November 30, 2010

Old Court House in Harrisonburg

Court Square in November

Harrisonburg, Virginia -- in the Shenandoah Valley

November 29, 2010

November at Willow Lake

Near Raphine, VA

Image Note: I used a Poster Edge filter in Photoshop and then made the altered layer fainter. Also added texture.

November 28, 2010

A Belated Thanksgiving Post

The thing I really like about Thanksgiving is getting together with family. Marie came down from Jersey City. We got together with my sister, and the next day with Allison and Dave, and eventually with Lynn.

[If you want to see a bigger version of a picture ,just click on it.]

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2010

Beautiful Green Tree

I saw this tree at Oatlands in early October. Is it some kind of Japanese maple?

November 25, 2010

Elements of A Garden: Oatlands

Formal gardens have more than just plants. The extensive gardens at Oatlands feature elaborate structures and decorative elements.

Near Leesburg, VA - October 2010

November 24, 2010

A Visit to Oatlands

Last month I toured Oatlands Plantation with members of the Mt. Jackson Garden Club. This was my first visit to the historic house and gardens, although I had been to events in the carriage house meeting room.

The house dates to the early 1800's and has been lovingly restored. The extensive gardens are on a hillside landscaped into tiers.

Oatlands is near Leesburg, VA. It is a National Trust for Historic Preservation site.

November 22, 2010

At the End of Orkney Grade

Shrine Mont, October 24

Route 263 in Shenandoah County ends in a loop in Orkney Springs. (At least one writer refers to the loop as an ankh!) Charming old resort buildings line the streets there. They are part of Shrine Mont.

In late afternoon, sunlight streamed through the autumn leaves, giving them a wonderful golden glow.

November 21, 2010

Red Banks in Autumn

I took these photos last month just north of Mount Jackson. We're looking at the North Fork of the Shenandoah.

See also a winter view taken nearby.

November 20, 2010

Maple by Mill Creek

There's a church west of Mt. Jackson that overlooks Mill Creek. We stopped there a few years ago to admire the fall colors. Last month we stopped there again on October 21 and I took these pictures.

November 19, 2010

Autumn View Near Keezletown, VA

Here we're facing Massanutten Mountain just off Indian Trail Road northeast of Harrisonburg. Note the shadow of the fence on the left side.

I used some Photoshop filters on this image but then made them more subtle by reducing the visibility of the layer I applied them to.

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November 18, 2010

Reading About Reenactors

Not too long ago I read Last of the Dixie Heroes by Peter Abrahams. (Actually, I listened to the audio book version.) Anyway, it was a novel about a man who got involved in Civil War reenacting and wound up in an exciting adventure. Some readers don't like it because it does not portray reenacting accurately, but it is clearly a fantasy so that didn't bother me.

If you want to read a journalist's look at reenactors, try Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. This book made a serious reenactor named Robert Lee Hodge somewhat famous - my picture of Hodge gets a lot of hits as a result.

I notice that a number of folks who reviewed Horwitz's book on Amazon
took offense at his suggesting that the Civil War was fought over slavery. Southerners get upset over this because they don't want to equate their ancestors with slaveholders, and the majority of southerners did not own slaves. I think there is a middle ground on this argument: let's admit that the war would not have started at that time if slavery were not an issue, but most soldiers did not fight either to defend or to oppose slavery. There is a difference between what motivated individuals and what was an underlying political cause.
I took these photos at last month's Battle of Cedar Creek in Middletown.

November 17, 2010

Previous Posts about Cedar Creek

I've been posting photos of last month's reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek. I've written about Cedar Creek Battlefield before. It's less than an hour from my home and it's in a lovely area. Last year I shared photos of a class and field trip taught by Jonathan Noyalas of Lord Fairfax Community College (see list of posts below) and several years ago I posted pictures of another field trip to Cedar Creek, that one organized and led by Professor Poland of NVCC.

Girls Like Horses

I took these photos at the reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek shortly before the troops got in position for the "battle."

The woman in the right-hand picture is riding side-saddle. You don't see that much anymore but it was common when women rode skirts all the time.

November 15, 2010

Folks at the Confederate Camp

Reenactment at Middletown, VA

Before the reenactment began for the Battle of Cedar Creek, we walked through the "Confederate Camp." There wasn't really a Confederate Camp on this site but the geography had to be greatly compressed in order to fit everything on the fields that were available for the event.

I enjoyed seeing the costumes and the long rows of tents.

Civil War Soldiers in Action

Reenactment at Middletown, VA
October 16, 2010

I took a huge number of photographs at the "Battle of Cedar Creek." Many are similar shots which aren't worth posting or printing, but I kept clicking away because the action was changing quickly. Since I was using the digital camera there was a brief lag between the time I pressed the button and the time the picture was taken so I couldn't be sure what image was actually captured.

For a while I felt overwhelmed by the task of picking which pictures to post out of the over 200 that I transferred off the memory card, but this week finally selected some. This pair is from the height of the acted-out battle.

The reenactment was entertaining. It can't look completely authentic because the actual battle took place over a much larger area than is available or practical for a public exhibition, plus the number or reenactors is not nearly as large as the number of soldiers who were actually involved in the battle. Also the safety of the horses who are used impose some limitations. And of course no one gets killed.

If you haven't been to a reenactment, I recommend seeing one. It's based on history but the overall feeling is one of spectacle rather than warfare, and reminiscent of a parade but more exciting.

November 14, 2010

Confederate Reenactors

The Confederate Reenactors put on an attractive display at Cedar Creek. It almost made you forget that they lost that battle and consequently, lost control of the Shenandoah Valley for the remainder of the Civil War.

See my Civil War Field Trips pages on the Battle of Cedar Creek.

November 13, 2010

Frank Views the Battle of Cedar Creek

reenactmentFrank took these photographs at the Civil War reenactment on October 16. He had not been to a reenactment before because he was working when I went to this one in October 2007 or to New Market in May 2010.

He took the first photo looking toward the Confederate artillery. The second photo shows the Yankees advancing.
civil war reenactors

November 12, 2010

Young Reenactors

Living History at Middletown, VA
October 2010

These cute girls were participating in the "Living History" portion of the reenactment at Cedar Creek. Entire families dress up in fashions from the Civil War era and spend the day at the army camps, providing visitors with a glimpse of how families might have looked in 1864.

The Battle of Cedar Creek took place between Middletown and Strasburg in the Shenandoah Valley.

November 11, 2010

Thoughts on Veterans Day

I admire the courage of people who put their lives on the line,
who act on the principle that their group, their community, their country is important,
more important than their own safety.
I've walked on many battlefields, felt awe at the commitment and bravery of soldiers who fought there.
And I've read many books about the Civil War and other struggles in my country
and I am convinced that the average soldier joined their cause because of a feeling we call patriotism
Which is not so much about a philosophy as it is about geography.
A connection with a place, loyalties toward the familiar and the loved.

cavalry at Middletown

Autumnal Arrangement

Seen in Port Republic.

November 10, 2010

Robert David Harper, 1823-1890

In my last post I mentioned my great-great-grandfather Rev. Robert D. Harper and included a picture. I've checked the Web and found more information about him. (Thank you, internet!) Let me summarize what I discovered recently.

In the 1870 Census, I found him listed in Indianapolis, where a church report shows him serving as minister for the First Presbyterian Church. From the mostly-legible census page, I gather that his wife was named Sarah.
Robert Harper, 46 Clergyman born PA
Sarah Harper, 43 Keeping House b. PA
Nellie J. 21 at home b. Ohio
Mary 19 " b. Ohio
?__ (Lidie?) 17 " b. Ohio
John 16 Bank Clerk b. Ohio
Arthur 26 Book Keeper b. Arkansas

A domestic servant is listed as living in their household.

A seach using Google books took me to Frank Leslie's Sunday magazine, Volume 16. It has an article on Reverend Harper's misadventures while returning from Palestine and Egypt. He and his wife were quarantined along with some other passengers and then left on the shores of Italy where they had to make their way to Naples "as best they could." The article gives some additional background on Rev. Harper including:
  • During the Civil War he had charge of a hospital at Camp Dennison, Ohio and was commissioned by the governor to form a corps of civilians to look after the interests of Ohio soldiers. He spent most of the War in the Army of the Cumberland.
  • Subsequently he was Superintendent of Education for the State of Alabama.
  • Elected President of the Alabama University, he declined, preferring to return to the ministry.
I like to search different sources, and on Amazon I discovered that Robert David Harper wrote a book called The church memorial: containing important historical facts and reminiscences connected with the Associate and Associate Reformed churches, previous to ... United Presbyterian church of North America. Using that information, I found that it is partly viewable on Google books. I took a look but found it dull to read.

Picture of Camp Dennison

Postscript, 2014: I learned that Robert's wife was born Sarah C. Flemming (or Fleming). The 1880 census gives her birth date as 1830, although this does not quite match the above. In 1880, she and Dr. Harper were living in Philadelphia.

Ancestors Henry G. Goodrich and R. D. Harper

I don't know much about my great-grandfather Goodrich but an email question about his wife Alida Belle prompted me to look him up on Google. He married Alida Belle Harper (as I mentioned here) and their daughter was my grandmother.

From a scanned-in 1865 report of Philadelphia's North Broad Street Church, I see that they were married by that time for both were listed as teachers with her using the name Alida B. Goodrich. Henry also held some offices in the church, which is not surprising since family lore says that Alida's father was a Presbyterian minister and the report lists "Rev. R. D. Harper, D.D." as "our beloved pastor."

By searching Google books I found an death notice for Henry G. Goodrich in an old book from 1915 called "The Locomotive," which was a report from the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. It starts out:
"Henry G. Goodrich, of the firm of Goodrich and Wickham, General Agents for The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, at Philadelphia, Pa, died at Atlantic City, N.J., on April 28, after an illness of about a year.
Mr. Goodrich was born at Berlin, Conn., September 19, 1846. His parents were natives of Connecticut. His youth was spent on his father's farm, and his early education was obtained in the country schoolhouse nearby.
He removed to Philadelphia at the age of 21, and in the Spring of 1867, with Mr. E. A. Corbin, formed the firm of Corbin and Goodrich, to represent The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. "
It goes on about his final illness (a cold and then heart trouble), his membership in the church, and "He was a director of the Presbyterian Ministers Fund, believed to be the oldest life insurance company in the country, and a very prosperous one."

Eventually Alida Belle went to live with her daughter in the Chicago area, and my mother (who was a child then) called her "Lila." As far as I know, my aunt is the only person left who remembers Lila. By that time Lila did not have surviving siblings.

The church report mentioned above gives me the name of Lila's father, Dr. Harper. With that I found his 1890 obituary from in the archives of the New York Times. He died suddenly at the age of 66. He left two daughters and a son, all grown.

It states that he was pastor of the North Broad Street Presbyterian Church for 19 years. Born in Washington, Pennsylvania, he graduated from Western University at Pittsburg in 1848 and studied theology at United Presbyterian Seminary at Allegheny City. For a long time he was pastor of the United Presbyterian Church in Xenia and later of the First Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis "of which President Harrison is an elder."

Postscript: I found more information on Dr. Harper including this picture. Looks like I have material for another post.

November 9, 2010

November 8, 2010

Fuchsia Blossoms

It's the end of the season for our hanging baskets. We've had the first frost and for the time being I bring the baskets inside at night. Soon the daytime temperatures will be too cold too so I'll take the baskets down to the furnace room for the winter.

The hummingbirds have gone south, of course. While they were here they frequented the fuchsia and hanging petunias. I hung their feeder near the baskets so they could recharge with sugar-water whenever they wanted.

November 7, 2010

A View of Edinburg Gap

Edinburg Gap in the Massanutten Range,
Shenandoah Valley

Seen from Hoover Road at Henry Ford Drive
Woodstock, VA

November 6, 2010

New Edition, Shenandoah Backroads

Today I went to a book-signing event for Touring the Shenandoah Valley Backroads, Second Edition. Author Andrea Sutcliffe shared slides of some of the places in her book. She and her husband are both volunteers at our local library.

I have a copy of the first edition and found it very useful, so I purchased the updated version.