Monument / Marker Mondays – Fort Magruder


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I want to use today’s Monument / Marker Mondays to highlight a battlefield preservation project near to where I live.  First, did anyone catch this yesterday?

The piece on CBS Sunday Morning highlighted two battlefields that I am quite familiar with.  I grew up in New Jersey just about 20 miles from the Princeton Battlefield.  When I left NJ, I moved to Murfreesboro, TN just about 30 miles from the Franklin Battlefield.  I can remember seeing the folks from Save the Franklin Battlefield every year when I went to the Nashville Civil War Show on the first weekend in December.  (I believe that it is now the Franklin/Middle Tennessee Civil War Show and no longer held on the Tennessee State Fairgrounds but I digress.)  I will say that I am both surprised and elated that the preservation movement has made the progress that it has.  Someday when I get a chance to visit Tennessee I will make visiting Franklin a priority.

The city where I now live, Williamsburg, VA, has a quickly disappearing battlefield as well.  But first, some pictures:

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Yes, Williamsburg, long known for its colonial history, was the site of a Civil War battle as well.  Union and Confederate forces clashed here on May 5, 1862 as McClellan was feeling (stumbling?) his way up the peninsula during what became known as the Peninsula Campaign.  Like Franklin, Williamsburg has seen its share of growth and development.  Also like Franklin, Williamsburg has a preservation group seeking to save parts of the battlefield.  They are nowhere near as far along as the folks at Franklin, but the irony of my having taken these pictures on Friday and the story on CBS yesterday, I felt compelled to highlight Williamsburg’s preservation struggles / movement today.  Future posts will include discussions on the Battle of Williamsburg and pictures of what has been preserved, but for now I encourage you to visit the Williamsburg Battlefield Association’s website here and/or their FaceBook page here.  I also want to encourage you to become aware of, and active in, any preservation movements in near your hometown.


Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum


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Last fall we took a trip to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV.  The asylum offers both heritage and ghost tours and appeared in an episode of Ghost Hunters (see here and here).  We’re not really the ghost hunting type so we opted for the Heritage tour.


This view is of the main entrance to the main building (Kirkbride Building).


Let me start by saying that the asylum is a multi building complex that housed a medical facility, dining hall, laundry, greenhouse, and other support buildings.  The image below shows some of the buildings of the complex.



The main building was built based on the “Kirkbride Plan” named for Thomas Kirkbride (July 31, 1809 – December 16, 1883) a doctor who was influential in mental health care.  For a list of some of “his” buildings check here.





Our tour included the ground floor of the medical building including the x-ray lab and the morgue.  I include a picture of the body storage unit because it’s creepy.



We toured parts of all four floors in the main building including patients rooms, dispensaries, common / day rooms, and staff living quarters.  Towards the end there were exhibits on mental health care of the late nineteenth century with a list of all the reasons you could be admitted.


There was also a section where patients’ artwork was displayed.  One in particular stood out as it no doubt represents a defining event in this persons life.


I do recommend that if you are ever near Weston, WV you consider a tour of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  You might not see a ghost, but you will gain a better insight into late nineteenth century mental health care.

An Image is Born!


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My crack team of graphic artists have come up with a design for The US History Czar!  Ok, maybe “team” is misleading.  The truth is that my awesome wife who is also a fantastic artist created/drew this Czar image for me.

History Czar

For the blog header I added an outline of the US and there you have it, a personalized image for The US History Czar.

Monument / Marker Mondays – Springplace Mission


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This is a new segment where I post pictures of either a monument or historical marker.  The only rule is that I must have visited the location and taken the picture.  I’ll apologize in advance because I know that for some locations I have pictures of only the marker / monument.  Here Goes:



This marker is at the intersection of Route 52 and Ellijay St., in Chatsworth, Georgia.  For more information on the mission I suggest, The Moravian Springplace Mission to the Cherokees from the University of Nebraska Press.

Moravian Book

Home Again


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We drove home from NJ on Friday.  On the way up we noticed that construction had turned much of Maryland along I-95 into a traffic jam so we decided to take a little detour…through Gettysburg, PA.  Unfortunately, we were nearly there when I realized that it was Remembrance Day weekend.  The Gettysburg Hotel held a dinner and ball on Friday night and there was a parade on Saturday.  Needless to say the place was swamped.  We did stop by the NPS Visitor Center where my wife showed Abe her cell phone.

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I also picked up a copy of The Chattanooga Campaign for my library.


We did drive the Culp’s Hill section of the battlefield and then headed out of town.  On the way home we stopped for supper at Chubby’s Barbeque in Emmitsburg, MD.  The pulled pork sandwich was OK/average (the hands down best I’ve ever had is Whitt’s Barbeque in Tennessee but I digress).  So ended the quick trip to New Jersey to visit family.

Christmas Came Early


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Today’s activities in New Jersey included a Rutgers University shop-a-thon.  Truth is I am incredibly proud of my alma mater and I was blown away tonight by the changes both on campus and in New Brunswick.  The new bookstore is a Barnes and Noble, and just might be the biggest B&N I’ve been in, and I’ve been in a bunch of B&Ns all across the country.  There were a whole lot of “I wish they had that when I was here” moments tonight.  I am hoping tomorrow to get to a history related site or two….we’ll see if that happens…in the meantime here is a picture of today’s haul.  And yes, my wife is awesome for buying me all this stuff for an early Christmas.


On The Road Again



So we made the trip from Virginia to New Jersey today.  (Shout out to The History Girl who runs a New Jersey related history blog.)  Our first hurdle was a rock that attacked our windshield putting a quarter sized spider web crack in it.


We wanted to get the crack repaired before it spread too far across the windshield so we visited the Fredericksburg office of AutoGlassNow.  The good folks there took good care of us, fixed the crack, and got us on the road again on the inside of an hour.  Thanks AutoGlassNow, you were great today!

Next we encountered the normal Washington, Baltimore, New Jersey traffic.  After some slow going we finally reached our destination.  While getting some pizza we discovered the following sign.

  • Pizza
  • More later, and HEY! don’t scare the pizza!