June 30, 2006

Battle of Bull Run Moves to Middletown Area

This year's reenactment of the Battle of First Bull Run (Manassas) will take place at the location of another battle, Cedar Creek. Even via I-66, the locations are an hour apart.

The National Park Service does not allow reenactments on park grounds, and the farmland that used to surround Manassas has disappeared under urban sprawl. So the grounds of Belle Grove will substitute for Manassas Battlefield.

The reenactment takes place July 21-23, 2006.

June 29, 2006

Still trying to sell that house!

Hardly anyone has even looked at our waterfront home in Glebe Harbor. The vacation home market has slowed to a crawl. So I created an ad at CraigsList. It's a good thing we don't NEED to sell right now. But it would be nice to sell it so we can buy a larger place in the Shenandoah area.

By the way, Bryce Resort has a festival coming up July 1: craft sales, kids program, book sale... and of course, fireworks!

More or less regular updates

  1. A few days ago I added some correspondence on the Javins Genealogy pages.
  2. I just posted the July Events for Spiritual Singles.
Did you know that posting your email address anywhere on the web will increase the amount of junk email that you get? In some cases you can substitute a coded version using ASCII text - there are ASCII conversion tools on the web to help. (For those who must know, ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange.)

[Postscript: Links Updated, 2/2012. ]

June 27, 2006

Battle of Lexington, Virginia

story of Hunter at Lexington
When we were in Lexington yesterday, I followed a Civil War Trails sign to Jordan's Point. Here a sign tells the story of the Union victory at the North Maury River:
"In this spot, in the early morning hours of Saturday June 11, 1864, Confederate Gen. John McCausland and about 1,500 gray-clad soldiers lined the riverbank between a cedar thicket and the warehouses that cluttered the canal landing. They stretched up the bluff behind you where a Confederate artillery section was located. By mid-morning, Gen. David Hunter's 18,000 Union infantry and artillery occupied the hillside across the river in front of you, en route to Lynchburg to destroy the railroad facilities there. Two of Hunter's infantry divisions under Gens. George Crook and Jeremiah C. Sullivan attempted to cross the North River here and a mile uptream at Leyburn's Ford, while Gen. William W. Averill's cavalry division crossed several miles upstream and to the west.

General HunterMcCausland torched the covered bridge (the stone abutments are still visible) after calling in his skirmishers from the far bank. Union Gen. Rutherford B. Hayes, later our 19th president, commanded the first Federals to arrive on the opposite bank. Several hours of skirmishing followed while Hunter's forces consolidated their position. By mid-afternoon, McCausland ordered a withdrawal, leaving open the road into Lexington. The Confederates retreated to Buchanan and Lynchburg. The following day, Hunter ordered the Institute and the home of former Virginia Governor Letcher burned. The library and classrooms of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) as well as many private residences were ransacked. Hunter departed Lexington for Lynchburg on June 14."

Near the Lexington Vistors' Center is another historical marker telling a similar story and stating that shells went through some houses, frightening the inhabitants. The picture of General Hunter is from that sign. Below is a street scene looking uphill from the Visitors' Center.

June 26, 2006

High Water in Virginia

jordan park under waterWe stopped at Jordan Point Park in Lexington this morning and found part of the park under water. The Maury River was out of its banks, nowhere near its historic floodwater levels but rising - and the rain continued after that.

After a dry spring, western Virginia has had several days of rain and may get even more. I hear that communities lower down are suffering flooding, including the Washington DC area.

A duck watches the river rise

floodwaters at lexington
The Maury River surges under the Route 11 Bridge

June 25, 2006

Squirrel of the Month, June '06

gray squirrel

Group at Fancy Gap, VA

Austin, Kate, Frank, Justin

The little eatery where we met up with Kate has an Andy Griffith Show theme due to its proximity to Mt. Airy, North Carolina.

June 23, 2006

Austin and Justin Visit

guysAustin and Justin visited us in Basye. We took them to Deauville Deer Farm and they enjoyed feeding the exotic chickens and the fallow deer.

Justin holds Gail's pet chicken.

deerGail Rose raises the deer and chickens and grows organic vegetables. I wrote about her farm before when we went to the deer roundup.

We also cooked some Bubba Burgers on the grill and Justin said they were the best cheeseburgers ever. Later Frank took the boys swimming.


Geese at Weatherall Creek

goose flotilla
These are geese that visited us when we were staying at Glebe Harbor. The Canadian geese and white geese hang out together.


June 21, 2006

Civil War Books I'm Reading Now

Well, I need to send in my book reports for my Civil War class but there are two books I want to finish reading first. (The links will take you to their listings on Amazon.)

  1. Civil War Memoirs of Two Rebel Sisters edited by William D. Wintz, a short book compiled of Civil War-era letters, mostly by the Hansford sisters who grew up in the Kanawha Valley. One married a doctor from Newtown, Virginia and moved there before the war. As a resident along the Valley Pike south of Winchester, she tells of the armies moving by, sometimes visiting her home.

  2. Conversations with Shelby Foote by William Carter and others.

Foote, a well-known southern writer who died in 2005, shares many interesting opinions on writing, the south, and the American Civil War. In one interview, Dick Cavett asked " What would it have taken for the war to go the other way, for the South to win?" Foote said:
It would have taken more than the South ever had. The North fought that war with one hand, the other hand behind its back. If circumstances had called for it, the North simply would have brought that other hand out... One thing you have to realize is how much the North did in addition to fight the war. Vassar, M.I.T. -- I can't remember the long list of universities and colleges that were established during the war. The Homestead Act was in full blast. The West was settled during the war. The North by no means exerted its last ounce of energy and the South very nearly did. There was no way. I think anything the South could have done on its own would never have won the war. the once chance would have been intervention by England or France and there was no chance for that.

June 19, 2006

Enclosures in the old Bible

A few items were tucked inside my g-g-grandfather's Bible. One is an embroidered bookmark with "For Dr. Suiter" written on it. At the bottom it is signed Ella E. Howe. She was also one of the various people who gave him the Bible.

Also inside the Bible was an old newspaper clipping about a disastrous tornado. It lists "Mrs. E. Howe and two children" as among those killed. The date was cut off of the clipping but I believe this must have been the tornado of May 25 1896 that I found described on several websites including NOAA.gov.

Here are some excerpts from the old newspaper. (Sorry, the name of the paper is not on the clipping.)


Over the South Part of Lapeer County, Without Warning the Demon Cyclone Made a Fell Swoop, Devouring Everything Before IT.
The Hissing Storm Swept From the West.
Life, Buildings, Crops, Sacrificed.
Houses, Barns, Farm Buildings Crushed Like Egg Shells.
Dead Stock and Human Beings Strewn Over Miles of Country.
The Scene of the Awful Disaster Looks a Gettysburg Red with Gore, Vocal with the Moans of the Dying.

... The cloud when first discovered is reported to have worn the shape of a funnel, and was of a greenish black color. It whirled, top-like. Everything in its path, a sweep of a mile wide, was laid in a perfect wreck. The National hotel was demolished, together with the hotel barn across the way. The twisting, whirling wind then took in its arms Cowan's elevator, the M C depot, apple dryer, Maccabee hall, Knapp's store, postoffice building, homes and structures of every description--literally mowing the district, making of what two hours before was the beautiful hamlet of Thomas a dreary waste.

... Some 50 lives are reported lost... Andrew Pettibone, aged about 24, living on the Andrew Johnson farm, two miles east of Thomas was instantly killed and his wife was badly hurt.. Chas. Hicks and son Fred, living on Wm. Skillman's farm were instantly killed.
Myron Johnson, leg broken.
Mrs. S. Copeman, fatally injured...
A child of Mrs. Frank Laidlaw was killed in its mother's arms and the mother's badly injured.
Wm Brahms, aged about 70, was killed instantly and his wife severely injured.
Mrs. Oscar Slate, aged about 40, was killed instantly, and her husband was severely injured; leg broken in two places and internal injuries.
Thos. Bishop, aged about 60, was instantly killed. Two cows and two horses were also killed.
Joseph Smiley, Jr., was killed. His aged father and mother were both fatally injured and will die.
Dr. Suiter's large house and his barns were destroyed, together with two horse and one cow....

The fury of the storm was probably the greatest at Oakwood. The village was completely annihilated, and farm houses and barns were completely destroyed. Out of about 50 buildings, only seven were left standing...

Mrs. Wm. Davison and child killed.
Mrs. F. Stewart, killed.
Mrs. Wolverton, killed.
E. Fifield, killed.
Mrs. E. Howe and two children, killed.
Mrs. E. Fifield, two limbs broken.

.... Drs. Hathaway and Thompson of Lapeer were summoned to the scene of the catastrophe and did all in their power to alleviate the suffering of injured and dying.

I suppose Dr. Suiter whose house and barns were destroyed was my g-g-grandfather.

TornadoProject.com says "The year 1896 may have been one of the worst year for tornadoes in the history of the USA.

And a webpage on Oxford, Michigan says that "Thomas had a store, hotel, grain elevator and gristmill by the late 1870s. These two areas of Oxford Township continued to prosper until May 1896, when they were largely devastated by a monster tornado which traveled across the entire north end of Oakland County. The tornado killed 41 people and injured 46 others in northern Oakland and southern Lapeer counties. Seventeen of the fatalities were in the northern portion of Oxford Township, from the Oakwood village area to Thomas. While many of the homes in Oakwood and Thomas were rebuilt, the two communities were never again centers of commerce."

June 18, 2006

My great-great-grandfather's Bible

old bibleI have a large old bible that belonged to my ancestor Dr. James Suiter. Inside is a fancy inscription page showing that it was a given from friends in Hadley, Michigan on Dec. 25, 1875. Last names of friends appear to be Stockwell, Proctor, Davenport, Brown, Moorland, Henderson, McCrackin, Little, Hemingway, Howe, Gunison (or Yunison?), Quick, Bates, Hutton, Stevens, and Mills.

dedication page

One of the signers, Susie Davenport, married Dr. Suiter in 1877. In the center of the bible are several pages of family records including a Certificate of Holy Matrimony, stating that the marriage "was celebrated between James P. Suiter of Hadley, Mich. and Susan Davenport of Elba, Mich." The officiant was M. A. Bullock, witnesses were Mr. and Mrs. Francis.

Like many 19th century bibles, this one is elaborately illustrated.

Footnote: I found the following mention of Dr. Suiter in the Medical history of Michigan: Volume II:
At a meeting of the Lapeer County Medical Society, held at Imlay City, November 13, 1917, Dr. J. P. Suiter, of Hadley, one of Lapeer County's oldest physicians, was elected an honorary member.

Dr. Suiter died in 1921 and was buried beside his wife in Greenwood Cemetery in Hadley.

Father's Day 2006

It's Father's Day and it's hard to believe that my dad has been gone six years. He was born in 1916 and married my mom in 1940.

Dad served in the Navy during World War II and then worked for the Veteran's Administration. He later worked for the Census Bureau but retired early due to disabling manic depression. Eventually he recovered enough to have an enjoyable retirement in which he and my mother took long camping trips through the eastern USA and Canada. In their old age they lived at Cameron Glen in Reston.

I previously wrote about his family history at Suiter Genealogy and Morton Genealogy.

My Parents At Aldie Mill

June 17, 2006

Waterfront home

Here's another view of the house at Glebe Harbor. This is a partial view of the rear of the house as seen from the creek.

So far very few potential buyers have seen the house. Our Montross realtor Mrs. Hutt says that more folks will be looking in the next few weeks now that school is out.

We added a FOR SALE sign down at the water for the benefit of boaters on Weatherall Creek. We also added a brochure box in front of the house.

We have mixed feelings about selling the house. We certainly enjoy visiting it and watching the water birds. But our other home is in a lovely mountain resort, and taking a vacation from a resort is rather redundant.


womanIt was nice having Allison and Dave visit us at Glebe Harbor.
dogWe all walked over to the beach, which was lovely as usual.

Dave took the photo below. Coles Point is in the background.


Frank and Linda

turkey hen and chicksWe went to a used bookstore in Tappahannock and ate at Frank's favorite Chinese restaurant in Warsaw. We also drove to Montross and the crossroads called Chiltons where we happened to see a deer and a family of wild turkeys. Wild turkeys have made a comeback in Virginia but this was the first time I saw a hen with chicks.

wild turkey family

June 16, 2006

June 15, 2006

Sittin' on the dock of the bay


Taking it Easy At the Mouth of Lower Machodoc Creek

sandy spaniel

That sand didn't taste too good.

June 14, 2006

June 11, 2006

Other Civil War Tours

I received an email from a man in Australia who is looking for tours of Civil War Sites in the eastern U.S. I responded that "there are a number of organizations offering tours. If your schedule allows you to attend one of the tours led by Ed Bearss, take advantage of it because I've heard people rave about his tours. He is associated with the Smithsonian Associates; see http://civilwarstudies.org/local.asp and http://civilwarstudies.org/overnight.asp.The Civil War Preservation Trust links to http://www.historyamerica.com/ so I would look at their offerings."

Of course, my personal favorites are college-sponsored; the ones sponsored by community colleges are bargain-priced.

June 10, 2006

Seen from our deck in the Northern Neck

Here's our friend the heron, a magnificent bird.

You can see more photos of Glebe Harbor-Cabin Point at www.javins.com/harbor/. And I'll post some new ones over the next few days.

June 9, 2006

Nice place for ducks

Frank's townhouse was leased out quickly, so the rental market in Northern Virginia seems healthy. Real estate sales in the Northern Neck are a different story. Hardly anyone has even looked at our house in Glebe Harbor. Prices on existing homes seem to have stalled but prices on waterfront lots are still going up.

The ducks and herons still like our little cove.


Ducks feed with their tails up in the air

June 7, 2006

Dik-diks and lions

Marie's book has gotten it's first positive review and that's from a pre-publication copy. See Peter Moore's blog. The book is Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik and it's about her adventures in Africa.

And if you haven't checked Marie's blog lately, she finally published those photos of lion sex... discretely pixelated!

June 6, 2006

Nonfiction that I'm Reading

Pet Allergies by Alfred Plechner, DVM - A slim book with warnings that most commercial pet food is not adequate for your pet's health.

Cesar's Way by Cesar Milan, star of The Dog Whisperer. I am a fan of Cesar Milan; he is a genius with dogs - and their owners!

The Rice Diet Report by Judy Moskovitz. I got this from the library; glad I didn't spend good money on this commercial for a diet center in Durham. Still, for the morbidly obese, this strict diet is probably safer than surgery.

Lincoln at Gettysburg - The Words that Remade America by Garry Wills. So thorough that it bogs down at places but very informative. I listed to the audio cassette version and may get the paper version so that I can review the part on Lincoln's use of language.

June 4, 2006

How Green is Our Valley

We enjoy exploring the Shenandoah Valley. Always beautiful, it is particularly lush and green this time of year.

Local writer Andrea Sutcliffe wrote Exploring the Shenandoah Valley Backroads and we have used it to find some charming places.