A Student of History

March 27, 2012

Theft at Petersburg National Battlefield

Filed under: Historic Places,Wars — John Maass @ 8:00 am

From Examiner.com:

An unemployed 52-year old Petersburg, Virginia, man has been sentenced to a year and a day for digging more than 18,000 civil war relics from the Petersburg National Battlefield Park.

Over at least a four year period, John Jeffrey Santo, a Pennsylvania native living with his girlfriend in Petersburg’s Walnut Hill neighborhood, almost daily took his metal detector and dog out on National Park Service property to dig battlefield artifacts, hoping to sell them for cash. Digging and selling relics became his job. His detailed journal of his illegal exploits, recovered in the July 10, 2011, search of his residence, not only served to convict him, but itemized more than 18,000 bullets, 31 cannonballs and explosive shells, 13 belt buckles, seven breastplates, and 91 buttons.

Below is a photo of some of the musket balls police found.



March 22, 2012

History for sale in PA

Filed under: Early America,The world today — John Maass @ 7:27 am

From CNN Money:

It’s unlikely that a Revolutionary War rifle will save Harrisburg, Pa., but it could help.  The city is hosting an auction of artifacts this summer in hopes of raising enough money to close the gap between the city’s revenue and operating costs.

The loot is the end result of a failed plan to open several new museums in the city after it made substantial acquisitions of art and artifacts.

Former Mayor Stephen Reed, who served from 1981 to 2009, hoped new museums would spur tourism and economic growth in this town of just under 50,000 residents. But while one Civil War museum was built, institutes devoted to sports history, African-American history and the Wild West that were planned never got off the ground.

When current Mayor Linda Thompson took office in 2010, she inherited about 8,000 historical artifacts stored in two separate warehouses in Harrisburg by the previous administration and is now offering them all for sale.

March 21, 2012

Tryon Palace in NC Going Forward

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places,NC History — John Maass @ 7:06 am

From The Sun-Journal:

New Tryon Palace Commission Chairman William C. Cannon Jr. is far from new to the Palace and its mission.

A third generation supporter of Tryon Palace, his grandmother, Ruth Coltrane Cannon, was one of the women involved with New Bern’s Gertrude Carraway in the Society for the Preservation of Antiquities and the Daughters of the American Revolution that uncovered what was left of a historic artifact and helped restore and preserve it.

Cannon said that was in a time in the early 20th century when there were few opportunities for women in the workplace and those women’s avocation was a career based on solid commitment that took much of their time and heart.

That influence translated into money, by way of fundraising and personal contribution.

Kay Williams, Tryon Palace director, said one early gift from Bill Cannon’s grandmother actually bought the gates to the Palace that remain.

Williams said the group of early enthusiasts stayed focused from the late 1920s until Tryon Palace’s reconstruction and opening in 1959.



Bill Cannon has served on the Tryon Palace Commission for 10 years in various capacities including secretary and, prior to his recent appointment, as vice chairman.

Cannon and his wife, Ann Cannon, have continued that family tradition of gatekeepers, co-chairing the fundraising effort for the North Carolina History Center.

“We love New Bern, and what we’ve seen of Craven County and the people we know who share the same excitement about its history,” he said. “We love Tryon Palace, Mitchell’s Hardware, the whole town” and said he’ll probably spend “more time than I really have” in his effort to keep the complex going.

Sitting across a large 1700s dining table in the Commission House this week, Cannon recalled his most memorable early impression of Tryon Palace as a teenager.

“After I was old enough to drive, a friend and I went to the beach and we stopped here and bought a ticket and went in. I still have a picture in my mind of the black and white marble floor in the foyer from that day.”

Williams said she, staff, and commission members “are very excited about Bill Cannon’s leadership”

Commission member Alice Graham Underhill agreed. “Bill Cannon has been a strong commission member in the past and a great supporter of Tryon Palace and New Bern. I’ve very happy he’s accepted the chairmanship. He has the ability to continue the tradition of leadership we’ve had in the past.”

Cannon is a graduate of Wake Forest University in Winston Salem with degrees in business administration and economics and serves as vice chairman of Carolina HealthCare Systems.

He said that how the North Carolina state “budget will be structured is our big unknown and how that’s going to affect Tryon Palace is as yet unknown. The proposed cuts are extensive. What the Tryon Palace Commission hopes is that there will be some restructuring of the deepest cuts.”

To help accomplish that, Cannon said “I expect I’ll be spending about as much time in Raleigh as in New Bern” over the coming months.

He lives on a farm in Concord, not a long drive from Raleigh, and he is a private pilot and said it only takes about an hour to get to New Bern.

“I don’t think there is any question there will be cuts” from previous state funding, he said, but as drafted, “beginning in July 2012 with the beginning of the 2013 budget year, there are draconian cuts planned.”

“I can’t see into the future but I believe there will be some significant change in those,” Cannon said. “I know there is some support.”

 Regardless of where the money comes from, “Tryon Palace will have to operate more efficiently, leaner, and with a higher percentage of private money in the public-private mix” that is currently 30 percent private, 70 percent public funding for Tryon Palace complex including the N.C. History Center.

More private money must be secured from donations, endowments, and ticket receipts to keep Tryon Palace’s mission for historical preservation and education alive, he said. Going forward more of its operational funds will have to come from big donors and Friends of Tryon Palace, of which there are about 10,000.

“Our job is to go out and raise additional revenue from any kind of event we can hold and to maximize shop sales and visit numbers to continue to do the education that makes us an important part of North Carolina History,” Cannon said. “According to our mission, we are going to keep state, regional, and colonial history alive for the next generation. We’re going to do it — preserve and teach North Carolina history in any manner possible.”

Cannon met with New Bern and Craven County leaders this week, he said, and “with the Tryon Palace staff, “simply to tell them that I’m honored to work for them and work with them. We have such a dedicated staff here of wonderful people with wonderful talents and character.”

“The jewel that is the History Center only opened 18 months ago,” he said. “It is hard for me to think that with all the state money that just went to build it, they won’t work to keep it open, given all the positives that are in the future for Tryon Palace.”

He complimented Linda Carlisle, secretary of N.C. Cultural Resources, as “a wonderful friend of Tryon Palace. I’m not sure many people in New Bern know how hard she worked in the last budget session with the legislature.”

Cannon and Williams said Tryon Palace Commission plans to hold a town meeting near the end of March at the N.C. History Center to talk about the changes commission member and Palace staff sees coming and to answer questions with as much information about Tryon Palace future operations as they can.

Regardless of how complete the information on state funding will be by then, Cannon said: “I can promise the Tryon Palace will survive.”


8th Biennial Conference of the Society of Early Americanists-2013

Filed under: Early America,The Academy — John Maass @ 6:52 am

The SEA invites your participation in the 8th Biennial Conference. While the program committee will consider complete panels, we are also interested in panel topics which will be listed on the website in early May, at which point interested individuals can submit papers to those panel organizers. Finally, if none of the panels reflects your individual interests, you can submit an individual paper directly to the program committee chair by Monday, September 24, 2012.

For more information, click HERE.

March 19, 2012

Liberty University 2012 Civil War Seminar

Filed under: The Academy,Wars — John Maass @ 12:46 pm

Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA will host its annual Civil War Seminar from September 28-30, 2012, providing an opportunity for scholars to present and debate research on the military, political, social, and other aspects of one of the defining conflicts of American history. In honor of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the theme of this year’s seminar will be the battles, campaigns, and other events and personalities of 1862.  Featured speakers include Dr. Brooks Simpson of Arizona State University and Dr. Steven Woodworth of Texas Christian University. 

The deadline for proposals is June 1, 2012. While proposals for complete panels (three presenters and a chair) are preferred, individual proposals are welcome. Proposals should include a title and an abstract of 250-300 words for the papers and short curriculum vitae of the participants. Panel submissions should have an overall title and a description of the theme of the session.

For information, see the seminar’s website at www.liberty.edu/civilwar.

March 13, 2012


Filed under: Historic Places,The strange place called the South,Wars — John Maass @ 8:52 am


The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area are sponsoring a nice event at Shiloh, on April 5-6, 2012.


Seating is limited. Please register to vionne.williams@tn.gov or call 615-741-2159

Wednesday, April 4, 2012
10 am, Pickwick Landing State Park, Pickwick Dam, Tennessee http://www.tn.gov/environment/parks/PickwickLanding/

10 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee
This new initiative, “Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee,” provides Tennesseans the opportunity to have their Civil War manuscripts, artifacts and photographs digitally copied. The  Civil War photos and memorabilia is available online at http://www.tn.gov/tsla/cwtn/ Presented by Tennessee State Library & Archives

Red Carpet Film Premiere:
7 pm, The Story of Shiloh: “Fiery Trial”

Thursday, April 5, 2012
9 am, Pickwick Landing State Park

Opening Ceremony
Governor Bill Haslam (invited)

Special guests to be announced and musical performances will include The 52nd Regimental String Band

Commissioner Susan Whitaker and Dr. Carroll Van West, Co-Chairs, Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission

Battle of Shiloh Forum featuring the foremost Shiloh historians: 

The Fall of Tennessee: Fort Donelson to Davis Bridge
10 am, Pickwick Landing State Park

Moderator and Panelists:

Larry Daniel, Historian and Author
James McDonough, Auburn University
John Marszalek, Mississippi  State University
Wiley Sword, Historian and Author

Additional presentations and activities:

The Battle of Shiloh
Stacy Allen, Chief Ranger, Shiloh National Military Park

Shiloh: The Preservation Story
Timothy Smith, University of Tennessee, Martin

Preview of NPT Civil War Documentary
Dr. Carroll Van West, Director, TCWNHA

Closing Remarks by Dr. Carroll Van West, Director, TCWNHA
12:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Civil War Exhibit
Presented by the Tennessee State Museum
9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Pickwick Landing State Park

Living History – “Shiloh Heroes & Legends”

9 a.m.  – 12:30 p.m., Pickwick Landing State Park
Living history will include re-enactors from the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Company A, 13th United States Colored Troops

APRIL 6-7, 2012
Special commemoration activities presented by Shiloh National Military Park http://www.nps.gov/shil/

Special Extended Tours

Grand Illumination of Shiloh National Battlefield
23,746 luminaries, one for each American soldier killed, wounded or missing at Shiloh

The Tennessee Sesquicentennial Commission is sponsoring a series of conferences from 2010 to 2015. Conferences are held annually at locations across the state and will focus on the events which took place 150 years ago. Presenters will discuss the battles, events, and stories of the Civil War, as well as offer brief dramas and musical performances as part of the day’s events. The conferences are jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

Shiloh cannons

Shiloh cannons

March 12, 2012

2 National Historic Landmarks Added in Virginia

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 7:26 am

St. Peter’s Parish Church (New Kent County, Virginia) is an exceptional example of early 18th-century brick architecture from the Chesapeake Region. It is the oldest church in the state. It was constructed in 1703, with the congregation dating back to 1679. Martha Washington was a member, and some believe that she and George were married in the church.


St. Peter's Church, New Kent Co., VA


Eyre Hall (Northampton County, Virginia), a rare vernacular architectural ensemble and rural landscape of the Colonial and early Federal periods, is a significant physical remnant of Chesapeake society, which was economically and socially based on slavery. 

Eyre Hall is one of Virginia’s finest and best-preserved colonial homes. Approached by a long, old-fashioned cedar-lined lane, the house overlooks Cherrystone Creek. Thomas Eyre landed at Jamestown in 1622 to take up patented land on the Eastern Shore in 1623. Eyre descendents have owned land in the lower portion of Northampton County continuously for 12 generations. Littleton Eyre (great-grandson of Thomas) purchased the present site of Eyre Hall and in 1760 built the original gambrel-roofed portion.

The gardens are among the oldest in the country, circa 1800. Ancient boxwood and gnarled crape myrtles tower over the traditional swept paths, all enclosed by a wall of brick brought as ballast from England. On the sunny side, English-style mixed borders add color, and opposite is the family graveyard and romantic orangery ruin from 1819.

Eyre Hall


March 7, 2012

Where should America’s WWI Memorial Be?

Filed under: Wars — John Maass @ 7:35 am

From Yahoo News:

As the 100th anniversary of the beginning of “the Great War” approaches in 2014, a tussle has broken out between Kansas City and Washington, D.C. over which city should be the site of the nation’s “official” World War One memorial. In 2004, Congress voted to designate the Kansas City memorial [photo below] as the official museum, but late last year support emerged for having the memorial on the National Mall in the nation’s capital.

Do we need more stuff on the Mall? Yet it is hard to make the argument that the museum will get more visitors in KC than in DC. But, an argument favoring Kansas City as the site for the national memorial is the museum there, which houses the largest American collection of artifacts from the war. 

By the way, it is a damned ugly memorial in my opinion.


March 6, 2012

Battlefield Preservation Update

Filed under: Historic Preservation,Wars — John Maass @ 8:12 pm

Preservationists are drawing lines of defense around more of America’s hallowed ground.

U.S. senators hoping to control development near Civil War sites have introduced legislation to protect two parcels at Gettysburg and preserve thousands of acres of battlefields at Vicksburg, Miss., and Petersburg, Va.

“That kind of historic land can never be replaced,” said Michael Kraus, curator of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland and a member of the National Civil War Museum Advisory Council. “These are places where people fought and gave their lives.”

Read more: Laws for Gettysburg preservation are being supported by U.S. senators – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_784874.html#ixzz1oOBXgQv9

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