Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The Flag of the Borough of Queens, New York City -
Answer to Wordless Wednesday 081507
Adopted June 3, 1913, the Queens Flag tells the history of the borough from the time of its purchase from the Indians by Dutch governor William Kieft, whose shield is typified by the blue, white and blue stripes.
First settlers are represented by the two flowers - the tulip, emblematic of the Dutch, and the double red and white rose of the English, representing the Houses of York and Lancaster.
The Queen's crown signifies the name of the county and borough in honor of Queen Catherine of Braganza. The date indicates the year in which Queens became a part of the City of New York - January 1, 1898.
Thirteen Facts about the Borough of Queens
- It is the Largest of New York’s five boroughs (or counties) 109 Square miles – about 35% of the total area of New York City
- Before European settlement, northeastern Queens was inhabited by the Matinecoc, a tribe of Algonquian-speaking people, Some neighborhoods in Queens were named for local Indian tribes: Jamaica, named for the Jameco Indians, Rockaway, named after the Reckowacky Indians, and Maspeth, named for the Mespat Indians, who inhabited the headwaters of Newton Creek. There were thirteen Native American tribes represented on the lands that were to become known as Queens. The earliest known inhabitants of Northeast Queens — Bayside, Flushing, Douglaston and Little Neck — were the Matinecock Indians, one of the thirteen tribes on Long Island. They were a numerous and prosperous tribe who engaged in hunting and fishing Their prime industry, however, was the manufacture of wampum, which is a type of small cylindrical bead made from white or purple seashells. The shells were found in the bays and inlets of the north shore of Long Island, and were of superior quality. They were highly prized by the Indians who lived in interior areas. They used the beads to make necklaces, or wove them into belts of considerable beauty. The Indians attached a mystical power to the beads. They were used not only to decorate clothing, but also for other purposes — to honor a noble deed, to seal a contract, to pay tribute, and for other symbolic reasons. It is generally believed that wampum was used as monetary exchange, but the Indians did not use it as such until the practice was introduced by the Dutch sometime later.
- Sailing for the Dutch West India Company in 1614, Adrian Block was the first European to see Queens and the first to discover that Long Island was an island.
- The land that today encompasses Queens was purchased from the Indians in 1639 by the very unpopular Dutch Governor William Kieft (Director General of New Netherland 1638-1646).
- 1657 Flushing Remonstrance is considered the forerunner of our Bill of Rights. This year marks the 350th anniversary of the Flushing Remonstrance. In 1662, John Bowne openly defied the ban and was caught allowing Quakers to worship in his home. He was imprisoned and banished to Holland for judgment. He successfully argued his case and the directors of the Dutch West India Company declared Bowne a free man. The company then sent the Dutch New World officials a note: "Let everyone remain free."
- Queens County was one of the original 12 counties created in 1683 when the General Assembly of Freeholders reorganized the governmental structure in all of the province of New York into 12 counties, each of which was sub-divided into towns.
- The oldest continuous house of worship in New York City is the Old Quaker Meeting House built in 1694
- Queens was named in honor of Queen Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II
- Nathan Hale was captured by the British in Queens and then transported to Manhattan to be hanged.
- Flushing Meadow Park was the site of two World’s Fairs (1939-1940 and 1964-65). A few iconic vestiges remain of both fairs (the New York State Pavilion towers, the New York City Pavilion, the Unisphere) and is the site of the U.S. Tennis Open Stadiums (named for longtime resident Louis Armstrong, and tennis greats Arthur Ashe and Billy Jean King.)
- In 1921, Anne Francis Robbins was born in Flushing. She would later be known as Nancy Davis and, finally First Lady Nancy Reagan.
- Flushing was the first ‘Hollywood’ and studios in Astoria, where the Marx Brothers filmed two of their comedies, are still used for movies, television, and commercials. Silvercup Studios took over a bread bakery called Silversup that produced round slices.
- Queens is the most ethnically diverse county in the United States. Immigrants comprise 46.7% of the total population of 2,229,379
If this were a Thursday Fourteen, I would have added that I was born in Queens, and very proud of it!
For a fun photo tour of Queens history, sites, celebrities, and popular culture, please click here
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
My cousin Margaret Alwood Bailey had a long, and wonderful life which we will celebrate this week.
This is a photo taken three weeks ago at the Alwood family gathering.
She is the last of her generation of Baileys in our family and we will all miss her.
The blog and answers to Figure It Out Friday and Wordless Wednesday will have to wait until my return.
There are more posts that have not received any attention, so please direct yourself to them while I am gone.
Please do leave comments - I shall attend to them!
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Live It Bethel
A Future Museum
Lancaster is best known for the county of vast Amish farms and businesses, but few know that the City of Lancaster not only served briefly as one of the capitals of the United States, but as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Buses inch their way through the narrow streets of the Churchtowne neighborhood where groups learn about the Underground Railroad. It is called “Living The Experience" and is a spiritual interactive Underground Railroad reenactment presented by Bethel Harambee Historical Services.
The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was also one of the stops on the
Underground Railroad and Phoebe Bailey (her brother, Edward M. Bailey, is the Pastor) provides a program that presents the stories behind the Railroad and explores ways for the freedom-seekers to find the next ‘station’ and ‘conductor’.
Groups are led into the modest, active,church, and seated in the pews. Phoebe (as Miss Olivia) enter singing one of the coded spirituals use to direct runaway slaves. Others follow.
Somebody’s calling my name!
You had better hush, hush, hush
Somebody's calling my name
Somebody's calling my name
Oh my Lord, oh my Lord what shall I do?
What shall I do?
Thus begins a hour of stories and songs which includes a reenactment of the enslaved being loaded into the ships and enduring the sea voyage, tools of enslavement, instruments of punishment, proper behavior, auction, flight, and being hunted by the slave catchers replete with the sound of dogs in the background. It is totally interactive with both students and adults expected to take part. There is even a portion of ‘reaffirmation’, which elicits deep discussion of self esteem issues after the experience.
On the eastern wall (left hand side) of the church is a special window that depicts the southern lily and the Northern rose as well as symbols of the Underground Railroad. In 2002, It was used in a Jeopardy visual clue.
Wade in the water.
Wade in the water, children.
Wade in the water.
God's gonna trouble the water.
Well, who are these children all dressed in red?
God's a-gonna trouble the water
Must be the children that Moses led
God's a-gonna trouble the water.
Who's that young girl dressed in white
Wade in the Water
Must be the Children of Israelites
God's gonna trouble the Water.
Jordan's water is chilly and cold.
God's gonna trouble the water.
It chills the body, but not the soul.
God's gonna trouble the water.
If you get there before I do.
God's gonna trouble the water.
Tell all of my friends I'm coming too.
God's gonna trouble the water.
The effect of this program on the students and adults is profound and all of my teachers have asked that this be included in each of their subsequent East Coast programs. I normally pair it with Philadelphia or Gettysburg.
Outside of the church is a small cemetery with graves reflecting free and freed African Americans and the Colored Troops; itis currently being documented, preserved, and restored.
After the experience we are led up to their parish house, a former school, and served an historically accurate, (and yummy) fried chicken fellowship lunch. (Now my family is from rural Virginia and I have traveled quite a bit around this country, but theirs is the best fried chicken I have ever had!) There is also an opportunity to purchase books and African-American handmade crafts and clothing.
One of the goals of Bethel AME is to build a multi-million dollar learning center to include an Underground Railroad wax and interactive museum, gift shop, and theater. They proudly display the architectural plans on the bottom floor of their parish house.One of the first groups I brought to the Live It Bethel Harrambee Experience was my Lutheran school from Anchorage. It is traditional for them to display their Alaska flag somewhere during the trip. The Principal thought it would be appropriate to display it on the steps of the parish house. After all, it depicts the Big Dipper with the North Star showing the way to freedom. It’s also known as the Drinking Gourd.
Even I had to follow the North Star to find them!
It's been exciting to watch them grow and I'm looking forward to the time that they do have a museum dedicated to the Underground Railroad. But until then, I' m quite satisfied with this modest, but heartfelt program.
Student tours are by appointment but there are public tours during weekends and some holidays.
Living the Underground Railroad
Lancaster Quest for Freedom Guide
Friday, August 3, 2007
It's that time of year! This is not meant to be a writing contest, but just some shared experiences and observations about the American rite of passage, leaving home for the first time to attend college. You may talk about yourself or perhaps one of your children. I look forward to hearing from you!
The sight of someone putting a hand in a glass bowl filled with water and pulling out a slimy leech usually draws gasps from the eighth graders that I conduct through the Hugh Mercer Apothecary in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Some are revolted but others are mesmerized by the live, wet mass displayed on her hand. "Ooooo!” Questions abound concerning the origin, safety, care, feeding, and possible pain inflicted by the leech.
The colonial reenactors at the apothecary stay in character to interpret colonial medications and extol the benefits of bleeding by this method, making several sales pitches in favor of the good doctor (one of over 5,000). Several students shudder, but most think it’s ‘cool’. They preface the need for leeches in 18th century terms by first pointing out that an imbalance of fluids (or humors) causes disease; the delicate balance of bodily fluids can only be reestablished by bleeding, purging, blistering and vomiting! It seemed that for every ailment, a vein would be opened for serious bloodletting, and/or leeches pressed into service; sometimes one would perform this on one’s self with a pocket scarificator.
The whole experience of learning about medicine in colonial America both fascinates and disturbs them. A few of the students, after being shown several herbs and roots, thought they were very much like the ones depicted in Harry Potter. However, they are surprised by the coarse, blunt, and dirty surgical instruments used by Doctor Mercer. Sterilization and hygiene are unknown during this time period, so naturally there was a high mortality rate.
Imagine the students’ expressions when I inform them, after our visit, that leeches are still in use in modern medicine particularly for reattachment of fingers and toes as well as for breast cancer patients! They groan again, because there could be a remote possibility of a leech in their future, which is far scarier to them than a horror movie!
I normally go on to explain how the leeches, by their constant sucking, keep the blood flowing and exchange it for the natural anti-coagulants in their saliva. More groans! I also point out that leeches can carry bacteria that are detrimental by causing infection.
The good news, for my squeamish eighth graders, is that a mechanical leech is being developed and tested at the University of Wisconsin. The bell-shaped glass and metal device, measuring about a half an inch long, and patented by Wisconsin Alumni Research Fund, has fluids running through it, irrigating the wound while pulling the blood through. This process keeps the tissue healthy.
After our visit, questions and discussion are encouraged covering modern medicine, education, medication, antibiotics, (which would have allowed General Washington to live longer), diseases, epidemics, laser surgery, hospitals, homeopathic, holistic, and other alternative cures. After all, medicine and health should also be part of the historic picture.
The general consensus: these students would rather have died than to have been subjected to the ‘skill’ of this doctor - which was not unlike the sentiments of much of colonial society. Colonists had a better chance of recovering by doing nothing!
The apothecary was owned by colorful Scotsman Hugh Mercer (1726-1777), who was both a physician and American patriot. He had been a good friend of George Washington’s (Ferry Farm, Washington’s boyhood home is relatively close to downtown Fredericksburg and Washington sold it to Mercer in 1775). Additionally, Washington’s overbearing mother, Mary Ball Washington, was one of his patients. (For a complete biography, please consult this.) He died of his wounds received at the battle of Princeton in 1777.The Hugh Mercer Apothecary, and the Rising Sun Tavern, is administered by the Association of the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) and is located in the historic downtown area of Fredericksburg, Virginia. It’s a wonderful stop between Washington, DC and Richmond/Williamsburg for these two sites (amongst others) and lunch. They are far more interesting and student-friendly than the ones in Williamsburg because they retain the character and charm of the colonial era.
For more information concerning leeches, please see this excellent essay.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Thirteen Reasons I Like the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC:
It tells a story
It blends into the environment
It gives people with physical handicaps dignity
It presents problems and challenges
It offers hope and a mission to young people
It utilizes water to represent several concepts
It employs abstract art as well as realistic sculpture
It outlines our essential freedoms
It teaches us compassion
It introduces the power of communication
It honors the influence of one's spouse
It reflects the decency and work ethic of
America's Greatest Generation
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Richard Rowland Kirkland
Angel of Marye’s Heights
The bronze effigy atop the remains of Lieutenant John Meigs is where I pause at Arlington National Cemetery for a special teaching moment concerning the brutality of war and the history of the cemetery.
In contrast, the Felix De Weldon statue that was installed in 1965 and serves as a monument to Richard Rowland Kirkland’s compassion in Fredericksburg, is on the way to or from Washington, DC and Williamsburg and where I often take a detour off I95 for a teaching moment about humanity and Godliness on the battlefield.
Richard Rowland Kirkland was born of a humble farm family sometime in August 1843 in Kershaw County South Carolina. Not much is known about his early life, but he was the fifth son of Mary and John Kirkland of Flat Rock, a farm community in Kershaw County. Kirkland has been described as a slender, but muscular young man of about 5’8” and 150 lbs. He was known for both his horsemanship and marksmanship. His letters written during the war reflect his modest education and deep Christian faith.
He was eager to fight for his state and his country, the newly formed Confederate States of America, and enlisted before his older brothers. Initially, he served as a private in Company E, 2nd South Carolina, but after a year switched to Company G where he joined many of his friends and was quickly promoted to sergeant. By the time he reached Marye’s (pronounced Marie’s) Heights in Fredericks burg in December of 1862, he was a seasoned combat veteran of such battles as the First Manassas (Bull Run) and Sharpsburg (Antietam). He was 19 years old.
After setting up the battle conditions in cold December, I normally pose the question to my students, “Would you risk you life to bring comfort to the enemy?” Interestingly enough the range of answers and thoughts are the same whether it is a Christian, public, or private school; most would not.
But Sgt. Kirkland’s magnificence in his Good Samaritan act brings to light that the soldiers fighting on both sides were American brothers. It also reminds me of something Gen. Washington said that is carved into the memorial amphitheatre in Arlington National Cemetery: When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen.
Rather than summarize the battle and Kirkland’s heroics, I feel it more appropriate that you read the words of his commanding officer, General Joseph Brevard Kershaw (photo above):
Richard Kirkland, The Humane Hero Of Fredericksburg
General J. B. Kershaw.
(The following incident, originally published in the Charleston News and Courier, deserves a place in our records, and we cheerfully comply with requests to publish it, which have come from various quarters.)
Camden, S.C., January 2d, 1880.
To the Editor of the News and Courier:
Your Columbia correspondent referred to the incident narrated here, telling the story as 'twas told to him, and inviting corrections. As such a deed should be recorded in the rigid simplicity of actual truth, I take the liberty of sending you for publication an accurate account of a transaction every feature of which is indelibly impressed upon my memory.
Yours very truly,
J. B. Kershaw.
Richard Kirkland was the son of John Kirkland, an estimable citizen of Kershaw County, a plain, substantial farmer of the olden time. In 1861 he entered as a private Captain J.D. Kennedy's company (E) of the Second South Carolina volunteers, in which company he was a sergeant in December 1869.
The day after the sanguinary battle of Fredericksburg, Kershaw's brigade occupied the road at the foot of Marye's hill and the ground about Marye's house, the scene of their desperate defence of the day before. One hundred and fifty yards in front of the road, the stone facing of which constituted the famous stone wall, lay Syke's division of regulars, U.S.A., between whom and our troops a murderous skirmish occupied the whole day, fatal to many who heedlessly exposed themselves, even for a moment. The ground between the lines was bridged with the wounded' dead and dying Federals, victims of the many desperate and gallant assaults of that column of 30,000 brave men hurled vainly against that impregnable position.
All that day those wounded men rent the air with their groans and their agonizing cries of "Water! water!" In the afternoon the General sat in the north room, up stairs, of Mrs. Stevens' house, in front of the road, surveying the field, when Kirkland came up. With an expression of indignant remonstrance pervading his person, his manner and the tone of his voice, he said:
"General! I can't stand this."
"What is the matter, Sergeant?" asked the General.
He replied, "All night and all day I have heard those poor people crying for water, and I can stand it no longer. I come to ask permission to go and give them water."
The General regarded him for a moment with feelings of profound admiration, and said: "Kirkland, don't you know that you would get a bullet through your head the moment you stepped over the wall?"
"Yes, sir," he said, "I know that; but if you will let me, I am willing to try it."
After a pause, the General said, "Kirkland, I ought not to allow you to run a risk, but the sentiment which actuates you is so noble that I will not refuse your request, trusting that God may protect you. You may go."
The Sergeant's eye lighted up with pleasure. He said, "Thank you, sir," and ran rapidly down stairs. The General heard him pause for a moment, and then return, bounding two steps at a time. He thought the Sergeant's heart had failed him. He was mistaken. The Sergeant stopped at the door and said: "General, can I show a white handkerchief?" The General slowly shook his head, saying emphatically, "No, Kirkland, you can't do that." "All right," he said, "I'll take the chances," and ran down with a bright smile on his handsome countenance.
With profound anxiety he was watched as he stepped over the wall on his errand of mercy -- Christ- like mercy. Unharmed he reached the nearest sufferer. He knelt beside him, tenderly raised the drooping head, rested it gently upon his own noble breast, and poured the precious life- giving fluid down the fever scorched throat. This done, he laid him tenderly down, placed his knapsack under his head, straightened out his broken limb, spread his overcoat over him, replaced his empty canteen with a full one, and turned to another sufferer. By this time his purpose was well understood on both sides, and all danger was over. From all parts of the field arose fresh cries of "Water, water; for God's sake, water!" More piteous still the mute appeal of some who could only feebly lift a hand to say, here, too, is life and suffering.
For an hour and a half did this ministering angel pursue his labor of mercy, nor ceased to go and return until he relieved all the wounded on that part of the field. He returned to his post wholly unhurt. Who shall say how sweet his rest that winter's night beneath the cold stars!
Little remains to be told. Sergeant Kirkland distinguished himself in battle at Gettysburg, and was promoted lieutenant. At Chickamauga he fell on the field of battle, in the hour of victory. He was but a youth when called away, and had never formed those ties from which might have resulted in a posterity to enjoy his fame and bless his country; but he has bequeathed to the American youth -- yea, to the world -- an example which dignifies our common humanity. *
According to some sources, Lt. Kirkland’s last words were, “Save yourselves, and tell my father I died right.”
He lived right.
Proverbs 25:21 Romans 12:20
There is also a story that General Sherman spared the Kirkland House as his name was legend on the lips of both Union and Confederate soldiers. Unfortunately, the house no longer exists.
* Source: Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. VIII. Richmond, Virginia, April, 1880. No. 4.
For more information:
Mort Kunstler site
Gen. Burside Report of the Battle Report of Gen. Robert E. Lee
Battle of Fredericksburg Official Records
Angel of Fredricksburg
Felix de Weldon