A Gentleman’s Calling Card – 19th Century Token of Everyday Life

A Form of Business Card

With the printing press invention of the early 1800’s, 19th century gentlemen used a form of business card to formally introduce themselves to others in a dignified style. According to The Encyclopedia of Ephemera, the acquaintance card was, “A novelty variant of the American calling card of the 1870s and 1880s,

Emily Post?

Just A Short Chat!

A Chat Over Pizza

Yesterday, my octogenarian parents and I were chatting about days past as we were sharing pizza for lunch at their kitchen table.  I began the conversation because on my drive to their house it occurred to me that we have always talked about their lives from the point that they met each other–ages 14 and 15.

Now, we have to remember that both my parents were born only a year or two before the Great Depression (1929 to 1939). Many people became homeless because they lost their jobs and couldn’t pay their rent.  I remember the stories of multiple generations of my mom’s family moving in together to avoid homelessness and to share what little they had.

Pearl Harbor PosterMy parents were 11 and 12 at the start of World War II (1939). Japan’s December 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor, nullified my dad’s 13th birthday–can you imagine?  This is when the U.S. officially entered the war in the Pacific and in Europe. In fact, it was America’s war effort that jump-started its industry again and effectively ended the Great Depression. The six-year war (1939-1945), on top of the Great Depression, says to me that in the forefront of my parents memories were just hard times, hunger, and all around struggles and sacrifices.



War Rationing InstructionsI only had heard briefly about the government’s rationing program.  So I took time to look it up and discovered it was another social aspect that took over their freedoms of choice.  There was “Red Stamp” rationing that covered all meats, butter, fat, and oils, and cheese. Each person was allowed a certain amount of points weekly with expiration dates to consider. “Blue Stamp” rationing covered canned, bottled, frozen fruits and vegetables, juices and dry beans, and such processed foods as soups, baby food, and even ketchup. Ration stamps became a kind of currency and each family had its “War Ration Book.” Each stamp authorized a purchase of rationed goods in the quantity and time designated, and the book guaranteed each family its fair share of scarce goods–all,  thanks to the war.

Use It Up - Wear It OutIn addition to food rationing, there was rationing on clothing, shoes, coffee, gasoline, tires, and fuel oil. If you were fortunate enough to own a car, rationing of gas and tires depended on the distance to your job (if you fortunate enough to have a job), which meant there probably weren’t too many visits to relatives who lived elsewhere.  So, after these many years I’m starting to get the big picture, the backdrop for my parent’s lives, and have a new-found insight into how and why they lived their lives and raised us the way they did.  For example, my dad, until recently, didn’t know how to display his love.  I recognized early on, that when he bought me a gift, it was always “top of the line.”  He never refused “overtime” work, which often was feast or famine in the printing industry. We were the first family to buy a TV, and the first family to get a color TV in our neighborhood.  All of these seemingly materialistic things were everyday items in which my parents and their families could not indulge.  They never had basic security of a home to call their own, both parents together, and even more importantly, at least one of them working full time.  Neither of them graduated high school.  Both of them had to get jobs in their early teens to help themselves and their families survive.  And the families considered themselves fortunate if they owned even a radio.

So, when I asked dad yesterday, what did he do for fun as a kid, his answer shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did, and it made me sad.  He said, “I don’t remember having fun as a kid.”  So I asked him what his earliest memory was, he responded; “The day my mom left us–I was five.”

And, when I asked mom about her earliest memory (and today she suffers from Alzheimer’s and has very little memory from moment to moment), she said it was the day her parents asked her and her two years’ older brother, John, to choose which parent they wanted to live with.  When they both answered, “Mom,” the couple didn’t split and worked things out.

I am so very glad that I took time out from cleaning their house and doing daily chores to spend meaningful time with them.  Mom turns 89 next week and dad will be 88 in four months.  I feel blessed!

Memories are Stitched with Love

A Different Look At Our Everyday Lives

Over the past five years and about 300 posts, Our Unbounded Heritage blog has focused on families and their histories–the people, places; the notables, historic events, and everyday moments that somehow changed our lives–and these moments in time can be said to be our memories stitched together–most often through love for one another, kinship, and other’s kindred spirits to help preserve our history.

Yet, seldom have my posts prodded and explored beneath the surfaces of our everyday lives and inventions to look back at some everyday tools and accessories that revolutionized the ways in which we are able to live our lives today.

For example, let’s just look at the clothing we wear today.  Easy as 1, 2, 3, we order online or visit a local store and choose from huge collections of items within a matter of minutes and come away with just the right outfit for just the right occasion.  Yet, scientists tell us that for thousands of years, such as, women sewed only by hand.  We don’t need to go back too many generations in our own families, to know this to be true.  In fact, scientists date the start of sewing back about 4,000 years to the beginning of the Iron Age (1200-1000BC). They also have dated needles made from animal bones back about 2,000 years.  And, it was these needles that helped early humans stitch together animal skins to protect them from the cold during the Ice Age. Again, these same scientists told us that the Ice Ages began 2.4 million years ago and lasted until 11,500 years ago.  In fact, they also dated the first thimbles back to China and the Han dynasty (206BC – 220AD). Let me just say that not being a science buff, myself, I had to take time to look up these ancient periods in history. And, as a creationist, I struggle with all the concepts within evolutionist theories.  However, that’s a post for another time–or maybe never.

The Invention of the Sewing Machine

eliashoweandhismachineBut, let’s just take the invention of the sewing machine to continue with our example of simple innovations which greatly changed the quality, quantity, and availability of our everyday clothing.  FACT:  The sewing machine is less than 200 years old!  It was Connecticut native Elias Howe who is credited with inventing the first sewing machine in 1846, followed shortly afterwards by Isaac Singer (as in the ever-famous Singer Sewing Machines).  This was only two years after Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph from Washington, DC to Baltimore, MD. And, the first sewing machine came out the same year as the Mexican-American War. Imagine–the elaborate clothing that spanned history’s periods and lifestyles and the amount of time and effort it must have taken to make fabric, thread, and patterns, and then add the time to sew such garments.

Interestingly enough, Elias Howe, also received a patent in 1851 for an ‘Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure,’–this would be today’s “zipper.” But, it was 1895 when Whitcomb Judson marketed a “clasp locker” and became known as the ‘Father of the Zip.’

100 Years of Fashion

I remain absolutely intrigued by the volumes and kinds of textiles used in women’s clothing and have never more appreciated the intricacies of the details and stitching that must have gone into making just a single outfit.  The following video looks at the various fashions (Gals vs. Guys) over the past hundred years.  It was produced by Mode.com on December 29, 2015.  The guy is a hunk, but that mustard-colored outfit has to go!

Mary Custis Lee Challenges Streetcar Segregation

Mary Custis Lee, eldest daughter of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Mary Anna Custis, born in Alexandria, Virginia (1835-1918), was my  2nd cousin’s [six generations removed], (Mary Tabb Bolling Lee) sister-in-law.  She never married and spent most of her life traveling the world. Mary was recorded as being the most aloof and outspoken of the Lee children and regarded as “stern” and “bossy.” It is also said that Mary enjoyed politics and often discussed them with her father, General Lee.  Mary, too, loved to travel.  So much so, that in her later years she roamed the globe almost continuously, collecting visiting cards from nobility and, in fact, was overseas when WWI began.

The article that follows by Ariel Veroske, of WETA’s local history blog, “Boundary Stones,” begs the question:  “Was Mary Custis Lee making a political statement in opposition to segregation?”

Let me also put into historical perspective that for just under 100 years, (1862 – 1962), streetcars in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, transported people across the city and region.

Mary Custis Lee in 1914, taken 12 years after her arrest. It appears she chose to travel by motor car this time. (Photo source: Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress)

Mary Custis Lee in 1914, taken 12 years after her arrest. It appears she chose to travel by motor car this time. (Photo source: Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress) On the evening of June 13, 1902, Mary Custis Lee was arrested on an Alexandria streetcar for sitting in the section reserved for black patrons. As the daughter of Robert E. Lee, the General of the Confederate Army, the incident caused quite a stir within the community.

On her way to visit a friend, and being burdened with many large bags, Miss Lee chose to sit near the rear of the car in order to easily exit upon arriving at her destination. Shortly after she sat down the conductor Thomas Chauncey “explained the Virginia law on the subject, but being ignorant of the existence of the law herself, and also being loth [sic] to move her baggage, she protested.” At that time, Chauncey let her stay seated.[1]

At the next stop, a black man boarded the car. The conductor stated that Miss Lee “was occupying a seat to which he was entitled under the law” and asked her once again to move to the front section, which was reserved for whites. But, even after being threatened with arrest, Miss Lee refused to give up her seat.[2]

Upon exiting the streetcar a few stops later, she was met by two police officers who informed her she was under arrest. Officers Bettis and Sherwood escorted Miss Lee to the station. “In front of the police station, Miss Lee appeared calm, but was evidently concealing her embarrassment with great effort.” As other streetcar passengers and onlookers realized who she was, crowds began to form.[3]

Several “gray-haired men, many of whom had doubtless served under her father” protested against Miss Lee’s holding.[4] Confronted with the dilemma of arresting a woman of Miss Lee’s status, she was released under the condition that she appears for a court hearing the next day.

To The Evening Star, Miss Lee claimed “she knew nothing about the law requiring the separation of white and colored passengers”[5] While it sounds like a classic excuse, this is at least somewhat plausible. The local government had only recently adopted streetcar segregation laws and it is likely that many were still adjusting to the new regulations, which were not common at the time. In fact, as of 1902, Alexandria and Fairfax were the only localities within Virginia which mandated that blacks and whites sit in separate areas of streetcars. Statewide segregation on rail lines wouldn’t happen until 1906.[6]

But, is it possible that Mary Custis Lee’s actions were driven by more than just ignorance of the law? Might she have been making a political statement in opposition to segregation?

Perhaps but that might be giving her too much credit. It seems that personal convenience may have been the bigger motivation for her actions. Mary Coulling’s biography The Lee Girls, hinted that Lee was argumentative with the conductor because the segregation law disrupted her usual travel routine with her black maid.[7]

In any case, the word of Miss Lee’s arrest spread quickly and some latched onto the idea that she was taking a stand for racial integration. As one man from Alberta, Canada wrote to her, “Please accept my thanks for your human action in breaking the color line.”[8]

Others, particularly in the North, used the incident to take aim at the growing Jim Crow culture taking root in the southern states. As the Cleveland Gazette commented, Miss Lee’s arrest was “another fool exhibition of the assinine [sic] prejudice of ‘chivalrous’ southerners.”[9]


[1] “Sat in Negroes’ Seat: Daughter of Robert E. Lee Arrested on Electric Car.” The Washington Post, pg. 2, June 14, 1902.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Alexandria Affairs, Miss Lee’s Misunderstanding of State Law, Her Arrest Follows.” The Evening Star, June 14, 1902.

[6] “Sequel to an Episode: Soldiers of South Want Jim Crow Measure Repealed.” The Washington Post, pg. 4, June 16, 1902.

[7] Coulling, Mary P. The Lee Girls. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair Publishers, 1987.

[8] Carlson, Peter. “A Portrait in Letters.” The Washington Post,  sec. Arts & Living, July 12, 2007. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/11/AR200707…(accessed June 13, 2013).

[9] “Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Daughter Arrested.” Cleveland Gazette, Vol. 19, Issue 46, June 21, 1902.

Nobleman, Minister, Prisoner, And Exile–My 9th Great Grandfather’s Saga


I know my recent posts have focused on my maternal grandmother, Alice Lauretta Lathrop’s, noble family who emigrated from England to Massachusetts, Connecticut, and then onto Pennsylvania and places farther down the Atlantic coast. Specifically, this post, focuses on the 400th Anniversary Year of a church that got its beginnings in England by my 9th great-grandfather, Reverend John Lathrop, also known as Lothropp or Lothrop.  Please remember as you read about this man and his church’s 400th anniversary that in the 17th Century, it was a crime in England to worship outside of the established church, the Church of England, and nonconforming ministers could be subjected to cruel punishment, public humiliation, imprisonment, and torture.

In brief, John Lathrop was born into a privileged English family in Cherry Burton, England, and was educated at Oxford and then Cambridge Universities.  He was baptized December 20, 1584 in Etton, Yorkshire, England. Unfortunately, Reverend Lathrop lived during “the dismal days of 17th century” in England–a time of severe religious persecution. First an English Anglican clergyman, then an independent Congregationalist minister.  After imprisonment for his beliefs and exile from England, he emigrated to New England on the sailing ship Griffin in 1634. There he founded Barnstable, Massachusetts.  His home was built in 1644 and became the home of the Sturgis Library . The building is one of the oldest houses remaining on Cape Cod. The house which forms the original part of the library is the oldest building housing a public library in the United States. Since Reverend Lathrop used the front room of the house for public worship, another distinction of the Sturgis Library is that it is the oldest structure still standing in America where religious services were regularly held. Lothrop Room - Sturgis LibraryThis room is now called “The Lothrop Room” and contains a beamed ceiling and pumpkin-colored wide-board floors that exemplify the quintessential early character of authentic Cape Cod houses.  Rev. Lathrop at age 68 died on Nov. 8, 1653, in Barnstable Town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts.

Now let’s take a look at this congregationalist and his church that had its early beginnings in the 1600’s in Southwark, London, England.

World’s Oldest Congregational Church Celebrates 400 Years

West Parish of Barnstable is a Congregational Christian Church and a member of the United Church of Christ whose beginnings can be traced back to England in 1616.  It is widely recognized as the world’s oldest congregational church.  At present, it has a congregation of over 280 members who on May 15, 2016, reenacted a Sunday service as a worship service would have taken place in the 1600’s in the same Barnstable, using the same worship accessories and period clothing, in the meetinghouse they’ve been meeting in since 1719.

In May 2016, the Cape Code Times, a regional newspaper published an article about West Parish.  It’s photographers Steve Heaslip and Ron Schloerb provided some wonderful pictures and I thought you would appreciate seeing their images (the full-screen view of the pictures distorts them, but the displayed size is adequate):

From London to Barnstable – A West Parish Timeline (in green–from West Parish’s history page):

1616 – The Rev. Henry Jacob and his followers break with the Church of England and worship in secret:  In seedy Southwark, London, England, the Rev. Henry Jacob, despairing of any reform in the Church of England, proposed a separate congregation to several friends. All those present understood the danger of alienating themselves from the Church of England, yet they gathered a church and continued in it, thus laying the foundation for the First Congregational Church organized by that name in England.

1625 – The Rev. John Lathrop succeeds Jacob as pastor of this “congregational” group: Under the leadership of Henry Jacob’s successor, the Reverend John Lathrop, (my 9th great maternal grandfather), the little “Southwark Church” continued with sixty members worshipping secretly in private homes or in the sand pits at the edge of town.

1632 – Lathrop and 42 followers are imprisoned by the Crown:   King Charles I and Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, prosecuted scores of Puritans on charges, real and imagined, before the King’s courts.  It was April 22, 1632, when Rev. Lathrop and forty-one of his fellow parishioners were arrested while worshipping at the house of Humphrey Barnet, a brewer’s clerk in Black Friar’s, London. Eighteen others managed to escape but the rest were seized by deputies and imprisoned in Newgate Prison. Some of them, including Reverend Lathrop, were transferred to 12th century medieval prison known as “The Clink,”  (1144-1780).  The Clink was a place of filth and wretchedness whose name has come down through time as a pseudonym for any prison.  According to historians at the Clink Museum, “The jailers and guards were entrepreneurial in their corruption, accepting bribes and charging prisoners exorbinant amounts for food and other necessities. Prisoners were flogged, or strapped to the rack, boiled in oil, and were kept in leg irons.”

1634 – Released on condition they leave England, Lathrop and his followers sail for New England:  They had been jailed for failing to take the oath of loyalty to the established English church. They remained there for two years. In the spring of 1634, all the parishioners were released, except Lathrop, whose theological influence was considered a danger to the Church of England and it’s king. 

Meanwhile, Lathrop’s wife, Hannah Howse Lathrop (my 9th great-grandmother) became ill and died on February 16, 1633/34.   After an appeal by one of Rev. Lathrop’s nine orphaned children, King Charles released Lathrop on the condition that he be exiled from the country.  John Lathrop arrived in Boston with thirty members of his church, moving immediately to Scituate in Plymouth Colony where some of their number had preceded them. Unfortunately friction soon developed regarding church discipline and the distribution of land.

1639 – Lathrop and 22 families leave Scituate and found the town of Barnstable:  In June, the Southwark Church eagerly accepted an offer of land in Mattakeese (an Indian name meaning “plowed fields”), now the Town of Barnstable. According to tradition, one of their first acts upon arrival in October was the celebration of the Sacrament of Communion at a site now known as Sacrament Rock on Route 6A. The ancient pewter vessels brought from England were used in that first communion.

1644 – Worship services are held at Lathrop’s new home, now Sturgis Library: Barnstable prospered under the guidance of John Lathrop, and the first meetinghouse was erected in 1646 about one-half mile from Sacrament Rock.

1717 – Construction begins on West Parish Meetinghouse:  By early 1715, however, considerable growth made a second parish inevitable. A piece of high ground on land of John Crocker was chosen as the site for West Parish Meetinghouse and work began in 1717 (the present meetinghouse).

1719 – November 23, 17191  the West Parish held its first worship in their new meetinghouse, which remains in use today. 

1723 – After only four years, the building was already too small. It was cut in half, the ends pulled apart and about 18 feet added to its length. A bell tower, one of the earliest in New England was erected in that year.  The gilded cock, ordered from England in 1723  serves as a weathervane for the Meetinghouse.  It measures over four feet from the bill to the tip of the tail. And, the original bird crowns the tower today.

Early 1800’s – A Revere bell was made and given by the Otis family in memory of Colonel James Otis, father of the Patriot known as the “Firebrand of the Revolution.” 

1850’s – The meetinghouse is remodeled in neo-classical style. In the years following the remodeling in 1852, the Meetinghouse fell into disrepair and by 1950 it was evident that radical restoration was necessary.

1950’s- Elizabeth Crocker Jenkins leads a restoration of the meetinghouse. Spearheaded by Elizabeth Crocker Jenkins, the West Parish Memorial Foundation was incorporated and led the way to restoring West Parish Meetinghouse to its original form. It is the oldest Congregational church meetinghouse still in use in the world today.  And, the 1717 Meetinghouse Foundation is founded and partners with the church to protect this historical place of worship.

2016 – West Parish congregation celebrates 400 years of continuous worship and leadership in the community.  According to Reed Baer, pastor of West Parish for the last 18 years:

A series of events at its historic 1717 Meetinghouse on Route 149 in West Barnstable planned through the remainder of the year will commemorate the 400-year milestone of this congregation.

“The history of the town of Barnstable is in lockstep with the history of the West Parish congregation,” said Margaret Housman, West Parish historian. “You can’t separate the two.”

The Lothrop Bible, which traveled with Lathrop from England in 1634, is part of the collection of the Sturgis Library in Barnstable Village, which was once Lathrop’s home and where he conducted some of his early religious meetings.

During this year of celebration, the congregation has embarked upon a “400 hours for 400 years” campaign for community volunteer efforts, which Baer said he expects will be much more than 400 hours once the work time is tallied.

When asked to look ahead to year 401 and beyond for West Parish of Barnstable, it was all about community for Baer.

“We will continue to look for new ways we can be of service to the wider community,” he said.


John Lothrop Biography, Northwestern California University School of Law, 2014.
John Lathrop (Lothropp) (1584 – 1653) – Genealogy – Geni
Joanne_Dickinson_Family_Tree_6.1, Ancestry.com
West Parish of Barnstable, United Church of Christ » History
Rev John Lothrop (1584 – 1653) – Find A Grave Memorial
Sturgis Library


The Killing Spree . . . Our Ancestral Legacy

Attributing our traits to our ancestors

Some days when I look at myself in the mirror, I can see glimpses of my ancestors. My once beautifully brilliant blue eyes; I remember seeing these same eyes in my maternal grandfather, Roy (a Ford from Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina).  Unfortunately, I also get my thick midriff from either or both–my maternal grandmother, Loretta, (a Lathrop from Wyalusing, Bradford County, Pennsylvania), or my paternal grandfather, Jesse (a Boling from Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania County, Virginia).  Of course, it is a natural human instinct to attribute our traits to relatives we have known or through our family’s stories about them.  But, other similarities or differences don’t flow so naturally or with ease.  When we reflect back we tend to most often focus on the ‘good times,’ the ‘good traits,’ or happen upon a history that we’d as soon forget, or,  for fear that it might repeat itself.

Let’s look back about 150 years or so to April 9, 1865 in Appomattox, Virginia:    

After four years of conflict, General Robert E. Lee (commander of the Army of Northern Virginia), surrendered his beleaguered Confederate forces in Appomattox, Virginia, to General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army, ending the Civil War.  (Grant in four short years would become our 18th President.)  The war bankrupted the South, left its roads, farms, and factories in ruins, and all but wiped out an entire generation of men. And this answers my family’s question about our ancient aristocratic Bolling family who had emigrated to Virginia from England, which was; “What happened to our family’s nobility–their societal standings, their wealth, and their great estates?”

As you can see from the map below, the Confederacy included 11 southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.  The North (called the Union) consisted of the remaining 25 states which were located in the north.

So . . .  This means that my ancestors were on opposite sides of the American Civil War.  I had direct relatives primarily in Pennsylvania (the Chamber’s, Lathrop’s, and Westler’s) and in Virginia and North Carolina (the Boling’s, Carpenter’s, Ford’s Morris’s, and Taylors).  Within each of these union and confederates states lived both my maternal and paternal relatives–truly brothers, uncles, cousins, and even in-laws. And, ninety percent of those men volunteered to fight for what they believed or to protect their families and livelihoods from “their enemies”.

One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania regiment at Falmouth, Va., April 24, 1863, nearly annihilated at battle of Chancellorsville, created by Andrew J. Russell, Library of Congress.

One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania regiment at Falmouth, Va., April 24, 1863, nearly annihilated at the battle of Chancellorsville, created by Andrew J. Russell, Library of Congress.

1“. . .The 141st Pennsylvania Regiment was known as the Bradford Regiment.  Most of these volunteer recruits came from Bradford County, Pennsylvania and  joined the Union Army in the summer of 1862.  Company A came from Wyalusing.  It had one of the most distinguished combat records in the Army of the Potomac, serving from the battle of Fredericksburg to the surrender at Appomattox.  In just two battles alone, from May 3 to July 2 at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, the regiment shrank due to combat casualties from 419 men and officers to 58 (56 percent casualties at Chancellorsville, and 73 percent at the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg. . . .”

I found my maternal great-great grandfather, Searle P. Lathrop, of Bradford County, at age 43, on the U.S. Civil War Draft Registrations List of 1864-1865.  His brother, Edward Lathrop, died as a member of the Union’s Company E, 171st Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteer Regiment, in New Bern, North Carolina, at the age of 38, on May 30, 1863, only two months prior to his 39th birthday.

My paternal great-great-grandfather, Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling served from 1861-1865 in the Confederate 30th Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  They organized in Fredericksburg, Virginia, June, 1861. Men of this unit came from Fredericksburg and the counties of Spotsylvania, Caroline, Stafford, and King George–all counties where my Boling family lived.

2It was assigned to General J.G. Walker’s and Corse’s Brigade, and fought with the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days’ Battles to Fredericksburg. After serving with Longstreet at Suffolk, it was on detached duty in Tennessee and North Carolina. During the spring of 1864 the 30th returned to Virginia and saw action at Drewry’s Bluff and Cold Harbor. Later it endured the hardships of the Petersburg trenches north and south of the James River and ended the war at Appomattox.

The 30th Infantry regiment reported 1 killed and 4 wounded at Malvern Hill and 39 killed and 121 wounded in the Maryland Campaign. Many were lost at Five Forks and Sayler’s Creek, and on April 9, 1865, the 30th regiment surrendered with 8 officers and 82 men.

3Battle of Chancellorsville – May 1-4 1864

Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee’s troops fought Union Commander Joseph Hooker’s forces.  Together, they had 194,760 men engaged in this bloody battle (60,892 Confederate forces and 133,868 Union forces).

At its conclusion on May 6, 1863, the Battle of Chancellorsville became the bloodiest battle in American history. The 30,764 combined casualties eclipsed the losses suffered at well-known battles such as Shiloh (23,746), Second Manassas (22,180), Antietam (22,717), and Stones River (23,515).

By far the bloodiest day of the battle was its first (May 3, 1863), when Lee’s Confederates were forced to attack a larger, now-alerted Union foe, largely positioned in prepared defenses. The aggressive fighting at places like Salem Church produced more casualties than the entire Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run).

Chancellorsville’s title of bloodiest battle in American history would be short-lived, however. From Chancellorsville, Lee began his journey towards Gettysburg and the epic fighting to come on July 1-3, 1863. Yet, at the end of the American Civil War, Chancellorsville was still ranked as the fourth bloodiest battle of the Civil War, after Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Spotsylvania Courthouse.

Battle of The Wilderness –  May 5-7, 1864

My paternal great-great grandfather, Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling (mentioned above), married Sarah Tapp, daughter of the now famous Catharine Dempsey “Widow Tapp,” (making Widow Tapp my 3rd great-grandmother).  Widow Tapp and her daughter Eliza “Phenie” Tapp had the misfortune of living on the land that became known as the “Wilderness Battlefield,” in Fredericksburg, Virginia, during the Civil War.

There, Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee’s troops went up against Union Commander Ulysses S. Grant’s troops.  Together, they had 171,920 troops (Confederate forces: 61,025  and 101,895 Union forces), in the fields of this wilderness farm.  And together, over a 3-day period they lost 25,416 men (17,666 Union and 7,750 Confederate).

Widow Tapp Farm-Phenie Tapp 1930s

Nearly as many men died in captivity during the Civil War as were killed in the whole of the Vietnam War.  Hundreds of thousands died of disease.  Roughly 2% of our “American” population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in the line of duty (more than any other war in American history).  Taken as a percentage of today’s population, the toll would have risen as high as 6 million.

Civil War Resources GraphicThe official Reconstruction Era (where Union soldiers occupied the 11 southern states) covered a period of twelve years from 1865-1877. Southern states rebuilt and gradually were re-admitted to the United States (July 1866-March 1870). Virginia and Texas were the last two hold out states.  They rejoined the United States in 1870.


So, just how similar or different are our beliefs today based upon where we live in these United States?

Let’s take a look at today’s map below from electoral-vote.com.  Here, we’re looking at the status of electoral votes post 2016 presidential campaign conventions over these past two weeks.  Setting aside the presidential runners (which is another or several other posts that I won’t be writing), you can view our similarities or differences strictly at state levels based upon electoral votes.  When we compare my relatives who today live in Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Virginia (13 electoral votes), Maryland (10 electoral votes), and North Carolina (15 electoral votes), (where my ancestors lived during the Civil War), we find that today’s generations are more alike than different and are “likely to strongly” democrat.


And, just how similar or different are democrats from republicans?

Comparison Chart:  Democratic vs. Republican Traits

Whether this information is comforting to all of us or not, based upon the example used, it would appear that our families have unified beliefs; that it is unlikely we would fight on opposite sides if, God forbid, the United States entered into another civil war.

However, it does seem, when compared to our ancestors of the Civil War era, that today’s generations who have more global and increased technological capabilities and therefore extended communications, may be just as uncivil to each other as those ancestors who chose to shoot at each other about 150 years ago.

1Wyalusing History Trail
3Chancellorsville Civil War Stories


Hello Again, Lathrops!

1800’s:  Bradford County, Pennsylvania

Image Loretta Alice Lathrop Ford, taken 3-27-1965My maternal grandmother, Alice Lauretta Lathrop Ford [Loretta Ford], was born 121 years ago (March 7,1895), about 265 miles north of my home in southern Maryland. Wyalusing (“the good hunting ground”), her birthplace, was a small village in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, and the town and its name remain there today.

Map - 1891 Bradford County-Wyalusing PAThe 1891 county map on the left  is significant to me because I found more of my grandmother’s family (born in or moved from/to) in Bradford County places like Asylum and Tuscarora.  While I’m at it, I also should add that before 1750 the Wyalusing settlement was known as Gahontoto–home to the Tehotachsee tribe of Native Americans. This small tribe would eventually be completely wiped out by the Cayuga tribe and the town rebuilt in 1792 by the chief of the Cayugas and about 20 other families.  Bradford county was created on February 21, 1810, from parts of Lycoming and Luzerne counties. Originally called Ontario County, it reorganized and separated from Lycoming County on October 13, 1812, and renamed Bradford County for William Bradford, who had been a chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and United States Attorney General–yet another member of my family’s lineage.

Emigration of the Lathrop Family Into Wyalusing and Surrounding Areas

William Lathrop Jr. (1798-1868) was born in a cabin along the Wyalusing Creek near present day Rush.  At the time, the area had no formal name.  Rush was an unsettled wilderness within the large northern part of Pennsylvania  which was simply called “Luzerne County”. William’s father (William Sr.) had moved to Pennsylvania from Unadilla, New York,  as a young man with his wife and daughter Catherine. William Sr.s’ mother and stepfather, Ebenezer Whipple, with his oldest brother Ezra and his family, had moved to Pennsylvania, but the exact date is unknown.  Their move was perhaps as early as other 1790.

Over the next 20 years, as William Jr was growing up, his father built the first church in Rush, the “Rush Baptist Church” (now defunct).  William Sr. served as its deacon and elder of the small congregation. William Jr. became its first pastor.

William Jr. married Sybil Lathrop from the neighboring township of Bridgewater in Susquehanna Co., PA. She was his 4th cousin once removed. Sybil’s brother Ezekiel III also married into William’s family by marrying William Jr’s sister Lorinda.

It was in the 1800 Wyalusing Census records that I found the first Lathrop’s–my 5th great-uncle, Ezra Lathrop, Esquire, son of Ezra Lathrop, II and Susannah Gates, my 5th great grandparents from Norwich, New London, CT.  From the limited information available on this year’s form, Ezra’s household included himself and three others:  one male and one female under the age of 10 (I assume his children) and one female (aged 16-25).

Susquehanna River from Wyalusing Rocks

Susquehanna River from Wyalusing Rocks

There was a second Lathrop household listed:  William Lathrop–he would have been my 4th great grandfather.  He headed up a household of 5 people, he was born in Norwich, New London, CT., too, and died in Susquehanna, PA.  His household listed:  two males under 10, one female under 10, one female 16-25, and himself, 16-25; which I am interpreting to be husband and wife, possibly his first wife Rebecca Huntington, and their three children, (Rebecca died in 1812 at age 39).

But, Why to Wyalusing?

Throughout the 1800s, Wyalusing served as a hub for shipping logs down the Susquehanna River and grew as a commercial center for the surrounding farms. The Welles Mill Company, established along the Wyalusing Creek in 1820, was a prime reason settlers came to live in the town and farm the surrounding countryside.

As the town grew, it became a shipping center on the North Branch Canal which followed the Susquehanna River through this region and crossed the Wyalusing Creek by way of an aqueduct. Still later, in the mid-1800s, the railroad built through this area and Wyalusing became a main shipping point for livestock, grain, lumber and flagstone. The town’s business section, built mainly between 1820 and the early 1900s, has been fortunate in escaping any serious fires like those that swept through other towns in this area. Consequently, the charming, old storefronts still exist today as they were more than a century ago.

Now, when William Bernard Lathrop (my maternal great grandfather) was born on July 3, 1847, in Wyalusing, his father, Serrel, was 26 and his mother, Harriet, was 24. William had three daughters with Mary Janette Gray. The U.S. Censuses of 1850 and 1860 show him living in Asylum and then Wyoming townships, respectively.  In the 1870’s and ’80s he lived in Herrick and Wilkes-Barre townships.

Loretta’s Mysterious Estrangement from Family

estranged-familyOne of the mysteries that remains in our family is what caused the estrangement between my grandmother, Loretta, and her parents/family when she was a young adult. Because the Lathrop’s were originally among the first puritan founders in the colonies and came from England and had strong religious commitments and beliefs, we felt there must have been some sort of “shunning” that took place.  This might be very reasonable to assume, given my grandmother’s strong faith, will, and determination to reach her goals in life, whatever they were at the time for herself and others.  But, the generations who might have known about such an estrangement have long since passed.

Presbyterian LogoOne of my more recent finds, however, is that William, Loretta’s father, while living in Wilkes-Barre, on Friday, January 23, 1874, went to the home of Elder Mr. Rutten, along with 14 others.  There, he affirmed and made his confession of faith and participated in Holy Communion performed by Reverend R. B. Webster, one of the founders of the Presbytery in Pennsylvania in the mid-1800’s.

By 1889, I found that William had moved back to Wyalusing with his new bride Lydia Malvina Westler.  They had 13 children together–my grandmother, Loretta, being their 9th child.

Lydia died on May 5, 1910, in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, at the age of 49, from typhoid fever. She was buried in Wyalusing Borough Cemetery (although the death certificate and other sources indicate this to be her burial site, the cemetery does not include her interment among their database (?)  My grandmother, Loretta, would have recently turned 15.

Loretta’s father, William Bernard Lathrop died from colon cancer.  Loretta would have been 23.  He died on September 5, 1918, in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, at the age of 71.  But, we are not sure where she was at the time of his death or when or how she ever learned of it.

In the U.S. 1910 Census, Loretta was 15 and living on Third St. in Wyalusing with her parents, her younger brother Harry (age 12), and her twin sisters Virginia and Virgilia (age 9).  In the U.S. 1930 Census, she was living at 855 Morton Place, in Washington, DC with her husband, Robert Gideon, “Roy,” and their two children; John (age 4) and Norma (age 2).  I’ve searched census records and can find only one Alice Loretta Lathrop Ford or Alice Lauretta Lathrop Ford.  This person in the 1920 Census shows up in Sioux City, Iowa, as a boarder–could it be?  Will we ever know???

As for the rest of Loretta’s life, I’ve written a lot about her and her Ford family in my earlier posts.  And, yes, she remains my guardian angel and was no doubt my biggest human influence throughout my life–although she died at age 72 soon after my 21st birthday.  I would have loved for my children to have spent some time with her.  But in a way, her influences on me and my life have carried over into how I raised them and instilled the importance of family upon them.



The Black Dot Experiment


Sometimes, the simplest stories grab our attention because . . .

they carry important messages. Likewise in life, we sometimes overlook and take for granted the many wonderful things we have or that happen right under our noses.  Our focus often gets caught up in our smaller failures, disappointments, or relatively insignificant events. If only we opened our eyes to widen our horizons . . . .

The author of the following story is unknown, but here are the two sources that I found:

1):  For its Annual Dinner, a small town chamber of commerce invited a motivational speaker in. It seems their community’s economy was bad, their people discouraged, and they wanted someone/something to give them hope and their spirits a boost.

2):  A Professor Prepared an examination for his class.


Did you focus on the black dot?

Our World Is Full Of Circles

Our world is so very large and yet we seem to travel in circles

Herrington Harbor South

Herrington Harbor South

For example, today I had an absolutely delightful and rare lunch date at a small cafe at Friendship Maryland’s Herrington Harbor South Marina Resort on the Chesapeake Bay.  My daughter and I joined a mutual friend who we have had only limited contact with over the past couple of years because of rapidly changing responsibilities and special interests that have taken us all in multiple directions and different circles.

When our circles first came together 

I was an impressionable eight year old and Claudia was about five years my senior. She lived with her family in Parkland, District Heights, MD. My parents’ best friends from their teen years were Claudia’s family’s neighbors.  But, in my 8-year-old eyes she and her family seemed to have the most beautiful, spacious, and perfectly decorated home, the June and Ward Cleaver-like parents, and I admired her personal beauty and gifts in creative arts.  (Claudia taught me how to color–and not just to stay within the lines, but how to take an ordinary image on a coloring book page and make it my own work of art by using just the right mix of colors, outlining some parts, coloring softly on others, and boldly elsewhere.)  I believe Claudia’s seamstress mother passed down to her a lot of her talents and skills–plus guided her seemingly innate social skills that made this shy 8-year-old feel comfortable and welcomed–a trait of hers that still stands out today in whatever circles she’s in.

Fast forward nearly 30 years.  Claudia and I next circled back to each other when we both went to work for the same Federal agency.  And, we both remained there throughout the remainders of our lengthy careers.  Its campus was large and so was the facility in which we worked.  So we saw each other only occasionally, to say hi as we passed or to wave to each other from across or down the long corridors.

It was about 15 years into my career there when my daughter, Jen, changed jobs and started her career at this same Federal agency.  Once again, Claudia and my paths crossed again. As it turns out, Claudia was assigned as Jen’s first supervisor.  I can’t say enough good things about Claudia as a person, a professional colleague, and a mentor to my daughter. Jennifer, now about 17 years at this agency, has come a very long way in her career. But, the basis of her success began with Claudia’s teaching her the ropes in how to navigate the inner circles to succeed within this big and always complex workplace.  The rest can be accredited to Jen’s willingness to learn, to think on her feet, to take pride in every task assigned, to always ask the right questions to best understand the “big picture,” and to offer appropriate suggestions at just the right times.

After our initial circle of hugs and hello’s, there we sat today, across the table from each other, picking up our relationships just where we left off on them a few years ago, reflecting on days past, and catching up on family and life events–it was as if we never missed a beat since our last time out together.  Let’s see–that would be when we shared a limousine to go to dinner and a concert in downtown Washington, DC.  And if one of us, within our fond memories, was at a loss for a name or place, we circled our memory banks to fill in the blanks, and sometimes even finish each other’s sentences!

Nearly two hours later, we bid our fond farewells, but not before scheduling an August luncheon, which we hope will be the one of many monthly get togethers to come.  And, so we can narrow the distance in which we circle back our memories at future meet ups where we hope our conversations will move forward instead of in circles to help solve some of the many problems in our world!




Are You the Apple of Your Family’s Eye . . .

Or, the One Rotten Fruit that Spoils the Bushel?

As I draft this post, my husband and I are driving to Virginia to be with our eldest son, Bobby’s family.  We are joining him, his wife, and their youngest of three sons, Andy, who is graduating from the Virginia Police Academy on Friday.  Bobby’s other two sons are serving our Country in the United States Air Force and are away at their duty stations.

But recently, as the school season came to a close and we have celebrated mother’s day, and preparing to celebrate father’s day, I realized most of the focus of my life, especially recently, has been on Family.

In fact at our church, Chesapeake Church in Huntingtown, MD., we just finished up a 9-week teaching series “Family:”

This superb series looked at today’s challenging dynamics and lifestyles within our christian family community.  It’s weekly messages included: “We are Family,” “The Single Family,” “The Married Family,” “The Very Married Family,” “Adding Kids to the Family,” “Raising Kids in the Family,” “The Blended Family,” “The Seasoned Family,” and “The Deeply Rooted Family.”  My eyes and heart opened to the potential volume of strengths in understanding, patience, communication, cooperation, mutual love and respect required for any and all members of these families to stay on the same page together and to lead successful and individually fulfilling lives within whatever type of family we live.

One day we’re born into a family, for better or for worse. . .

Netflix BloodlineMeanwhile, searching for some downtime entertainment, I surfed Netflix.  I happened upon a Netflix Original Series “Bloodline.” Among its stars were Kyle Chandler and Sissy Spacek, actors that I am familiar with. But, it was the title, “Bloodline,”   that most appealed to my family historian/genealogist proclivities.  So I decided I’d start watching the series at Season 1, Episode 1, released March 20, 2015.

No surprises here. Bloodline’s TV Series was a direct dichotomy to the 9-week series on family we had just studied at church.  In fact, the free use of f-bombs and adult nudity scenes disappointed me.   But, the realistic inter-family dynamics and dialogues intrigued me.  To paraphrase Glenn Kessler, one of the series originators:  Our DNA is such that the past is always with us”, and, “We’re going to learn more about one son’s effect on a family …”

Although based in the beautiful Florida Keys, “Bloodline” is a dark drama that explores family secrets that lurk just beneath the surface of a contemporary American family’s persona. The Rayburns’–they are hard-working and respected pillars in their community.  Their eldest son of five children, Danny,  AKA the “black sheep,” has just returned home.  It’s the 45th anniversary of his parents’ hotel.  Childhood memories are shared, old familial behaviors and dynamics quickly resurface, and Danny’s mere presence threatens to expose his family’s dark secrets and shameful past.  Deputy Sheriff John Rayburn, the next eldest Rayburn son and Danny’s champion, wants family relationships to smooth out and for Danny to be successful this time back.  And, as the ancient proverb goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” So, yes, despite all the siblings good intentions, events spiral, a series of  lies to protect family members unravel, family loyalties are pushed to their limits, and all their futures remain in a severely menacing peril.  And yes, after binge watching Bloodline, there is a cliffhanger to which I can’t imagine a good outcome.  But the good news is, it looks like in Season 3 next year we will find out how, or if, this family survives as a unit, or whether any individuals rise above their deeply frayed fabric.

As for me and my family, our brief trip for our grandson’s graduation was fantastic.  We spent nearly two full days of quality time together.  And, best of all, our grandson gave us a hearty thank you “for always being there for important family events that mean so much to me.”  Likewise, family means everything to us–the spontaneous get togethers, supporting family through rough patches, and the culmination of successes celebrated with planned family events.

And, I close this post having just returned from year four of our biblical family’s Annual Dragon Boat Race Festival at North Beach, MD, where we come together to play and raise money to support our local End Hunger in Calvert County Charity. #givewhereyoulive — Another Great Family–and no bad apples!