I returned to the Soldiers’ Lot in 2019 in order to take some photos.
I didn’t have any prior knowledge of this following soldier, but I Googled his name when I returned home.
From the Veterans Affairs / website for Allegheny Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot: Corporal John M. Kendig (Civil War). He received the Medal of Honor while serving in the U.S. Army, Company A, 63rd Pennsylvania Infantry, for actions at Spotsylvania, Virginia, May 12, 1864. His citation was awarded under the name of Kindig. He died in 1869 and is buried in Section 33, Lot 66, Site 32.
Here’s a grave for an unknown Union (United States) Civil War soldier:
Finally, here is a Confederate grave that I saw at the Soldiers’ Lot. Note how the headstone differs from that of a Union soldier.
Here are my absolute favorite history podcasts. These are the podcasts to which I re-listen to episodes.
I, personally, download podcasts from iTunes. However, I linked to each podcast’s website.
1.) Uncivil, from Gimlet Media, hosted by Jack Hitt and Chenjerai Kumanyika
I blogged about this Civil War podcast a few months ago. Each episode discussed stories and events that aren’t part of the common Civil War narrative. For instance, one episode taught me about female soldiers who enlisted in the army as men. Many of the episodes featured stories and events involving African Americans.
I complained about this podcast last year because Season #1 ended with no announcement and Gimlet said nothing about the status of Season #2.
I included American Hauntings because the podcast actually taught me more about history then it did about the supernatural.
I posted about American Hauntingslast month. Co-host Cody Beck commented on my post! Thanks, Cody!
Season #4 is Haunted New Orleans! I learned that Jean Lafitte the pirate might actually have NO actual connection to the building known as “Lafitte’s” Blacksmith Shop Bar. That the most graphic stories about Madame LaLaurie’s mansion may be fiction. (Though the LaLaurie family’s brutal cruelty towards their enslaved servants DID happen.) I learned about “quadroon balls.”
I even learned that Nicholas Cage (who also owned the LaLaurie Mansion) purchased for himself a pyramid-shaped tomb in New Orleans’ St. Louis Cemetery No. 1!
The entire first season highlighted Alton, Illinois. I didn’t even know that Alton existed until I found American Hauntings. I learned that Alton competed economically with St. Louis. It hosted a Civil War Prison AND a tuberculosis sanitarium. A LOT of people died horrible deaths in Alton.
I learned that an abolitionist named Elijah Lovejoy ran a printing press in St. Louis. Three angry mobs destroyed Lovejoy’s printing press three separate times. Lovejoy moved to Alton, Illinois and bought yet another printing press. A FOURTH angry mob, this time in Alton, destroyed Lovejoy’s fourth printing press. Also, the fourth angry mob shot and killed Lovejoy.
The Season #2 taught me about St. Louis, Missouri. Season #2 included a multi-episode feature on the Lemp brewing family. I learned that the most atrocious stories about the Lemps did NOT happen! (There is NO record that the young boy known as “Zeke” Lemp actually existed. Charles Lemp DIDN’T kill his dog. Lillian Lemp AKA “the Lavender Lady” DID face a child custody challenge from her ex-husband after she wore trousers in a photo.)
The audio quality of the episodes in the middle of the first season was not great. However, the audio quality improved greatly in Season #2.
Season #3, titled Murdered in Their Beds, covered the string of midwestern ax murders (including Villisca) that occurred at the turn of the last century. This was my least favorite season.
Each episode explored a dark historical event, place, or folklore tale from American Southern history.
I included Southern Gothic on this list because the host did advise when folklore did not match historical records. For example, in the episode about the Myrtles Plantation, the host noted that dates on the local death records do not match the storyline involved with the plantation’s most famous ghost story. (Troy Taylor mentioned this same thing during an episode of American Hauntings.)
I took this at the Allegheny Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot, Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh, PA. This headstone marks the grave of a Confederate soldier from the American Civil War. (C.S.A. stands for “Confederate States of America.”)
I love to consume content and also to share the content that I enjoy. Here is some content that my sister E. sent to me:
From the New York Times: The Headless Horseman Industrial Complex; How Sleepy Hollow and the river towns of New York City went all in on Halloween, by Molly Fitzpatrick. (The linked website actually currently says “New York City,” but I wonder if this is a typo and the article meant to say “New York State.”
Washington Irving introduced the spooky myth of the headless horseman in his short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The New York (State) community where this story took place recently changed its name from “North Tarrytown” to “Sleepy Hollow.”
Here’s one of my favorite excerpts from the article:
The enterprising venture of rebranding North Tarrytown as Sleepy Hollow followed the 1996 closing of the local General Motors plant — which had once employed 4,000 workers — that very year, a devastating blow to the village economy. The mayor of the town then, Sean Treacy, celebrated the result of the vote against the backdrop of a Headless Horseman banner: “This is now the place,” he proclaimed, “where legends are made.”
For Henry Steiner, the village historian and an outspoken advocate for the name change, the opportunity was more profound. “I wanted to see this community called North Tarrytown not labor under a lack of identity,” he said. “I wanted to seize this world-famous identity that had been buried.”
Here’s another excerpt:
For Mr. Steiner, who published an annotated edition of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in 2014, the region’s Halloween-forward branding is a source of both pride and anxiety. “I would like the things that are genuine and authentic to remain genuine and authentic, but ultimately, there’s more money in tourism than there is in historic preservation,” he said.
This article discussed the economic boost that “dark tourism” brought to this community. Here’s the Wikipedia entry that describes “dark tourism.”
I’ve never been to visit Sleepy Hollow. However, I’ve participated in dark tourism. I toured the Tower of London and Tintern Abbey. Etc.
I attended a “ghost” history walk in Prospect Cemetery last week.
The people of Brackenridge, PA, established Prospect Cemetery in 1864.
This cemetery includes markers from as far back as 1817. (The Victorians moved graves to Prospect from other local burying grounds.)
The remains of Brackenridge’s founder and namesake (Judge Henry Marie Brackenridge) and his family rest here.
The 13 acre cemetery sits on a hill overlooking the Allegheny River, upstream from Pittsburgh.
A few years ago, the cemetery met financial troubles. A local newspaper covered the issue in several articles.
Later, volunteers organized annual “history ghost walks” to raise money for cemetery upkeep.
Jonathan and I attended the walk each year. (We paid $10 per ticket this year.)
Each year’s ghost walk featured Judge Brackenridge and his wife. The other featured cemetery residents varied each year. Volunteers dressed in period costumes as “ghosts” – the people featured on that year’s tour- and reenacted that person. The “ghosts” featured included deceased community members from both the 1800’s and the 1900’s.
This year’s featured “ghosts” included TWO Civil War veterans. One of these veterans was captured at the Battle of Chickamauga and taken to Andersonville Prison. He later wrote a book about his wartime experiences. This year’s tour also included a World War I veteran who later served as a police officer for decades.
In my opinion, the “history ghost walk” is a creative solution to the cemetery’s situation.
This year’s walk occurred under a nearly-full moon.
(I’m not aware of any historical fiction that included Henry Marie Brackenridge. However, his father, Hugh Henry Brackenridge, appeared as a character in the novel The King’s Orchard by Agnes Sligh Turnbull. Hugh Henry founded the University of Pittsburgh. Here’s another blog post that I wrote about the Brackenridge family.)
You are all fantastic for reading my blog! I’ve had several readers reach out to me in the past month. I appreciate you all for taking precious time out of your full lives to digest my stories. I don’t want to let you down.
I will tell you a little bit more about our brief sailing adventures on Lake Erie. First, let me tell you about Misery Bay and Graveyard Pond.
The “Greater Erie, PA” region sits on the south shore of Lake Erie, and also on the south shore of Presque Isle Bay. Presque Isle Bay’s west and north boundaries exist due to a Peninsula that extends into Lake Erie.
To the west and the north of Presque Isle Bay is a peninsula that extends into Lake Erie. (On this peninsula now sits Presque Isle State Park. )
The Native Americans known as the “Eriez Nation” inhabited this area hundreds of years ago. The Iroquois defeated the Eriez in the 1600’s.
If you leave from Erie and head toward the open lake, then Erie (the city) will be on your starboard side and the peninsula will be on your port side.
You will travel past a monument to Commander Oliver Hazard Perry at Presque Isle State Park. Then, you will travel past Misery Bay.
Then, you will travel through a shipping channel. Finally, you will pass the North Pier Lighthouse. Congratulations. You are on the open lake.
Perry commanded the U.S.’s Lake Erie naval fleet in 1813. This was during the War of 1812, the United States’ second war against the British. This U.S. naval fleet was at Presque Isle Bay when Perry took command. Perry’s forces broke a British blockade at Presque Isle. Then they defeated the British off of the Ohio coast at the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813.
Perry then returned to Presque Isle Bay.
Do you remember when I wrote that the bay next to the Perry monument is called “Misery Bay?” Well, the bay earned its name from what happened after the Battle of Lake Erie. Many returning sailors contracted smallpox and died in quarantine. They died aboard ships harbored in Misery Bay. The ones who didn’t get sick buried these sailors in the pond next to Misery Bay. Then, sailors who got sick but hadn’t yet died also got “buried” in the pond.
Local storytellers renamed the pond “Graveyard Pond.”
The navy sunk the hulls of two of their ships, the USS Lawrence and the USS Niagara, in Misery Bay for preservation.
In 1875, preservationists raised the Lawrence. They shipped her to Philadelphia. Exhibitors displayed the Lawrence at the U.S. Centennial International Exhibition of 1876. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the Lawrence at that same exhibition.
Preservationists raised and rebuilt the USS Niagara in 1913, then rebuilt her again in 1988. Thereconstructed USS Niagara now sails regularly from her dock in Erie, past Misery Bay, on her way to the open lake.
My husband, Jonathan, and I purchased our sailboat, S/V Pinniped, last autumn from the original owners, P. and M. In fact, P. built the boat himself from a set of plans. P. told us to be careful to stay away from Misery Bay when we travelled through the channel. Misery Bay is shallow, compared to the shipping channel. P. admitted that he actually grounded Pinniped on various sandbars in Misery Bay.
So of course, when we returned to the bay from our first sail together on the open lake, we accidentally steered into Misery Bay.
Misery Bay at that particular spot has a datum depth of four feet. Pinniped drafts five a half feet.
Fortunately for us, Lake Erie is high this summer. So, the actual depth on that spot on that day was seven and a half feet. We lucked out!
A week later, we again sailed onto the open lake. We sailed past a docked freighter before we left the bay.
We sailed about one third of the way across Lake Erie.
And . . . we avoided steering into Misery Bay on the way back!
However, after several hours of sailing, the wind died and the flies appeared. Lots of flies. We motored for over an hour, covered in flies, to reach our slip at our marina. (For the record, we sprayed ourselves generously with bug spray. We still received fly bites.)
Despite Misery Bay and the flies, we both had positive experiences on both sailing trips. Stay tuned for more sailing adventures and more stories from history.
2.) Then, an episode of the podcast My Favorite Murder talked about this in episode 136 and heavily “cited” Criminal. (In my opinion, the bulk of the My Favorite Murder host’s “research” consisted of her listening to the Criminal episode! This is merely my personal opinion, though.)
Today is May 1. May Day. The ancient festival of Beltane.
Ancient residents of Northern Europe celebrated May 1 as a spring festival. My ancient ancestors most likely celebrated on May Day.
In Anya Seton‘s historical fiction novel Katherine, the serfs living on the English protagonist’s estate snuck off and observed Beltane. A nobleman discovered them and ended the party. The powerful men in this novel forbid Beltane since it wasn’t a “Christian” holiday. They labeled Beltane as “pagan.”
In honor of May Day, I blog today about a place in England that predated Christianity in England. Modern-day Pagans (Contemporary Pagans / Neopagans) still gather at this landmark to observe their own beliefs. I blog today about Avebury.
My husband Jonathan travelled to London for business a few times. I took vacation days from my own job, purchased plane tickets, and squatted in his hotel room so that I could blog about England.
Jonathan had a weekend “off,” so we rented a British car. We drove several hours out of London and visited rural England.
My cousin R. previously lived in the United Kingdom for a year. We asked R. for sightseeing recs. Cousin R. told us about Avebury in Wiltshire, in southwest England.
Avebury Henge, a Neolithic henge monument, encircles a section of the village of Avebury. A ditch surrounds the henge.
UNESCO classifies this as part of its “Stonehenge, Avebury, and Associated Sites” World Heritage site.
We decided through our research that Avebury was more accessible to us than Stonehenge from our hotel “base” in London. We had limited “free” time during our trip. So, we skipped Stonehenge in favor of Avebury.
To our delight, Avebury and its attractions charged no admission. We found it uncrowded, too!
Visitors can even shop inside the henge.
Sheep graze among the Avebury Henge.
In fact, I watched a sheep rub itself against the henge stones.
Look at the below photo. Some of the henge stones show long-term wear at sheep level.
We explored the actual village of Avebury:
Here is the Parish Church of St. James in Avebury. To be clear, this IS a currently operating Christian (Anglican) church. I include St. James in the middle of this blog post because it sits in the village of Avebury.
St. James dates from approximately 100o A.D. The Normans possibly altered the church after the Norman Invasion in 1066 A.D.
The residents on this land now called Avebury once celebrated such pre-Christian rites as Beltane. The status quo maintained Beltane as a festival.
Then, the (Roman Catholic) Church brought Christianity to Avebury. The status quo no longer maintained the pre-Christian beliefs and festivals. The status quo maintained Roman Catholicism.
Then, in the 1500’s, Henry VIII established the (Protestant) Church of England. Henry dissolved the Roman Catholic monasteries. His supporters prosecuted practicing Catholics. Henry VIII died. Henry’s son Edward VI maintained Protestantism as the status quo in England. Edward VI died.
Henry’s daughter, Mary I, then became Queen. She reinstated Roman Catholicism and persecuted Protestants. Mary I died.
Henry’s daughter Elizabeth I became queen. The status quo changed again, this time in favor of Protestants.
(This actually provides much of the setting for Anya Seton‘s time travel / reincarnation novel Green Darkness.)
In 1561, Elizabeth I ordered that all churches destroy their rood screens. (The rood screen separated a church’s chancel from its nave.) Unknown parties disassembled the rood screen at St. James and hid it behind a false wall. Church inhabitants discovered the rood screen in 1810. St. James parishioners restored the screen and reinstalled it by the end of the 1800’s.
Here is St. James’ churchyard:
Again, I include St. James in the middle of this blog post because it sits in the village of Avebury.
The rest of this post details landmarks several miles outside of Avebury. We had to drive to these these places. They are “associated sites” included in the official Stonehenge, Avebury, and Associated Sites UNESCO World Heritage Site:
West Kennet Long Barrow:
This neolithic tomb contained the remains of over 40 individuals.
We parked and walked up a hill in order to view West Kennet Long Barrow. Partway up this hill we came upon a tree filled with ribbons. Unknown visitors tied various items to many of the ribbons.
Here is the inside of West Kennet Long Barrow. Earlier visitors lit candles inside the barrow before we entered it.
This prehistoric artificial mound is the largest one in Europe.
Thank you for letting me share my adventures with you!
Check back for my upcoming blog post about Tintern Abbey, Iron Maiden, and Jane Austin.
(Note: Henry VIII closed Tintern Abbey in 1536 when he replaced Roman Catholicism with Protestantism as the status quo.)