Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for July, 2012

Civil War Encampment Days Beyond the Skirmish

Will the Yanks run the Rebels out of town? Reenactors lined the streets of McConnelsville, Ohio for their 25th Annual Civil War Encampment Days, Ohio’s longest consecutive running reenactment.  What a great place to observe the living history of the Civil War.

Everyone dressed in period costume in the soldier camps seemed eager to discuss their life style, and patiently answered all questions.  Their canvas tents provided great cover from rain storms.  However, they reminded those in attendance that it was important not to touch the canvas with your fingers during a rain.  Seems the oil on your fingers would make the canvas leak. Rains were important for their War Gardens, which provided food for the army as well as land owners.

Since death was frequently a visitor during this time, ladies told about the cemeteries where they often held picnics. Union stones were flat so you might sit on them, but the Confederate stones had a pointed top so “Yankees” couldn’t sit on their tombstones. The ladies also mentioned that black wreaths were hung on doors when someone died as a notice of death, since it was the only method of letting the neighbors know.

Many medical treatments were explained by the blood stained Head Surgeon of the Confederate regiment. When asked what might be used to help a headache, the major informed visitors that opium would be used if it was severe, while a relaxing morphine or sassafras would be used  for minor headaches. If the headache was too bad, they would just bore a hole in the head to release the evil spirits. Upset stomachs were treated with licorice or ketchup, and beef extract provided a soothing soup for many ailments. They even had a hollow doll that was used to smuggle medicine through the opposing lines.  Later in the afternoon at the field hospital, the surgeon cured a case of gangrene and subsequent blood poisoning by sawing off the leg of the victim.

Walked down to the Courthouse for “Squirmish on the Square”, where a staged battle occurred between soldiers from the North and South. Much ceremony was involved in the presentation of the battle both before and afterwards. There was even a bit of humor thrown in as they robbed a Wells Fargo box and then blew it up. The closing ceremony showed soldiers from both sides presenting arms, taps were played and a wreath was placed on the Civil War Private monument standing in the center of Main Street.  The base of this monument is made of stone from Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address is engraved on one side of the monument.

After a hot afternoon on the square, it was time for a drink. As Yosemite Sam would have said, “Sasparilly, and make it snappy!” Sarsaparillo was a popular drink of the Civil War era and a cold bottle hit the spot.  Made from sarsaparilla roots, this drink is  called “The Granddaddy of All Root Beers”.  Originally the bitter root brew was used for medicinal purposes treating digestive problems, but later sugar water was added to make it more palatable. ..and a soft drink was born.

Ladies’ Tea was served amid beautiful hooped gowns and lovely flowered hats. Cucumber sandwiches, fresh fruit, and small cakes were part of the traditional menu. After tea, Verna Owens of St Mary’s, West Virginia told tea drinkers about Women During the War…from the Confederate viewpoint. Her leader was President Jefferson Davis, who had his Confederate White House at Richmond.

She described the proper dress and manners for a Southern lady, who always carried a parasol and wore a hat.  Her cooling fan accomplished an additional task as a means of expressing her thoughts without saying a word.  For example a fan closed in a snap meant she was angry with what was being said, while fanning quickly might mean she couldn’t believe what was happening, or as we might say, “Oh, my!” Many toys of the time were explained and on display. Quiet dolls for church were made out of handkerchiefs, and there was a cow’s jaw for musical entertainment. When soldiers were leaving for battle they gave their sweethearts a tear bottle to collect their tears while they were gone.  Upon their return, they hoped to find it at least half full. Verna closed by saying one truth learned from the war was that we definitely should learn to get along.

In the evening, a Civil War Ball captured the beauty that sometimes appears in the midst of turmoil. Ladies were dressed in their finest, but few hats were worn to the ball…just ribbons or flowers in their hair. Some men wore their uniforms while others were dressed in their best tailcoat. Dancers swirled around the floor doing The Promenade, Waltz, Virginia Reel, and Patty Cake Polka with music provided by Back Porch Swing Band.  What a great ending to a Civil War Day.

This particular Civil War Encampment occurred in McConnelsville, Ohio which is just South of Zanesville, Ohio on Route 669 following the beautiful Muskingum River.  Located riverside just north of town is The Boondocks, one of Ohio’s best small-town eateries being featured in many magazines across the state. Their specialties are their award winning BBQ as well as their great and friendly service.  Could be worth a Sunday drive for a nice meal even if there isn’t an encampment happening!

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The International Peace Garden May Peace Prevail on Earth

Opened on July 14, 1932 the International Peace Garden on the border of Canada and the USA near Dunseith, North Dakota is the world’s largest unfortified border, “Like No Other Place On Earth”. It encompasses 2,300 acres of botanical gardens and on a stone caim on the border are inscribed these words:

TO GOD IN HIS GLORY,
we two nations
dedicate this garden
and pledge ourselves
that as long as men
shall live, we will
not take up arms
against one another.

What a great thought all those years ago as a symbol of friendship between the two nations.

The sounds of bell chimes faintly echo every fifteen minutes from the Veterans Memorial Bell Tower.  The nearby 120′ concrete Peace Tower has four columns symbolizing the four corners of the world from which thousands of immigrants arrived in Canada and the United States to make better lives for themselves. Two of the columns are in Manitoba, Canada while the other two columns are in North Dakota.  The foundation symbolizes one solid base of democratic beliefs between the two countries.

The Peace Chapel provides the perfect place to sit down and relax, meditate, or read the positive thoughts written on the walls. The Peace Chapel has been a long time project of area members of the Order of the Eastern Star and is the only building which straddles the United States and Canadian border. While the chapel is a simple building, the addition of amber glass windows from France gives it a soft, golden, peaceful glow.

The three encircling walls into which quotations have been engraved were one of the special features that grabbed my attention. All quotations were either spoken or written by great men of peace throughout history. Some of the limestone walls still have embedded fossils of strange marine life, which had been molded into the bed of a tropical sea in the Manitoba region millions of years ago.

Flower beds are around every corner here, but two displays that have been constant from the beginning are beds forming the United States and Canadian flags.  A beautiful International Peace Garden Floral Clock actually works and was originally donated by Bulova in 1966. This original was designed as a replica of the famous Bulova Floral Clock in Berne, Switzerland, but inner workings were replaced in recent years by a clock from St Louis, Missouri.  The clock contains over 2,000 flowers with the design changing yearly, and reminds visitors to take time for the peaceful feeling surrounding the gardens.

Just down the road in the Turtle Mountains near Dunseith, North Dakota is the largest man-made turtle in the world. Constructed of nearly 2,000 wheel rims, this “W’eel Turtle made from Wheels” has a head that actually bobs up and down. While the turtle is nearly forty feet long, its head alone weighs almost a ton! Stop and visit this tire rim sculpture at Dale’s Thrifty Barn – a gas-station, cafe, and motel in Dunseith, North Dakota. Little extras like this always bring a smile.

Turtle Mountains seem to be a perfect location for the International Garden of Peace as the slow movement of the turtle gives a relaxed and peaceful feeling just like the gardens. May peace prevail in your world as well. We should all attempt to be more like the turtle… at ease in our own shell.

The International Peace Garden in North Dakota can be reached by taking I-29 North in North Dakota to Exit 203.  Take Route 81/281 West to Dunseith where 281 bends North to the Canadian border.  This is a beautiful back-road drive away from the crowds.

Ohio’s Johnny Appleseed Ap*peel*ing to the Core

An apple a day keeps the doctor away is a saying we have heard most of our lives. But John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, has a slightly different version:  Eat an apple before you go to bed, and make the doctor beg his bread.

Each evening before the appearance of historical scholars, local musical groups entertained with songs from frontier times.  This particular evening a group called Unwound presented lively music on two hammer dulcimers accompanied by guitar and tapping Limberjacks.  They got the crowd in the Chautauqua tent at Marietta Ohio ready for the appearance of Johnny Appleseed, an excellent yarn spinner.

John Chapman wanted to do something useful with his life that would also support his ministry. Apples seemed to be the perfect tool as they were the only fruit that could stay fresh for an extended time. There was a litany of uses given by John regarding his favorite fruit: apple chips, apple butter, apple brandy, and even payment for taxes…to name a few. Would you believe his favorite color is apple red?

Starting a nursery for Johnny was a simple affair: poke a hole, plant a seed, cover it up. He tried to anticipate where people would be settling in two or three years and would start a nursery in that vicinity. Johnny said that in order to claim the land, the homestead law required settlers to plant fifty apple trees during the first year. Sometimes you might see him going down the Ohio River with two canoes:  Johnny in the first one, 50 apple seedlings or apple seeds in the second.

In 1812 when troubles in America erupted with the British and the Indians, Johnny said the fear grew deeper than the snow. These war years were painful for Johnny, as he had always been friends with both Indians and whites.  Trying to make peace was like trying to put out a fire – while you were stomping on one, you were fanning the rest. At this time, he felt the Indians were like a tornado – you never knew where they were going to strike.  But you couldn’t always trust the British either as they burned whole villages – another white man’s promise up in smoke!

With his constant good humor, he admonished listeners not to believe everything they heard about him, “Gossip is like the measles, sooner or later it will turn your face red.”  For example, barefoot Johnny Appleseed did not walk over the entire country.  His travels and consequent apple tree plantings only occurred in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and often in a State of Confusion.

Johnny was deeply religious and felt his religion gave him a peaceful path to tread. His was the perfect life in his eyes because sometimes he was with people… but sometimes by himself.  He often enjoyed being alone and said he was not “the marrying kind”.

He spent his life doing good deeds for others and planted more than just apple trees. He also planted spiritual seeds that nourished the soul.

Along the way to Marietta, stopped just south of Dexter City on SR 821 to see a monument dedicated to Johnny Appleseed.  It is made of small rocks contributed by people in areas where Johnny planted apple tree.  The grave sites of his family are located nearby.  The tree to the right behind it is, of course, an apple tree.

Hank Fincken displayed a great sense of humor in his portrayal of Johnny Appleseed /John Chapman.  Johnny was the first historic figure that Hank ever developed. He feels it opened doors for him much the way Johnny’s seedlings opened doors for early settlers.

2012 Ohio Chautauqua continues throughout the summer with week long performances and workshops in Gallipolis (July 17-21) and Warren (July 24-28). Hope you find time to join them and learn a little more about “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”.

Peaceful Chief John Logan Propelled to Revenge

Dressed in buckskin clothes, the appearance of Chief Logan transported the audience back to frontier times. Silver armbands, bracelets, a nose ring and earrings – one a cross- glittered in the sunlight as he took the stage at the Ohio Chautauqua during the 225th Anniversary of Marietta – The Crown Jewel of the Appalachians.   Tattoos also adorned his body with a tobacco leaf tattoo on his ear symbolizing “truthful hearing” while a red hawk on his head denoted his tribal connection.

John Logan began his life on the Susquehanna River and followed his father’s Jesuit teachings where John’s “sins were washed away”. Friendly with the white settlers, John was always a peacemaker for the Iroquois, who were usually called Mingos when settling in the Ohio Country, and John Logan is most often referred to as Chief of the Mingos. Perhaps his role as peacemaker gave him reason to learn eight different Indian dialects as well as English, French, Dutch and even Latin. However, Chief Logan could neither read nor write.

The Ohio Land Company kept expanding their boundaries to include more and more of the Indian lands. The Mingos ignored the marks of surveyors saying, “You can’t sell the wind in the sky or the water in the river.”

Along the Ohio River, settlers frequently met at the tavern for stories, nourishment and ale.  One evening, Logan’s camp along Yellow Creek, near present day Wellsville, Ohio, was invited by a nasty frontiersman, Jacob Greathouse, to a tavern across the Ohio River.  During the course of the evening, some of Logan’s family was shot and killed in an ugly massacre.  This changed Logan’s peaceful ways in a hurry.  In the words of Logan, “It made me want to raise my hatchet that had long been buried and color it with the blood of the English.” Sometime during this period, he walked away from the Christian teachings.

While he told the settlers of his anger, he also said the Indians were not all angry…just Logan, as they had killed his people.  Known as Logan’s Revenge, he vowed to take ten white man’s scalps for every Indian that had been murdered on the Ohio River that evening. Every time he took a scalp, he made a mark on his hatchet. According to Native American custom, he had a right to this retaliation.

Chief Logan refused to attend peace talks in 1774 at Camp Charlotte on the Scioto River, but issued his now famous speech, Logan’s Lament, under an elm tree. While the beautiful old elm no longer exists, the words of his speech can be found today engraved on his memorial at Logan Elm State Memorial near Circleville, Ohio. His speech concluded:

“Logan feels not fear. He would not turn on his heel to save his life for who is there left to mourn Logan? Not one.”

The remainder of his life was spent as a kind man who sold deer skins for a dollar each, so he could bury his sorrows in the taverns he visited.  In 1781, he was killed by his nephew, because John Logan was no longer considered an asset to his people. Today there is not a drop of Logan’s blood in any living creature.

Dan Cutler portrayed Chief Logan with ease as he has spent about a dozen years in that role in West Virginia as well as the Ohio Valley.  Frequently he also slips into the roles of The Cornstalk Warrior, Tecumseh and Simon Girty. Dan is currently active in a new outdoor drama, “Drums Along the Mohawk”, which will premier late this summer in New York.

2012 Ohio Chautauqua continues throughout the summer with week long performances and workshops in Gallipolis (July 17-21) and Warren (July 24-28). Hope you find time to join them and learn a little more about “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”.

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