Private William Williams

By | Sep 13, 2017

William Williams enlisted in the U.S. Army on April 14, 1814. He was assigned to the 38th U.S. Infantry Regiment. The unit was assigned to Fort McHenry in early September of 1814. Williams had his leg blown off in the British Attack on Fort McHenry. The same attack that prompted Francis Scott Key to pen the poem that became the United States’ National Anthem. Williams died of his wounds 2 months later. William Williams could have been a lost foot note in US history. The reason he’s not. William Williams was a black man.

Williams was not the only black man to serve in the military in 1814. There were a number of free blacks serving as sailors. This was a time in history in many areas, including Maryland, many blacks were slaves. And slaves could not serve in the military since they could not make a legal contract. Only Williams was not a free black. He was a runaway slave.

The 21 year old Williams had run away from his owner, Benjamin Oden, a Maryland slave owner. William Williams was the name that he took upon his escape. There was a $40 reward for his returned. The notice was for “NEGRO FREDERICK” who “Sometimes calls himself FREDERICK HALL.” His description was “a bright mulatto…and so fair as to show freckles”.

Apparently he was light enough that the recruiting officer thought he was white and never questioned his right to enlist. Recruits were paid a $50 enlistment bounty and $8 a month.

The bombardment of Fort McHenry began on the evening of September 13th and lasted into the 14th of 1814. As we all know by dawn’s early light the flag was still there.

Williams service as well as all of the black men who served their county is remembered with a monument at Fort McHenry.

Her Death Lead to the Downfall of a Clown

By | Sep 9, 2017

If it wasn’t for the people that were around her when she died on September 9, 1921 in San Francisco, the name and the person Virginia Rappe would just be a small fact in the course of history. However, Rappe died after attending a Labor Day party held by Hollywood Silent Film Comic Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle.

The cause of her death is listed as being from a ruptured bladder and secondary peritonitis. A number of different versions of what happened at the party was given. One was that she died as a result of a sexual assault on her by the party host’s, Arbuckle.

Rappe came to the party as the guest of Maude Delmont. Delmont has been reported to have been part of crimes such as extortion, fraud, and racketeering. It was from her reports of what happened, although she may not have even witness some of the events that she talked about, that Arbuckle was arrested and put on trial for man-slaughter.

After three trials, the first two ended in mistrials, Arbuckle was acquitted with all 12 members of the jury signing a statement of apology to Arbuckle. Even though he was found innocent in court, the court of public opinion was such that his movie career was essentially over.

Rappe was born in New York on July 7, 1891 and can be classified as a minor actress during the late 1910’s. She also worked in Chicago as a commercial and art model beginning when she was 14 until 1916 when she moved to California. First to San Francisco then to Los Angeles.

She was buried at Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

The Mayflower set Sails

By | Sep 6, 2017

Many know the story of how the Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower from Southampton, England (the same port where the Titanic set sail for New York nearly 300 years later) to settle on the shores of the New World. It was on September 6, 1620 that the ship left England.

The ship was bound for the mouth of the Hudson River, near present day New York at the northern edge of the Virginia Colony. During the trip across the Atlantic the ship went off course to the North and arrived near Cape Cod on November 11th.

When the Mayflower set sail that day in 1620, it was not a brand new ship. The ship had been built around 1607/08 with its first voyage being to Trondheim, Norway, in 1609, to bring back lumber, tar, and fish.

The ship was a private vessel, used mainly as a cargo vessel in the wine trade, and had been chartered by the pilgrims to take them to America. After the first winter in the New World, Captain Christopher Jones left to return to England. Shortly afterward Jones died and by 1624 it had fallen into ruins. It is assumed that the ship was sold and broken apart as scrap.

By the time the Pilgrims landed in America, Virginia had been settled in 1607 at Jamestown, 1610 at Hampton, 1611 at Henricus, 1613 at Newport News, 1613 at New Bermuda, as well as several other Virginia settlements. Virginia had a population of about 4,500 in 1623. Also, Albany, New York, was settled by the Dutch in 1614, Santa Fe, New Mexico was settled by the Spanish in 1610, and St. Augustine, Florida dates to the 16th century.

Squanto, the Native American who helped the pilgrims beginning in the spring of 1821, was himself a traveler. He had ventured to England with John Smith in 1614. Smith had explored the northern portion of the Virginia Colony, land which included New England, during that time. Squanto lived in England for a number of years and is thought to have crossed the Atlantic at least four times.

Kodak – Eastman Picks a Name

By | Sep 4, 2017

What’s in a name? For George Eastman the name is Kodak. It was on September 4, 1888 that he patented the name Kodak.

When applying to the British Patent Office his comments were; “This is not a foreign name or word; it was constructed by me to serve a definite purpose. It has the following merits as a trade-mark word: first it is short; second, it is not capable of mispronunciation; third, it does not resemble anything in the art and cannot be associated with anything in the art”.

Eastman had been involved with the photographic industry since 1874. He did however find the process troublesome. In 1874 the process required coating a glass plate with a liquid emulsion and then using it before it dried. He began working on a process of a dry photographic plate and patented his process in 1880.

Eastman believed that there had to be a better, easier and less cumbersome method for photographs than using glass plates. By 1885 he had developed a method using paper and then later light-sensitive gelatin as roll film. Even though this appeared to be a better process, it wasn’t quickly adopted. Eastman felt that advertising was the way to advance sales and it was with that concept that he thought up a name. Kodak.

He explain his reasoning; “I devised the name myself. The letter “K” had been a favorite with me — it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter. It became a question of trying out a great number of combinations of letters that made words starting and ending with ‘K.’ The word ‘Kodak’ is the result.”

Battle of Cooch Bridge – Delaware’s Only Revolutionary Battle

By | Sep 2, 2017

During August and September of 1777, the Colonial Troops of the United States lead by George Washington were fighting battles near the colonial capital Philadelphia. During this campaign the only battle fought in Delaware, the Battle of Cooch Bridge occurred.

The engagement began on August 30th and by September 3rd the British and Hessian troops under Generals Cornwallis, Howe, and Knyphausen had driven the colonial back to Cooch Bridge. The colonials handpicked a regiment of 100 marksmen under General William Maxwell and laid an ambush. Although they were repelling the advancement of the British and Hessian, they ran out of ammunition and were forced to retreat.

A few weeks later the Colonials would lose at the Battle of Brandywine and Philadelphia would be captured, but not before the congress moved out of the city.

Although there is not direct historical evidence there is a claim that it was during this battle that the new flag, the stars and stripes, was first used.

There is a marker at 39° 38′ 23.46″ N, 75° 44′ 12.15″ W. at the intersection of Old Baltimore Pike and Old Cooches Bridge Road.

And another at 39° 38′ 27.71″ N, 75° 43′ 56.45″ W at the intersection of Dayetts Mill Road and Old Baltimore Pike.

A Sharpshooter on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

By | Aug 13, 2017

Annie Oakley, the female sharpshooter of “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” fame along with her husband Frank Bulter called Cambridge, Maryland one of their retirement homes. She along with Butler decided in 1912 to stop performing with the Wild West show. The couple lived in the Eastern Shore town from 1912 until 1917.

Those familiar with Maryland’s Eastern Shore know that the area is a great place for those who like to hunt and fish. Butler even called the area a “sportsman’s paradise”. This is considered the reason that the couple decided to retire there.

The house that they built in Cambridge located at 28 Bellevue Avenue is the only surviving primary residence of Annie Oakley. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 3, 1995. Presently, it is a private residence.

The couple found that it was hard to settle down. They also owned a place in Pinehurst, North Carolina and Newcastle, New Hampshire. In 1917 they decided to sell their Cambridge home and relocate to North Carolina..

After long and adventurous lives, in 1926 the couple died within a couple of weeks of one another. Annie on November 6 and Frank Butler on November 21.

Annie Oakley was born on August 13, 1860 as Phoebe Ann Mosey. She met Frank Butler while they were rival sharpshooters. They married on June 20, 1882 and joined the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1885, she was the sharpshooter and he as her business manager.

The Family

By | Aug 10, 2017

During first days of August of 1969 many young Americans were in the planning stages to attend the music festival in Woodstock New York that would begin in mid month. But in Los Angeles during the early hours of August 9th and then again in late hours of the same day and into August 10th, two of the most horrific murders to happen in any city occurred.

The story has been related many times on how Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian, all members of the cult following of Charles Manson, shortly after midnight entered the gates at the house rented by Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate. Polanski wasn’t here, but the 8 month pregnant Tate was entertaining guests, Abigail Folger, her lover, Voytek Frykowski and hair stylist Jay Sebring. The Family gruesomely murdered these four as well as Steven Parent, who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time leaving the house after a visit with the house caretaker, William Garretson. Garretson hid in the caretaker cottage and was left unharmed.

The next night these four along with Leslie Van Houten went to the house of Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary. After Watkins and Manson had entered the house Manson returned to the car where the others waited and sent Krenwinkle and Van Houten into the house, where the three murdered the couple.

Susan Atkins was one of the reasons that the Manson Family and Charlie’s plan, he termed it Helter Skelter, came as quick as they did to trial. After she was arrested a few months later and while she was being detained she told the horrific story to fellow inmate Virginia Graham. Word soon got to the LAPD. Later a grand jury returned murder indictments against Manson, Watson, Krenwinkel, Atkins, Kasabian, and Van Houten. Kasabian turned state witness. Watson was fighting extradition while the rest went on trial.

The trial lasted months with the final verdict as guilty. Watson would be tried later with the same result. The five (Manson, Atkins, Kernwinkel, Van Houten and Watson) were sentenced to death, but it would be changed to life when the California Supreme Court ruled that the state’s death penalty law was unconstitutional. None of them have been granted parole and each still remain in prison. Atkins died in prison on September 24, 2009 and was at the time the longest serving female prisoner in California.

Patrica Krenwinkel is now the longest-incarcerated female inmate in California. She was denied parole on June 22, 2017 when Krenwinkel was denied parole will be eligible to have another parole suitability hearing in five years.

Leslie Van Houten was granted a new trial in 1977 because during the original trial her defense attorney was first missing then discovered dead. The appeals court ruled that her portion of the trial should not have been continued. Of these five, it is thought that Leslie Van Houten has the best chance to ever be given parole since the evidence and testimony shows that she may have stabbed a dead body. On April 14, 2016, a two-person panel of the California Parole Board recommended granting Van Houten’s parole request, but California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the release. Brown’s veto was upheld on September 29, 2016 and the California Supreme Court denied Van Houten’s petition to hear the case. Her next parole hearing is scheduled for September 6, 2017.

In September 1974 another of Charlie Manson’s followers made the news. Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme attempted to assassinated President Gerald Ford on September 5th. Fromme was a part of the Family in August of 1969, but she was not involved in either of the two murders. She was one of the Family members that camped outside of the trail and tried to keep people from testifying at the trail. For her attempt to assassinate President Ford she was given a life sentence. She was granted parole and was released in August of 2009.

Mata Hari – She Died a Spy’s Death

By | Aug 7, 2017

The name Mata Hari is known as a female spy. The Real Mata Hari was born Margaretha Geertruida “Grietje” Zelle on August 7, 1876 and was executed on October 15, 1917 after being sentenced on July 25, 1917 as a German spy.

Prior to World War One, Mata Hari was many things. She was the wife of a Dutch naval officer Rudolf John MacLeod and mother of two. She was an Adulter when she moved in with another Dutch officer when still married to MacLeod. The couple divorced in 1903 and she moved to Paris where she began life as a performer. She was an artist model, circus horse rider and beginning in 1905 an exotic dancer.

Whether she was actually a spy or a scapegoat may never be determined. Since Netherlands had stayed neutral she was able to cross borders freely. She was a courtesan to many high-ranking allied military officers during this time and had admitted to work as an agent for France intelligence. If true she would have been a Double Agent.

Her downfall began in January of 1917 when the French intercept a coded radio broadcast with information about an agent code-named H-21. Other information led them to Mata Hari as being that agent. Strangely the message was in a code that the Germans had already known to be broken so it’s possible that she may have been set up for the fall by the Germans. Her only crime may have been her sleeping with married military officers.

When she was executed by firing squad she was not bound nor wearing a blindfold. She had refused to wear one. She stood without motion as the 12 men raised their rifles, took aim at her chest and then fired.

She may have been only one of ten women and 300 men executed by the French for espionage, but she is the only one that is still remembered. it is a legend that may last forever.

Music, The Brothers Gibb and 1977-78

By | Jul 30, 2017

In a 53 week period from July 30, 1977 to July 29, 1978 The Brothers Gibb (The Bee Gees, brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin, or their younger brother Andy) held the Number 1 spot for 31 weeks.

July 30 – August 13 and September 17, 1977 (4) “I Just Want to be Your Everything” – Andy Gibb
December 24, 1977 – January 7, 1978 (3) “How Deep is Your Love – Bee Gees
February 4 – February 25 ( 4) “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees
March 4 – March 11 (2) ” (Love is) Ticker than Water” – Andy Gibb
March 18 – May 6 (8) “Night Fever” – Bee Gees
May 13 – “If I Can’t Have You” – Yvonne Elliman (Written by the Bee Gees)
June 17 – July 29 (7) – “Shadow Dancing” – Andy Gibb

During this 53 week period the only artists to have a Number 1 song are:
August 20 – September 10 & September 24 (5) – “Best of my Love” The Emotions
October 1 & 8 (2) “Star Wars Theme” – Meco
October 15 – December 17 (10) – “You Light Up My Life” Debby Boone
January 14 – January 28 (3) – “Baby Come Back: – Player
May 20 & 27 (2) – “With a Little Luck” – Wings
June 3 – “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” – Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams
June 10 – “You’re the One That I Want” – John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

The movie “Grease” would have another Number 1 song in 1978, its theme song “Grease” by Frankie Valli and written by Barry Gibb. It would spend 2 weeks at Number 1, August 26 and September 2.

In 1978, 25 weeks found a song either written or performed by one of the 4 brothers at the number one spot including 15 weeks in a row from February 4th to May 13th.

A Fellowship Published

By | Jul 21, 2017

The classic book by J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings was first published as three volumes; The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King on July 21, 1954, on November 11, 1954 and on October 20, 1955 respectively in the United Kingdom.

The book was created as a single volume and was broken up into sections by the publisher.

When The Fellowship of the Ring was published, an index was promised. However that complete Index and Appendices were not complete until the 1966 revised edition was printed. These Appendices gave a view of the World of Middle-Earth and it’s three Ages that Tolkien began in 1917.

While recovering from ‘Trench’ fever 1917 Tolkien began work on a tale he called The Fall of Gondolin part of a larger project he would name The Book of Lost Tales. The Lord of the Rings would become part of this world.

While his children were young he began telling them a fairy tale of a Hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins who lived in a hole in the ground. With the encouragement of his friend C.S. Lewis, (Lewis would later create his own children tales The Chronicles of Narnia), Tolkien finished The Hobbit tale in 1933. In 1936 the manuscript was shown by a family friend to publisher Stanley Unwin. The Hobbit was published in 1937.

The Lord of the Rings was begun as its sequel in 1937 and took until 1953 to complete. Tolkien was exacting in the writing of his tales and would work his Middle-Earth mythology his entire life, with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit being the only major works of this mythology published during his life.

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