August 31, 2003

Kin's Friend

Kin lost a friend this week. For those of you who don't know, Kin lives in Israel. He gave me the following information on a general fund for Israeli victims of terrorism.

In U.S.A.
Victims of Arab Terror
VAT International
1412 Ave. M, No.2367
Brookyn, NY 11230

Please pass this on.

Posted by Jennifer at 06:59 AM

August 29, 2003

Personal Histories

An idea I have been toying with for quite some time was to invite readers to send in their own personal history...anything ranging from genealogy to military stories to anecdotal history about their Great-Aunt Ada. We all have history in our lives, whether we served in Vietnam, watched the Twin Towers fall, or recorded the stories our Grandma told us.

If you have a story/anecdote you'd like to share but don't have a blog or don't think it "fits" with your own blog, I'd be happy to post it here. If there is enough interest, I may rededicate the old place to such a pursuit.

Bob from Modular Parrot sent me a nice e-mail about his own Irish history. With his permission, I am posting it here:

I share your interest in things historical. My fascination with English and Irish history actually stems from an interest in, of all things, my family genealogy. About 15 years ago I received an original copy of a book written in 1906, outlining the Whalley/Whaley family history in England, Ireland and America going back 900 plus years to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. I belong to a genealogical group who has made an in-depth study of this writing and we have not been able to connect the dots all the way back to 1066 and probably never will. That trail went cold long ago, in spite of the Domesday Book, commissioned and completed by William the Conqueror, which documented ownership of every inch of English soil shortly after the Norman Conquest. We have, however, been able to trace the Whalley family as far back as the 14th century. But, I'm straying off topic. Can't help myself.

My research is focused on the English Civil Wars during the 17th century. In particular, two gentlemen; Major General Edward Whalley (first cousin of Oliver Cromwell) and Whalley's son-in-law, Major General William Goffe. Both were regicide judges and signatories of the King Charles I death sentence. The story becomes even more interesting when the monarchy was restored in 1660; both men secretly escaped to America to avoid the wrath of Charles II. Whalley left behind his family and a great family fortune, the lands and money later confiscated by Charles II and others. Whalley and Goffe remained hidden and protected by sympathetic Puritans in New England, avoiding capture by agents of the king, for the next twenty years. Most of the 59 regicides who did not escape England were not as fortunate and many lost heads, legs and arms.

I've collected reams of documents and writings concerning this period of Irish and English history, including accounts of the decimation, relocation and deportation of ¾ of Ireland's population and the official redistribution of Irish lands to individuals in Cromwell's army and English "adventurers".

Then, jump ahead to a very mysterious settler in Virginia and later Rhode Island, who my family tradition says, was related to General Whalley. Living under a presumed alias, first in Virginia and then Rhode Island, this well educated but reclusive individual is the progenitor of my line in America.

Next, enter modern genome technology.

I am presently translating an Irish Chancery Court case from 1699 (extremely rare since many written Irish records were destroyed in a fire in 1921), in which Edward's youngest son challenges the will of Edward's brother. This case has led me to Ireland and in turn to a modern day branch of the Whaley family now living in America. With the new Y-chromosome analysis that is available today, it is possible to genetically connect males of a direct lineage back thousands of years. I am presently working with these modern day Whaley members to solve the mystery of my Rhode Island Whaley. I suspect he is Edward Whalley's oldest son but smarter folks than I have remained baffled over this man's true identity for well over 300 years. We'll see what turns up.

While researching this story, I've made many friends in England, Ireland and America. Some are authors, some are academics but most are just plain old novice historians like me. If there are particular questions you have about this period in Irish history, I'd be glad to answer your questions or at least, point you in the direction of an answer. There exist wonderful and copious sources of information that have become available to the average researcher in the new digital age. And more comes on-line every day.

This is one of the things I do in my spare time, what little of it there is. Hope your eyes haven't glazed over.

Once again, this was submitted by Bob from Modular Parrot. Thank you, Bob.

If you would like to send in a piece of your own personal history, please e-mail me.

Posted by Jennifer at 03:13 PM | Comments (2)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Rachel Jackson

Louisa Adams wasn't the only wife maligned in the presidential election between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Rachel Jackson was the first one subjected to slander and accusations.

When Rachel and Andrew Jackson first met, she was already married to Lewis Robards. The two had a tumultuous marriage, and Robards sent her back to her mother, who ran a boardinghouse. Not long after, Robards wished for a reconciliation and Rachel agreed. About this time Andrew Jackson moved into the boardinghouse, and he and Rachel got along very well.

The Robards' reconciliation didn't last very long and Lewis soon left Rachel once more. In 1790 she heard that her husband was coming to retrieve her and return her home even if he had to forcibly do so. She decided after two tries it would be impossible for them to live together, and fled to Natchez to seek refuge amongst relatives. Colonel Robert Stark planned to accompany her to see that she arrived safely, and Andrew Jackson volunteered to come along as well. This led to Robards's deepening suspicion that his wife and Jackson were involved.

According to Jackson's supporters years later, Jackson heard that Robards had gotten divorced from Rachel. Jackson retrieved Rachel from Natchez and they were married in 1791. Unfortunately, Robards had not gotten a divorce. Rachel and Lewis were not divorced until September, 1793...on the grounds of adultery. Rachel became a convicted adulteress.

Of course, Jackson's political enemies had a field day with this information during the 1828 presidential election. Jackson tried to shield his wife from the fallout as much as possible, but she dreaded moving to the White House. She told friends she would sooner "be a doorkeeper in the house of God than to live in that palace at Washington." Rachel got her wish. She died in December, 1828.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:04 AM

August 28, 2003

Irish Timeline

Ireland is one of those places I’ve always vaguely wanted to know more about. I never really understood what the IRA and all the bombings were in regards to. I knew Northern Ireland was disputed somehow, but the particulars were beyond my scope of knowledge.

The Emerald Isle, the Potato Famine, and Saint Patrick are terms in almost every American’s vocabulary. Yet even Irish Americans don’t always know the history of Ireland’s problems with England. A friend is 100% Irish American and a history buff to boot…but he couldn’t shed much light on the issue, either. The topic was never brought up in any great depth in my history courses...Irish history was always discussed as it affected American history.

So I did a little research and compiled a timeline regarding the issues between Ireland and England.

12th century: England begins invasions of Ireland, eventually establishing a feudal system on Ireland. There is now a British absentee landlord class and an impoverished Irish peasantry.

1700s: England attempts to impose Protestantism on mostly Catholic Ireland, resulting in Irish rebellions.

1800: The Act of Union unites England and Ireland, creating the United Kingdom.

1800s: The British crown starts populating the six counties of Ulster in northeastern Ireland with Scottish and British settlers. The north becomes industrialized and Protestant. The south remains agricultural and Catholic.

1840s: A famine strikes Ireland, resulting in greater discontent with British rule. Many who survive emigrate.

1858: The Fenian movement forms in Ireland and amongst Irish Americans. The group seeks Irish independence by force. Rebellions are suppressed by England.

1870: Parliament passes the First Land Act to help Irish tenants buy land.

1886: The First Home Rule Bill, meant to allow Irish self-government, fails to pass in Parliament.

1893: The Second Home Rule Bill passes in the House of Commons but is defeated by the Lords.

1905: Sinn Fein (“we ourselves”) forms under Arthur Griffith. The group seeks economic and political independence from England.

1912: The Third Home Rule Bill is introduced to Parliament, passing the House of Commons. Northern Ireland fears dominance by the south and the threat of civil war becomes a real possibility. The Lords exclude Ulster (northern) Ireland from the Home Rule Bill. Unrest keeps the Bill from taking effect.

1916: The failed Easter Monday Rebellion sets off several years of guerrilla warfare under Sinn Fein member Michael Collins and the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

1920: The Government of Ireland Act passes in Parliament. Separate legislatures are set up for the north and south. Ireland keeps representation in the Parliament. Ulster accepts the act and becomes Northern Ireland. The south refuses the legislation.

1922: The south becomes the Irish Free State (later the Irish Republic), led by Arthur Griffith.

1927: Sinn Fein becomes the political wing of the IRA.

1939-1945: Both Irish governments outlaw the violent and pro-German IRA, and it becomes an underground entity.

1969: The IRA splits into an official wing that decries violence and a “provisional” wing that performs terrorist bombings and other acts. Violence continues through the 1990s.

1998: The Good Friday Agreement is approved as a peace settlement for Northern Ireland. It is designed to heal divisions between Catholics and Protestants. The power-sharing government is approved by voters in both the north and south.

If you have something to add to this, please do! That’s what the comments section is for. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer at 05:39 AM | Comments (2)

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Louisa Adams

Louisa Johnson was the daughter of a Maryland merchant, but was born in London and grew up mostly in France. She met John Quincy Adams in France and they married in 1797. When he became President, she became the only foreign-born First Lady in American history.

When her husband sought re-election in 1828, Louisa became embroiled in one of the nastiest presidential elections ever. Andrew Jackson's supporters accused JQAdams of having premarital sex with his "foreign" wife. In turn, Adams's supporters called Jackson's mother a whore. Adams was not re-elected.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:44 AM | Comments (2)

August 27, 2003

*What Do You Know About Adult Beverages?

About Adult Beverages...

"Brandy" refers to the unsweetened, distilled spirit derived from the juice of grapes. Brandy made from other fruits has the name of the fruit attached to it, such as apricot brandy.

Gin is made by fermenting mixtures of grains and flavoring the alcohol with juniper berries. The French word genievre for juniper is where the word "gin" comes from.

Rum is distilled from sugar cane by-products that result from the manufacturing of sugar. The rum is darkened by adding caramel and aged from 5 to 7 years.

Tequila is made from the fermented and distilled sap of agave plants, especially those grown in Mexico. The liquor is normally distilled twice to achieve purity and potency. It is not aged.

Vodka is a colorless almost tasteless liquid made by distilling grain, sugar beet, potato, or other starchy food material. The name is from the Russian word for water, voda.

Whiskey is generally distilled from grains, which may include barley, rye, oats, wheat, or corn. Nearly all Scotch whiskies are blends, normally distilled from barley malt cured with peat to give it a smoky flavor. Canadian whiskey is always a blend and is usually at least 6 years old when sold.

Posted by Jennifer at 07:00 AM

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Courtesy "Presidential Wives" by Paul F. Boller, Jr.

Elizabeth Monroe

During the French Revolution, America's old friend the Marquis de Lafayette ended up in a German prison. His wife and children were arrested and placed in a Paris prison. When the Monroes (in France because James Monroe was the U.S. Minister to France) heard that Lafayette's wife was going to the guillotine, they decided to intervene.

On morning in February 1795, Elizabeth Monroe took a carriage to the prison holding Madame Lafayette. When the keeper asked what she was doing there, Mrs. Monroe announced herself as the wife of the American Minister to France and had come to visit Madame Lafayette.

To her surprise, the keeper took Elizabeth into the waiting room and after a few minutes appeared with Madame Lafayette. Lafayette rushed up to Elizabeth in tears and threw herself at her feet. She had been expecting a summons for her execution. When Elizabeth Monroe got up to leave after the visit, she told Madame Lafayette in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear that she would return to see her the following morning.

It turned out that Lafayette had been scheduled for execution that very afternoon, but Elizabeth's visit changed the minds of the French officials. They remembered how popular the Marquis de Lafayette was in America and were anxious to remain on good terms with the United States.

Posted by Jennifer at 06:59 AM

August 26, 2003

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Courtesy "Presidential Wives," Paul F. Boller, Jr.

Dolley Madison

William Wilson Corcoran was Mrs. Madison's creditor after her husband died, and came to know her well enough to talk freely with her.

"Mrs. Madison, may I ask, how old are you?" he once inquired.

"I am seventy-two, Mr. Corcoran," was the response.

The next year he asked again. "I am seventy-two, Mr. Corcoran," she replied.

The next year he asked yet again. She told him, "I am seventy-two, Mr. Corcoran."

He stopped asking.

Posted by Jennifer at 06:00 AM

August 25, 2003

What Do You Know?

About Navy discipline?

I found a list of punishments from 1848, and here is a website that verifies some of the items on the list of offenses.

For bad cooking=12 strokes of the whip.
For stealing a major's wig=12 strokes of the whip.
For skulking=12 strokes of the whip.
For running into debt on shore=12 strokes of the whip.
For tearing a sailor's frock=9 strokes of the whip.
For filthiness=12 strokes of the whip.
For noise at quarters=6 strokes of the whip.
For bad language=12 strokes of the whip.
For dirty and unwashed clothes=12 strokes of the whip.
For being out of hammock after hours=12 strokes of the whip.
For throwing overboard the top of a spittoon=6 strokes of the whip.
For skylarking (running up and down the rigging of a ship)=6 strokes of the whip.
For being naked on deck=9 strokes of the whip.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:09 PM

Russia 1917, Part Two

As stated in my Friday post, Lenin's Red Guards stormed the provisional government's headquarters in Petrograd. By November 8, the provisional government of Russia had fallen to the Bolsheviks. After the revolution, the Bolsheviks put Vladimir Lenin into power. Delivering on his promise to end the country's involvement in World War I, Lenin called for peace talks with Germany and ended the fighting on the Eastern Front. However, the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, signed March 3, 1918, dictated harsh and humiliating terms to Russia. The country was forced to give up vast territories including Finland, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldavia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Meanwhile, Russians had elected officials to a parliamentary assembly, but the results were unfavorable to Lenin. Only 168 of the 703 deputies were Communists, so he had troops bar the deputies from convening and the assembly was permanently disbanded. Instead of the proletariat rule he had promised, Lenin established a dictatorship based on the Cheka, the Communist secret police. This despite his previous arguments that after a proletarian revolution, the state's police and bureaucrats would disappear.

Furthermore, the radical social reforms he had promised took the form of government takeover of Russia's industries and the seizure of farm products from peasants. Lenin's hard-handed tactics--combined with the hostility towards the Brest-Litovsk Treaty--created opposition to the Communists, or "Reds." The "White" army was organized to oppose the Communists and civil war ensued. In September 1918 Lenin was almost assassinated, and his supporters retaliated with what was to be known as the Red Terror.

The Red Army was built up to a three-million-strong force. The White army was scattered around Russia and had difficulty coordinating operations across vast distances. The White generals also had difficulty assuring the populace that there was no intention to restore the Tsar and his government. The war was bitter, with both sides committing atrocities to terrorize the opponent into submission. The former Imperial family was murdered to show the Red Army there was no turning back. The civil war devastated the economy even further and famine spread through central Russia. Troops robbed the peasants, taking the food they needed and destroying the rest to keep them from the enemy.

By mid-1920 the Red Army had captured the last White stronghold, the Crimea. The Whites were defeated, but the revolution was not over. Lenin believed it had hardly begun. However, he faced new opposition once the Whites were vanquished.

He hoped to abolish private property and capitalism completely, replacing them with a socialist economy and a modern, industrial Russia. He had tried to abolish money but still gave preferential treatment to key members of the new communist regime. This did not stop with the end of the civil war, and many ordinary supporters felt betrayed by the privileged group.

Peasants across Russia had also come to hate the abuses of the Red Army. They had not supported the Whites, but now they formed peasant "Green" forces to fight the Reds. These rural uprisings were smashed. In March 1921 sailors and dockworkers in Kronstadt, once called "the reddest of the red" by Lenin since they had spearheaded the 1917 revolution, rose up against the dictatorship of Lenin's "red bourgeoisie." The Kronstadt Rising was also smashed by the Red Army.

The Soviet Union was officially formed in 1922 when Russia joined with Ukraine, Belarus, and the Transcaucasian Federation (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. These republics were later joined by nine others. In 1924 Lenin died of a stroke, but the atmosphere of internal repression, suspicion of outsiders, and regimentation of everyday life that he established would last for generations.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:05 PM

*Hollywood Origins

The weather in California had little to do with it becoming the movie capital of the United States. It was chosen not because of its good weather but because of its proximity to the Mexican border.

In the 1910s the movie industry was based in New York and dominated by the Motion Picture Patents Company. No one could legally make a movie without its permission, and those who tried faced stiff penalties.

The Patents Company's cautious approach to film making spurred some people to leave New York for areas where they could escape prosecution. Some went to Cuba, while others went to Florida and Los Angeles. Cuba had too much disease, Florida was too hot, and before long everyone had moved to Hollywood.

The new movie capital had good weather, cheap labor, and it was close enough to the Mexican border to allow for quick escapes from the law.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:01 PM

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Martha Jefferson.

When Thomas Jefferson became President in 1801 his wife Martha had been dead nineteen years. During his two terms, Dolley Madison and his daughter Martha ("Patsy") helped with White House hostess duties as needed.

After Martha died in 1782, Jefferson rarely spoke of her. In his autobiography he said simply that he "lost the cherished companion of my life, in whose affections, unabated on both sides, I had lived the last ten years in unchequered happiness." There is a story that as Martha lay dying, Jefferson promised never to remarry. He never did.

Patsy described her father's grief: "he was led from the room in a state of insensibility by his sister, Mrs. Carr, who, with great difficulty, got him into his library, where he fainted, and remained so long insensible that they feared he would never revive. The scene that followed I did not witness, but the violence of his emotion, when almost by stealth, I entered his room at night, to this day I dare not trust myself to describe."

Posted by Jennifer at 12:01 AM