Sometimes, life reminds you of a past you never knew.
Growing up in Beaufort, SC – if you wanted to go to the beach, you would head towards Hunting Island State Park, a barrier island out past St. Helena Island. As you would drive out towards the beach, you would see a road, in downtown Frogmore called Lands End.
Now before I get too far off, if you have had Low country Stew or Low country Boil, know that it was originally called Frogmore Stew. Yankees wouldn’t eat it because they thought it had frogs (in reality shrimp and sausage) so restaurants started to change the name. To this day, I still call it Frogmore stew just to make the waiters angry. Long time readers though, will know I tend to do that to most people I meet.
As a teenager grows up and gets their driver’s license, they start exploring areas that their parents wouldn’t take them before – mainly out of boredom. To be honest, my oldest is about to get his permit and I am not having any fun imagining where he might go.
Tom's mention of St. Helena Island leads to this little bit of history and trivia all rolled into one. The folk song "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" originated on the island, the composition of slaves who were left to their own devices when their owners fled just prior to Union occupation. Although the song has been recorded over and over, check out Joe and Eddie's '60s version of the song on one of the music services as it's definitely worth a listen. I tried, but couldn't provide a simple link.
During his sojourn from Chicago to the recent Surratt Society Conference, freelance editor, writer, and historian Steven Miller studied the faces of those crowding airports, planes, and conference rooms, looking for anyone bearing a resemblance to a certain Shakespearean actor who galloped away from Ford's Theater almost 145 years ago. After all, with contemporary Booth sightings reported in as far away as Germany and the South China Sea, one never really knows where he might surface next.
As I was rudely interrupted by a sudden urge to crawl into bed and go to sleep Wednesday night, Michael Kline's presentation at the Surratt Society Conference had to be divided into two parts. Herein, without further delay is the finale to a great presentation, in which he begins to outline the evidence of a conspiracy to eliminate Abraham Lincoln before he left Baltimore on February 23, 1861 for Washington.
Was there or was there not a conspiracy afoot in Baltimore to kill Abraham Lincoln on February 23, 1861? Ah! that is the question. It’s a question historians haven't delved into deeply, at least not since Alan Hynd's "Arrival 12:30..." was published in 1967, but a question that fueled Attorney Michael Kline’s quest for a more definitive answer, a quest which ultimately led him through a thin trial of cryptic notes, contemporary newspaper accounts, the shadowy figures of dead men who weren’t talking even while alive, and, ultimately, publication of his findings in "The Baltimore Plot."
After one of snowiest and coldest winters on record for the Washington area, temperatures climbed into the mid to high 70's on Saturday. So why did 92 people chose to pass on the gorgeous weather outside and elect to stay cooped up inside a conference room for an entire day? Although you can't always necessarily figure the weather one to three months in advance, odds were that spring would be in the air. Thus there had to be a pretty darned good reason for people nesting together in a windowless room the third week in March. And there was one, because Saturday was the Surratt Society's annual Lincoln Assassination conference, one of the truly great bargains for people who want a great breakfast and a great lunch to satisfy their tummy's cravings while they listen to the likes of Larry Tagg, Michael Kline, Steven Miller, Andrew Jampoler, Gloria Swift, and Charles Lachman speak on subjects ranging from Abraham Lincoln's low approval ratings, to John Wilkes Booth fleeing to India, to the branches of Lincoln's family tree dying out only three generations later.
Each of the six speakers were interesting enough that each deserves their own individual post. So as not to offend anyone, and because it's only fair, we'll take each in order of their appearance behind the microphone beginning with Larry Tagg, author of 1998's "The Generals of Gettysburg" and the critically acclaimed "The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln," which debuted in 2009, both of which were published by Savas Beattie LLC.
Did ya ere wonder lads if Saint Patrick his self downed a few pints of bitters? Tis a grand day to be Irish lads, a grand day indeed! It's a day when I'll play Sinead O'Connor doing the best version of "Molly Malone" I've ever heard in my life, which is saying a lot for a song I've been listening to since early childhood. Follow this link to see if you don't agree. I'll be thinking of my second great-grandparents, James and Margaret (Trainor) Kelly, my great-grandmother Margaret (Kelly) Jordan, and my father David as I watch and listen, remembering that all loved the sweet sorrow that was and is the song.
And it's a day, too, to pay tribute to the Irish of the 18th Massachusetts.
Following in Donald’s footsteps of religion in the Civil War – I wanted to share this article from the Beaufort Gazette (which was my first real employer back in the days that Paper Boys still were under 18 and rode bikes on their route) on praise houses and their use by slaves and freedman before and after the Civil War.
The article is extremely well done and deals not only in why they were created (fear of slave revolt), the ongoing use after the Civil War (poverty and segregation) and the eventual downfall due to the acceptance of African-Americans into mainstream society. Also included is a nice slideshow of what is left of the Praise Houses in Beaufort County, which includes a narration.
In an era where the Lost Cause has tried so hard to glamorize the institution of Slavery – Slave owners treated slaves nicely because they were such valued pieces of property – it is good to see an article that shows proof, this wasn’t so.
Not Catholic? Neither am I. But when there's the potential for an interesting story in the telling, and the telling at the Surratt House Museum on a Saturday afternoon is only a short drive away, my ears are always willing to listen to the telling, because there's no telling what one might learn.
Touch the Elbow focuses primarily on the American Civil War but often veers into any territory that grabs our interest. It is written by the authors of "The Civil War Research Guide" - Tom Churchill, Donald Thompson and Stephen McManus. All posts are strictly the opinions of the author of the post and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the other writers or anybody else for that matter.
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