Friday, May 25, 2018

Oxbows, Books, and Geocaches

This update has all the things that named my blog  "Gehio", Geocaching+History+Ohio

Thanks to the person who got me into geocaching, Mark Fischer, I was invited to speak at the Oxbow Tuesday Lecture on October 9th to discuss a local history subject of my choosing. The Oxbow is a wildlife conservation group in SE Indiana. Mark recently did a lecture on Geocaching which I attended. My name got mentioned as a local early area history expert for possible upcoming topics.  I haven’t firmed up my material yet but it will be in some way shape or form about William Henry Harrison regarding some myths and legends about his life and ties to the area. I'm going to have to brush up on some public speaking skills!

My reading has slowed down as the weather warmed up. I typically read on my lunch breaks and to be honest there have been lots of new geocaches near my office, so I’ve been indulging in that instead. I’m currently about 3/4 into an interesting book from the 1980s on Tekamthi called God Gave Us This Country. I ran across it by accident at the library.  Who the hell is Tekamthi??? The author insists on using what is believed to be Tecumseh’s Shawnee name before it became anglicized. The Shawnee language is actually a bit lispy and European speakers would remove this from the pronunciation as being somewhat effeminate. Ironic since the Shawnee were pretty fierce. One thing that is a bit jarring is the author insists on using the term “reds” and “red men” throughout the book. These are terms all considered dated and a bit derogatory to modern ears. Otherwise, despite the terrible cover and title, it’s a great read and well-sourced book that was previously unknown to me. In fact, I went ahead and bought a copy of my own just for the source notes. I've already made note of some Harrison info I wasn't aware of that will come in handy for the aforementioned lecture.

On my to-do list is another book I recently became aware of called The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War. I guess it could be titled “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About the Whigs But Were Afraid To Ask”. It’s 1300 pages! Oh, and the print is tiny. At the rate I read it may take me as long as the Whig party existed to finish it. So far, everyone I know that has this book never read the whole thing. Regardless, this doorstop will at least serve well as reference material. Oh and a tip to used book buyers.

I also picked up an interesting old title called The Intimate Letters of John Cleves Symmes and His Family. I've seen reference to this early 20th-century book many times where Cleves is mentioned. Don't get too excited. These aren't like the Harding letters. "Intimate" in this case just means "personal". No extensive bio of this important man to the history of the Ohio Valley exists due to most of his letters and journals being burned in a fire. Some say it was arson. There were many lawsuits against the man due to his questionable land business dealings.  The letters that do exist were compiled here from some of his recipient's collections that survived. It sort of humanizes a person that tends to be just a static character in the story of others without any idea of his personal thoughts. One weird thing I learned. Cleves kept referring to a daughter he called "Nancy". He only had one daughter named "Anna" (who married William Henry Harrison) so that was confusing. It turns out "Nancy" was originally a nickname for "Anna". I never knew that.
I got this and the Whigs Tecumseh from AbeBooks for just a few dollars each with free shipping. Ironically I've learned this has been owned by Amazon since 2008 but Amazon's used prices were very high for each of these. I'll be shopping there more often for good used book deals!

Speaking of geocaching, the reason so many new caches are getting published around town and my reading has slowed is that a major Geocaching event called GeoWoodstock 2018 will be held May 26th, 2018 at Coney Island in Cincinnati. This event is expected to bring over 5000 geocachers from all over the world. In fact, a geocacher from France contacted me about carpooling from their Airbnb since I have a cache near the event. I had to politely decline as I don’t really know my full schedule for that day, but I will be attending! How could I not be with "my people" that day?

In personal geocaching news, I'm currently sitting at find 6,408 and have had some interesting cache runs lately. Lot’s of new FTF’s (First To Finds), including a Wherigo (a first FTF of this type if you will). That makes FTF 101 for me. Mark Fisher and I hit not one or two, but three “tunnel” caches in so many weeks. These are caches where you go into a large drainage tunnel, usually with a flashlight. The photo to the left is (eventually) 400' into a tunnel and about that many feet below I-74. I used to be pretty adverse to doing these. In one of them, I was ankle deep in water. Those were some fun adventures!

See you in June!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Fine Young Cannibals

no mention of the cannibalism

I scooped up a random book last month called The First Frontier by Scott Weidensaul. It promised “The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America”. That sounded like something for me to chew on! It turned out to be a marinade of forgotten American history through the mid-1700s. It contained all sorts of interesting morsels I didn’t know about. This post is about one of the more savory ingredients.

The author mentions a Miami chieftain named Memeskia who had a village near modern Piqua OH called Pickawillany. I’ve been there before and if you can get past the 20th-century scramble of strip malls there is a lot of palatable history there. In the early part of the 18th century, the Miami aligned themselves with the French who were battling the British for control of these new (to them) lands. Memeskia was known to the French as La Demoiselle, which translates literally to “young lady”. It is believed that this was a grandiloquent translation of his Indian name which meant "dragonfly", both meaning impulsive and unpredictable.

Over the years the native people had become on reliant French and British traders for goods and allied themselves with one or the other. The Native Americans provided animal skins and furs in return for a thriving European market. These arrangements were often choppy. Memeskia broke with the informal Miami/French coalition believing he and his new village could gain more power and prestige by serving the British. Now essential British trade items such as weapons, cloth, food, and metal cooking items were now being produced in the Colonies to the East and thus becoming better and cheaper than imported French goods. This change in alliances earned the chieftain the new name of Old Briton.

Needless to say, this steamed the French who feared the idea would boil over into bands of other Miami and they would slowly lose control of New France to the British. Tensions were simmering to a boil. Eventually, a full course attack was ordered on Old Briton's village. On June 21st, 1752 the village was attacked by a blended force of pro-French Ottawa, French Canadians, and Ojibwa led by Charles Langlade, a French/Ottawa fur trader. Cheddar-heads may know this name from local history class as "The Father of Wisconsin".

photos courtesy of
because mine are terrible
This story sounded familiar to me since I had been to Piqua a few times. There is an Ohio historical marker there for this battle as it was a flashpoint to the French and Indian War. The marker states rather blandly that after Langlade and his men destroyed the village, “Memeskia was executed”. 
That's it.
They left out the spicy part.
As it turns out, Old Briton was ritually cannibalized in front of the survivors. Yep. They boiled him in a pot and gobbled him up. No mention of a side dish.
Unfortunately, I was unable to drum up any more bits about this post-battle dinner party because the primary source does not offer any. As it turns out two of the six English that were taken prisoner, Thomas Burney and Andrew McBryer, two English traders who were hidden during the attack told what happened at Pickawillany to Captain William Trent (the founder of Trenton NJ). He, in turn, wrote to Governor Dinwiddie of colonial Virginia on July 6th, 1752:
"They killed one Englishman and took six prisoners, one Mingoe and one Shawanees killed, and three Twightwees (an alternate term used then for the Miami); one of them, the old Pianguisha (Memeskia's Miami band) king, called by the English Old Britain, who, for his attachment to the English, they boiled, and eat him all up. "
There is also an August 1752 letter from the Miami that formerly resided at Pickawillany delivered by Burney to the Governor of Pennsylvania, still asserting their allegiance to the English. It said in part, "Brother Onas*...we saw our great Piankashaw King taken, killed, and eaten within a hundred yards of the fort before our faces".

1592 depiction of Indian cannibalism
Historians have speculated it's possible that this act was a way to literally absorb Memeskia back into the pro-French body while also providing a simply gruesome warning to the others to not trifle with the French alliance. Memeskia's people did move back to French-controlled Indiana so I suppose they got the message loud and clear.

You may have noticed that Burney is connected with the only two written records of this account. In fact, most of what we know about the battle was from Burney.

Keep in mind that nearly all Indians were illiterate and many whites were at that time too, so we rely on literate white men for these written accounts. It's possible the cannibalism never occurred at all and was invented by Burney to drum up revenge against the dreaded French and their "savage" Indian allies. Military leaders were also known to inflate the size of the enemy in their reports. While Burney surely met with the Miami for the letter that was delivered later, he may have added on the gruesome story there as well. As an English trader with his livelihood at stake, this would surely be a motive. There are no written records from the only other white survivor, Andrew McBryer who died later in 1752. I have also found no specific recollections by any surviving Miami told to anyone else either way.

As far as plausibility, I'd heard of Indians consuming the hearts of freshly killed enemies to ingest the courage of the victim, in fact, this supposedly did happen to one of the other English traders here. But as far as I know, full on cannibalism was fairly uncommon and taboo among most American Indians. It did supposedly occur among the Iroquois and some Ojibwa bands. There were definitely Ojibwa in Langlade's force.
Food for thought.
Oof. You've noticed all the other culinary references in this post too right?

One wonders why the Ohio Historical Connection would leave out one of the most intriguing and sensational aspects of this battle on the sign? Maybe they felt there was not enough evidence to warrant its mention. But again Burney's account is the only one. Maybe Memeskia was simply killed during the battle versus "executed". No wonder many find history dull and boring. I think it's worth a mention as "alleged" or plausible. To think! Ritualized cannibalism right here in Ohio (possibly)! Wow! Teach that in a history class (or a sign) and folks might actually pay attention.

*a friendly term originally used by the Iroquois for William Penn extended to the current Governor. Onas means feather or quill.

additional reading and references: 
American Indian Leaders: Studies in Diversity by R. David Edmunds
The Miami Indians of Indiana: A Persistent People, 1654-1994 by Stewart Rafert
Journal of Captain William Trent from Logstown to Pickawillany, A.D. 1752

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Clarks, Corblys, Suttons, and Cold Plagues

Clough Cemetery in 2011, Gerard is the tall one
 There is a plant nursery near my office that I've passed many times called Greenfield Plant Farm. It sits at the corner of Clough (pronounced like "tough") and Hunley roads in Anderson Township close to the 1796 Miller-Leuser Log House. Their sign mentions that it's the site of the "James Clark Homestead". I never looked into that much, just a quick Google search but with such a common name, I didn't come up with much or think much more of it at the time.

I'd been aware of a nearby graveyard known as the Clough Baptist Cemetery (AKA Newton Cemetery and Wagon Train Cemetery) for a while thanks to geocaching. It's quite hidden away on quiet Bridges Road and nearly in someone's yard. The bulletin board at the front notes that several Revolutionary War Veterans are buried here and lists their names. That sort of thing always gets my attention.

Sutton's Log 1795 Log Home in 2011
(but not his SUV or DirectTV dish)
One resident is Jonathan Gerard who I had always assumed was the same John Garard (there are multiple spellings of this surname) who built the 1790 fortified station near the mouth of the Little Miami River now on Este Rd. It turns out he was a relative that came later.

Another is Stephen Sutton, one of the founders of Mt Washington in 1795. Sutton Road would be familiar to anyone in this area. Sutton's log house is still standing. But it's not like the aforementioned historic looking Miller-Leuser Log House. This is a private residence in the middle of a neighborhood with additions and siding added to it over the years making it a 3 bedroom home. Fortunately, in recent years an attempt has been made to make it look more...historic.

Then there is James Clark. It is believed he was a drummer boy at the 1781 Battle of Yorktown at age 16. I hadn't given this much thought until I tried to dig up more info on this guy. No pun intended. I ended up stumbling across a document buried in the website of...the Greenfield Plant Farm.
I'm sure you guessed it by now.
1802 Clark Stone House in 2009 - source
It's the same James Clark mentioned at the nursery and his 1802 stone house is still alive and well on the property. The article goes on to say it is likely the oldest standing stone house in the state of Ohio. It's sitting "right there" not far from the main road. Even a history nerd like me never saw it. Hidden in plain sight... like many geocaches. You can read the whole article here along with several photos of the house over the years. I unearthed a couple of other interesting tidbits.  Members of the Leuser Family (whose ancestors built the Miller-Leueser Log House) purchased this stone house in 1854 from the Clarks. It operated as a greenhouse and plant farm then just as it does today. Also, Hunley Rd was called Leuser Rd until at least 1926. I'd like to see proof of the drummer boy claim. I haven't been able to come up with any solid evidence though.

The Baptist church that once stood adjacent to these folks final resting place was founded by Rev. John Corbly Jr, another name local residents will be familiar with due to Corbly Road. In fact, as Hunley (formerly Leuser) crosses Clough it becomes Corbly. As Corbly Road runs West it bends south and becomes Sutton Road toward the Ohio River. Rev. Corbly died in 1814 at age 46 of what was called cold plague, a new strain of influenza ravaging the US during the War of 1812 and characterized by severe shivering. They say you rapidly froze to death, hence the name. He and other members of the Corbly family are also interred here. The church was unused by 1905. The walls and roof collapsed in the 1930s. Most of the remaining stones were used to build a Methodist church on Kellogg Road in the 1950s.

As for the cemetery itself. Most of the stones are illegible, falling over or buried now. Anderson Township does it's best to keep it looking nice. I tried to get some updated photos for this post but Cincinnati weather in March was not cooperating.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of WHH)

not the 1841 photo or the 1850 copy you think it is
 For many years I was under the impression that William Henry Harrison was the first President to be photographed while in office. While this is true, all is not as it seems or what we have been led to believe.

I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they're real - The Cure

A daguerreotype (an early form of photography introduced in 1839) WAS in fact taken of the new President at the US Capitol on inauguration day March 4, 1841. According to the photographer Justus F. Moore, President Harrison was “delighted with the results.” We'll have to take his word on that since it was never seen again and no known copy exists. The image often implied and misreported to be an 1850 photographic copy of that lost image is likely a daguerreotype made by Albert Southworth of an oil portrait by Albert Gallatin Hoit that Harrison sat for in 1840.
One might wonder, perhaps the painting was done from the photo? Good question!...but according to a Salmon P Chase diary entry, Hoit (sometimes spelled Hoyt) traveled from Boston to North Bend OH in May 1840 to paint this portrait of Harrison, then a candidate for President, for the Boston Whig Association.

I have seen the digital version of the painting and the 1850 photo previously and while it occurred to me they are very similar it hadn't dawned on me that they are basically the same image. Everything seems to match up. The photo seems to be tilted a bit counterclockwise from the original. and the early crude photographic process adds some slight variances. Just like an Instagram filter, it also produces some shadowing and contrast changes which give the daguerreotype a more life-like three-dimensional appearance. It's no wonder this myth came to be. It looks very much like a photo and not a photo of a painting. Other engravings were also based on the painting such as this one.

Every picture tells a story, don't it? - Rod Stewart

the 1840 Hoit painting used for the photo 
I asked my new friend over at Harrison Podcast about the matter thinking I'd just been mistaken all along (can you believe there is a bigger Harrison fan than I?) and he was also unaware of any of this and is respectfully not completely convinced of my findings. He takes a much more measured and scholarly approach to such things and would like to examine this more before reaching a final conclusion, although I think I have him leaning my way. I respect his work and look forward to any new evidence and will report back as needed. However, for now, I feel that the visual evidence, as well as the dated journal entry by Chase, confirm my findings.
So alas, while Harrison does indeed get the honor to be the first President to be photographed in while in office, no one has seen it since 1841 and what we often see credited as an 1850 copy of that photo is an 1850 photo of an 1840 painting.

Sorry to break the news on William Henry Harrison' s 245th birthday, born on this day 1773. President's Day is on the 3rd Monday of February. Did you know only four US Presidents were born in February? Washington, Harrison, Lincoln, and Reagan.

In case you are wondering, the oldest surviving original photo of a sitting US President is that of James Polk from 1849. The oldest surviving photograph of a US President, recently discovered, is that of elderly John Quincy Adams taken in 1843, well after his time in office.

If I had a photograph of you
It's something to remind me
I wouldn't spend my life just wishing - Flock of Seagulls

A note about the images used. The daguerreotype was taken directly from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website and while slightly cropped by me to match the size of the painting is otherwise an untouched image. Retouched versions of this photo with the scratches and marks removed routinely appear online. 
The Hoit portrait image was taken from a general internet image search also resized and cropped by me for comparison purposes.  The original painting and image can be seen at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Greene Day

working copy in Greenville
The 20th-century painter Howard Chandler Christy was born on January 10th 1872 in Morgan County Ohio east of Columbus. I'm not going to go into a biography of him, you can look to Wikipedia for that, but you are familiar with his work and don't know it. Christy's most famous painting is a depiction of the Signing of the US Constitution which has been reproduced in countless history books and publications. He has many other notable works but the one I want to focus on here is his 1945 Signing of the Treaty of Greene Ville, or simply, The Signing. Christy, a native Ohioan, was commissioned for the work to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the treaty which technically ended the Northwest Indian Wars and formed most of the future state of Ohio. Again this post is mostly about the painting and not Christy, the preceding events, or the treaty itself.

the final in Columbus
I'd originally seen the painting in person at the Garst Museum in Greenville Ohio (formerly known as Greene Ville) but I was a bit confused as it didn't look exactly like the one I'd seen in print. Then I learned the "real" painting was located in the Ohio Statehouse. I thought maybe the one in the museum was a reproduction. It turns out that there are two versions of the artwork. The painting above the fireplace in the Garst Museum is what is known as the working copy, which is basically a practice version. The painting in the Ohio Statehouse Rotunda stairway is the final version. Both were painted by Christy and there are a few obvious differences. Don't let the difference in colors in my examples fool you. That isn't really an accurate representation. Both are pretty muted when you see them in person.

The working copy measures 6' x 7' whereas the final is a whopping 22' x 17' and the largest painting exhibited in the Ohio Statehouse. I got to lay my eyes on the final when I visited Columbus last month.

The central figures are Little Turtle (Miami) on the left with outstretched arms presenting the wampum, interpreter William Wells in the center, and General Mad Anthony Wayne to the right. On each side are various individuals representing Indian and American figures that signed the treaty. In the background of the Indian side, we see Fort Greene Ville. The council house appears behind the Americans.

One major difference between the two is the 15 star US flag at the top. It seems more faded in the working copy and not as prominent as in the final. It often gets cropped out of reproductions of the working copy. I was hard-pressed to find an uncropped version suitable for this post but it can be seen here. The postcards sold at the Garst Museum show this cropped version as illustrated in the photo at the top. As you can see there is a lot of space between the subjects and the flag so I can see why this is done.

a couple of areas of key differences
There are other reproductions around the town of Greenville. One is a very large uncropped reprint in the lobby of the Wayne HealthCare Hospital. It appears to be nearly as large as the final version. This is something I wouldn't have known about but an old friend of mine was partially responsible for this reproduction and installation and tipped me off. Another is etched on a granite monument at Elm and Main near the location of the proceedings at Fort Greene Ville.

Several individuals have slightly different appearances in the two paintings. The one I noticed right away is with 22-year-old William Henry Harrison, aide de camp to General Wayne. It's probably the best way to tell the difference between the two versions in print. Harrison is standing behind the General and one person over to his left. In the working copy, he looks straight ahead, breaking the 4th wall of the scene. He doesn't resemble Harrison much and has bright ruddy cheeks. In the final, we see him facing to his right and toward Wayne and looking much like the Rembrandt Peale painting of him from 1813. Chaplain David Jones is standing immediately to Harrison's left and whispering to him in the working copy. Perhaps he has some divine knowledge and is saying to Harrison, "when you give your inaugural address in 46 years don't forget to wear your hat and coat". Jones is seated away from the future President in the final and not whispering to him. Perhaps that explains why things turned out the way they did with Harrison.

Lieutenant William Clark (of later Lewis and Clark fame) stands to the right of Harrison and looks more toward his left in the final. Meriwether Lewis is there too by the way. He is behind The Sun (Potawatomi) signing the treaty at the table. It's not that noticeable of a difference but it gives me an excuse to mention that this is where the duo met.

Black Hoof (Shawnee) and Bad Bird (Chippewa), in the foreground to the left and right of standing Little Turtle (Miami), appear to have mohawks in the working copy and instead have horns and feathers adorning their hair in the final.
The treaty itself has had markings added to it in the final.

As I researched this work I came across an interpretation of the painting that felt the scene represented the growth of civilization. For example, as we move from left to right, we have half naked crouching Indians while Little Turtle stands. In the shadowy center, there is William Wells, a white captive raised by the Miami, who went back and forth between the two societies. Wells served as the interpreter here. He was also married to Little Turtle's daughter.  So that's his father in law to his right. Further right in the scene, we see well dressed and seated men with literate scribes representing civilization. I think it's a good theory whether Christy intended it or not.
granite version in Greenville

This painting, like the Signing of the Constitution painting, is a romanticized scene and the events took place over a period of time. In Greeneville's case, these negotiations occurred over the first eight months of 1795 and then signed by representatives on August 3rd. So it is possible that many of the men depicted here were never present together and certainly not like this.

Incidentally, there is a less idealized contemporary oil painting of the 1795 events that was created by an unknown artist but believed to be one of Wayne's officers present at the proceedings. This one is displayed at the Chicago History Museum. This depiction is certainly much more barren than Christy's.

Happy birthday 146th birthday Howard Chandler Christy. Thanks for giving back some of your talents to represent Ohio.

Additional info:
Christy at the unveiling
You can zoom in on these to get a better look:
Working copy info in Garst Museum
Final version info in Ohio Statehouse

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Review: The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull

The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull by Robert M. Utley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had a paperback copy of this book in my possession for a couple of years. I picked it up second hand somewhere but never got around to reading it.
I actually haven't even finished the book but I'm on the last chapter and I felt compelled to write a quick review. This book is an amazing account not just of Sitting Bull and his times but of his way of thinking and the Sioux way of doing things. Popular culture has diluted this man and created a caricature of him that's hard to shake but the author does a good job, warts and all. The book is packed full of detail but it is easy to read and heavily sourced. I do however wish the author included more about his time with Cody's Wild West Show.
Near the end, I learned of his friendship with Indian advocate Catherine Weldon and discovered there is a book about her and a movie based on that book has just been released in September 2012 but I'm having trouble locating the 2002 book Woman Walking Ahead by Eileen Pollack at a reasonable price. It also seems like the movie is currently seeking US distribution.
This is one of those books I'll be sad when it ends! Will we ever get a proper movie biopic of Sitting Bull?

View all my reviews

Update to the review posted to Goodreads: I finished this book in October 2017 and did end up reading the informative Weldon book. The movie should be out in 2018.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Famous Ohio Indians glasses

Cornstalk, Little Turtle, Pontiac, Logan
In a recent post, I told you all about some Ohio Presidential glassware. This time it’s Ohio Indian glassware featuring Famous Ohio Indians: Blue Jacket, The Prophet, Tecumseh and Cornstalk (all Shawnee), White Eyes (Delaware), Little Turtle (Miami), Chief Logan (Mingo), and Pontiac (Ottawa). Each painted glass is 16 ounces and measures 6 1/2" tall and 2 3/4" across. It's clear that no attempt was made to resemble the person they are depicting. These are generic looking Indians but at least they appear to be an attempt at an Eastern Woodland look. In other words, there are no big Plains Indian war bonnets. I'll give them points for that.

very rare original box sighting
A funny coincidence. Eight Ohio Presidents, eight Ohio Indians. Both are also kind of loose with the "from". For example, of the Ohio Presidents, WH Harrison was born in VA but lived much of his adult life in Indiana. He ran for POTUS with his home state as Ohio and served in government there. Ohio and VA both claim him. For Grandson Ben, he was born in Ohio but served the state of Indiana and that state was his home state when he ran for President. Ohio and Indiana claim him. Grant was born in Ohio but lived most of his life elsewhere and Illinois was his home state. Ohio and Illinois claim him. You get the idea...

White Eyes, Tecumseh, The Prophet, Blue Jacket
Exact Indian birthplaces from that time period are hard to determine in many cases. Pontiac was likely born in MI although some think it was Defiance Ohio. Little Turtle was likely born in Indiana. Cornstalk and White Eyes, probably PA by birth. Logan was born somewhere East of Ohio, maybe WV. Most historians agree that the Shawnee Indians Blue Jacket, Tecumseh, and The Prophet were all born in Ohio. Regardless of those details, important aspects of all their legacies are tied to Ohio in some manner.

Oh, my. Here am debating the historical accuracy of frosted glass tumblers!

Blue Jacket
I'd originally seen an entire set at a local antique mall for $45 and I was kicking myself for passing it up. I ended up cobbling together my eight-piece set as individual purchases and Christmas gifts over a year or so. I certainly paid more than $45. Lesson learned

The set is from the late 1950s or early 1960s (I've never determined exact years) and was promoted by Bonded Oil. One glass was awarded for every $2.50 in gas purchased. Gas was about 25 cents a gallon then, but before you get too nostalgic on the gas price, keep in mind that with inflation that would be $2.10 a gallon in 2017 money. So roughly the same. I guess this was sort of like Kroger Fuel Points in reverse.

White Eyes
Unlike the Ohio President glasses, I’ve never been able to determine who made this series. A seller on eBay said Hazel-Atlas but that company had a distinct marking that I have not seen here. But as I’ve mentioned before, Ohio was one of the world’s leading glass producers so it’s pretty safe to say that given the context, they were made in Ohio.

I found a mention online that indicated that the art itself was done by Indian artist Acee Blue Eagle. The font in the heading is even the same as another collection he is known to have designed. That was an exciting development! However, I was able to quickly debunk that theory. I saw another article online that first appeared in an antique magazine in 1991. That person makes a good case that Blue Eagle had nothing to do with the Ohio glasses. They ARE very similar to a set of Oklahoma Indian glasses he painted and released in 1959 for a similar promotion by Knox Oil, but having been well known at the time, his artwork would have incorporated his name. The Ohio glasses are likely just a copycat design by another gas station chain capitalizing on mid-century America's Indian nostalgia thanks to movie Westerns and TV shows like The Lone Ranger.

Pitcher and original box - on my wishlist
There is also a 2-quart pitcher that goes with the set. I don’t have one and have never seen one in person. They show up on eBay from time to time. I'm hoping one shows up under my Christmas tree this year.
"c. Bonded" marking
For a while, I speculated that the pitcher was not really part of the set as it doesn’t have “Famous Ohio Indians” on it and also does not have “c. Bonded Oil Co.” anywhere like the glasses do. The artwork is even a bit different. However, I found that the original box with those words is printed on it. So the pitcher is definitely part of this set. Supposedly the pitcher was the bonus after you collected all eight glasses.

Now for a couple of unsolved mysteries.

4 smaller glasses - also on the wishlist
I've seen 4 smaller 4 3/4 oz glasses being sold sometimes with the pitcher and the eight large glasses which are: Little Jumping Rabbit, Princess Little Fawn, Little Princess Red Wing, Little Running Bear. These are all just generic names and cartoonish compared to the full-size glasses. None of them have a tribe listed or a mention of Ohio. I'm not really sure if they really go with this series or not but they do have “c. Bonded Oil Co.” on them and as far as I know, this is the only promotion like this that Bonded issued. They seem to be hard to find.

There may have even been a metal rack for the eight glasses but I've only seen one mention of that anywhere.

the lone Pontiac mystery glass
During my research, I discovered another oddity. Besides the eight glasses, there is a ninth “bonus” glass with the heading “Famous Ohio Indian” (note the singular), and “Pontiac/The Red Napoleon” at the bottom with a depiction of this chief but no tribal affiliation. It doesn’t have “c. Bonded Oil Co.” on it either. I’m not sure what the story is here. It's not the same artwork as the Pontiac in the full set but overall is similar in design. Perhaps it was prototype before the whole series was made? If so, I'm not sure why they would choose Pontiac. Tecumseh would be more "Ohio" than the others. This  Ottawa leader was active in Ohio but his birthplace is open for debate and most historians think he was born in Michigan where his famous rebellion occurred. Maybe it was because of the Pontiac car and these were gas station giveaways?   I have no idea and I was unable to find any more information.  I did, however, find one on eBay and snapped up this outlier for $13!

It’s one of my favorite glass collections. They are beautiful to look at and the set represents American Indians in the Ohio Valley from a time period I fell in love with many years ago.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill

Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In 2016 I was delighted to learn of the third book from New York Times best-selling author Candice Millard. Her first book Destiny of the Republic, about President Garfield's death, is one of my favorites. Ohio, an obscure President. That's right up my alley. Her second book River of Doubt on Teddy Roosevelt's post Presidential exploration of a river in the Amazon rainforest was like an adventure novel.
I just love her writing style. She really brings history to life in a highly readable fashion. If more teachers taught like she writes, we would have more students interested in how the world came to be, which to me is one of the major points of studying the past.

I will admit I was a bit hesitant to read the new book as the topic is outside my normal historical focus. It definitely has nothing to do with Ohio. It's not American or Presidential and it takes place at the turn of the 20th century. Hmmm.
Based on my love of her first two books I ended up getting the Kindle version and also checked out the audiobook from the library to listen to on my work commute.

This book turned out not to be just a biography on Churchill as a young man, it's also a primer on a war I suspect most people outside England or South Africa don't know anything about, the Second Boer War which implies there was a First I also never heard of. I didn't even know what a Boer was before I read this book. It turns out they are descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of southern Africa. They grew to hate British rule and also treated the indigenous people such as the Zulu terribly. All of this tension resulted in armed conflict with all of those groups. As a student of American history, this sounds familiar.
Given my interests, I saw some parallels. The Boers as the Americans, the British as...well the British imperialists trying to retain a colony, and the Native Africans as the Native Americans caught in the middle trying to hang on to what they had before the Europeans showed up.

Churchill arrived in South Africa in 1899 at age 29 as a war reporter and was captured by the Boer after two weeks during a train ambush. This was a setback for a man who was convinced greatness was his destiny. He remained a Boer prisoner for several months always observing and plotting his escape. It was amazing to me that POWs like Winston and captured officers unlike the average captured soldier here were allowed quite a few luxuries by their captors. They had access to haircuts, a camp store, decent food, and a degree of freedom within the camp. As the book states, this was more due to the Boers trying to show the world that they were not the curs the British made them out to be. They wanted respect in the eyes of the world. This desire certainly was an enabling factor in Churchill's successful escape. Millard covers in exciting detail how young Winston would make that escape alone over hundreds of miles in a hostile land with only a few meager provisions, his wits, and a few sympathetic South Africans.

My overall impression of Churchill from this book was that he was a blue-blooded overly confident and sometimes reckless and selfish man. We see this a lot in history. Men doing things for honor to gain a better station in life. We still see it but now but it's hardly ever at the risk of one's own life in war. He was a product of his time and heritage. Churchill's world would soon need a fearless leader like this. Those unrefined traits were sharpened during this period and came in handy later in helping win WWII.

I have an interesting takeaway mentioned in the epilogue, I had no idea that the term "concentration camp" was introduced by this war. Thousands of homeless Boer civilians perished in horrible conditions after their farms and towns were burned as part of a systematic British scorched Earth policy. It reminded me a bit of the regretful Trail of Tears in the US as well as the horrors of US Civil War campaigns such as Sherman's March. Regretfully we sometimes repeat the worst of history as we would also find out in Nazi Germany in WWII.

Millard really did it again with Hero of the Empire, another New York Times bestseller and a riveting page-turner on how a legendary historical figure got to be that way.

According to her Twitter account @candice_millard, the next book is about the discovery of the source of the Nile. Anything she writes is pretty great so I am definitely looking forward to it from the author of Amazon’s number one history book of 2016.

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Frosted Ohio Presidents

Never in my life did I think I would get excited about mid 20th-century frosted glass tumblers, but here I am blogging about it. Again. I now have several different sets of Ohio related drink-ware and I've posted about one them before. I learned from my previous research that Ohio was a leader in the glass industry from the late 1800's to the mid 20th century so there are many Ohio themed glasses from that period.

I started this next set of  "Presidents From Ohio" glass tumblers by picking up three of them for a good price at an antique mall several years ago. I've seen the rest on eBay but at $8-14 a piece plus several dollars for shipping that was going to set me back a bit to get the entire set of eight. I'm kind of a cheapskate. Another website had an incomplete set of 6 for $120. Ouch.

Thanks to the sharp eye of an old friend browsing at a local antique mall who sent up the Gehio signal (he texted me), yours truly is now the proud owner of an entire eight-piece set. The best part? Only $35!

This series was designed by Fran Taylor and produced by her company, Gay Fad Studios of Lancaster, OH which was open from 1945-1962. Fran obtained blank glassware from various Ohio manufacturers such as Hazel Atlas Glass in Zanesville and Federal Glass in Columbus. Another was Anchor Hocking which was a few doors down from Fran's Pierce Avenue studio. The blanks were then stenciled and hand-painted. Because I had duplicates, I compared them. I noticed that the coloring on the birthplaces is somewhat different. That makes each one is unique.

The 12-ounce frosted glass tumblers are 5" high with a rim diameter or 2-3/4". The front of each President’s glass features his portrait, a facsimile of his signature, and his years in office (or year of the month in W. H. Harrison's case) with “Presidents From Ohio” above, all in brown, while the back shows his birthplace* in brown with colorful accents. In all my research I've never been able to determine the exact year these were made. Perhaps the secret is contained within the two-volume 610 page book published in 2011, Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy by Donna McGrady. At $150 that's too rich for my blood to find out. I'm not so much obsessed with Fran's entire impressive career and work as I am about this particular set of glasses. It would be nice to know how many were made since as I stated before, being hand painted, they are all slightly different.

*Since I am William Henry Harrison obsessed, I noticed that being a Virginian by birth, Harrison's is not a birthplace, but a home in Ohio when he was elected. However, he never lived in a home that looked like a log cabin. The same scene is used in grandson Ben Harrison's birthplace. Ben was born on William's farm in North Bend OH but it was more like a mansion. All the others seem pretty accurate.

I have a couple of other full Ohio related glassware sets to write about waiting in the wings, so look for that...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Review: Last Stand

Last Stand Last Stand by Michael Punke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A story of greed, survival, and redemption in America. Punke tells us how mankind can have a devastating impact on the environment and how one man helped turn it around.

This is more than just a book about how American thirst for land nearly destroyed the buffalo and how one man led a cause to halt it. Once again I am reminded of the way movies and cartoonish history books have shaped our views of the past and make everything seem so clean and noble. Most Americans likely believe that mere rugged individuals set out and tamed the wild west in a quest for adventure. Yee haw..the end. That sentiment is partly true but it is not even close to the whole story. Oftentimes history and its cast of characters can be a paradox.

In the late 19th century the West was tamed, or plundered if you will, in part by the robber barons and railroad men of the Eastern US who held great influence over Congress. The frontier men doing the dirty work were generally Army deserters, fugitives, and men who could make more money poaching and panning for gold vs Army life, mining or ranching. Both groups of people knew that protection laws and Native American treaties barely had a penalty and rarely enforced if they could be enforced at all. The robber barons made sure of that via their lobbyists in Washington during the scandalous Grant Administration. I find it ironic that the US Army was sent to patrol Yellowstone and prevent the further demise of the buffalo when just a few years earlier they were the very ones sent to help wipe out the Plains Indian in part by destroying the buffalo which they relied on for almost every need. That policy forced American Indians into the reservation system.

George Bird Grinnell witnessed this all first hand. He was born into a privileged class and could have been another robber baron but instead became a naturalist, author, and editor of Forest and Stream, the leading natural history magazine in the US during a time of wanton greed and reckless over-hunting. Many of the characters such as Grinnell, Teddy Roosevelt and William Tecumseh Sherman, like Daniel Boone before them, would come to lament the passing of the wild frontier and the near extinction of the buffalo, something which they helped cause.

Like all history, context is important and it is difficult to judge the zeitgeist of the past by today's standards but there were people then who found some of these policies and ideas unjust and worked to change conventional wisdom and in some cases redeemed themselves from a deplorable past. To me people such as this are the true heroes of history yet Grinnell, who later founded the Audubon Society, savior of Yellowstone and the buffalo, among other great successes, was a man the NY Times called in 1938 the "father of American conservationism" remains an obscure historical figure.

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