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Posts Tagged ‘Harper’s Ferry’

“History never repeats itself, but the Kaleidoscopic combinations of the
pictured present often seem constructed out of
the broken fragments of antique legends.” 

From “The Gilded Age, a Tale of To-Day” by Mark Twain
and Charles Dudley Warner, American Publishing Company, 1874.

On September 6, 1901, President William McKinley was in Buffalo, New York for the Pan American Exposition as part of his re-election tour.

A man named Leon Czolgosz waited in a receiving line for the President and upon reaching the head of the line, Czolgosz shot the President twice with a revolver he had purchased four days before. 

San Francisco Call, September 07, 1901, Chronicling America
Chicago Eagle, September 14, 1901, Chronicling America

Two women became famous for their portraits of President McKinley shortly before he died. President McKinley sat for one of them, Lillian Thomas, a talented painter, born in Cleveland, Ohio and living in Washington, DC –

The San Francisco Call, March 25, 1901, Chronicling America
The Appeal, October 26, 1901, Chronicling America

and Frances Benjamin Johnston, a well-known photographer, who was at the Pan American Exposition and took photos of President McKinley within hours of his being shot. 

Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1905, Library of Congress

The Frances Benjamin Johnston’s photograph collection at the Library of Congress includes a Thomas Marceau photo of Lillian Thomas.

Lillian Thomas photo by Thomas Marceau, 1900

McKinley died on September 14, 1901 and McKinley’s Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, became President. 

In October 1901, United States President Theodore Roosevelt invited Tuskeegee Institute President Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner along with Philip B. Stewart.

The dinner was a significant event and applauded by many. 

The Appeal, October 26, 1901, Chronicling America

Theodore Roosevelt, like William McKinley before him, often conferred with Booker T. Washington about race, political and education topics. As president and founder of the Tuskeegee Institute, Washington was well-regarded around the country. 

Despite Washington’s accomplishments, some, particularly those from the southern United States, accused the President of degrading the office by inviting him. 

The Appeal, October 26, 1901, Chronicling America

Of those letters in support of President Roosevelt’s decision to invite Booker T. Washington, one deserves particular mention – that from Abion W. Tourgee to President Roosevelt.

Page 1 of Albion W. Tourgee to Theodore Roosevelt, Letter from Albion W. Tourgee to Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt Papers. Library of Congress Manuscript Division. https://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record?libID=o35438.

Albion Tourgee was an attorney for Homer Plessy in the tragic 1896 case, Plessy v. Ferguson which sent equal treatment under the law in the United States tumbling backwards, setting a legal precedent that was not overturned until almost 60 years later by Brown v. the Board of Education in 1954.

In Tourgee’s letter to Roosevelt, he expressed hopes for the country and praised Roosevelt for his actions. Roosevelt, on the other hand, revealed to Tourgee that he hadn’t thought much about it and extended the invitation on impulse.

Page 1 of Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Albion W. Tourgee. Theodore Roosevelt Papers. Library of Congress Manuscript Division. https://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record?libID=o180529

By 1904, Roosevelt was campaigning for re-election on his own behalf. While he campaigned, another man, James Thomas Heflin, was seeking election for a position he held as a result of the death of his predecessor, U.S. Representative Charles W. Thompson, of Alabama. Heflin represented the district in which the Tuskegee Institute was located. Booker T. Washington was his constituent.

Evening Star, April 11, 1904, Chronicling America

Washington Bee, December 10, 1904, Chronicling America

Heflin was against women’s suffrage, but in favor of labor and states’s rights. He was against interracial marriage and helped draft the Alabama state constitution which included language disfranchising African Americans from the right to vote. 

While on the campaign trail, Heflin made statements suggesting that it would not have been a bad thing if Roosevelt and Washington had been blown up by someone like Czolgosz.

Evening Star, October 5, 1904, Chronicling America

Although Heflin’s comments were generally condemned, there were no repercussions for his statements and convinced officials and the public that he was making a joke. He won re-election.

Evening Star, October 18, 1904, Chronicling America

Upon Heflin’s re-election, he introduced several bills intending to harm federal elections, encourage Jim Crow cars, and bills to reduce competition in cotton futures trading. 

To that end, he introduced legislation to establish Jim Crow cars in the Maryland and the District of Columbia. He falsely claimed that many African Americans in the District of Columbia supported such a measure. 

Evening Star, April 6, 1906, Chronicling America
Bamberg Herald, May 10, 1906, Chronicling America
Washington Bee, April 7, 1906

At least three people responded to the Evening Star reports by Heflin. Those people were E.M. Hewlett, M. Grant Lucas and Barbara E. Pope, an educator and author who later became a member of the Niagara Movement and brought her own Jim Crow case in Virginia shortly before the 2nd Niagara Movement’s meeting Harper’s Ferry.

Evening Star, April 8, 1906, Chronicling America

President Roosevelt’s sentiment set forth in his letter to Tourgee, was belied by his actions in 1906, when he summarily discharged, without honor and without an opportunity to defend themselves, the entire regiment of 167 men in Brownsville, Texas. These soldiers were prevented from serving in the military and resulted in the denial of several pensions for those who had served more than 20 years.

Roosevelt’s announcement appeared to be timed to be made after the 1906 election.

Excerpt from Roosevelt’s hostility to the colored people of the United States The record of the discharge of the colored soldiers at Brownsville. n. p
. Washington
, 1906. Pdf. https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.24001000/

This incident, which occurred the same week as the 2nd Niagara Movement Meeting in Harper’s Ferry, WV (August 15-18, 1906) – the 1st being held in Buffalo, NY in 1905, was indicative of rising tensions in the country, increased voting rights disfranchisement for African Americans, and epidemic level lynching numbers. Despite criticism, Roosevelt did not publicly apologize for his decision.

It was not until the Nixon Administration in 1972, after decades of investigation, when Congress determined the soldiers were innocent. Nixon pardoned the solders and granted them honorable discharges, yet none of the surviving soldiers were given backpay, although some financial restitution was paid.

By 1908, Heflin was well-known for his support of the “lost cause” and spoke at related events. In April 1908, upon the pretense of defending a white woman on a DC railcar on which he was riding, he forced an African American man, Louis Lundy, from the railcar and shot at him through a railcar window, hitting him and an innocent bystander, Thomas McCreery, both of whom were injured. 

Evening Star, April 5, 1908, Chronicling America

Heflin’s family came to the aid of McCreery, the white man who was injured. Heflin’s brother, Dr. Heflin went to great lengths to assist him. Louis Lundy, the target of Heflin’s rage, received no special care.

Ultimately, Heflin was indicted, but the charges were later dismissed.

Evening Star, May 11, 1908, Chronicling America

By early 1908, Heflin’s attempt to force Jim Crow laws on the District of Columbia by amendment was defeated. 

The Spanish American, February 29, 1908, Chronicling America

Barbara Pope’s Jim Crow case was successful, although the jury awarded her only one cent in damages.

Alexandria gazette, June 05, 1907, Chronicling America

These incidents were mere bumps in Heflin’s decades long career. None of these transgressions impacted Heflin’s election prospects. When Woodrow Wilson was President, Heflin introduced legislation resulting in national recognition of Mother’s Day in 1914. He remained in the United States Congress until he was barred from participating in a U.S. Senate campaign in 1930.

African Americans continued to attend meetings in the White House, but were not invited to social events until the wife of Congressman Oscar Stanton De Priest of Chicago, Jessie Williams De Priest, was invited to a tea scheduled for June 12, 1929 by Louise Henry Hoover, President Herbert Hoover’s wife. Congressman DePriest was the first African American elected to Congress not from a southern state. When he was elected in 1928, he was the first African American elected to Congress in the twentieth century. 

Congressman Oscar DePriest, 1924, Chronicling America
Jessie Williams DePriest
Lou Henry Hoover

Mrs. Hoover was careful to ensure that the tea would be comfortable for Mrs. DePriest and the other guests. The invitation list was prepared in secret and it wasn’t until after the tea was held that the public was aware of the event.

The DePriests and The Hoovers received hostile responses because of The Tea. Many Americans remained of the belief that social interaction between those separated only by skin color, suggested that such interaction signaled social equality. 

Congressman DePriest served from 1929-1935 and departed from Washington, DC when he was not re-elected. The DePriests returned to Chicago.

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Below is an advertisement for a St. Valentine’s Ball at the United States Hotel in Harper’s Ferry on February 14, 1856. One of the event’s managers, John Avis, would be John Brown’s jailor 3 years later.

Virginia Free Press, February 14, 1856

He was also a childhood playmate of Martin Delany, of Charles Town.

Detail from “Life and public services of Martin R. Delany” by Frank Rollin,
pen name of Frances Anne Rollin (1845-1901)

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We were so excited to be an Official Selection for for the October-November 2020 Beyond the Curve International Film Festival! Despite everything, some very encouraging things happened during the second half of this year.

The Spirit of Jefferson reviewed the film in advance of it being made publicly available, which was wonderful. You can see the review here.

Thanks to all of you who have helped us get this documentary together including our interviewees Pastor Edward Hall and Bonnie Zampino.

We can’t wait to have you all see it early 2021.

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Steam at Harpers Ferry is pleased to announce the completion of documentary film “Hidden in Plain Sight – Revealing the Concealed Harpers Ferry Cemeteries” in collaboration with Bot Studios under the joint project Rabbit Hole History Productions. Currently, we are privately screening the film with individuals in anticipation of a wider public screening opportunity in the near future.

HiddenPlainSightposter

Two cemeteries are featured. One cemetery was set aside by the United States Armory at Harpers Ferry in 1852 at the request of the citizenry, where Union soldiers were later buried. Another holds the remains of African American residents, including an African American soldier who was a private in the United States Colored Troops. Both are investigated using public records, interviews with local residents, and other clues to explain why these cemeteries were ignored in a town so rich in history.

Here is the trailer:

Also check out the soundtrack for the film plus bonus track “3rd Avenue Bridge”!

Clark Gayton was the Music Director for the documentary film “Hidden in Plain Sight – Revealing the Concealed Harpers Ferry Cemeteries”

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On August 30, 1899, a funeral was held for 8 of John Brown’s men who were killed or soon died after the October 1859 raid in Harper’s Ferry, in North Elba, New York. Two additional men who were killed by hanging in March 1860, were also memorialized during the funeral.

Lewis Sheridan Leary, who was with John Brown during his infamous raid in Harper’s Ferry, was one of the men killed at the Ferry. Leary was born free in Fayetteville, North Carolina on March 17, 1835 and met John Brown in Cleveland. During the Brown party’s retreat across the Shenandoah River after the raid, Leary was shot and died several hours later from his wounds. Several weeks before the raid, John Brown sympathizers living in Philadelphia, sent great “blanket shawls” to the Kennedy farm as gifts.

“On the night of the raid each man had taken one of these shawls and used it instead of an overcoat. … The men had evidently been buried in these shawls, for great masses of woollen (sic) texture were found enveloping each body.”

From The New England Magazine, March – August 1901.

Lewis Sheridan Leary courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lewis Sheridan Leary courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ten of John Brown’s men were killed during the raid (Watson and Oliver Brown, William and Dauphin Thompson; Stewart Taylor; John Henry Kagi; Jeremiah G. Anderson; William H. Leeman; Dangerfield Newby and Lewis Sheridan Leary. Those who survived either escaped or were captured. Those captured were tried, convicted and executed in Charles Town. Two of John Brown’s men who were killed during the raid, Jerimiah Anderson and Watson Brown, were considered “fine anatomical specimens” and were sent to a Winchester, Virginia medical school for anatomical study. Watson Brown’s body was later recovered in 1881 and was buried next to his father in North Elba, NY. Anderson’s body was never recovered.

The remaining eight bodies which were recovered from near the Potomac or Shenandoah rivers, were denied burial in any of the local Harpers Ferry cemeteries. Soon after the raid, James Mansfield (who, at the time of a 1901 article in The New England magazine, still lived in Harpers Ferry) was given instructions to bury the bodies. He bought two boxes and divided the bodies between them and ultimately buried them about .5 miles from Harpers Ferry along the Shenandoah river where they remained until 1899, when the two boxes were found and transported for burial at North Elba, NY.

1901 MAR - AUG New England Magazine John Brown, The Final Burial There is no Question(2)

On August 30, 1899, there was a funeral held for John Brown’s men in North Elba.

1901 MAR - AUG New England Magazine John Brown, The Final Burial Funeral Attendees Photo(2)

1901 MAR - AUG New England Magazine John Brown, The Final Burial Grave Photo

Leary was married to Mary Patterson, whom he met at Oberlin. Mary Patterson Leary later married Charles Henry Langston. They had a child named Caroline, who married James Nathaniel Hughes. They had a child, James Mercer Langston Hughes, known as Langston Hughes, in February 1902.

In 2013, a book was published, entitled “My Dear Boy : Carrie Hughes’s Letters to Langston Hughes, 1926-1938which reproduced dozens of letters by Carrie (Caroline) Mercer Langston Hughes Clark, mother of Langston Hughes. While Carrie was not the daughter of Sheridan Leary, Langston Hughes had a special attachment to the shawl worn by him during the raid. Langston Hughes lived with his grandmother, Leary’s widow, for several years and it was with this shawl that she covered him while he slept.

According to the book, “Former president Teddy Roosevelt honored [Mary Leary] at a commemorative ceremony in Osawatomie, Kansas, where he delivered his re-nowned ‘New Nationalism’ speech, on August 31, 1910.” p. 45 FN 2.

Langston inherited the shawl from his grandmother and he put it into a safe deposit box in New York City in 1928.  In about 1930, Langston’s mother was in dire need of money and suggested that he sell the shawl.

Say here in Cleveland Antiques are all the rage and I was just wondering if we could not sell the Harper’s Ferry Shawl? I almost know we could and it would give us all a few dollars. Do you know where it is or do you have a receipt or anything for it. A man told me here last week I ought to get $500.00 for it. I have been in some of the antique shops here and they have old rugs, spreads, quilts &ct. I don’t know just thought I’d ask about it.

My Dear Boy, at p. 51.

He didn’t sell it. On April 30, 1943, he donated the shawl to the Ohio Historical Society, where it remains.

The original 1901 article, “The Final Burial of the Followers of John Brown” by Thomas Featherstonhaugh in The New England magazine, is available for purchase from Steam at Harper’s Ferry. Please inquire at info@steamatharpersferry.com.

 

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The Steampunk World’s Fair 2014 was an amazing event. Steam at Harper’s Ferry was very fortunate to participate in the first Steampunk Art Fair at the Steampunk World’s Fair along with other artists. Eric Holstine, Leigh Anne Cassell and Jason Edwards all had work on display at the event.

 

Eric Holstine’s “From the Earth to the Heavens” and a 3D banner from Steam at Harper’s Ferry collection featuring “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

 

What’s this? Jason Edwards’ “Steambutt.”

Steambutt by Jason Edwards

 

Here is Leigh Anne Cassell with Doc – as in Doc in her “Steampunk Dr. Who” illustration!

The Doctor Rosa and Leigh Anne Cassell

Here’s hoping the organizers make this an annual event!

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There were a few pieces that Eric Holstine didn’t disclose prior to the exhibit opening day – but were well worth the wait!

The first was his “Acoustic Roundabout Cube.”

Eric Holstine Mystery Image 2

The second was his Steampunk Time Machine version 2.

Steampunk_Time_Machine_Version_2

Some of you may have wondered what inspired the first promotional video for Eric’s solo show. Here is an illustration by Georges Melies’ “A Trip to the Moon”

Melies Le Voyage dans la Lune

 

Here is Eric’s exhibit – featured in our new video!

Music composed and performed by Garrett Boone a/k/a STAR☆DRIVER.

This excellent video was put together by Jason Edwards Steam at Harper’s Ferry Resident Artist.

Enjoy!

 

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Eric Holstine’s Solo Exhibit – Through May 25, 2014

Steam at Harper’s Ferry is pleased to present Eric Holstine’s first solo exhibit at Steam entitled “(EH=MC2): The Art of Electrodynamic Illumination” through May 25, 2014. Eric was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia. His works include “Melton the Mechanical Marvel” and the “Steampunk Time Machine.” His multi-media art incorporates stained glass, brass fixtures, and robotic elements.

From_Earth_to_the_Heavens

“From Earth to the Heavens” (c) 2011 Eric Holstine (with permission)

For the opening celebration, we were treated, not only to Eric’s art, but musical accompaniment (with Game Boys, no less!) by Garrett Boone, a/k/a STAR☆DRIVER. 

Don’t miss this exhibit! These are bonafide one of a kind pieces that are guaranteed to delight! It is not every day that you will see a robot carrying his own stained glass umbrella.

Melton_the_Mechanial_Marvel

“Melton the Mechanical Marvel” (c) 2013 Eric Holstine (with permission)

3rd Annual Bolivar-Harper’s Ferry Community Art Walk – April 26 and 27, 2014 – Thank you!

Thank you everyone for attending the 3rd Annual Bolivar-Harper’s Ferry Community Art Walk! The weather was perfect and we had some wonderful performances on the Pavilion. Thank you Bolivar/Harpers Ferry Public Library, The Corporation of Harpers Ferry and the Arts and Humanities Alliance for Jefferson County!

What’s New at Steam?

We have the new book by Terry Pratchett, “Raising Steam,” and have a new collection of Toulouse Lautrec prints – just the right size for your home or office. Two “Lady Mechanika” signed posters are for sale and on display – so come by and check those out.

Look for Steam at Harper’s Ferry owner, Cynthia Gayton, at the Steampunk World’s Fair in a few weeks. Steam at Harper’s Ferry will also be at the Strasburg Rail Road Steampunk unLimited event in September for the second year in a row! We have just a few more prints of Leigh Anne Cassell’s work here at the gallery, as well as three original illustrations which are on display. Hope to see you soon!

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Eric Holstine’s Solo Exhibit – April 26 – May 25, 2014

Steam at Harper’s Ferry is pleased to present  Eric Holstine’s first solo exhibit at Steam entitled “(EH=MC2): The Art of Electrodynamic Illumination” from April 26 to May 25, 2014. Eric was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia. His works include “Melton the Mechanical Marvel” and the “Steampunk Time Machine.” His multi-media art incorporates stained glass, brass fixtures, and robotic elements.

Eric Holstine

Eric Holstine

Don’t miss this exhibit! These are bonafide one of a kind pieces that are guaranteed to delight!

IMG_7011

3rd Annual Bolivar-Harper’s Ferry Community Art Walk – April 26 and 27, 2014

The 3rd Annual Bolivar-Harper’s Ferry Community Art Walk is scheduled for April 26 and 27, 2014. Please keep up with developments on the facebook page. Steam is fortunate to have the sponsorship and assistance of the Bolivar/Harpers Ferry Public Library, The Corporation of Harpers Ferry and the Arts and Humanities Alliance for Jefferson County.

Lily Pad in 3D

Lily Pad in 3D

There are over 20 venues and artists participating. It is always a good time – Steam hopes to see you!

Jason is exhibiting his 3D piece “Lily Pads” for the Art Walk this year.Aha logo

What’s New at Steam?

Steampunk-themed home décor! From drawer pulls and light switch plates to ceramics and coasters, time to decorate your home in steampunk style! New steampunk art prints are in stock and now is the time to pick up a few prints from Leigh Anne Cassell’s popular print collection.

Thank you for reading!

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Jefferson County West Virginia is facing a budget crisis – and in the crosshairs is the Bolivar/Harpers Ferry Public Library, among other public libraries in the county. The public libraries are facing 15% cuts for FY 2015 which are largely due to decreased gambling revenue to the tune of $1.5 million over the past 2 years. There are other critical services being threatened – among them emergency services and arts organization funding.  But, in my humble opinion, without access to knowledge, opportunities are slim – whether you want to be a paramedic or an illustrator. Libraries open up worlds of opportunities to young and old minds alike.

In the May 22, 1909 issue of Harper’s Weekly, there was an article about travelling libraries, written by C.P. Cary, the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public instruction entitled “Educating All of the People All of the Time.”  In it, he quotes:

“In the work of popular education,” said Melvil Dewey, “it is, after all, not the few great libraries, but the thousand small, that may do the most for the people.”

According to regional newspaper, The Journal, Gretchen Fry, the director of the Bolivar/Harper’s Ferry Public Library, said that the library received $65,000 in funding from the county last year and that the reduction in county funding could impact the library negatively.

1909 MAY 22 Harper's Weekly Traveling Libraries008 (2)

What a small price to pay for the resources, helpfulness and general public service provided by this and other county libraries! For myself, libraries have always been such an important part of my life, I can only express sorrow that anyone would threaten such an important part of the communities’ fabric.

Please support your local libraries!

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