When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Nurse!

Yes, a nurse is what I said I wanted to be for many of my developmental years. In third grade, I checked out a lot of biographical books from my school library.  Two of them were on the lives of Clara Barton (the pioneer nurse who also founded the American Red Cross), (1821-1912) and Florence Nightingale, (a celebrated English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing, (1820-1910).

Yet, throughout my youth, my parents stressed the importance of marrying and raising a family–“that’s what women are meant to do,” they said.   I’m not sure how so many parents of our baby boomer generation got caught up in such nonsense, especially since these parents were the same people who had to adapt traditional male and female roles during the Great Depression and World War II.  Or, perhaps, it was because they had so many struggles during these times that they couldn’t see the opportunities and possibilities.

Throughout history, women who were given opportunities, or made a personal commitment to advance their education shined and usually excelled at leading fully successful professional and happy family lives.  Let’s just say if I had it to do over again, I, too, would have chosen college and a career in medicine.  That’s not to say that I would have foregone marriage and children.  The world now allows us to be known for more than one fragment of our lives.  And, if the truth be told, I probably worked just as hard or harder to gain a professional status and raise a family, too, than if I first went to college and then took on family life.  Thank you to all those women who came before me to give me today’s choices.  And cheers, here, for just one them:

Susan Dimock ImageSusan Dimock (1847-1875) is a 19th Century achiever who on August 20, 1872, became the resident physician at the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston. Susan’s family came over on the Mayflower with the infamous Massachusetts’ Fuller’s and Lathrop’s and she is my cousin through these families intermarriages.  Her parents were Henry Dimock (a newspaper journalist) and Mary Malvina Owens of Washington, NC.

Susan Dimock Newspaper Article

Letter, 1868

From Susan Dimock to her mother soon after arriving in Zürich to attend medical school:


October 18, 1868


Sunday finds me safely through with last week’s Herculean labors. You know I had a hundred formalities to go through with, and with no German to speak of. Looking back upon it, I do not see how I managed it; however it is all plain sailing now, and I have nothing to do except listen to lectures, study hard, and learn German, etc. Oh, it is so nice to get here, at a word, what I have been begging for in Boston for three years. I have every medical advantage that I can desire. I told the professor of anatomy, for instance, that I wanted a great deal of dissecting; and he immediately bowed, and said so kindly, “You shall have it; I only desire you shall tell me what you prefer.” And so it is with everything. . . in every respect I have equal advantages with the young men; and then I find also the warmth and protection and feeling of interest which a young man finds in a university.


From Memoir of Susan Dimock, resident physician of the New England Hospital for Women and Children. (n.p., 1875.)


A Physician with a Mission

It was July 1872,  when Dr. Dimock returned from medical school in Europe.  She attended there because Europe was less hostile to women becoming doctors. She remained three years at the New England Hospital.  There, she handled day-to-day patient management and care while also performing surgeries.   But her best contribution in the field of medicine was to start a program  to improve patient care through improved training of their nurse caregivers. As student nurses, they worked in the wards and attended medical lectures and studied anatomy.  In between her studies and teachings Susan liked to travel.  Unfortunately, she died at age 28 on board the steamship “Schiller” that struck the Scilly Rocks in fog and sunk near the coast of Cornwall, England.

Dr. Dimock is buried in Boston’s Forest Hills Cemetery, along with a couple of her colleagues:

Pioneering activists and professionals in medicine, women’s healthcare and women’s professional education, including Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, surgeon Susan Dimock, and America’s first trained nurse, Linda Richards.

In 1996, the marble marker at her Boston grave was replaced with a more durable granite duplicate, and the original moved to her home town of Washington, NC, where it was erected as a cenotaph.

The following is an excerpt from MassMoments.org “This Day In History,” for August 20, 2016:

Well into the nineteenth century, nursing was considered undesirable and menial work, suitable only for women whose circumstances left them no better options for supporting themselves. It took Florence Nightingale many years to convince her family to allow her to study nursing. She trained in Germany before returning to London to take up her profession. Britain’s involvement in the Crimean War (1854-1856) gave her the chance to demonstrate the benefits of having nurses in military hospitals, but first she had to overcome doctors’ opposition to the presence of women in the wards. Once she did, she quickly earned the respect and gratitude of the soldiers and in time their families. After the war, contributions from a grateful public enabled Nightingale to start the first nurses training school at a London hospital.

Meanwhile, in Washington, North Carolina, a young Susan Dimock was borrowing anatomy books from the family doctor and accompanying him on his calls. The Civil War disrupted her education — the local academy she was attending closed — and her family life. Her father died, and most of the family property was lost. In 1864 17-year-old Susan and her widowed mother joined relatives in Sterling, Massachusetts. A year later, Susan took a job teaching school in Hopkinton. She spent her evenings poring over medical books recommended by Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, the founder and head physician at the New England Hospital for Women and Children.

Zakrewska had helped to establish the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the first institution in the world devoted to the care of women and children. Female doctors and surgeons directed the hospital and tended all the patients. In 1862 “Dr. Zak,” as she was known, moved to Boston and founded the New England Hospital for Women and Children.

In 1865 Susan Dimock finally persuaded her mother to allow her to study medicine. In January of 1866, a few months shy of her 19th birthday, she arrived at the New England Hospital as a medical student. Although Harvard, like almost every other American medical school, refused to admit women, it did allow women “under certain restrictions” to follow doctors on their rounds. This increased Susan Dimock’s determination to obtain a medical degree. She decided to go to Europe, where medical schools were more welcoming of women students than those in the U.S. In 1868,with help from her mother, Dr. Zak, and several Boston philanthropists, she began studying medicine at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

In between her studies, she traveled. She visited Florence Nightingale in London and observed her nursing education program. She spent time at Kaiserswerth, Germany, where Nightingale had been trained. She returned to Boston in the summer of 1872 eager to put her knowledge and newly acquired medical degree to use.

She accepted a three-year appointment at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, where she set out to reorganize the training program for nurses. Hospitals traditionally viewed student nurses as a source of cheap labor. They took no classes but learned on the job, by following instructions they received on the ward. After the Civil War, doctors began exercising more oversight of nurses’ training. All but a handful of American doctors were men, and they had no expectation (or wish) that nurses would make independent judgments or carry out tasks on their own.

Thanks to Florence Nightingale, however, Susan Dimock saw things differently. “No man, not even a doctor,” Nightingale once observed, “ever gives any other definition of what a nurse should be than this – devoted and obedient. This definition would do just as well for a porter. It might even do for a horse. It will not do for a nurse.” Nightingale believed that the nurse had a special role as a health care provider and hospital administrator, and that her education should prepare her for that role. Dimock agreed with Nightingale — up to a point. She understood and was eager to lower the obstacles nurses faced to gaining knowledge, credentials, and respect; but as a doctor herself, she also understood the value of the nurse’s traditional role. Florence Nightingale saw nurses in training as students, not workers; Susan Dimock believed they could be both.

She started a one-year training program for student nurses at the New England Hospital and soon added a second year. Students began their day before sunrise and finished at 9 pm. Dimock and other women doctors lectured on a variety of topics, including nutrition, bandaging, inflammation, and surgery. A number of the graduates of the program were instrumental in helping nursing become a respectable profession, one that a middle-class woman could pursue without seeming “unwomanly.”

After Susan Dimock’s sudden death at sea in 1875, friends and admirers endowed a “free bed” for indigent patients in her name at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. Today the hospital is home to the Dimock Community Health Center in Roxbury, MA.


The Vanishing Chesapeake Bay Islands

As a native Marylander who lives near Solomon’s Island along the Chesapeake Bay, I always have appreciated the beautiful scenery along its shorelines. It was in the 1600’s when colonists settled along it and began to record in county land records the names of hundreds of islands, some of which they would farm and call home. There was Turtle Egg Island, and Sharps Island, and Parker’s Island.

“But today, more than 400 of those islands in Maryland and Virginia cannot be found on modern navigational maps of the Bay,” wrote William Cronin in his 2005 book, Disappearing Islands of the Chesapeake Bay.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Holland Island, located about a dozen miles northwest of Crisfield on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore, was home to more than 360 residents and about 70 homes and stores.  It was one of over 400 Chesapeake Bay islands that now have sunk beneath the waves over the last three centuries.  These islands vanished because of rising sea levels, erosion and the natural sinking of land around the Chesapeake region.  If you are familiar with Smith and Tangier Islands (about 10 miles north of Holland Island), you may know that they are still above water, but are sinking, too. For those who deny climate change, just talk to any Smith or Tangier Islander and they will tell you how life is changing on a sinking island.

A 12-year-old, 8th grader, Grayson Middleton, for the Annual National History Day Competition in 2011, created the following impressive video documentary.  His video won $150 dollars, was publicly recognized for excellence in historic preservation, and his efforts won over my heart.  Hope you enjoy:

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.

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!