The Culpepper Library

I spent today (7/10/17) at two different libraries, again looking for primary source information on Washington.  I started out at the Culpepper Library, which I was surprised to find located in a shopping center!  But despite its unusual appearances, I received a lot of helpful information.  First, the librarian pointed me to another library I will have to check out tomorrow (it was an hour and a half away…), but she also helped me find a few accounts I hadn’t seen before.

View of Ferry Farm

First, I was interested to read an account of Ferry Farm and discover the house looks very different from the way they’re reconstructing it, so I’m sending the information I found over to them.  I’m sure they have done extensive research, it was just interesting to me.  Additionally, I found out that in the trial of the two indentured servants who had stolen George’s clothes while he was swimming, it was, in fact, two Women!  You have to wonder what they were thinking.  Apparently, from the records I’d found, one of them gave evidence that it was the other’s fault, and that girl got 15 lashes on a bare back.  Still, I think it’s hilarious and wonder how old these two ladies actually were.

I also found some anecdotes from others who knew George as a young man.  One described the fact that George could outrun anyone in the county, though another kid in town who was an excellent runner liked to boast he could “bring George to a tie.  But, I believe he was mistaken;  for I have seen them run together many a time; and George always beat him easy enough. ” Another man talked about how fine a rider George was, and how good a judge of horses.  A final man mentioned that strength ran in the Washington family, as his dad’s gun was so heavy that “not one man in fifty could fire it without a rest.”  He mentions Washington throwing rocks over the Rappahannock (determined to be 115 yards in length–or over a whole football field), so I’m sure this is what gave rise to the Silver dollar over the Potomac myth.  Definitely fascinating reading, though.

Washington’s letter–this original is an amazing part of the special collection at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

From there, I made my way to the Special Collections building at the University of Virginia.  I checked out a box of Washington’s papers.  What an amazing privilege to hold Washington’s own description of the ambush in the French Indian War.  His writing is incredibly small (Picture left shows an eraser for comparison), and there was no transcript, but I got to read his description of the engagement I wanted.  Here’s what he said:

“When we came to this place we were attacked (very unexpectedly, I must own) by about 300 French and Indians….(After accounting their number and that they had 60 killed and wounded officers, including his General who would die three days later)…I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me.  It is supposed we left 300 or more dead in the field.”

Another interesting passage to me was a letter he wrote to a close friend during the American Revolution.  He writes very candidly since this letter is being hand delivered and not going through any post riders.  His purpose is:

“to make you sensible of the real situation of our affairs, and that it is with difficulty, (if I may use the expression) that I can by every means in my favor keep the life and soul of this army together–in short, when they (Congress) are at a distance, they think it is but to say “(unreadable)” and everything is done–as in other words done (unreadable) without considering or seeming to have any conception of the difficulties and perplexities attending those who are to carry these resolves into effect.”  (Mar. 2, 1777 to Robert Morris)

It resonated because I could clearly understand how our current military men must feel when D.C. is making decisions that they have to carry out, having no real concept of what conditions are like or what it costs those men.  A good perspective.

The Statue slated for removal

I ended the day driving by the statue of Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park (formerly Lee Park) voted to be removed.  It had come to my attention on Twitter that there had been a march protesting the removal of the statue, so I wanted to go see it before it was gone.  I had posted on Facebook about the statue and had a lengthy conversation about how these men are perceived and whether or not there should be statues to them.  Having family in the South and knowing the character of these men, I love that they’re honored.  But, to some of my African American friends, they represent a system of slavery that led to unspeakable horrors for their ancestors.  I was again reminded of the need for good honest dialogue in order to mend the wounds that still run deep!

 

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Mom and I at Dad's marker in Arlington

Mom and I at Dad’s marker in Arlington

Because my mom had a funeral to attend in Manassas, we decided to spend the day (7/13/15) and visit my dad’s grave in Arlington and take in Manassas Battlefield.
It was a damp day in Arlington, but we stopped to put stones on my dad’s headstone and spend a bit of time. Since I love Arlington, I had wanted my dad to be buried there, and because of his military service, we were able to arrange it. It has worked out well, since I have had the opportunity to visit almost every year since he’s been gone.

From Arlington, we headed to Manassas. Since this is one of the battles I teach (First and Second Bull Run for the northerners), and a battlefield I had not yet visited, I was excited to see what I could find.  We started in the visitor center, but had only a few hours before the funeral, so we skipped the movie and exhibits and decided to spend our time outside since the rain had stopped. When he found out I teach in Indiana, the ranger told us we had to head down to Brawner Farm to see where our Indiana boys had received their baptism by fire.

Brawny Farm

Brawner Farm

So, off to Brawner Farm we went. This was one of the locations involved in the Second Battle of Manassas. The regiment there was the 19th Indiana, lined up beside the boys of the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin–known at this battle as the Black Hat Brigade. They were named such because their commander John Gibbon wanted them dressed, equipped, etc. like the regular army. Their uniforms consisted of black hats, long frock coats, and white gaiters. (Note: There were over 200 different uniforms at Manassas). This stylishly outfitted group later became known as the Iron Brigade when Antietam rolled around.

The 19th Indiana, however, showed their mettle here against the Stonewall Brigade. (This is where my loyalties become torn. Indiana has been my home for about 24 years, but Stonewall Jackson has been my favorite for about as long.) The 19th Indiana had a 60% casualty rate in this engagement. They were driven into woods at dark after being flanked by Jackson’s Virginia regiments. For 1 1/2 hours, the two groups had exchanged musket fire across about 100 yards. The day ended with Union casualties numbering 1025 and Confederates racking up 1200 on this first day of Second Manassas. They would continue to fight two more days!

Visitor Center at Manassas Battlefield

Visitor Center at Manassas Battlefield

We rushed back to catch the tour for First Manassas. The ranger explained that Lee’s goal here was to draw Pope into battle before McClellan could join him. So that we could understand some of the events here, our guide gave us the background on the men who would fight here.  Just after Ft. Sumter, on April 15, Lincoln had 20,000 men in his current army and requested 75,000 soldiers for a 90 day enlistment. By that time, Jefferson Davis had already raised 60,000 troops, and, starting in February after the states seceded, trained them for his new nation, and had requested 100,000 men  for a year enlistment. Definitely a different perspective on how events would transpire.

By May of 1861, Davis had requested another 400,000 troops and had 200,000 answer the call within 30 days. He had to turn 200,000 away because he didn’t have enough guns and uniforms yet.

Memorial to Soldiers

Memorial to Soldiers

By the time soldiers arrive at Manassas, there are roughly 280,000 Confederates against 160,000 Union, many of whom were militia–some untrained and most with no discipline.
Because of Lincoln’s 90 day enlistments, he knew he had only 90 days to score a big victory and convince those troops to stay. He chose Manassas Junction because it was the junction of two railroads–the Orange and Alexandria Railroad and the Manassas Gap Railroad. One went towards Richmond and one towards the Shenandoah Valley. Definitely a strategic way to win!
On the downside for the Union, Manassas Junction was only 25 miles from Washington D.C.! This was usually a 20-22 hour trip, but Jackson’s men marched 35 miles on foot in around twelve hours, a feat (ha!) which earned them the nickname Jackson’s foot cavalry.

Artillery

Artillery

The ranger then shared about some of the Union officers. Irvin McDowell had been promoted to General, an interesting choice since he had only led 12 people before. Now, he gets to command 35,000 volunteers including a regiment each of marines, army, and artillery with the rest militia and volunteer. McDowell expressed concern to Lincoln about the lack of training his men had. Lincoln replied, “You’re all green together.” Lincoln knew he only had 90 days, so he didn’t have time to wait until these men were trained, but it does make me more sympathetic to all McClellan’s training for which he’s been sharply criticized. As it stood, Lincoln had reason to be concerned: Some soldiers in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey artillery got to day 91 and went home. That’s exactly what Lincoln had been worried about.

Approaching the Henry House

Approaching the Henry House

Another General, Robert Patterson (Not to be confused with Robert Pattinson) led the Army of the Shenandoah and 18,000 men to Winchester to meet Joseph Johnston who led an army of 11,000 Confederates. Patterson’s sole job was to hold Johnston. P.G.T Beauregard heard that the Union army was headed for him at Manasses and that Patterson was headed to Richmond from Confederate spy Rose Greenhow and turned all the info he learned over to Jefferson Davis who passed in on to Johnston. Johnson, outnumbered, thought he couldn’t leave to help reinforce Beauregard. He said he needed a miracle to get out. His miracle came through Patterson’s ignorance.

Patterson contacted Winfield Scott for advice.  Patterson thinks Johnston has an army of 40,000. Johnston, however, had Jeb Stuart who knew exactly what Patterson had. Patterson told Winfield he needed to move back because he was facing superior force.

The Stone Bridge

The Stone Bridge

Scott  said, “Fine, Don’t lose Johnston.” But, the nervous Patterson moved back 7 miles instead of keeping Johnston in view. Johnston leaves immediately and takes troops by train–the first time trains were ever used to transport troops. During the battle, Union soldiers would hear trains bringing fresh troops all day long. This was a big factor in the Confederate victory!

Beauregard knew by the location of Bull Run Creek that there were only a few places to cross. He put 16,000 of his 22,000 men at various places to defend the fords where the Union would have to cross. Now, they were ready.

Confederate Colonel Nathan Evans was guarding the Stone Bridge, when he realized the forces coming were a diversion, so he sent most of his men to where McDowell was heading. He left 900 Confederates to try to stop the 13,000 Union troops coming at them. Understandably, they don’t last long.

The Henry House

The Henry House

McDowell makes a big mistake then. He stops giving orders for over an hour since Union troops are winning. This gave Jackson time to reorganize. At 2:00, McDowell commands to move the off the ridge and closer to the Henry House. This would move them into an ineffective position. His officers, Ricketts and Griffin were upset and argued with Barry, who refused to listen since McDowell had given orders. Because of this, they lost their distance advantage and had no infantry support. The Confederates had already realized that the Henry House would have been a great place for sharp shooters, so they’d taken it over. Inside the house was 84 year old Judith Henry, her children, and a slave girl. They had tried to leave previously but had gotten scared and refused. When sharp shooters continued to fire on the artillery men, Ricketts ordered the 2 northern most guns to turn and shoot house. The cannons open fired for 15 minutes. Judith Henry was mortally wounded and died 3 hours later. Her daughter Ellen got out with nothing but loss of hearing from the explosions, and Lucy, the slave girl also got wounded.

Judith Henry's and other Henry family graves

Judith Henry’s and other Henry family graves

The Confederates had retreated about 300 yards. Generals Bee and Bartow found their regiments were so shot up they couldn’t even find them in the chaos of men. Additionally, Bee’s men were panicking (Remember, this is their first battle.). Stonewall served as a rallying point for Bee, who would declare, “There stands Jackson like a Stonewall. Rally behind the Virginians.” Some soldiers wrote home that Bee was berating Jackson for not being involved, but this was most likely just jealousy that Jackson’s men were “fresh” (disregard that 35 mile hike in around 12 hours) and they’d been shot. Bee would later die trying to take cannons.

"Stonewall" Jackson--ha was actually in the treeline behind the statue when he got his name...

“Stonewall” Jackson–he was actually in the treeline behind the statue when he got his name…

Griffin then decides he wants to move his artillery without orders to engage the Confederates. Meanwhile, Sherman had 4 regiments waiting for orders. None came. Griffin gets his howitzers into position in order to flank Stonewall’s line without being seen. The Confederates are less than 200 yards away from the guns. Finally, the 33rd Virginia comes out of the tree line in their blue uniforms. Griffins had already fired two shots at the Confederate guns and turns to fire on the soldiers. Barry sees this take place from a distance. He orders Griffin to turn the guns back. When Griffin argues, Barry assures him that’s his infantry reinforcements. (Gun crews are unarmed.) Griffin finally turns his guns. The men in blue march within 50 paces and fire a volley, killing most of the gun crew. The rest run, and the guns are captured. Griffin will get wounded and captured and Johnston eventually lets his wife  visit him. He’s then sent to prison in  Richmond. After release (trade), Griffin comes back to Second Manassas as a general. He’ll end up dying in that engagement.

Attack on the guns

Attack on the guns

Seeing that the guns were captured, the 14th Brooklyn came to reinforce the guns. They charged, took back the guns, and chased the 33rd Virginia into the treeline. They made it halfway through the 2nd Virginia and were running through regiments causing havoc. Jackson ordered a counterattack. The 33rd and 2nd Virginia both have critical losses. Finally, the 14th is slowed down and has to retreat. If they had had infantry support, they could have possibly taken Jackson’s line. Jackson, realizing this, would refer to them as the red legged devils, due to the red pants of their uniform.

Our guide finished at the Stonewall Jackson statue. Most of the area around the statue saw brutal hand to hand combat. Eventually, Jackson will engage his whole regiment. Addressing them before they leave, he tells his men to use the bayonet and yell like furies. This will be the birthplace of the “Rebel yell.”

Confederate Cemetery

Confederate Cemetery

Jeb Stuart comes in at this point and starts the route. The Union army is exhausted and starts retreating back to Centreville. As they go, one gun flips over on the bridge and blocks it, leaving about 11 Union pieces to the Confederates.
Definitely great information!

After the funeral, we returned to get a few more pictures of areas important to the Second Manassas before heading for home. It was an incredible experience to see this battlefield!

More Rhododendrons

More Rhododendrons

Since our plans for an early morning trek to Cades Cove were dashed by the area being closed to motor traffic, as it every Wednesday and Saturday from early May to late September (I’m sure this is cool for bikers and hikers, but it eliminated our possibility of seeing wildlife, who like to hide well before 10:00.), we decided to start the day with retracing our steps around the short loop of Roaring Fork Road.  We wanted to see the beauty of the flowers in the sunlight.  We drove around for a short time and were overwhelmed again by the beauty of this little area.  In the hectic world in which we live, a little peace and beauty go a long way. After we were done, we decided to head into Dandridge to check out some places special to Davy Crockett and see the second oldest city in Tennessee.  Because I teach history, we thought it would be a good idea to see what was available.

Bush Bros Cafe, Museum, and Store

Bush Bros Cafe, Museum, and Store

Mom had discovered that the Bush’s Beans Museum (Bush Bros Cafe, Museum, and Store) was located along the way in Chestnut Hill (so small, you need to put Dandridge in the GPS to find it). We decided to stop, and I’m glad we did.  We did not check out the cafe, though I’m sure it had great food.  Instead, we headed to the museum and gift store.  After browsing through the collection of–what else?–canned goods, along with braided rugs, general store candy, stuffed Duke dogs, and various other souvenirs, we toured the museum.  Since this was just a side stop, we didn’t spend a lot of time, but it gave me a new appreciation of Bush’s Beans.  I didn’t realize they had been a major supplier during the World Wars, had created staples to help out in the Great Depression, and were otherwise great citizens helping out their community in a variety of ways including buying shoes for the school children of their community.  It really is an amazing story of this company that now corners 80% of the bean market!

Jefferson County Courthouse

Jefferson County Courthouse

From there, we headed to the Jefferson County Court House–part of Historic Dandridge.  We made our first stop the Courthouse, where there is a small town museum, seemingly displaying anything old the town had to donate from Confederate currency to weaponry, to books, eye glasses, family Bibles, etc.  The museum is currently being rearranged, but there is definitely an interesting collection there.  We headed down to the visitor center and picked up some brochures from the kind, mostly deaf man who misunderstood everything we said, but gave us free postcards and a variety of information.  We had been recommended by the greeter at Bush’s Beans to check out the Tinsley Bible Drug company (Words I never expected to see in the same sentence.)  This little drug store boasted an old-fashioned lunch counter where you could grab a small meal or an old-fashioned Milkshake.  Mom and I chose to try the chocolate peanut butter shake.  You know a milkshake is homemade when no two taste alike, and even though mom and I got the same shake, they tasted slightly different.

Hopewell Church Cemetery 1785

Hopewell Church Cemetery 1785

On our way to the drug store, we had noticed a neat old cemetery.  We found out it dated back to the American Revolution era, and was the original cemetery of the Hopewell Presbyterian Church–the oldest church in Jefferson County.  Unfortunately, the gravestones are so worn or are just regular stones, so there’s no way of telling who’s buried here (though they may have some kind of burial records somewhere.)  The cemetery itself was small, but beautiful with lovely flowers and stone benches.  Definitely a peaceful place! One of the proprietors at the courthouse had recommended we check it out (as she was a lover of old cemeteries herself.)  I’m sure there was more to see (There are 38 stops on the Dandridge walking tour), but we wanted to check out more about Davy Crockett, so we headed to Morristown to the Crockett Tavern.

Crockett Tavern

Crockett Tavern

The Crockett Tavern was actually smaller than we were anticipating, but well worth the $5.00 admission fee.  Located on the site of Davy Crockett’s boyhood home, the site boasts a reconstruction of the tavern Crockett’s parents owned.  Our guide was a wonderfully knowledgeable woman whose name I missed.  She took us through the house and shared a great deal of information about all things Davy related.  It was interesting to learn about things like the fact that his father actually indentured his children out to pay his debts.  Davy was indentured to a number of people and did everything from tending cattle to working on a shipyard.  While any of these trades could have taken him off the course of being an American hero, they did serve to shape his character and give him survival skills that would be incredibly useful in his later life.  One sad story was of Davy’s sister who was indentured to a farmer at age 14.

Covered wagon

Covered wagon

Apparently, she got pregnant by someone on the farm and was sent to live with a Baptist pastor and his family.  Unfortunately, both she and the baby would end up dying within the year.  Our guide also shared a number of fun family tidbits about Davy’s political career, as well as his break with Jackson over the Indian Removal Act.  It’s a bit surprising, given the fact that Davy’s grandfather was murdered by Native Americans, and he helped fight alongside Jackson against the Creeks, but Davy was against kicking out the Native Americans.  He thought they were well enough assimilated.  This stance cost him his political career, though interestingly enough, shortly after Crockett’s defeat, his son John Wesley would take office.  Crockett, however, moved to Texas, and the rest, as they say, is history.  She also shared the theory that Davy did not die on the wall of the Alamo, but rather was captured and shot.  One of those things we may never know.

General Longstreet Museum

General Longstreet Museum

Our wonderful tour guide did us the kindness of calling over to the General Longstreet Museum in Russellville to see if Linda would be willing to wait on us for a little while.  (It was 4:30, and the Museum closed at 5:00)  She said that she had to leave for church at 6:00, but would be glad to stay to let us in and show us around.  True Southern hospitality. In the first room, we discovered that Longstreet was told about this place at the depot and ran a telegraph line from the depot to the house.  (It should be mentioned that the house has been added onto, and is not even in its original location, though much has been done to preserve it in the condition it was.)  Linda shared many stories of Longstreet’s life and military experience.  One fun thing for us to learn was that Longstreet had an artillery commander named Peyton Manning.  (After whom the football star is named, not Walter Payton as it’s traditionally believed.)

Longstreet and his staff help man the guns of Captain MB Miller in the apple orchard, painted by Dale Gallon (Photo Courtesy of the Civil War Talk)

Longstreet and his staff help man the guns of Captain MB Miller in the apple orchard, painted by Dale Gallon (Photo Courtesy of the Civil War Talk)

Another cool story Linda told was about a painting that hung in the hallway.  At Antietam, Longstreet led his command with a slipper on his right foot due to a boot blistered heel.  Both Linda and I loved the fact that painter Dale Gallon knew the history and included it in the picture (Shown right.)  Linda also shared that, despite current belief, Longstreet loved Lee and would not have maligned him intentionally.  The two disagreed–especially at Gettysburg where Longstreet had advised Lee to push Meade’s men to them instead of marching towards them in Pickett’s charge.  Lee, unfortunately, didn’t listen.  Longstreet had his own mistakes, though, and this didn’t change his respect for Lee.  He wrote his memoirs well after the war, so he may have embellished details more than he would have imagined.

General Kershaw's Office

General Kershaw’s Office

Finally, Linda shared with us about Longstreet’s wounding in the wilderness.  It sounded a lot like Stonewall Jackson’s, and was fairly close to the same place (4 miles away) and only four days past a year from when Jackson was shot.  Longstreet was also shot by friendly fire, though through the shoulder and throat.  His arm would never recover and later pictures show it either tucked in his jacket like Napoleon, or supported by something.  He was sensitive enough after the wounding to cover his face with his hat to shield him from the view of his men, and he assured those who saw him that he would be back, but it was a long time coming.

The museum also boasts a display from the Nenney family, who lived in the house until the 1960’s.  Finally, the museum has purchased and moved the office used by General Kershaw, a general under Longstreet, to this location.  He had used The Green family’s office (originally located about a mile away) as his during the war.  All in all, we learned a great deal and look forward to seeing the continued restorations made by the Museum.  Having had a full day, we headed back to the resort to pack for home where I will pack again for my next great adventure:  Poland!  Stay tuned!

Lincoln Hearse 150th Anniversary

Lincoln Hearse 150th Anniversary

Today (5/2/15) marks the end of an era.  While there were Civil War related happenings that occurred after today, the celebration of Lincoln’s funeral trail arriving in Springfield, Illinois, represents the end of a glorious 4 years of remembrance.  As a reenactor, I have thoroughly enjoyed having the Civil War so close to our thoughts during this time.  I’ve attended national events, visited battlefields and museums, and watched movies (including this week covering the Lincoln assassination and showing The Conspirator) and TV shows focused on the period, and attended countless other events.  With today’s event, that aspect will begin to fade.  For that reason, despite the busyness of the season for me and the struggles of coming off chemo and preparing for surgery for my friend, we decided to make the 3+ hour trip to Springfield–to be there for this once in a lifetime event.

We arrived in Springfield just as the horses were pulling the hearse down the street followed by a procession of reenactors.  But, we still had to park, so we actually arrived just as the formal program was beginning.  It was truly a beautiful beginning.  Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield opened with prayer, recognizing the fact that when Lincoln left Springfield to travel to Washington D.C., not knowing if he would see his friends and neighbors again, he left them in the care of God.  He explained that while many lost a president, residents here lost a friend.  A number of other speakers followed–each with a pearl of wisdom.  Governor Bruce Rauner shared about Lincoln’s role as a uniter of races–a relevant topic in light of recent events.

Reenactors outside the Old Statehouse

Reenactors outside the Old Statehouse

The military commander shared about Lincoln the soldier, and not only the way that he followed instruction, but the way that he led.  Lincoln was represented by a number of members of the armed forces from Illinois who also represented fallen comrades in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The ambassador from San Marino to the U.S., Paolo Rondelli presented a Lincoln coin that had just been created in Italy.  Interspersed with these inspiring speeches was the music of a number of different bands and a choir.  My favorite was when the choir sang “Amazing Grace” shortly after the invocation.  The man beside me began singing along, I did as well, and before the end of the first verse, many of the crowd had joined in. It was a powerful moment.  What I loved most about this time was that each speaker painted a different picture of Lincoln.  As our group would later discuss, Lincoln was a man–he did many things I agree with and admire, and a few that I don’t, but all in all, he was simply a man.  A man who as Secretary of War Edwin Stanton said, “Now (he) belongs to the ages.”

From the opening program, we headed over to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  It was an amazing experience, well worth the $15.00 combined ticket with Union Station (which I got for $8.00–Teacher perk…)  The museum really focuses on Lincoln’s entire life.  It starts with Journey 1, where visitors will track through Lincoln’s early life, his boyhood, jobs, courting, etc.  In the section called Journey 2, Lincoln’s political life comes to life and death, for here we trace Lincoln’s career as a young Senator, through his presidency, and finally to his funeral.

Entrance to Journey 1

Entrance to Journey 1

Each area offers incredibly lifelike wax figures portraying scenes in Lincoln’s life, but also shows artifacts from the period and gives information on Lincoln’s journey during that time.  My favorite section of the display was a series of political cartoons published about Lincoln.  I had seen about 4 or 5 of them, but there were probably 50 completely vilifying Lincoln.  I’ve long told students that political cartoons back in the day were brutal, and the ones about Lincoln are exceptionally cruel.  Just another opportunity to see a different side of Lincoln.

The dual ticket from the Museum also offered entrance to Union Station where there is currently a display called “From History to Hollywood.”  This display boasts sets and costumes from the movieLincoln.  What was most interesting to me in this section was the wardrobe of Mary Todd Lincoln (costumes.)  I learned that Sally Fields is exactly the height of Mary Todd, though she had to gain 20 pounds to play the role.  Standing on the floor beside the costume resting on the steps, I towered over the top (I’m 5’9″).  How short was Mary Todd?!  About 5 feet tall–Imagine that next to the 6’4″ Lincoln.  They must have looked fun in pictures, though I don’t recall any of the two of them beside each other.

Lincoln Home draped in mourning

Lincoln Home draped in mourning


With sore feet, we headed to the Lincoln House, but, when we found out that the next tour wouldn’t leave until about an hour and a half later, we decided to just enjoy the outside and head out of town.  We made one final stop at Lincoln’s tomb to see where all of the family is buried, except Robert, who is buried at Arlington–I’ll have to look him up next time I’m there.  The monument tomb has to be the coolest burial place.  Not only is the monument huge and imposing, there are replicas of numerous statues of Lincoln with details of where the actual statue stands.  The walls also bear transcripts of famous speeches Lincoln made–incredible to read.  Finally, the sarcophagus for Lincoln is beautiful and surrounded by the flags of states where he or his ancestors had lived.  Just an amazing and appropriate place–and indeed, the perfect place to lay to rest this season of Civil War celebrations.

Lincoln tomb monument

Lincoln tomb monument

What struck me most is a statement Lincoln makes in his farewell to Springfield (transcript posted inside the tomb and quoted in the opening ceremony today.)  In the speech, he states, “I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington.  Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed.  With that assistance, I cannot fail.  Trusting in Him who can go with me and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well.”

What stood out to me was the fact that he had a tougher task than George Washington.  Washington merely had the task of building a nation (merely!)–Lincoln had the task of reconciling a nation that had splintered before he ever stepped into office.  And yet, he managed.  With faith and trust in God, he saw our nation weather devastating losses, brought an oppressed people to freedom, and kept our nation from splintering, all while undergoing untold personal losses–the death of three of his children and its affect on both him and his wife.

Close up of Lincoln Memorial

Close up of Lincoln Memorial

One of my students asked me this week how the nation would have been different if Lincoln had never been assassinated.  The ripples, I explained, would be vast.  With easier reconstruction, racial reconciliation might have been easier, perhaps even eliminating the need for the Civil Rights movement, as segregation might never have happened.  But, he also might not have been quite so loved.  Lincoln had been horribly unpopular in wide circles, but with his assassination, the tide turned, and people flocked to pay their respects.

But, regardless of what might have changed, the fact is, 150 years later, we are still touched by the legacy of a man who held fast in difficult times and saw our nation through.  His example of steadfastness in the midst of adversity is incredible.  May we strive to do the same today–to bring reconciliation to long held wounds, to hold fast to truth and integrity, and to seek to leave a legacy for those who follow behind us!

Morning mists and layers of beauty!

Morning mists and layers of beauty!

We set out this morning (3/24/15) to visit Cherokee, North Carolina.  Since our previous visit was over Christmastime, we weren’t able to go then, so this was our first time.  As a history teacher, I was hoping to get some first hand information on major events like the Trail of Tears and the Battle of Horseshoe Bend–and I was not disappointed.

We stopped along the way to capture the gorgeous views of the (relatively) early morning mists on the mountains. It was beautiful to see layer after layer of ridges–the sight is breathtaking–in some cases quite literally, as we were a mile in the air. Our first stop was the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, which is a definite “must see.” It boasts and outdoor collection of Mountain cabins and outbuildings that we were interested to see, but we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time in Cherokee, so we vowed to visit on our return trip.

Street view with one of the cultural dancers Photo credit:  Mary Rosalind Brailey

Street view with one of the cultural dancers Photo credit: Mary Rosalind Brailey

A few miles down the road, we entered Cherokee territory. When one hears the word “reservation,” a number of images come to mind. I’m not sure quite what I was expecting, but it was different than what I saw. We drove down a street lined with shops and even a Dairy Queen–I guess I expected it to be more primitive than it was. Not that I think Native Americans should be stuck in the 1800’s, but from reading Chief Seattle’s “If we sell you our land, love it” speech to my class every year, I guess I was hoping in would be more “untouched” by the commercialism that pervades American culture. Having encountered such vast natural beauty on the way into the reservation, I expected it to be more beautiful here. It was not.

The Museum, however, offered a wealth of information on the Cherokee Experience from the beginning of their civilization to the present. There is a wealth of artifacts to see–tools, arrowheads, tomahawks. They also have a variety of interactive displays where visitors can experience tribal stories from the Creation story movie to first hand accounts of different experiences.

The first thing that really captured my attention was the story of Sequoyah. This amazing Native American has about two lines of text in our History book–merely known as a leader who created the Cherokee alphabet. From now on, I will cover him differently.

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Sequoyah had so many obstacles to overcome, it is incredible. In today’s world, he would have been labeled an “at risk” kid. Abandoned by his white father and born with an infirm leg, Sequoyah entered life at a disadvantage. Yet, he helped his mother around the farm, and became an artist and a silversmith. He had been exposed to writing but was illiterate himself–the only inventor of a written language (at least in 5,00 years of written history) to not first write another language. And yet, he felt, as I do, that his people had a story to share. So, he set about creating an alphabet for them to record their heritage. He had another obstacle in the creation of the alphabet–this time from closer to home. His wife felt his work was becoming an obsession since he was neglecting their farm. She also felt his work was affecting his mind, so she burned it–I can’t believe what that must have been like. Still Sequoyah pressed on, and two years later he completed his syllabary. Finally, eleven years later, he would receive a silver medal from the Cherokee National Council. He is a true example of overcoming obstacles to achieve a goal.

I also learned more about another interesting Native American: Tecumseh. Being from Indiana, we spend special interest on the conflict between Tecumseh and William Henry Harrison. I knew that Tecumseh had been off raising support from other tribal members when Harrison picked a fight at the Battle of Tippecanoe. At the Museum, we were able to read a portion of his words. Here’s a quote from his speech: “The white race is a wicked race.

Museum Display

Museum Display

The hunting grounds are fast disappearing, and they are driving the red men farther and farther to the West. Let the white race perish whence they came. Upon the trail of blood, they must be driven. Will not the warriors of the Southern tribes unite with the warriors of the Lakes?” While this speech perfectly falls in line with the image we’re traditionally taught in history, an understanding of the Cherokee rule of Blood Revenge casts a new light on history. In Cherokee law, if a member of tribe A kills a member of tribe B, a member of tribe A must be killed in return. The goal was not simply revenge, but balance. The Cherokee followed this same practice with the “white tribes”: the settlers, the British, and the French. Imagine their surprise when these groups returned the blood revenge with military force. This is not to say Native Americans were innocent bystanders, but perhaps they are not quite the savages we have made them out to be.

Museum Display

Museum Display

Finally, we were able to learn of some unexpected people with Native American connections. Even General Andrew Jackson fought in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend alongside the Creeks, the Cherokee, and other Native Americans whom he would eventually expel with the Indian Removal Act. One of them even saved his life during the battle! Another famous American present at that battle was Sam Houston. Sam has quite an extensive experience with the Cherokee. As a 16 year old, Sam ran away from home and lived among the Cherokee. He was adopted by Chief Oo-Loo-Te-Ka and given the Indian name “The Raven.” He lives with the Cherokee for three years at this stint. He’ll then start a school, join the army, and get wounded twice at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. He then turns to politics, representing the Cherokee in Washington, where he will be criticized by Secretary of State John C. Calhoun for wearing Indian dress! After serving as the Governor of Tennessee, he will return to the Cherokee Nation for the Green Corn Dance where he will meet the woman who will become his second wife. He ends up staying with the Cherokee for a while, needing to be nursed back to health with Indian medicine by his Cherokee father after a severe bout with Malaria.

In addition to the notable names, we also learned about the “no names” like William Holland Thomas who essentially made his own Indian Reservation by buying up land on which he allowed the Cherokee to live. He first got to know the Cherokee by working in a trading post as a young man. He will eventually be adopted by Chief Yonaguska, who will name him his successor, making Thomas the only white Chief of the Cherokee. In addition to buying the land that is much of the Cherokee land in North Carolina today, he would negotiate for the Cherokee in court, and represent their interest in the Senate where he was elected in 1848 and would serve until the beginning of the Civil War. He also protected his tribe in the Civil War by forming the Thomas Legion–initially a protective force, but his men would eventually be sent into dangerous battlefields. Yet, his troops hold the distinction of the last shots fired in the Civil War east of the Mississippi.

The Qualla Arts and Crafts Store

The Qualla Arts and Crafts Store

Almost a month after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Thomas and his men surrounded Waynesville. After a night of war whoops, the garrison surrendered. Just four days later, on the one month anniversary of the Lee’s surrender, Thomas would learn of Appomattox and agree to lay down his arms. Always looking out for his tribe, we will convince the government that the Cherokee had never enlisted in the Confederate army and should therefore be allowed to keep their weapons. He is successful. In decline of health and deeply in debt, Thomas will continue to care for his people. Though he himself was committed to a mental institution, the Cherokee are able to use the treaty he negotiated in 1848 to maintain control of their lands which had been seized due to his debts. Definitely a neat story!

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Mountainside Trees

After leaving the museum, we walked across the street to the Qualla Arts and Crafts store, which the museum had recommended we see. Offering a variety of items for purchase from woven baskets, to pottery, weapons, and wood carvings. The Craft store serves as a kind of museum on its own! We visited a few more shops and headed out to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was discouraging to see how much of the area consisted of trailers and abandoned or falling down buildings. Again, I desired more of what I had seen of reservations in the West.

The Mountain Farm Museum at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center

The Mountain Farm Museum at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center

The Blue Ridge Parkway was an amazing drive. From the views of layers and layers of mountains, to the roadside waterfalls, to the bare trees, every bend held a piece of beauty!

We concluded our drive back at the visitor center to visit the farms they shared. Much like we had seen driving through Cades Cove, these cabins are incredible pieces of history. Apparently, there is more to see later in the season, as most of the buildings were closed, but the layout of buildings as well as the different trade areas makes me think later in the season, this will be a place buzzing with activity.

Finally, we made our way home, stopping often to enjoy the changes in the mountains from the morning when we set out. From battlelines to ridgelines, it has truly been an amazing day!

Welcome to Cades Cove!

Welcome to Cades Cove!

As we spent today (3/23/15) driving around Cades Cove, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of nature. Every turn offered some new delight that made us exclaim, “Look at that!” I was reminded of a principle I’ve heard often and hadn’t thought of recently–that Beauty demands to be shared. While all of us enjoy things that bring us delight, there’s another joy entirely when we are able to share them with another person–or a number of people via social media. And so, while a picture cannot possibly do justice to the real life experience, I’m inviting you along to share some of the beauty and stories we experienced today.

We saw amazing scenery along our drive out to the Cove, but I just wanted to arrive at the scenery I knew was coming. No sooner had we gotten into the park, we saw our first deer. I love deer, so this is a special joy for me. But, there are so many joys here.

John and Lucretia Oliver's cabin

John and Lucretia Oliver’s cabin

Our first stop was the cabin of John and Lucretia Oliver. He bought land in the 1820’s and built a 1 1/2 story cabin on it. This cabin stayed in his family for over 100 years until the park was established. One thing that was neat to notice about the cabin is that the notches where the logs fit together were carved at a downward angle (about 45 degrees.) I’ve always seen cabins with square notches, but John made them angled to run water away from the house–a great piece of ingenuity. One sad fact I learned by visiting the National Park website was that John W. Oliver (a namesake descendant of the builder) was one of the residents who fought the National Parks buying up land. He apparently went to court several times before losing his family property.

Another deep disappointment of the area was captured by the “Bob was here” sign outside. It referenced the fact that so many irreplaceable pieces of history have been spoiled because someone felt the need to carve or write his or her name. In fact, almost every cabin on the property had graffiti on almost every inch of visible surface–it’s truly heartbreaking. As 17th century British clergyman Thomas Fuller observed (and my mom quotes), “Fools names like fool’s faces are often seen in public places.” Please resist the urge to graffiti historic places! If you want to sign your name to remember a trip, do it in a guest book!

The Primitive Baptist Church in shadows

The Primitive Baptist Church in shadows

From the Oliver cabin, we headed to two different churches, The Primitive Baptist Church and The Methodist Church. These buildings not only have an amazing beauty (despite the graffiti), but also a great heritage as well. The Primitive Baptist and the Methodist Churches were both built around the 1820’s. The Baptist Church was closed during the Civil War due to their support of the Union and their fear of their Confederate neighbors. The Methodists were not as numerous as the Baptists, and, although they did not close, were bitterly divided over the issue of the Civil War as well. Though I reenact with a Civil War group which represents a Tennessee regiment, I had not realized they were so divided. This issue of this truly being a “brother against brother” war would come up on other occasions as well. In the present, however, I loved the way the light played with the shadows on this church.

In the middle of the Cades Cove loop is the Visitor Center. Instead of just being a traditional Visitor Center, we were greeted by a number of incredible historic buildings. In addition to the barns, houses, and other out buildings, there were great places to hike, streams to ford, and beautiful photography to be taken. We spent a wonderful time just simply taking time to pursue beauty–definitely a worthwhile task.

Mom's picture--beauty shared

Mom’s picture–beauty shared

Since the title of this entry is that beauty demands to be shared, I want to share one of my mom’s amazing pictures from the Visitor Center (which she went through great contortions to get.)

This whole idea of the separation between people in the cove was brought home to me with our visit to the mill. Here, we found not only beautiful scenery, but also a rare treasure in the form of 91 year old Cliff–the current miller. Cliff began running the mill at 89. He had moved to Tennessee from Florida to retire–exactly the opposite of most. I asked him why he decided to become the miller here, and he explained he had been sitting on his front porch when the park service came by and asked him if he’d like to run it. He informed them that he had no mill experience. They replied that they’d teach him. And he’s never looked back. He said one of his favorite things is all the different people he gets to meet. His favorite story was about Rebecca Cable. She wanted to marry a young man, and her dad said no. She told him that since he wanted grandchildren, she’d never marry to spite him. And she didn’t. (His son, however, did marry and have children, so he got his grandchildren after all.)The Cable family owned a great deal of the park, so many of the buildings were sold by her.

Cable Mill (Cliff's)

Cable Mill (Cliff’s)

Cliff also shared that the mill was a good way of reconciliation after the Civil War. He reminded me that half of the area went for the North and half for the South. Both during and after the war, the mill employed many men from the area. When you have to work in close quarters, you make up your differences. This is why Cliff considers the mill a place of great healing.

We ended our tour by visiting a few other cabins. While each had a slightly different appearance and their own story, I was particularly interested in the Carter Shields Cabin. Carter had been wounded at the Battle of Shiloh–a battle in which the 154th Tennessee Sr. Co. K (with whom I reenact) also fought. It was a horribly bloody battle, and Carter was one of the lucky ones–he was crippled for life, but alive. His story was a happy one though–he married and moved to Kansas, then returned almost 40 years after the war to buy property here. However, he only stayed for eleven years before moving on.

As we drove out of the park, we were able to make our way to a number of the beautiful sites we had seen on the way in. One favorite was the Sinks and Upper Meigs Falls.

Sink at Meigs Falls

Sink at Meigs Falls

This site had beautiful views, hiking trails, and rocks to climb on. Finally, it was time to head home. Because there is so much more beauty to be shared, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite shots from the day. Enjoy! Until tomorrow!

Mountain Beauty

Mountain Beauty

I Love Deer!

I Love Deer!

Courtesy of HWMoore

Courtesy of HWMoore Quincy Adams Station

After being up late, we got up early Friday morning (8/8/14) to head into Boston with much fear and trepidation on the part of my mother. The main concern? We had no idea where we were going. We had planned to do the park and ride at Quincy Adams Station, but could not find an address anywhere. Google maps gives coordinates; even customer service didn’t know the address and gave us the address of a pediatrician 1 mile away–apparently, that was supposed to help us find it. Additionally, we didn’t know for sure how to work the subway cards, so that was another unknown. But, we set off anyway, determined to figure it out.

We made it to the pediatricians and kept going a bit to see if we could see anything, putting the Google coordinates in the GPS. What we saw was a kid jumping down from a 12+ foot fence. When we’d made the block without finding anything, we saw the same kid, so we asked for directions. He told us it was a pain in the butt to get to, but proceeded to tell us anyway. After we’d executed a series of twists and turns, we saw two construction guys sitting outside who directed us the rest of the way to the parking garage conveniently located right off Thomas E. Burgin Parkway. It’s also right next to a Home Depot, which would have made an easy GPS location. (Since returning, I used that to determine the REAL address. It is 450 Centre St. Quincy, MA 02169.)

Courtesy of Boston Tourism

Courtesy of Boston Tourism

With the first leg completed, we tackled buying a Charlie Card. We had determined that this would be the best, as it allowed us access for any subway, bus, or ferry for 24 hours. Not knowing what we’d tackle in Boston, we purchased this for $12 and set off. (We actually only ended up taking the subway there and back, so we’d have been better purchasing individual rides, but we were able to give our passes to a man and his son when we returned, so that was nice.) We boarded the red line, only to be delayed by another train with trouble. But, we eventually arrived in Boston.

We got off at the Park Street Station, which is right in the middle of the Boston Commons where we were to meet our Freedom Trail walking tour. The staff at the Visitor’s Center there was immensely kind and helpful, sending us to activate our trolley tickets, helping us get rid of additionally tickets, and in every way walking us through the process. Once we got our trolley tickets, we were ready for the Freedom Trail tour (Both were included with the Go Boston card.) Our tour guide was hilarious and gave a ton of great information.

Meeting the Tour

Meeting the Tour

We started the tour at Boston Common which, established in 1634, is the oldest park in America. William Blackstone (Blaxton) was the first European settler in Boston, where he moved to be alone. But, when the Puritans came in, he invited them to share his land. They did, then had problems with him because he was an Anglican minister and ordered his house burned down. With such neighbors, Blackstone decides to move to Rhode Island (pre-dating Roger Williams) and sells Boston to the Puritans for 50 pounds (about $100,000 today). To this day, it is legal to graze cows, do laundry, and settle duels in the Commons. Another fun fact is that the playground was originally the site of hanging tree (lost in 1847). It also served as the militia training ground. One thing I didn’t realize is that Boston today is quite different than it was on Apr. 18, 1775. What is now Charles Street was the Charles River. In fact, 70% of Boston is landfill, Boston previously being only one mile square.

Massachusetts State House

Massachusetts State House

From the Commons, we headed to the “New” statehouse. Built in 1775, it used to be John Hancock’s cow pasture. Apparently, he was quite the character. John Hancock was the second best smuggler of the day, naming his ship “The Liberty” to spite the British, and he was the richest man. He had inherited 50,000 pounds (about $5,000,000 in today’s economy.) He loved spending money, throwing parties, and being influential. This may be another reason for his large signature. He wanted to be commander and chief of army, but Congress wanted someone with war experience. When the war is over, he makes a bid for president. Congress refuses. Hancock was furious. Interestingly enough, when Washington goes to Faneuil Hall, John Hancock won’t come greet him. Since his son is named John George Washington Hancock, one would think he’d forgiven him, but apparently, his wife did it to spite him–she’d also made John wait 10 years to marry her in a day when the average lifespan was 42.
The dome of the statehouse was initially wood. It was later covered by copper, made by Paul Revere, who got the job because Sam Adams was in the government. Later, it was gold leaf, painted black during WWII to prevent it from being seen by invaders, then returned to gold leaf after the war.

Grave of Boston Massacre Victims

Grave of Boston Massacre Victims

From the Statehouse, we headed to Boston Cemetery. This also was part of John Hancock’s pastures. There are a number of bodies in the graves, but the stones don’t necessarily coordinate with who’s buried under them. In addition to the practice of burying members of a family together under one stone, they also didn’t have burial rules, so graves might be a foot and a half deep or ten feet deep. When the shallow graves started to show the bodies, the government ordered the cemetery cleaned up. So, they moved the stones into straight lines, but did not move the accompanying bodies.Every one of the 2,300 stones represents 6-10 people.

One of the most famous stones is the marker for the casualties in the Boston Massacre. Edward Garrick, a wig maker’s apprentice was walking home when he saw Captain John Goldfinch. He accused Goldfinch of not paying his bill and asked for money owed.

Boston Massacre site

Boston Massacre site

Private Hugh White came to the aid of Goldfinch, saying that his Captain was a gentleman and would pay his bill. Garrick responded, “There are no gentlemen in 29th regiment.” White hit Garrick in the face with the butt of gun. Other civilians pushed White against the wall where he called for aid. “Turn out Captain Preston!” (British soldiers aren’t allowed to fight without their officers–a reason the Americans would pick off officers first in the American Revolution.) Preston will first order his men to load their guns, then to fix bayonets, which his men will use to keep the crowd at bay. One citizen tells him, “I hope you don’t mean to fire.” Captain Preston responds, “No, my place is in front of my men. I’d be a fool to give that order, as I would be a sacrifice then.” Something is thrown, which strikes one of the officers who fires his gun. Preston turns to ask why he fired without orders and is struck with a bottle and knocked down, at which time the soldiers, hearing the cry of “Fire” from the angry crowd, assume it to be Preston and fire. Though only 5 will die, Sam Adams makes them famous. Henry Pelham will make the artwork which Paul Revere will engrave (apparently without Pelham’s permission, as Pelham will write him a scathing letter accusing him of highway robbery!) This early piece of propaganda will display a street scene. But, Preston is behind his men, the British soldiers are smiling while the blood runs, and there is a dog, the symbol of innocence. Definitely an agenda there.

Revere foot stone

Revere foot stone

Another famous grave is Paul Revere’s, which showcases the original footstone. On April 18, 1775, the British are going to Lexington to get both Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Paul Revere finds out the direction they’re heading (Courtesy of the lanterns) and goes to Reverend Jonas Clark’s house to warn them. On the way, he cries “The regulars are out.” He does not say, as Tennyson popularized, that “the British are coming,” since we were ALL British at that time, and the phrase would have had no meaning. The Regulars are the British army. On the way, however, Revere meets a patrol. One soldier shoots at Revere and misses. Samuel Prescott, who is with Revere, will complete the midnight ride as the only one to reach Concord. Revere is captured by six British officers. Major Mitchel put a pistol to his head and asked him a variety of questions. Revere tells him he’s already warned the cities of the British plans. Mitchel tells Revere to escort them back to Lexington. When they get close, they hear gun fire. Mitchel asks Paul what it is. They run off to see what is taking place, and Paul leaves, though they’d captured his horse. He’s able to see the whole thing, though.

The Old Statehouse

The Old Statehouse

From there, we went to the old statehouse. It is here that James Otis, called by John Adams the patriot’s Martin Luther, spoke against Writs of Assistance for 4 hours. Otis, who was both a lawyer and a speaker, is a volatile man. He railed against search and seizure. At this time, if you refused entry to a soldier looking for contraband, the militia can break down the door. He states that Americans are not second class citizens, so we deserve the same rights as Englishmen. He demands representation in parliament. In fact, James Otis will coin the phrase “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” He does have an interesting life story, though. On September 5, 1769, he gets in a fight with British officers in a British Coffee House. One will bash in his head. Dr. Joseph Warren fixes him up, but puts a lead plate in his head. Otis will go crazy either from the head wound or lead poisoning. He supposedly told his sister that he hoped God would take him in a flash of lightning. Ironically, he will die struck in the head by a bolt of lightning.

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall

We concluded our tour at Faneuil Hall. Peter Faneuil wanted a marketplace, while the government asked for meeting house. The solution Peter offered was to do both at his own expense. So Faneuil Hall offers shopping on the lower level while the government meets on the upper level. Many speeches by many famous Americans were given here, yielding it the title the “Cradle of Liberty.” This concluded our Freedom Trail tour.

Since we were by the Statehouse, we decided to visit the museum there, which is an incredible treat. When you walk in, you are given a new identity as a Revolutionary character (Mine was Phillis Wheatley.) The card gives you your description, social connection, and additional information. As we walked through the display of artifacts and facsimiles from the time, one item caught my eye.

Melville's tea

Melville’s tea

We had learned at Arrowhead that Herman Melville’s grandfather had been part of the Boston Tea Party, and when he returned home, brushed the tea off his boots and put it in a vial, which he kept as a souvenir. Imagine my surprise when that very vial was on display in the statehouse museum! It has amazed me how often on this trip I have discovered something of one historical figure intertwined with information about other historical figures!

From here, we decided to catch the Trolley tour, which turned out to be a mistake. Not that it wasn’t interesting–we had a snarky tour guide whose stories mainly focused on being poor and going to bars instead of actual history. But, the problem was that we caught the tour at stop four, desiring to visit stops 1-3. Unfortunately, the trolley had 13 other stops to make before starting over at stop one. We should have walked the short distance from stop four to one.

Paul Revere and the Old North Church

Paul Revere and the Old North Church

Instead, we spent an hour and a half on a bumpy trolley, which put us behind in the sightseeing department.

When we got off, we headed to the Old North Church. This was one of the places I’d especially wanted to go to get my own pictures of the Paul Revere statue. The Old North Church is an incredible piece of architecture and gives a lot of good information on those who participated in the events prior to the battles of Lexington and Concord. One thing I especially admired is they have an array of dog tags in the courtyard representing each soldier who has fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Definitely an incredible tribute!

From there, we walked to the Paul Revere House. This amazing example of 17th Century architecture is a jewel, containing many originals examples of Paul Revere’s work. Though you cannot take pictures inside the building, it is well worth the minimal admission ($3.50–included the GO Boston Card)

Paul Revere House

Paul Revere House

One thing that fascinated me was the fact that Paul Revere had three descendants who fought in the Civil War. The museum shares their story as well. It’s hard to believe that Paul Revere had 16 children (8 by each wife), but apparently they didn’t all live in the house simultaneously.

When we finished the tour, it was about 4:00, and we knew the trolley stopped running at 4:30. We debated trying to get up to Bunker Hill and the U.S.S. Constitution, but didn’t want to have to make the long walk in either direction. So, we checked out the print shop and a chocolate store and finally opted to go home. In retrospect, I should have pushed myself because I discovered that the U.S.S. Constitution is leaving for a three year restoration process after this season, so we missed our chance to view “Old Ironsides.” But, at the time, our throbbing feet were the priority. And so, another amazing time comes to an end. Until next time, may all your adventures be breathtaking!