February 29, 2012

Clock Towers, Winchester

Old Court House
Winchester City Hall

Courtyard, Winchester

View from the Courthouse Steps, Winchester, Virginia
Here Frank is looking at a plaque about Lord Fairfax, who owned and administered a huge land grant in Colonial Virginia. It was Fairfax who hired the 16-year-old George Washington in 1748 to survey his lands.

By the 1860's, the court house was here and the yard in front of it was surrounded by an iron fence. The fenced area and the building were put to use as a jail for captured Union soldiers and miscreant Confederates.

Sgt. Henry Peck, a Pennsylvania soldier who was captured and briefly imprisoned here in 1862, wrote,
“In Winchester we were consigned to the court-house and the inclosure between it and the street. There were already in the these precincts a crowd of some 300 rebels, stragglers, conscripts and the riff-raff a provost-guard can pick up—a miserable lot—who did not fraternize with our men, and who were so filthy in clothing and habits that our men remained of choice in the open yard without tents or blankets, even during the nights of hoarfrost, to avoid contact with those in the court-house, which we were otherwise free to occupy.”

February 28, 2012

Historic Frederick County Courthouse, Winchester

The old courthouse in Winchester is now a museum located on the downtown mall. The downstairs has a courtroom and a gift shop. Upstairs is a Civil War Museum featuring displays of graffiti left by soldiers when the building was used as a hospital during the war.

statue of soldier
Here's an excerpt from the Civil War Trails sign that's in front of the building:
During the Civil War, the Union and Confederate armies each used the Frederick County Courthouse as a hospital and a prison.

Cornelia McDonald, a local citizen, nursed the wounded here after the First Battle of Kernstown on March 23, 1862. She later wrote, “I went to the court house; the porch was strewed with dead men. Some had papers pinned to their coats telling who they were. All had the capes of their coats turned over to hide their still faces; but their poor hands, so pitiful they looked and so helpless. ... Soon men carried them away to make room for others who were dying inside.”

and the

February 27, 2012

Looking Out an Old Window

In Winchester, VA

Old Courtroom

County Courthouse, Winchester, VA
Now a museum, the old courthouse in Winchester was once used as a hospital during the Civil War. An upper level houses a Civil War museum.

An interpretive sign outside tells us:
The Greek Revival-style Frederick County Courthouse, designed by Baltimore architect Robert Cary Long, Jr., was completed in 1840. It was the third on this location. In 1758, the first courthouse was the site of George Washington’s first election to office, when voters here elected him a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses.

February 26, 2012

Hello, Woodpecker!

We have a pair of pileated woodpeckers that visits our yard frequently. Usually if I see one and watch for a while, I'll spot the other one. If they don't see me, that is. They are quite shy.

This one's on the ground. More often they're perched on a tree or hanging on a suet feeder, or even drilling holes in the deck railing.

I think my best pileated woodpecker photo was one I took last March. They move pretty much constantly. I've probably taken and deleted dozens of blurry pictures of these handsome birds.

February 25, 2012

Return to Silver Lake

Silver Lake Mill is one of those places I find hard to drive past without stopping to take a picture. It's on the west side of Dayton, Virginia on County Route 701.

There's a Civil War Trails sign nearby telling how the Bowman Mill on this site was burned during Sheridan's Campaign in 1864.

See also the pictures I took at Silver Lake a year ago.

February 24, 2012

The Captcha Dilemma

No doubt you've been annoyed by a Captcha at some point! You know what I mean — a couple of words with distorted letters that are challenging to read, printed on some noisy background. You have to type them into a box in order to do something, like comment on a blog post.

CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart and the idea is that a person can read it but a "bot" or software program cannot. (Read more about Captcha on Google.

It's a good idea, but lately the Captchas on Blogger have gotten so hard to decipher that readers are giving up and just not entering comments. For that reason, I have removed "Captcha" verification from my blog comments but added moderation for comments on posts more than a week old. Immediately I started getting spam comments. I marked them as spam and they went away. So we'll see how it goes.

I really like getting comments. This blog averages 70-something visitors a day but only a few comments a week. I'd love to get more, as long as they are from real people and not virtual robots.

Abe Lincoln's Virginia Roots are Topic of Exhibit

HRHS Heritage Museum, Dayton, VA
There's a new exhibit at the Heritage Museum about Lincoln's Rockingham Roots. On the way there we stopped briefly at the Lincoln family homestead to consider how his ancestor's were comfortably well off.  Yet we think of President Lincoln as coming from a poor background. What happened?

The exhibit gives some clues. Abe Lincoln's grandfather, also named Abraham, left Virginia for the frontier in 1780, when Lincoln's father was only four years old. (This date is from the museum; it differs from the Wikipedia account.) I'll call the president's grandfather Captain Lincoln to avoid confusion; he had served as a captain during the Revolutionary War.

In 1786, Captain Lincoln was working on his large farm in frontier Kentucky when he was killed by Indians. He left a wife and five children. They moved to a safer part of Kentucky. Eventually the oldest son inherited two-thirds of Captain Lincoln's estate, but Abe Lincoln's father Thomas, the youngest, inherited nothing.

Life on the frontier was not easy for a widow with five children, and Thomas went to work at a young age. I imagine that starting a farm and building a log cabin was about the best he could do when he grew up. So Abe Lincoln's log cabin childhood was not unusual, it was a common part of life on the frontier.

The exhibit includes letters that President Lincoln wrote to a cousin in Virginia indicating an interest in his family history. However, they wound up on different sides during the Civil War as the Virginia Lincolns stayed loyal to their state after secession.

The museum has other exhibits and is well worth visiting. It also has a genealogy collection upstairs for people researching ancestors who lived in Rockingham County.

February 23, 2012

Old Mill Falling Down

On Water Street in Woodstock, VA

This old building looks like it may fall down the next time the wind blows. I'm calling it a mill in the sense of a factory with certain kinds of equipment. You can see machinery through the places where the walls have fallen away.

Maybe someone can tell me what was manufactured here. The building looks too far gone to be salvaged. It looks forlorn standing there.

Postscript, 4/1/2013: I received an email saying this mill has collapsed. It was called French's Mill. Looking for that name on the web, I see on the Hottel-Keller site that it was built in 1888.

February 22, 2012

Ballpark, February

Riverview Park, Woodstock, VA

February 21, 2012

Views from the Effinger Trail

The Effinger Trail in Woodstock's Riverview Park consists of two loops, each a third of a mile long. The trail was muddy on the day we visited and we only walked the first loop. It's fairly level as far as the viewpoint shown here, where you look down on the North Fork of the Shenandoah.

After that the trail heads downhill into a ravine where the second loop starts at a footbridge. The first loop heads upwards for a short but steep climb back to the starting point.
The low-water bridge crossing the river leads to Seven Bends State Park... almost! The park is not open yet, but you'll see it on maps. I hope the bridge will be replaced! A low-water bridge is only passable when the river is low, and the Shenandoah is known to flood at times.

The 1,066-acre park will feature nearly four miles of river frontage. "Seven Bends" is an old term referring to the many bends of the river, but there are more than seven.
October 2011 Press Release: Seven Bends State Park Dedicated

Frank on the Effinger Trail, Shenandoah County, VA

February 20, 2012

Trail Commemorates Aide to George Washington

Today is President's Day so it seems appropriate to describe a sign we saw recently which mentions George Washington. This is in Riverview Park, Woodstock, VA.

Effinger Trail

This trail is dedicated to Captain John Ignatious Von Effinger (1756-1839), a Hessian soldier who deserted from the British in the American Revolution and joined the American forces. He was later put in command of George Washington's bodyguards. Captain Effinger lived in Woodstock for many years and is buried in St. Paul's UCC cemetery on S. Church Street in Woodstock.
This trail was designed and constructed by Boy Scouts of America Troop # 54, Edinburg, VA, and dedicated in November 1999.
The park is on Cemetery Road east of town, near the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.

Effinger's first name was apparently spelled Johann before he came to this country. Online sources say he served in the British 17th Regiment before deserting and joining the von Heer Corps which served as Washington's Bodyguard. His house in Woodstock was demolished in 2010, to the dismay of local preservationists.

February 19, 2012

Signs of Spring in Harrisonburg

The weather continues to be inconsistent: cold, warm, cold, warm. I've never seen a winter with so many warm days here in Virginia.

A few days ago we took a walk in the Carrier Arboretum and saw early spring flowers blooming. Tonight a little snow is expected but temperatures will be warm again tomorrow.

You may also like: Spring at JMU's Arboretum.

February 18, 2012

February 17, 2012

Who's That on My Laptop?

It's Flash!

He's not very big but he likes to take over. And he seeks out the sunlight wherever it happens to stream through the windows.

February 16, 2012

One More Blog Album Finished

I ordered a Blog2Print book for the year 2009. With this purchase, we'll now have albums of my blog posts from 2005 through 2009.

I chose this photo for the album cover. Here we were enjoying a trip to Spruce Knob in West Virginia.

See also
the Blog2Print tips I wrote in November.

February 15, 2012

A Farm at Hudson's Crossroads

Seen from Crooked Run Road,
Shenandoah County, VA

Nearby: The Old Stone Fort

February 14, 2012

Landscape, Frederick County, VA

While Frank was in the dentist's office last week, I grew tired of reading and went for a walk along the road. I took some photos of the rural landscape and the nearby interstate. In the distance is the northern end of the Massanutten Range.

Three years ago I posted a slightly different view that was closer to the mountain.

February 13, 2012

Winter, Sky Bryce Airport

Our little airport at Bryce Resort is across from the ski slopes.  The airport office is rarely open, but our library shares the building and is open Monday-Saturday from 10 to 2. 

You might like:

February 12, 2012

It's Cold... Finally.

Winter weather was slow in coming; December and January were mild. Snowfalls have been light. And even last week we had afternoons in which we could walk outdoors without a sweater. But last night the temperature dropped into the teens and the wind blew and blew. Today the wind let up but the temperature stayed below freezing.

These are pictures I took from our living room windows yesterday.

Carolina wren

view with snow
Looking Toward Great North Mountain, VA

February 11, 2012

Interstate Near Stephen's City

I-81 at Milepost 305

Looking South

I took these wintertime pictures from an overpass on Salem Church Road south of Stephen's City. At the horizon is Three Top Mountain of the Massanutten Range. The interstate veers to the west before reaching that point, resuming it's southwest direction near Strasburg.

In the distance is a weigh station for trucks. Large trucks are required to enter and pass over the scales (when open) unless they have a "Prepass." I mention that because I've seen tractor trailers drive right by the weigh station and I wondered how that was allowed. Yes, it involves a transponder, similar to the E-ZPass you may have used on a toll road.

February 10, 2012

Here's that Squirrel Again!

gray squirrelThis squirrel has figured out how to shinny up the narrow pole and reach the suet feeder. Hanging on to it is another thing!

These are the pictures I was going to post on Squirrel Appreciation Day. I wound up posting some pictures I took that morning instead. Now a few weeks have passed so I figured it wasn't too repetitious to post more squirrel photos.

February 9, 2012

SelectQuote Let Me Down

Nobody likes a whiner so I'll keep this brief. In order to choose a Medicare supplement plan that had a good rate, I used an online broker, SelectQuote Senior. They quoted me a rate but it wound up to be a false one! You can skip the rest if you aren't likely to use an online broker. If you might use one, read on.

The rate ($80.85 a month) was better than ones I had received through the mail. It was from Mutual of Omaha and I tried to pay for it online as advised. Oops, error code: "We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable."

I emailed Tim at SelectQuote. He answered that "We have had issues with Opera Browser for the online applications." So the next day I tried Safari. (I have a Mac.) That didn't work either. I contacted Tim again. He faxed me forms the next day. There were some glitches with the fax and another day passed before I had every page. Meanwhile I went back to the Mutual of Omaha website and noticed the monthly rate was higher than I had been told. However, when I questioned Tim by email, he reconfirmed the original monthly rate, writing "I am unaware of where the figure $97.02 came from." I signed the form and sent it back.

It seemed we were back on track. But when I received my policy in the mail, it came with a bill for $16.17. I contacted Tim again.

He did some research and eventually called. It seems that the original quote had been for a limited time, but he had not been aware of the deadline. It came and went while I was trying to find a browser that worked with the Mutual of Omaha website! By the time I received a faxed version to sign, the rate had gone up. In fact, it had already changed when Tim reconfirmed the original rate but he didn't know it.

So I'm stuck with a rate that's $97.02 instead of $80.85. That's still a decent rate for Plan F, which has no deductible. But it's not what I signed up for, and SelectQuote was helpless as far as getting me a reduction. Bottom line, I should have signed up directly with the insurance company right away instead of wasting time with SelectQuote.

February 8, 2012