Friday, May 26, 2017

The Cabin Faced West: Historic Children's Author Jean Fritz Dead at 101 Years of Age - My Personal Tribute

~Written in 2017~
"Jean Fritz,  the author of nearly 50 books for children,  most of them fast-paced,  vividly written works of history and biography,  died May 14 at a retirement home in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. 
She was 101.
The cause was complications from pneumonia,  said her son,  David Fritz."

Jean Fritz had more of an affect on my life than nearly any other person,  and I had never even met her.  Yet,  it was she who got the historical ball rolling for me. 
Who is Jean Fritz,  you ask?
Why,  she is the author of the one book that inspired me like no other book has ever done.
I am certain that nearly everyone of us who loves and studies the past can pinpoint the time in our lives that we became history nerds.  For some it may have been their first visit to Gettysburg,  Greenfield Village,  Colonial Williamsburg or some other historic place that initially captured their interest and imagination.  To others it may have been because they had a teacher in school who had given them that spark.
Me?  My mom said I  "came out of the womb into history"  (yes,  this is a direct quote).
Yeah,  it's true...I don't remember a time when I didn't have an infatuation for America's past;  the seed was planted very early.  So it was my  beginning...
However,  I can  tell you of  when the  "big bang"  of  my personal passion for times long gone occurred---that moment when my interest in the past took hold and never let go;  it was when I purchased a book while I was not quite yet out of my single digit age.
My original copy from about 1970
For regular readers of Passion for the Past,  you may recall in other postings where I have mentioned a book about life in colonial times called  "The Cabin Faced West"  and how it affected me and played a pivotal role in my future in history.  I bought my copy at a school book fair many years ago when I was only around nine - we're talking 1970 here.  And,  as a young boy,  I didn't care that it was a story based around a girl who was about the same age as I,  for it was also about history that showed daily life,  and there weren't very many like it available at that time.  In school,  even way back then,  we were instructed to learn names of famous people  (usually politicians),  historic events  (usually wars),  and dates of said events.  Though I understood the importance of knowing this information - and I did learn it - names and dates was what I was not quite as interested in.
I wanted to know how people lived  in the past.
I wanted to read what it was like for people like me to live back then;  people I may have known had I lived in those old days.
I wanted to know of their everyday lives.
And,  as mentioned,  this one book,  more than any other I have read,  was life-changing for me,  for it directed my future course into my passion for American History.  I still have my original copy and read its yellowed and brittle pages every couple of years.
I still enjoy it to this day.
Jean Fritz,  near and dear to my historical soul,  was not the most well-known author;  children's history books aren't usually best sellers,  and even less so now in today's age than in the time of my youth,  so I am not surprised at the blank stares I receive upon mentioning her name.  She began her literary career by writing for Humpty Dumpty Magazine,  and then started to write typical fiction  “picture books”  for children.  Not long after,  she turned to history after realizing  “the facts were more exciting to me than my own stories.”
Part of her inspiration for exploring American history came from her childhood,  which was spent in China where her parents were missionaries.
"The first 13 years of my life I lived in China.  My parents were missionaries there,  and I was an only child.  Often I felt lonely and out of place.  While we lived  (there),  my parents often spoke fondly of their memories in the United States,  and my father shared fascinating tales about American heroes.  I began to form strong emotional bonds to the United States.
I was American,  but I didn’t feel like an American.” 
It didn’t help that a British bully at the school she attended often taunted her about the country she scarcely knew.
“Every day at recess,”  Mrs.  Fritz said in 1990,  “that boy came up to me and said,  ‘George Washington is a stinker.’  So I had to fight.  I was the only one there to defend my country. 
I developed a homesickness that made me want to embrace not just a given part of America at a given time,  but the whole of it.  My interest in writing about American history stemmed originally,  I think,  from a subconscious desire to find roots - I felt like a girl without a country.  I have put down roots quite firmly by now,  but in the process I have discovered the joys of research.
Throughout my years of writing,  I have taken on plenty of people,  starting with George Washington in  'The Cabin Faced West'  (1958).
That was Mrs.  Fritz's first historical book,  and was based on a family story about her great-great-grandmother,  who encountered George Washington on horseback in a remote part of western Pennsylvania and invited him to join her family for supper.
Jean Fritz then embarked on a series of books on heroes of the Revolutionary War,  followed by others on explorers,  presidents and historically significant women.  Her books were illustrated by a variety of artists,  including Tomie de Paola and Margot Tomes.
This authoress did monumental amounts of research for her books,  including visiting the places where her subjects had lived.  Much of the dialogue in her books was taken from the historical record. 
Among other subjects,  Mrs.  Fritz also wrote about the Constitution and such historical figures as Benjamin Franklin,  Pocahontas,  Christopher Columbus,  Alexander Hamilton,  Paul Revere,  George Washington’s mother,  James Madison,  Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
Personally,  however,  it was  "The Cabin Faced West"  that pulled me into the world of the past.
Here is a quick synopsis of the story: 
One of my favorite illustrations from the book
depicting Ann Hamilton and Arthur Scott
It is 1784,  and young Ann Hamilton is living in rural western Pennsylvania with her parents and siblings. She is lonely from being in the isolated wilderness and longs for her old friends and cousin back east in Gettysburg;  she does not enjoy living on what was then the frontier. Throughout the story we see her doing her daily chores,  we learn how young people entertained themselves,  and even how they did schooling when there was no school building to attend.  One particular part that intrigued me when I first read it was when her cooking fire went out and she had to go and   "borrow"  fire  (a real experience of the time that I knew nothing about from my school textbooks).
But when a great storm blows up and nearly ruins their crop - their means to survive - and when an unexpected stranger,  who we find out is General George Washington,  rides up the hill and stays for supper,  well,  you'll just have to read the book to find out what happens.
Yes,   this is a book meant for the younger set  (good for pre-teens to even young adults),  but I still enjoy it to this day.  The author has an engulfing way of bringing the past to life with actual historic detail.
I took note of the postscript at the end of the book where the author notes that  "There really was an Ann Hamilton,  she was my great-great-grandmother."
And George Washington really visited and dined with the Hamiltons,  as he himself wrote in his diary of September 18,  1784:
18th.  Set out with Doctr.  Craik for my Land on Millers run  (a branch of Shurtees  [Chartier’s]  Creek).  Crossed the Monongahela at Deboirs Ferry—16 Miles from Simpsons—bated at one Hamiltons about 4 Miles from it,  in Washington County,  and lodged at a Colo.  Cannons on the Waters of Shurtees Creek—a kind hospitable Man; & sensible.
In a Scholastic Books interview,  Jean Fritz was asked:  Can you tell me more about your great-great-grandmother,  Ann Hamilton?
“I can't tell you very much.  I know Washington did stop and have dinner with the Hamiltons.  I know she did marry Arthur Scott.  I know as an old lady,  she visited her daughter in Ohio and got sick,  died,  and was buried there.  I was once in the town where she died.  I looked up the church,  went to the cemetery,  and there she was.  All the family members in the book  The Cabin Faced West  are real.”
In the book  The Cabin Faced West,  did Daniel ever get married?
“I wish I knew!  He went off to Kentucky.  My family was embroiled in the Whiskey Rebellion  
(of 1794).  And both of those brothers were very active in it.  David stayed in western Pennsylvania and became master of the Hamilton house.  Daniel went to Kentucky and disappeared,  as far as I know.”
~The Life Summary of Ann:
When Ann Hamilton was born in 1767,  in Adams,  Pennsylvania,  her father,  William Alexander Hamilton,  was 67 and her mother,  Mary Bittenor,  was 27.  She married Arthur Scott Jr.  about 1788.  They were the parents of at least 5 sons and 5 daughters.  She died on October 5,  1848,  in Bath,  Ohio, United States,  at the age of 81,  and was buried in Bath Center Cemetery,  Bath Center,  Summit,  Ohio.

And now this author,  Mrs.  Jean Fritz,  has passed away at 101 years of age. 

I don't usually make a big deal over famous people dying,  but,  for me,  the passing of Jean Fritz is sad in a different sort of way.
Like losing a favorite teacher or a kind of mentor.
Yes,  her death saddens me.  And because of her influence on me,  it is a bigger deal than,  say,  the death of a famous actor or musician  (unless it's one of  the Beatles - another major influence on my life).
I will continue to read The Cabin Faced West - my original copy,  pictures at the top of this post - in honor of her. 

<~   ~   ~>

And now for the rest of the story:
As I was researching some background information for this posting,  I came across this wonderful bit of information.  It’s perfect if you,  like me,  enjoy hearing of the befores and afters of the characters in books like this.
Wow---this just made The Cabin Faced West come alive even more!

William Hamilton,  son of Col. Nance Hamilton,  lived in York,  now Adams County,  Pennsylvania,  the greater part of his life.  There is a deed on record where he sold four hundred acres of land adjoining Gettysburg in 1765.  From 1763 to 1780 he lived on his land on Marsh Creek in the same area.  In 1780,  he,  with his family,  settled in Washington County,  Pennsylvania,  at what is now known as Ginger Hill.  He died there in 1786.
At the time of his death,  papers of Administration were taken out by his widow,  Mary,  and his son,  David.  The bond was signed by Mary,  David,  John,  and John Vance.  The sale of his personal property was on November 7,  1786.  Among those that made purchases at the sale we find the names of Mary,  the widow,  Mary the daughter,  Daniel,  David, and John,  all sons;  and Henry McDonough,  a son-in-law.  The Hamilton family came to Ginger Hill at about the same time Doctor John McMillen moved his family to the country and began to organize Presbyterian churches.
The first house of William Hamilton at Ginger Hill was a little square low-ceiling one-roomed house of stone and is still standing.  It was here the family first lived when they came to the western frontier.

The first church built at Pigeon Creek was about 1778 and probably the first in the entire county.  The first winter it was used for worship,  it was neither chinked or daubed,  and was without fire.  It was built of round logs;  roof and door of clapboards.  The second church was of stone,  built in 1797-1800.

The cemetery at Pigeon Creek Church is among the oldest,  if not THE oldest,  in this section.  The first burials were about 1777.  It was used afterwards by the citizens of an extensive territory.  Among the nearly four unmarked and unknown graves are those of William and Mary Hamilton.
In the early history of that country there is a little anecdote that is interesting and runs as follows:
at one time when Gen.  Washington was passing through the country with Dr. Craik,  they saw a girl by the roadside picking blackberries.  Dr. Craik asked her if George Washington could get his dinner at her house.  She replied,  "Mother is going to have only peas and potatoes for dinner;  if George Washington can eat peas and potatoes,  I expect Father will give him his dinner."  Dr. Craik assured her that George Washington can eat peas and potatoes.  The girl was our great-grandmother Ann Hamilton,  and her mother was Mary Hamilton,  wife of William Hamilton,  of Ginger Hill.

The following is quoted from the dairy of Washington,  V. 2.  September 18,  1784.  "Set out with Dr.  Craik for my land on Millers's run  (a branch of Shrutees Creek),  crossed the Monongahela at Davairs Ferry,  16 miles from Simpson --- baited at one Hamilton about 4 miles from it,  in Washington,  County,  lodged at Col.  Gannon's on the waters of Shrutees Creek.  "Baited at one Hamiltons"  was William and Mary Hamilton.
William and Mary Hamilton spent the last days of their lives on a farm known as Ginger Hill in Washington County, Pennsylvania.  They spent the first part of their lives in  "The Manor of the Masque"  in what is now Adams County, Pennsylvania,  where all their children were born.

Jane,  the eldest daughter,  married Henry McDonough,  some time prior to 1786.  He was born,  also,  in the Manor of the Masque,  and is thought to have been a brother of the John McDonough who willed his property to New Orleans and Baltimore,  also a brother to the Commodore Thomas McDonough.  He first came to West Alexander,  Pennsylvania where his wife and children were massacred by the Indians.  Later he married Jane Hamilton and lived on a farm in Somerset Township until he died.
Daniel Hamilton,  the oldest son,  took an active part in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.  In 1796 he sold his property and moved to Kentucky with his brother,  John Hamilton.

Mary Hamilton married Hugh Syley soon after the death of her father.  They had no children,  and are buried in the old cemetery in Washington,  which has long since been discarded.
John Hamilton,  the youngest son of William Hamilton,  went to Kentucky with his brother Daniel in 1796.  Collins,  in his history of Kentucky,  says he was known as Captain Hamilton.  He died at the age of nearly one hundred years.

Elizabeth Hamilton was united in marriage to William Barr and moved west where they reared a large family,  many of the descendants being scattered throughout the west.

Margaret Hamilton,  the youngest daughter of William Hamilton,  married David Bolton.  They lived their lives in Washington County and reared a large family.  They are buried on the Hill farm.
Ann Hamilton Scott's tombstone
from Find-a-Grave
Ann Hamilton,  daughter of William and Mary Hamilton  (and the main subject of this book)  was born in Adams County,  Pennsylvania in 1767.  She came to Washington County with her parents and lived at Ginger Hill.  It was there she met Arthur Scott Jr.,  whom she later married.  The Scotts then moved to Independence Township,  Washington County,  where they spent the remainder of their lives.  They reared a large family and Ann outlived her husband about five years.  She died at Bath,  Ohio on October 5,  1848,  while visiting her daughter,  Mary Scott Alexander.
Bath,  Ohio is near the present city of Akron,  Ohio.  David Hamilton was the second son of William Hamilton and a brother of Ann Hamilton Scott.  His name occurs quite frequently in the historical records of the Whiskey Rebellion.  That he took an active part in that great popular uprising is not to be denied,  but there is no evidence that he approved of any of the acts of violence committed.  It is know he rescued Major Kirkpatrick,  a Federal Revenue Collector,  from being mobbed at the time the General Melville home was burned.
There are many interesting stories concerning his life,  one of which is mentioned here.  It would seem on the night of November 14,  1794,  a Federal Revenue officer and his deputies seized a still belonging to Hamilton.  The Squire,  being a very shrewd Scotsman,  pretended to be in no way exercised over the actions of the Government officials,  he asked them to spend the night under his hospitable roof,  an invitation they gladly accepted.  Around the glowing backwoods fire,  Hamilton and his guest discussed the excise law,  the conversation being enlivened by oft-repeated draughts from,  "Black Betty,"  which had previously been spiked with a liberal quantity of Jamaica Ginger.  One by one,  the officers took the count of the deep sleep of intoxication and after all of them had passed out,  Hamilton speedily gathered his neighbors together and carried the whiskey and still to a place of safety.  When the officers came to themselves the next morning, men and evidence were both gone.
This was considered a good joke,  from this,  tradition has it,  that  "Ginger Hill"  derived its name. 
Whatever hot blood may have coursed through his veins in youth,  his age presented a different story.  He was a Justice of the Peace for over fifty years,  was one of the Commissioners who built the turnpike running from Washington to Monongahela City,  and for over fifty years he was a member in full communion in the Presbyterian Church.
He died in 1839 in the eightieth year of his life.  He bequeathed half of his estate to the educational charities of the Presbyterian Church.  Margaret,  his wife,  died in 1872,  age ninety-six.  They are buried in the old Mingo Cemetery.

Arthur Scott, Jr.,  was the great grandfather of Margretta Scott Brownlee.  He was born in Lancaster County,  Pennsylvania in June of 1761.  he joined the Continental Army and served in the War of the Revolution. When sixteen years of age,  he spent the winter at Valley Forge under the command of General Washington.  He was sick many weeks while at Valley Forge,  due to exposure and privation,  and suffered the remainder of his life.  At the close of the war,  Arthur and his older brother,  Samuel,  made the journey from Lancaster to Washington,  Pennsylvania,  on foot.  The remained a while in the vicinity of the old Pigeon Creek Church,  where he met Ann Hamilton,  the daughter of William and Mary Hamilton.  He and Ann were married later.
Arthur and Ann  (Hamilton)  Scott spent all their married life on this farm.  Arthur had but little education,  but was a great reader and an informed man.  Although he lived in the day of the  "Whiskey Insurrection,"  he took no part in it,  neither did he have a still on his farm.  He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church for over fifty years.  He is buried in the Buffalo Cemetery close to Independence by the side of his daughter Margaret Ann.  Arthur Scott Jr.  and Ann Hamilton Scott reared a large family.

I,  Arthur Scott,  of the township of Hopewell,  Washington County,  Pennsylvania,  being aged and infirm in body,  but of sound and discerning mind,  do make and this my last will and testament in manner following,
After payment of my just debts and funeral expenses,  I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Ann Scott,  one third of my household and kitchen furniture,  her,  thirty dollars in cash from my son annually during her life,  or while she remains my widow.  Also thirty dollars annually to be paid by my son Samuel,  l as per not given the 17th day of November,  1837,  together with the in my house and the for one cow and one horse while she remains on the farm.
I give and bequeath to my son,  David Scott,  two promissory notes given this day by my son,  Samuel,  l to be for one hundred dollars each,  payable,  one in eighteen months and the other at the death of his mother.  I give and bequeath to my daughter,  one note on my son,  Samuel,  l for one hundred dollars due at the death of her mother.

Until next time,  see you in time.

~   ~   ~

Monday, May 15, 2017

Odds and Sods: A Collection of Thoughts and Curios from the Mind of a Living Historian

For this week's posting I have thrown together bits and pieces of individual posts that were intended to become full-fledged articles for this blog but realized they weren't really going to go much beyond a paragraph or two. So I decided to put them together as a sort of odds & sods collection of my thoughts, quotes I like, and even opinions on history and its environment...oh! and living history, too.
As far as my opinions go - - remember: they are just that - my opinions. Yours may differ.
And that's okay.
Anyhow, I hope you enjoy it - - -

~ Diggin' up bones...and adding flesh ~
"To my mind, 'Historians' dig up the bones, 'Buffs' put flesh and clothing on those bones, and the 'Public' have the privilege of simply admiring and learning from the results.
Or a better analogy is the relationship between farmers, cooks, and diners, all of whom, ultimately, need each other." 
- G. Lovely 

~     ~     ~

“History is Bunk!” a famous quote from Henry Ford
In part, due to his strong pacifism and anti-war sentiment during America’s involvement in World War One, a number of newspaper articles called him an anarchist, among other things, and quoted him as saying, "History is more or less bunk..." which has been repeated often ever since, signifying that Ford didn’t like, or was ignorant of, history.
What most folks who hear this today don't understand is that this "bunk " comment was stated for reasons other than what the press said (wow---doesn’t that sound familiar, even here in the 21st century); what Ford meant and explained many times in his later years was that written history reflected little of people's day-to-day existence. Ford said, “History as it is taught in the schools deals largely with...wars, major political controversies, territorial extensions and the like. When I went to our American history books to learn how our forefathers harrowed the land, I discovered that the historians knew nothing about harrows. Yet our country depended more on harrows than on guns or great speeches. I thought a history which excluded harrows and all the rest of daily life is bunk, and I think so yet."
My great Aunt Babe - ca 1922~
She was one of Pete McCurty's
Bonton Girls, an entertainment
troop of youths in the Jazz Age.
I happen to agree with Ford's sentiment here; a history which excludes harrows and all the rest of daily life is bunk. How can history be taught without acknowledging the average person? And I would like to add: how can history be taught without placing the people of the past in their own time, in their long ago environment, with their morals and values - not ours... and try to understand what they felt, seen, and knew as truth?
This is what I try to do during the high school history class I parapro in, though on a smaller scale. In fact, very recently, we were reading and talking about the 1920s and the changes that occurred during that decade. To get the kids somewhat engulfed into the period, I clicked onto You Tube and found original 1920s music (Helen Kane "Button Up Your Over Coat" and "Sweet Georgia Brown" by the California Ramblers) and told them this was the young hip music of the time that they probably would have been listening to had they been living back then.
My great Aunt Bea - ca 1922
She was also a Bonton Girl

We then looked at fashions of the day, watched film clips of dancers doing the Charlston, and saw a Charlie Chaplin comedy short from (I think) 1928 called "The Lion's Cage."
These kids never saw or heard any of this before, and the best part is one student mentioned to me afterward that he really liked the silent movie and planned to go home and find more to watch on You Tube!
How cool! 
I believe that's along the lines of what Henry Ford meant when he said that history, the way it is usually taught, is bunk.
Ha! Not if I can help it (and it also helps to have cool head teachers who allow me to add these everyday life bits to her teaching process).
Oh, and here's one more quote about Ford:
"A lot of guys have had a lot of fun joking about Henry Ford because he admitted one time that he didn't know history. He don't know it, but history will know him. He has made more history than his critics ever read."
Will Rogers

~     ~     ~

Present vs Past vs Present vs Past vs Present...
There is a lot of talk these days about those who lived in times past in comparison to how we, the enlightened ones, live today. We ravage and besmirch people who's values and morals are unlike our own because they - can you believe it? - are from a different century. These folks from another time are trashed for being a part of their long ago society; they are condemned for thinking as their time and environment directed instead of how we think today.
I mean, they should've known better!
Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?
And, yet, there are many - too many - in our modern times who think this way.
To be honest, it really needs to stop.
Move on...learn from the past and never stop trying to make a better future rather than condemn those who lived back in their own time.
As I recently read HERE:
"One of the traits of modern society, and indeed no doubt of many generations in the past, is one of hubris -- that we are so much more advanced and vastly superior than the "unenlightened" people of prior generations. The cries of "this is 2017" echo the self-same complaints I heard decades ago and those I heard when I was young. "We are born into a brave new age," we're told, "free of the chains of the past, brimming with freedom and opportunities that those poor people of the past never enjoyed." Like a broken record, it is the mantra of every new generation. 
To back up their belief comes in that old crutch, confirmation bias. If we're so superior and the past was so bad, then we must tell all that which supports that notion and suppress all that which might challenge our viewpoint. Indeed, our post-modern viewpoint cannot be challenged, because that would mean that we are not in fact special compared to the humans who went before. And, if real information to support our claims of modern superiority cannot be found, things can be made up. If a total myth is repeated enough, especially if by celebrities and teachers, then it becomes an accepted myth. Experience has shown that people cling to accepted myths like a drowning man to a life-preserver, even when the rescue line of simple truth is proffered.
Those who want to make an authentic positive difference on modern society would do well to abandon the idea that our modern society is inherently better than all that went before it. That is liberating and opens the mind to great possibilities to which it was previously closed through insular, small-minded hubris. "

Yep - - ! We've made strides in so many ways, but stayed the same in most others.
Maybe we've even gone down some in other ways as well.
But please understand - people from the past were every bit as smart as people today. They are just from a different era.  
And for Pete's sake, stop believing all of those "historical" Facebook memes!

~     ~     ~

When I read a book on history, something I find myself doing more and more is to look at the bibliographies at the back, for this is where the authors found their information. I would rather go straight to the source, if at all possible, rather than get it second hand. Especially if the source is a diary. I have found many old original diaries were released in book form during the colonial revival of the earlier part of the 20th century, and a number of them are still available as reprints.
Well, where did you think I get a lot of my quotes from, the internet??

 ~     ~     ~

My wife and son at Little Round Top
in Gettysburg during sunset.
“Battlefields are looking glasses into the worlds of our ancestors. Standing on their earth, under their skies, is to be at one with them and to viscerally understand humanity's connections across time.
The generation that won American independence lives in the ideas we honor, the architecture we preserve and the battlefields we yet can save.”

~     ~     ~

"Some kid a hundred years from now is going to get interested in the Civil War and want to see these places. He's going to go down there and be standing in a parking lot. 
I'm fighting for that kid." 
- Brian Pohanka, 1990

          ~     ~     ~

Recreating a scene from colonial times.
Yeah...we were there...
A few years back I jumped over a 90 year wide river - yes, I said 90 year wide - from the 1860s to the 1770s. One of the things that was said to me at my first colonial event when I mentioned I also do Civil War was, "You guys in Civil War want to be there. You like to feel as if you've actually time-traveled.
We who do Rev War prefer to teach."
Well, this person was half right. Yes, it's true that we who reenact the Civil War do strive to be there, but we mostly do it in a teachable manner. I can't imagine reenacting any other way. I do want to experience what our forefathers did, at least, to a small extent. That's why I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity of utilizing a historical house, when possible, and attempt to immerse myself through 1st person.
I have also found, by the way, that there are a number of Rev War reenactors who also want to be there. And that's pretty cool.

~     ~     ~

"The Revolution and the beliefs and ideals that came out of it are what hold us together and make us a united people. There is no American ethnicity, so the Revolutionary beliefs in liberty and equality and constitutionalism are the adhesives that make us a nation." 
- Gordon S. Wood

~     ~     ~

Why does my Patriotism
bother some folks so much?
Not that it matters to me...
Patriotism seems to be at an impasse in our day and age; we have come to a point to where if you wave the flag and love your country, you will be pigeon-holed into a political category.
And I don't understand this thought. I mean, the American flag does not belong to any one political party, no matter what anyone says or thinks. It belongs to all Americans. Yes, it belongs to you who protests the President. Yes, and it belongs to you who voted for the President.
And it also belongs to the citizens who didn't vote at all.
And if you won't fly it because you are afraid that you will be thought of as belonging to a certain political party, then shame on you.
I have flown my American flags since moving out of my parent's home way back in the 1980s. My dad flew one while Ford was in office. Then Carter. I carried on the tradition when I moved out during the Reagan years, and then continuing on with Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama, and now Trump.
Believe me when I say that there are plenty of things I disagree with on each president mentioned here.
But, still, I fly my flag.
I am not ashamed of being a patriotic American, for my patriotism doesn't stem from whoever is president.
And I do love my country - past and present.
Oh, I don't always agree - and many things happened in our history that I abhor.
But it doesn't take away the fact that I love this, the United States of America.
Yes I do.
And if that bothers you, that's your problem.
Thanks...I just needed to get that off my chest.

~     ~     ~

I was recently told that Paul Revere was a failure during his midnight ride.
"A failure?" I asked. "How?"
"Because," came the reply, "he failed to make it to Concord to warn the citizens that the Regulars were coming to steal their ammunition."
I responded, "Do you realize that he helped develop the entire plan? And do you understand that warning the people of Concord wasn't necessarily his main goal?"
Hancock-Clarke House - 
Where John Hancock and Samuel Adams
were staying the night of April 18, 1775.
(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
I went on to explain that "on the night of April 18, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren, who was the last major patriot leader left in Boston (and a personal friend of Paul Revere’s), informed Revere that he had just received intelligence from his own spy network that the troops, while on the road to Concord to capture or destroy military stores that had been gathered there, planned to stop in Lexington and arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock, the patriot leaders who were staying in a house owned by one of Hancock’s relatives. So Dr. Warren “begged” Revere to stop in Lexington and warn Adams and Hancock to get out of the way of the British troops."
Well, as it turned out, this intelligence was inaccurate, though that wasn't known at the time.
As historian David Hackett Fischer wrote:
"Paul Revere's primary mission was not to alarm the countryside. His specific purpose was to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were thought to be the object of the expedition. Concord and its military stores were also mentioned to Revere, but only in a secondary way." 
So there you have it.
As far as Revere not making it to Concord, he was stopped and captured by a British scouting regiment: "In an instant I saw four of them, who rode up to me with their pistols in their bands, said ''G---d d---n you, stop. If you go an inch further, you are a dead man.'' Immediately Mr. Prescot came up. We attempted to get through them, but they kept before us, and swore if we did not turn in to that pasture, they would blow our brains out."
Yep - I woulda stopped, too.
So he was no failure - he did exactly as he set out to do.
And this, by the way, is why we, as historians, must continue our research in all aspects, and not just take what some people (or Facebook memes) say as truth or fact.

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My wife the spinner...
To be a part of living history is a privilege that I cherish; I would like to think that those of us in this reenacting community are making a good attempt to do honor to those of the past in all of its many forms. We are continuously learning - researching - so we can do our best to bring the words we read to life.
And that can be a very difficult thing to do.
But we're trying.
Many visitors don't think twice about living historians and museum presenters who keep alive the crafts, chores, and occupations of long ago. My wife is a good example of this; as a reenactor not only does she crochet and knit (and sew), but she will take a mound of raw wool, covered with grass, twigs, burrs, animal poop, and bugs, then skirt it, wash it, pick it clean, card it, spin it, wash it again, dye it, rinse it...and now it's ready to be knitted or crochet into a hat, socks, scarf, mittens, or any number of useful items.
We can't forget about those who work in the museums or the living historians who will bring their presentations up a few notches - the men who plow behind a team of horses and perform other farmhand chores, the women who do open-hearth or woodstove cooking after preparing the food "the old-fashioned way." Then there are those men and women who keep other period crafts alive such as tinsmithing, running an old-time printing press, make pottery bowls, plates, and cups, coopering, basket makers, leather workers, seamstresses and tailors, hat makers, and even those who drive steam engine locomotives, horse and carriages, and Model T automobiles.
How about something as simple as dressing authentically and accurately so when a modern visitor sees you they are automatically drawn back in time just at the sight.
Add to that: having the knowledge of the past and presenting it verbally in an interesting manner is quite the talent as well.
There is so much more to historical presentation than most folks realize!
Yeah...I'm loving it!

~     ~     ~, remember a while back when I was sorting through my lanterns and candle holders and I realized I had enough different and antiquated ones to do a full blog post?
If not, click HERE
Well, as I was going through my dresser drawers, I realized I had a pretty large collection of "historic" t-shirts depicting the Revolutionary War era.
Never have I ever received so many inquiries and (mostly positive) comments from strangers than when I wear one of these t-shirts, and that excites me because I consider it a teaching moment for American History.
So, for a lark, I took a picture of each - - - here they are:
Here is, perhaps, my favorite.
As you can see, it is depicting the 
midnight ride of Paul Revere.
Artsy-types like this one.

A sort of "Class of '76" shirt.
Believe it or not, I do get people asking me
if I graduated high school in 1976 when they
see me in this shirt.
Hmmm...I suppose it makes sense...but, nope, 
I did not graduate in that bicentennial year.
I graduated 200 years after the birth of
Francis Scott Key. Betsy Ross flag shirt.
Did she or didn't she?
She was a flag-maker...hmmm...
But there is no proof either way, so quit arguing!

Though I am of English and German
heritage, I am also Sicilian.
This shirt is perfect for someone like
me, for it pretty much says it all.

What a cool shirt! One never sees the
minute men get their just due.
Well, here is a small way I can honor them.

I love wearing this shirt!
Do you want to know why?
Because many ask me what it signifies!

"What do the coffins with the initials 
and the date of March 5, 1770 mean?"
Well, here it comes...a teaching moment:

I tell them about the Bloody Massacre at Boston
and that the initials are of those who were killed 
during the raucous there - 
Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, 
Crispus Attucks, and Patrick Carr.

My wrap-around George Washington crossing
the Delaware shirt.
It was very expensive but I thought it was cool.
It's like I'm wearing a painting.

A collection of historical flags that thumb
their "noses" to the British.
Defiance indeed!

My souvenir t-shirt from Colonial Williamsburg.
I. Love. Colonial. Williamsburg.
'nuff said...

A friend got me this Declaration of Independence
shirt when they visited Colonial Williamsburg
a few years before I was able to go.

The ever-popular Gadsden Flag shirt that
I've had for nearly ten years.
I've been accused of quite a few things when 
I have it on, as if wearing history makes 
me belong to one party or another.
Ha! Little do they know.
And, like I said earlier, how sad.

Another defiance shirt!
Yes, I am sure that could be Paul Revere there,
riding his borrowed horse.
But since I already have a Paul Revere shirt, I tell
people it's William Dawes. And that begins
another history lesson from historical Ken!

Yes, I am proud and unapologetically
American. And I do believe in our
2nd Amendment rights, as people have
for well over 200 years.

Here is the back of the same shirt. 
Yes, I believe this, too.

Well, there you go!
A trip through the head of Historical Ken.
It's been one of the more honest and unique postings I've written, but I suppose I have the right to my own thoughts, opinions, and oddities, eh?

Until next time, see you in time.

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