900.

John, Frederick’s oldest son, followed him to become president of the company. In 1935, John’s 8 year old son George, was kidnapped but luckily it ended happily with the child being returned unharmed, and the kidnappers apprehended, unlike the Lindbergh affair. George grew up to be the president of the company. Today Weyerhaeuser is an international public company and per its website is “one of the largest sustainable forest products companies in the world.”

Charles was another son of Frederick’s who was also in the lumber business. He headed the Pine Tree Lumber Company in Little Falls, Minnesota with his business partner Richard Drew Musser. It quickly became the second largest mill in the Northwest. In 1920 the mill closed and all the timber was gone. Charles moved to St Paul and died in 1930. His mansion in Little Falls is now open to the public. The county museum named in his honor does genealogy research.

However, because of Charles and his lumber company, in the 1930’s, the federal and state governments surveyed the area full of his stumps. New regulations were implemented restricting cutting and demanding re-planting. Most of the trees in Northern Minnesota are now back but the white pine is rare today.

Jessica Lange, the actor, also lived in Little Falls when she was about eight years old. You could drive by her school and house if you were so inclined.

At some point, the Dakota peoples were pushed out of the area by the Ojibwe, and then they were pushed out by the Europeans who settled in the area in the early 1800’s. The town was named for a series of rapids on the Mississippi that ran through the middle of town. Today a dam converts the rapids into a powerful waterfall.

About a ten mile drive north of Little Falls is Camp Ripley, a National Guard, 53,000-acre training center. It is named for Fort Ripley, a frontier Army post occupied from 1849-1877 that once sat on the property. The new training site opened in 1931.

We visited the Minnesota Military Museum at Camp Ripley. We drove through big solid gates and showed our ID’s at the gatehouse in order to enter. The museum was very well done and quite extensive, I recommend it to anybody interested in history. There were also exhibits on the grounds surrounding the museum and smaller buildings that housed jeeps and other military vehicles. Part of it was interactive. I tried on a couple of helmets (they are heavy).

On the way back to Little Falls we decided to make a circle and swing by the Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. We figured we would just jump out of the car, take a quick walk, take some pictures and be on our way. The Refuge was established in 1992 to preserve a large natural wetland. It is basically a marshland that is home to many species of birds including the Sandhill Cranes.

Our idea had one small flaw. Mosquitoes. Of course there would be mosquitoes in a marshland and we did know that but we had no idea just how many mosquitoes there would be. Within two minutes we were under full attack and had to run for cover. I was still swatting them in the car when we got back to town.

We consoled ourselves with pizza and beer at Charlie’s Pizza in Little Falls.

Berlin: East Side Gallery

ESG sign

 

Berlin’s East Side Gallery has been in the news lately.

At 1.3 kilometers long, it is the longest piece of the Berlin Wall still standing.  Soon after the wall came down in 1990, 118 artists from 21 countries each painted a segment of this portion of the wall and it was named East Side Gallery.  It is one of the largest outside galleries in the world.  Thousands of tourists walk the wall every year.  In 2009 the murals were renovated at a cost of 2 million Euros.

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It not only has artistic importance but obviously is of historic importance as well.  This particular segment was known as the death strip as several people were found dead after trying to escape to the West.

On March 1, 2013, a 23 meter section of the East Side Gallery was scheduled to be removed to make way for luxury apartments. None of the artists whose work was to be destroyed was informed of these plans. To date, the developers have removed one section of the wall, however, demonstrators and petitioners took immediate action and have managed to delay further demolition…. For now….  Demonstrators continue to be vigilant…

The majority of the wall was to be destroyed when it was dismantled in 1990.  However, much of it ended up in various parts of the world in courtyards and office buildings, museum, hotels, and universities…..   as…. Art….  (?)

There is one panel in the courtyard of the John Hopkins University SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations, in Washington DC.  There are two more segments in DC, one in the lobby of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trace Center, and eight sections are on exhibit at the Newseum.

But none are as lovely and interesting as the East Side Gallery.

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ESG 14ESG 6ESG 20ESG 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mothers’ Congress Cook Book 1922

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I inherited a cookbook from my grandmother.  The cover is gone so I don’t know what it looked like but the date is 1922.   The Preface states:

“Organized into a working body, the Mother’s Congress of Mount Ayr, presents Mothers who are studying and working for the betterment of Child Welfare.

In its interests financially, this little book is published and sent out by them.”

Followed by: 

“We may live without poetry, music and art.

We may live without conscience and live without heart;

We may live without friends, we may live without books;

But civilized man cannot live without cooks.   —-  Merideth.”

It starts out with 12 points on how to set a table.  Numbers 11 and 12:

11.  Place carving set in front of host, or put carving knife and gravy ladle at his right, and fork at his left.

12.  Place coffee cups and coffee pot at right of hostess.

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The recipes don’t mention oven temperature other than “moderate oven” or “quick oven” and many of them don’t mention how long anything should cook.  Here are a few samples.

Norwegian Stew. – Brown in a large kettle 1 c. lard and butter mixed, 25-cent round steak cut in small pieces, flour thoroughly and stir into the browned lard, continue stirring until meat is brown.  Then add 1 c. flour stirring constantly, set on back of stove and add 2 qts. Boiling water, salt and pepper and let simmer 2 hrs, ½ hr. before serving add enough potatoes of medium size for the meal, stir occasionally as it will stick to kettle.  —  J.A.W.

Molasses Cake.  1 cup molasses, ½ c. sugar, ½ c. butter or lard, ½ tsp each cloves, ginger, cinnamon; 1 tsp. soda in 1 c. boiling water, 2 eggs, well beaten; last, flour to stiffen.  –Mrs. Holman.

And my grandmother’s contribution:

Green Tomato Relish.  – 5 lbs. green tomatoes, 6 large onions, 3 c. brown sugar, 3 c. red peppers, 3 green peppers, 1 tbsp. each of powdered cloves, all spice, celery seed, dry mustard, ½ c. salt, 8 c. vinegar.  Peel and slice tomatoes and onions very thin.  Remove seeds from peppers and chop very fine.  To these add the other ingredients and cook over a moderate fire ½ hr., stirring frequently.  Cover with paraffin. – Mrs. Liggett.

 

Household hints:

Rub the feet every night and morning with bay rum and witch hazel, equal parts, for frost bits.

Turpentine and lard rubbed on throat and chest will often relieve pain from cold.

To carry a mattress without breaking your fingernails (also back) use a broom underneath as a saddle and see how much easier it is.

Use a tbsp. of kerosene to wash windows.  It not only cuts the dirt but is distrastful to flies 

I’m not sure what “distrastful” is.  Maybe a typo.  But you get the idea.

The book ends with a poem.

Receipt for a Happy Day

Take a little dash of cold water,

A little leaven of prayer,

A little bit of sunshine gold,

Dissolved in the morning air.

Add to your meal some merriment,

Add thought for kith and kin,

And the, as a prime ingredient

A plenty of work thrown in.

Flavor it all with essence of love,

And a dash of play.

Let the dear old book and a glance above,

Complete the well spent day.

–Mrs. Smith 

Whatever your recipe is, I hope you have a happy day!! 

 

 

Travels through History

Jamestown:  The first permanent Colony of the English People.  The Birthplace of Virginia and the United States of America,  1607

I spent the weekend visiting my cousins in Williamsburg.  One afternoon was devoted to Colonial National Historical Park: Jamestown.  A large African American park ranger named Jerome showed us around.  He told us the three most important facts about Jamestown were:  it was the first permanent settlement of the English in the New World (1607); the first representative assembly talks took place in 1619 where 22 elected burgesses met in the church; and the first Africans arrived in 1619.   Therefore concluding that this very spot was the birthplace of the great country – The United States of America.

I had a small chuckle over this one since, of course, part of this great history was that the Native population was virtually killed off pretty quickly and by 1690 there were 9,300 enslaved Africans among a white population of 53,000.  But why dwell on the negative?

These crazy Englishmen set up camp on an island with a swamp on one side and a salty river on the other.  No fresh water.  The swamp provided lovely benefits such as malaria and typhoid.  By 1609 there were about 300 men living on this island, fighting off skirmishes from the Powhatan tribes.  That winter was particularly rough and at the end of it only 60 survived.  But they didn’t give up.  Ninety unmarried women arrive in 1619 to boost morale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also learned that the 12 year old Pocahontas did not have an affair with the 27 year old John Smith (despite what Disney says).  But they did probably know each other.  The settlers eventually figured it all out and started growing tobacco.  They were soon rich farmers with a huge market and very few expenses.  John Rolfe cultivated a strain of tobacco that was pleasing to the English.  He used seed he had obtained from Trinidad since the local variety was deemed too harsh.  John Rolfe was the man who married Pocahontas.

 

 

 

Pocahontas as Rebecca, married English woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up until 1994, it was believed that the site had been reclaimed by the river and was lost under water.  An archeologist by the name of William Kelso did not believe it.  According to historical documents, the church was built inside the fort.  The church tower remained on the island in clear site.  In 1994, Mr. Kelso took a shovel to the site and soon found artifacts, bones, and evidence of the exact area where the walls of the fort were built.  Today you can see them reconstructed in the very holes the men dug 400 years ago.  William Kelso became an Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire at a ceremony at the British Embassy in Washington, DC, in July 2012.

 

Exchange Student

The Esplanade, Boston

The college I attended in California had an exchange program with several colleges on the East Coast so I decided to take advantage of it and spent my Junior year in Boston.

I arrived in Boston by myself on a hot September day.  I was excited.  I had no idea where I was going or what I was getting into but I loved Boston right away.

I met this great guy, Mike, at a dance the first week I was there.  He owned a Triumph Trident motorcycle (that he swore didn’t perform well under 90 miles per hour) and he offered to show me around the Boston area since I had never been there before.  I accepted and we spent most of our time together after that.  My ass was sore a lot of the time because of the vibrations on the motorcycle.  He literally would go 90 whenever possible.  He taught me a lot about America and its history.  Or at least his view of it.  He also showed me everything there was to see in the Boston area and more.  We were always going someplace, doing something.

Simmons College is just down the street from Fenway Park where the Boston Red Sox play baseball, right in the middle of Boston.  I could hop on the subway and be anywhere in minutes. We were just down the street from the Harvard Medical School so ambulances with sirens screaming went past our windows day and night.  I lived up four flights of stairs – no elevators.

I had some interesting classes and I was amazed to find out that they took attendance and counted it in your grade, so for the first time in my college career I started to attend classes.  I couldn’t believe how easy school could be if you actually went to class.  It saved all kinds of time making up for missed lectures.  I found that I didn’t have to spend my time doing all that reading because they reviewed everything in the classroom and if I took notes I rarely had to study at all.  I did a lot better in school that year and when I returned to Mills and attended classes my grades went up considerably.  Quite a revelation.  I only wish I had discovered it sooner.

Mike was on a work-study program at Northeastern University where he would work for three months and then go to school for three months.  He was studying engineering – he started out in electrical, then went to mechanical and ended up in civil.  For the three months when he was working we were rich and we had a lot of fun going out all the time.  When he was in school we were poor and watched a lot of TV.

Mike’s father and uncle had been sent to America from Germany at the beginning of World War II, with their entire inheritance, to go to the university.  Mike’s father had spent all his money getting a PhD.

Mike’s maternal grandparents had fled Belarus and gone to Paris.  His mother had grown up in Paris and when she was 19 they had emigrated to the USA.  She spoke English with a French accent.  Her father had died by the time I met her but I did see her mother on a couple of occasions and she only spoke Russian.  Mike grew up in a house where his parents spoke four languages combined and he only spoke English.  He wanted to live in Boston the rest of his life.

Of course, being a Third Culture Kid with very itchy feet and an international background, I had trouble relating to that and ultimately it led to the end of our relationship but in the meantime, Boston was great.

On the Fourth of July there was a Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade. This particular summer, 1976, it was the Bi-Centennial of the USA and so I was excited to go and see it live in person.  We arrived early in the day and marked out our territory where we could see everything.  By the time the concert started, the place was jammed and the police were getting irritable.   There were 400,000 of us cheering on Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra.  Luckily there were no major incidents and it was a concert to remember.  The concert ended with the 1812 Overture, cannon shooting over the Charles River and an amazing fireworks show.  This was also the first time the Fourth of July Pops concert was televised.

The funny thing is, almost 20 years later I saw the 1812 Overture performed at another outdoor concert.  This time I was in Red Square, Moscow, Russia.  It was winter and the square was jammed with people.  We were so smushed together we were all keeping each other warm.  A Russian cellist and conductor had been living in exile and this was his first concert after being welcomed back.

“Washington Chorus Society and USA National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich, perform the finale of Prokofiev’s Cantata ‘Alexander Nensky’ and Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture with Kremlin Cathedral Bells and Cannon Volleys.”

They were both significant events.  However, standing in Red Square on that cold winter day it dawned on me, the 1812 Overture is kind of a strange way to celebrate the Fourth of July.  Tchikovsky wrote it to celebrate Russia’s defense of Moscow against Napoleon.  I had been to the fields of Borodino where the final battle took place.

I guess when it is such a great piece of music, it doesn’t matter where it comes from.

photo: http://www.celebrateboston.com/hatch-shell.htm

Expat Pioneers

Kinner Holliser 1806

I have read several articles lately comparing Expats to Immigrants.  I suppose immigrants are a type of expat, at least in the beginning.  Landing in a foreign place, not knowing the customs or often the language.  Some expats never return to their home country, like immigrants.  Since my ancestors were immigrants, I suppose my roots of adventure lie there.  I have done some research on my family over the years and many of them were pioneers traveling in covered wagons, farming the land, running the village grocery store.  I came across this story about one of them who was living in Connecticut at the time – John Hollister, born in 1612 in Bristol, England and died in 1665, Wethersfield, CT.

Speaking of the peaceful relations existing between the early settlers of Wethersfield and the Indians, Chapin, in his “Glastonbury for Two Hundred Years,” pp. 12-13, says:

The nearest approach to hostilities that has come to our knowledge is furnished by the following tradition in regard to John Hollister, which has been supplied by a member of the family abroad: While Mr. Hollister resided on the west side of the river, he was accustomed to come over and cultivate his land at Nayaug, unprotected by company. On one occasion, a huge, stalwart Indian, claiming to be the most athletic and powerful man of the tribe, appeared before him, saying that he had been told that Mr. H. was the stoutest pale-face in the settlement and proposing a trial of strength in a fight. Mr. H. assented, and at it they went. After engaging in combat until both were wellnigh exhausted, they agreed upon a truce, and sitting down on a log, rested themselves. Having recovered breath and strength, they fought again, and again rested, fighting and resting until sundown, when neither having conquered, they exchanged tokens of friendship, and ever after lived in peace.