A to Z – Valentine’s Day or Slap Me with a Goat Hide

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m writing about history.

V is for Valentine’s Day or Slap Me with a Goat Hide

 

 

 

 

heartAs with most holidays, Valentine’s Day is nested in pagan roots. February 15 was the pagan festival of Lupercalia. To begin the festival, members of the Luperci (an order of Roman priests) would gather at a sacred cave and sacrifice a goat which represented fertility. They would then cut the goat’s hide into strips and dip the strips in blood. (Romantic so far, no?) They would then march through the town, gently slapping women with the goat hide. Instead of beating the priests to death with rocks, women actually welcomed the slap of the hide, believing it would make them more fertile in the coming year.

Fortunately for us girls, in the 5th century Pope Gelasius replaced the pagan goat-hide-slapping celebration with a Christian holiday – St. Valentine’s Day. It was still a celebration of love and fertility, but without all that goat nonsense. I’m sure the goats were happy about it, too.

Today, 150 million Valentine’s cards are exchanged every year, and not one goat hide in the bunch!

goat

 

 

 

A to Z – United Daughters of the Confederacy

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April A to Z Challenge – I’m writing about history.

U is for United Daughters of the Confederacy

 

 

 

 

udc2The UDC, without the name, began before the civil war as quilting circles and hospital associations that aided the soldiers throughout the war. After the war, they continued their work in cemeteries, veteran’s homes, and other such organizations.

Today’s UDC was officially founded in Nashville, TN in 1894 by Caroline Goodlett and Lucian Raines and grew out of the original sewing circles.

The organization finally incorporated in 1919, and its bylaws state its objectives are historical, benevolent, educational, memorial and patriotic. Its goals are as follows:

  1. To honor the memory of those who served and those who fell in the service of the Confederate States.
  2. To protect, preserve, and mark the places made historic by Confederate valor.
  3. To collect and preserve the material for a truthful history of the War Between the States.
  4. To record the part taken by Southern women in patient endurance of hardship and patriotic devotion during the struggle and in untiring efforts after the War during the reconstruction of the South.
  5. To fulfill the sacred duty of benevolence toward the survivors and toward those dependent upon them.
  6. To assist descendants of worthy Confederates in securing proper education.
  7. To cherish the ties of friendship among the members of the Organization.

 

culpepper Joel B CulpepperI joined the UDC in Meridian, MS under the service of my great, great grandfather, Joel Bluett Culpepper (photo). He is only one of eight (that I’m aware of) of my grandfathers who served. The others were 2nd great William Henry Blanks III, 3rd great Rice Benjamin Carpenter, 3rd great Rev. Joseph M Culpepper, 3rd great William Thomas Fisher, 3rd great William Lafayette Brown Jr, 3rd great George Washington Spencer, 3rd great James C Howington. I am very proud of the Confederate blood that runs through my veins and always will be.

 

A to Z – Tattoos

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m blogging about history.

T is for Tattoos.

 

 

 

 

tattooTattooing is widely practiced today, and some folks say it’s desecrating God’s work, but this blog is not an argument about their merit or lack of. It is about the history of tattoos. When and where did they start…and why?

The oldest discovered tattoo is found on the body of Otzi the Iceman and is dated between 3370 and 3310 BC.  Otzi’s frozen mummy was discovered in the Alps in 1991 and it is said that he died about age 45. He had 61 tattoos created from fireplace soot or ash. His tattoos may have been related to pain-relief treatments such as those used in acupuncture, for the radiological examination looked as if he suffered from knee and ankle problems as well as problems with his lower back.

India – tattoos were used as cultural symbols among tribes.

Egypt – tattoos were found on women and indicated their status. They were used for healing, religion, and as a form of punishment.

China – tattoos date back to 2100 BC and are possibly related to the art of acupuncture.

Japan – tattoos were used for spiritual and decorative purposes and date back to 10,000 BC.

Siberia – Mummies from 500 BC are tattooed.

Europe – Tattoos date back 40,000 years.

Greece and Rome – Tattooing was common among religious groups for a while but eventually was only used in Greece on slaves.

Persia – Tattooing is mentioned as far back as 550 BC.

The first documented professional tattoo artist in America was Martin Hildebrandt who arrived in Boston in 1846. He tattooed men on both sides of the Civil War 1861-1865. In the early 1800s, tattoos were painful (still are) and expensive (still are) and were a mark of wealth.

tattooNo matter what people say about tattoos, I find them fascinating. I have two tattoos (below) and hope to get a third someday. Mine are in commemoration of my ancestors, the first being the Culpepper family crest on my back honoring my mother’s family, and the second being the Choctaw Indian crest on my leg honoring my great, great grandmother and my Indian ancestors whose way of life was destroyed when the Culpepper part of the family moved to America. I also have Irish ancestors and hope someday to get a claddagh to honor them.

culpepper tat

howington tat

A to Z – Statue of Liberty

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m blogging about history.

S is for Statue of Liberty

 

 

 

 

StatueofLibertySmMost people around the world know the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of American freedom. Most Americans know it was a gift from France, but it wasn’t…more on this later.

The statue was completed in France in 1884 and arrived in NY Harbor in 1885 in 350 pieces packed in 214 crates. It took four months to reassemble her, and on October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland performed her dedication in front of thousands.

Here’s the stuff you may not know…

…her dedication was protested by women who as of 1886 did not yet have the right to vote. In their eyes, raising a statue of a woman as the symbol of freedom was absurd.

frederic-auguste-bartholdi…she wasn’t originally supposed to come to America. The designer Frederic Bartholdi (photo), originally proposed that she stand at the entrance of the Suez Canal as a lighthouse, but the deal fell through, leaving Bartholdi to find another home for her.

…she was supposed to honor American freedom and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the American Revolution of 1776. She finally arrive in 1886, a decade late.

…she was supposed to be a lighthouse, thereby eliciting government funding, but the powers-that-be decided to place her too far inland to do any good as a beacon. She was also supposed to be gilded with gold, but after how much money it took to erect her, the people with the deep pockets decided against it.

SOL_scaffolding_overhead1…okay, back to the France part. She was built in France, and Bartholdi did everything he could do to get government funding, but they refused. Finally, through fundraisers and donations, the people of France put up $250,000. That’s about $2.5 million in today’s money. Bartholdi spent a decade raising money to finish her, but Joseph Pulitzer, the American newspaper magnate, is the one who finally raised enough money from his American newspaper readers to have her shipped and erected.

A to Z – Quilting

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m blogging about history.

Q is for Quilting

 

 

 

 

Photographs for the book "Teach Yourself Visually: Quilting" by Sonja Hakala. (Photo by Geoff Hansen)

(Photo by Geoff Hansen)

Most people think of quilting as making a bed cover, but it’s so much more. Quilting is a sandwich – a top layer of cloth, a layer of padding, and a bottom layer of cloth. It can be as thick and as intricate as one wishes.

Quilting dates back to ancient Egypt. As far back as the 12th century, quilting was used to make garments worn under armor. One of the earliest surviving quilts was made in Sicily around 1360. Pieces of it are in museums in London and Florence.

Quilting in America began in the 18th century. Women spun, weaved, and sewed clothing for their families. Quilts for beds were also made out of necessity. Until 1840, looms were not large enough to produce a piece of cloth that would cover a bed, so strips of cloth needed to be sewed together. Using the same cloth was known as ‘whole cloth’ quilts. Contrary to what many of us would think, quilts were not made of left-over scraps of cloth and old pieces of clothing. They were instead examples of the fine needlework of the quilter.

Once looms were large enough to produce large pieces of fabric and became common enough and cheap enough for the average person to afford, women didn’t have to spin and weave anymore. Readily made fabrics changed the look of quilts. They began to contain different fabrics and the ‘block’ quilt was born.

During the 1850s, Singer mass produced a sewing machine and made it affordable with payments. By 1870, most homes owned one. This was a huge time-saving tool that made clothing one’s family easier and afforded women more time to quilt.

The art of quilting was once an important part of a woman’s life, but over time, it has become mainly a hobby. The amount of time and materials that go into a quilt make it very expensive to produce, so most quilts are passed down through families.

vin du jour pinwheel quiltI love quilting, though I admit, I’m not very good at it. My grandmother was a professional seamstress, but I didn’t inherit that ‘fine needlework’ gene. Regardless, I enjoy it, and I’m currently working on the quilt pictured here. It is a Vin Du Jour pinwheel quilt, if you’d like to know. I got all the pieces cut out and you can come back in a couple million years and see the finished product. There are about 600 pieces in this darned quilt. If anyone out there has a smidgen of time to help me, that would be great!quilt pieces

 

A to Z – Phantom Time Hypothesis

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m writing about history. Or maybe about the future?

P is for Phantom Time Hypothesis

 

 

 

crooked clockFor people like me who live in genealogy, world history, and ancestry, time is everything. Recorded dates and world events bring my research into focus. What if I’m wrong? What if the recorded dates are not the real dates?

gregory13In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar. He designed the passage of time from the previously used Julian calendar. The Julian calendar was calculated by the moon’s cycles, and it is said that it ran ten minutes too slow every year. Pope Gregory’s mathematicians and astrologers figured that since the time the Julian calendar began in 45 BC, the world had lost roughly ten days. He decided the Julian calendar would end Oct 4, 1582 and the Gregorian calendar would begin Oct 15, 1582. That should fix everything.

The discrepancy began when scholars refigured the Julian calendar and came to the conclusion that the calendar didn’t started as Pope Gregory had said in 45 BC. It was started with the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Pope Gregory’s calculations were either mistaken or intentional. No one knows. But according to these scholars, the Gregorian calendar should have actually been 1282.

If this is accurate, we are living in 1716.

This isn’t a problem with our current time. We are simply using a measurement of intervals, and if we all agree to it, then it’s fine.

The problem comes when you look at events that take place prior to 1582. What if something is known to have happened in 700 AD? Was it really 400 AD? The Phantom Time Hypothesis states 644 AD to 911 AD never actually existed. Archaeological evidence of that time is scarce. Our only knowledge of that time is from historians. All scholars of the time were controlled by the Holy Roman Church. Church records are filled with discrepancies and many documents from that time are known to be forged. Why would anyone forge them? Was it the church? If the Gregorian calendar is wrong, what does that say for the people who lived and events that occurred between 644 and 911 AD. What about the Carolingian Dynasty and King Charlemagne? Did they exist before what we know from history books, or were they products of fiction like King Arthur?

romanesque-architecture-pisa-cathedralThe one thing I find interesting is that Romanesque architecture was big in Europe in the tenth century, like this photo of Piza Cathedral in Italy. Why would that be so when the Romans were long gone by the fifth century? Unless, of course, they weren’t. Dumb calendar.

A to Z – Okatibbee Creek

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m writing about history.

O is for Okatibbee Creek. I’ve written about Okatibbee Creek (pronounced oh-kuh-TIB-be) many times as it is the title of a book in my bibliography, but Okatibbee Creek was and is a real place with real people and real history. Here’s one of the stories.

 

 

Rodgers, Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter Jolly

She was just a name in my family tree. Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter Jolly. My third great grandmother. 1828-1898. I visited her grave at Bethel Cemetery in Lauderdale County, Mississippi in 2012, and my husband asked, “Now, who is this again?” We sat at the foot of her grave and I told him her story.

She lost her husband, Rice Carpenter, in the Civil War in 1862. How sad to lose the one you love, but hey, it’s war, people die. After he died, she remarried in 1864.

The 1870 census said she married William Jolly and was living with his children, her children, and three children they had together. It was a house-full! But at least their three children were proof they must have liked each other, right? That’s good. So, who was this William Jolly? I looked at his 1860 census. In 1860, he was living with his wife Harriet, their four children, and a woman named Nancy Carpenter who was 69 years of age.

Carpenter? Nancy Carpenter? The only Nancy Carpenter I know is Rice’s mother. Why was Mary Ann’s mother-in-law living with her future husband in 1860?? Were they neighbors? Was Nancy the cleaning lady? I clicked on Nancy Carpenter and saw her relationship to the “head of house” was listed as “mother-in-law.” She was William’s mother-in-law? What??

So, I went back and looked at Rice’s family, and sure enough, his sister Harriet was married to William. Rice died in the war 31 Dec 1862 and Harriet died a month later of typhoid on 30 Jan 1863. Their spouses, Mary Ann and William, brother-in-law/sister-in-law, married in 1864. Well of course they did. They had known each other for many years, hadn’t they?

The more I looked at the Rodgers and Carpenter families, the more I was amazed by the sheer number of family members they lost to war and typhoid. At the time of my research, I remember counting SEVENTEEN, but I’m sure there were many more I missed. I couldn’t wrap my head around that kind of heartache and quickly became impressed with Mary Ann’s strength. Not only was she raising her children alone before she married William, but her brother and sister-in-law died (within days of each other, also of typhoid) and she was raising their five kids. She owned a general store that was probably losing money and customers by the day. The Confederate dollar was shrinking with inflation. There were no men to harvest the farms. Food was short. Hope was shrinking. In October, her father died of typhoid, then her husband in December, in February her infant son died, followed by her mother a month later. How would you react if you lost two or three family members this year? You would probably need Prozac. How would you respond if you lost a dozen? I wouldn’t even be able to get out of bed. Seventeen in one year? I can’t even fathom that.

51-lUHhsD7L._UY250_This is our heritage. These are the strong women we come from. We are the living proof of their strength. We are the survivors. I dug deep down in my heart and soul to tell her story, a story she would be proud of. I wanted her to know that she didn’t endure all of that heartache in vain. I am here. I am her legacy. Her story has been written down to help us realize our own strength. We are the products of our ancestors fortitude and integrity. We are the children our grandmothers fought so hard for, and I want Mary Ann to be as proud of me as I am of her.

*********************************

Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day. Okatibbee Creek  was the bronze medal winner in literary fiction in the 2013 eLit Book Awards. It was also named as honorable mention in historical fiction at the 2013 Midwest Book Festival.

Lori’s books are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

A to Z – Nobel, Alfred B.

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m blogging about history.

N is for Nobel, Alfred B.

 

Most people recognize the name Alfred Nobel as the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize, but who was this guy and why did he create the prize?

 

nobelAlfred Nobel was born in 1833 and was a brilliant and notable chemist and engineer. In 1867, he invented dynamite which was used not only to help with construction, but mainly to create weapons. He instantly became a multi-millionaire.

In 1888, his brother, Ludvig, died while in France. Alfred picked up the daily paper which contained the obituary. However, the obituary wasn’t about Ludvig Nobel. It contained Alfred’s own name. Alfred was alive and well, reading his own obituary. The title of the obituary read, “The Merchant of Death is Dead.” The title shook Alfred to the core. It went on to say that Alfred became rich by murdering people. Did he want to be remembered as the man who facilitated death?

To counter the negative image, he wrote a will stating that upon his death, his money was to be used to set up a trust to honor people who excelled in areas such as science, chemistry, literature, and most importantly, peace.

Although the prize was created only to save his reputation, his name became synonymous with peace.

Did I mention he was brilliant?

A to Z – Mount Vernon

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m blogging about history.

M is for Mount Vernon.

 

 

 

map_small-3Mount Vernon was the home of our first president, George Washington. It sits in Fairfax County, Virginia on the banks of the Potomac River.

The first to own the property was George’s great-grandfather, John Washington, and John’s friend Nicholas Spencer in 1674. The land was successfully acquired due to Nicholas working for Thomas Colepepper (my cousin). Colepepper was the English lord who controlled that part of Virginia for the Crown and no one bought property without his permission.

When John Washington died in 1677, his son Lawrence inherited his father’s part of the land. In 1690, Lawrence agreed to divide the 5,000 acres with the heirs of Nicholas Spencer, who had died the year before.

When Lawrence died in 1698, he left the property to his daughter Mildred. She leased the property to her brother Augustine (George’s dad) and he later bought it from her. He built a house on the site between 1726 and 1735 and called it Little Hunting Creek. The original foundation of that home is still visible in the present house’s cellar.

In 1739, Augustine’s eldest son Lawrence (George’s brother), who was twenty one years of age now, began buying up neighboring tracts of land from the Spencer family, enlarging the farm. When their father died, Lawrence inherited the property and changed the name to Mount Vernon. Lawrence died in 1752 and left some of the estate to his widow and the rest to his brother, George. Once the widow remarried and eventually died in 1761, George became the sole owner of the property.

large_mount-vernon-bowling-greenIn 1758, George began renovations on the house, raising it to two and a half stories. In the 1770s, just before the Revolution, he added even more, the final expansion rendering a twenty-one-room home with an area of 11,028 square feet! A majority of the work was completed by slaves. You can tell he wanted the home to be symmetrical, but if you look at the center door, you will see how far off it is. That probably drove George nuts every time he pulled up in front of the house.

Following George’s death in 1799, the home was passed down through several generations, but the estate progressively declined.

In 1858, the Mount Vernon Ladies Association saw the historical importance of the home and saved it from ruin. They paid the residents over $5 million in today’s money to purchase the home and they restored it. It is still owned and maintained by them and is opened every day of the year for the viewing public. The remains of George and Martha Washington are still on the property in a crypt behind the house.

georgewashingtonburialtomb

A to Z – Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m writing about history.

L is for Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge

 

 

 

stuckey's bridge from VA Iron and Bridge Co on wikiTrue? Not true? Half true but blown way out of proportion?

The Legend

In the 1890s, Old Man Stuckey, a former member of the Dalton Gang, ran an inn on a stagecoach route along the Chunky River in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. He could often be seen at night on the bridge, waving his lantern to passing flatboats carrying produce and cotton up and down the river, and flagging down coaches who had been traveling all day. He offered weary travelers a soft bed and a hot meal.

According to legend, he murdered them in their sleep for their riches and buried their bodies along the banks of the river.

In 1901, the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company began rebuilding the dilapidated bridge by his inn and found the remains of Stuckey’s victims. The sheriff and his posse hung Stuckey from the very bridge he used to attract his victims. They left his body hanging for five days before the noose was cut and his body splashed into the cold water below.

Old Man Stuckey must have been a serious psychopath or sociopath (psychopaths are genetic, sociopaths are created, but both have the same personality traits). Since there was no record of his existence at that time, I wonder where he came from and what kind of background he had that made him so nuts. In writing the book “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge,” and investigating Old Man Stuckey’s exploits, I started by researching the Dalton Brothers – Bill, Bob, Grat, and Emmet. What I found interesting about them is they did not set out to be outlaws. They were all initially U.S. marshals. Bill lived in California on his successful farm with his beautiful wife and is not in the Wanted Poster below. I assume his wife wouldn’t let him go that day.

Dalton Gang

Bill was involved in California politics, and the local farmers were trying to keep the railroads from running through their farms. When his three brothers (the hotties pictured above) showed up, their manly testosterone levels escalated, and they came up with a plan to teach the railroads a thing or two. They attempted to rob a train, but being inexperienced, bumbling train robbers, the result was a total fiasco. They fled empty handed under gunfire.

Somewhere between that humiliating failure in 1890 and their terrible deaths in 1892 while trying to rob TWO banks – across the street from each other – at the same time – in broad daylight – which resulted in a shootout – and most of the gang getting killed, their fine morals and upbringing obviously went astray. Boys will be boys.

800px-Dalton_Gang_memento_mori_1892

The photo here is from Wikipedia from the 1892 shootout. The middle two are Bob and Grat. Their boots were removed. They are all in handcuffs. Who took their boots?? And why are they handcuffed?? And what’s up with the gun in the photo?? So, they had a town photographer, but no town doctor to know if they were dead or not, hence the handcuffs??

Anyway, Old Man Stuckey’s story starts with the Dalton Gang on the very day of this bank shootout. Old Man Stuckey didn’t pick very good friends.