Camp Chase is a Confederate Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio.
I’ve lived in Columbus, Ohio, most of my life and had never been to Camp Chase until this past December. I was part of a group who laid wreaths on the soldiers’ graves. There are over 2000 men buried there. Not every grave received a wreath but many did. At each grave the man’s name was said aloud and then we were asked to say something just for the person. I said a prayer. It was a very meaningful experience.
Camp Chase was a park that became a recruiting station and training grounds. It then became a prisoner of war camp that was over crowded and filled with disease. At one time it held 8,00 prisoners. After the war some soldiers bodies were taken home but most were left. The federal government bought the land in 1886 and built a wall around the two acres to protect the graves. In 1893, a former union soldier, William Knauss, saw the condition of the graves and went to work cleaning the cemetery and held a memorial service in 1895. In 1908, the wooden headboards were replaced with marble headstones.
You’ll notice the headstones come to a point. I read this was because the Confederate soldiers didn’t want a Yankee to sit on their grave. It could also be it was a way to distinguish the Confederate graves from the Yankees.
The word Americans is written on the top of the arch in the top photo. That is significant in that these men were not treated as the enemy or as traitors. They were honored as Americans. It is also significant that a Union soldier spearheaded the project to maintain a Confederate cemetery. I remember going to a little country cemetery as a little girl and was shown the graves of two family members who had died in the Civil War. One had fought for the North and the other the South. They were buried together in the family plot. They were family and those who fought against each other were all Americans.
I continue to learn more Halloween history every year.
For many of us, Halloween is a fun holiday filled with costumes and candy, but it began as a harvest and new year festival called Samhain. The Celtic people also used this day to talk with their ancestors and to ask for guidance in the new year. They made bonfires and wore masks to ward off evil spirits that might have crossed over on this night. The Irish immigrants brought Halloween to America and discovered pumpkins made a much better lantern for their jack o lanterns than turnips. Unfortunately, some turned a harvest festival into something evil by performing satanic rituals and welcoming demons. That is truly scary!
Tonight children will carry bags and receive packaged candy. Prior to the 1950s, homemade treats and coins were given to the trick or treaters. Caramel apples, popcorn balls and cookies were popular treats. Candy corn was one of the first manufactured candies and was called chicken feed. The Goelitz Confectionery Company sold the boxes with a rooster on it in1880 and people are still enjoying these sugary pieces of corn.
Dressing in costumes and performing tricks or giving the treat of song was called mumming or guising prior to Christianity in the Celtic countries. Children had to earn their treat. After Christianity replaced paganism, children went souling and agreed to pray for deceased loved ones in exchange for a small biscuit or piece of bread.
People around the world celebrate Halloween. Ireland is the country where it originated and in addition to costumes and trick or treating, they eat barmbrack cake. This is a bread filled with fruit and surprises inside. These little surprises carry a meaning for the person. For example, finding a ring means a wedding in the coming year. In Scotland, sausage is eaten on Halloween and is known as their traditional Samhain food. I think candy is America’s traditional Halloween food!
I love seeing the costumes children choose and every year I still see witches, vampires, and ghosts. I just read they are still in the top five costumes. It’ll be a fun night if the rain holds off. Happy Halloween everyone!
Sin Eaters were believed to be able to receive the sin of the deceased.
From the 1600’s to the early 1900’s in the British Isles Sin Eaters were paid to attend a funeral and eat bread that was placed on the deceased and then ingest the person’s sins. Immigrants carried this practice to America and it is believed to have continued until the 1930s in Appalachia. The question one might ask is why?
The Catholic Church had taught the people that sin was absolved after a person confessed and asked for forgiveness. If someone died before having the opportunity to confess his/her sins, the family hired a Sin Eater to accept the deceased’s sins. However, the Catholic Church called these people (both those who did the hiring and the Sin Eater) heretics and blasphemers. The crime of sin eating was punishable by death. The practice comforted the living and it grew to include those whose deaths were not sudden. It also continued because it was believed that the Sin Eaters prevented souls from lingering on earth as ghosts.
Sin Eaters were useful society outcasts. No one would associate with them and they lived outside the villages. People believed they worked for Satan. After all, they willingly accepted the sins of many so they were overflowing with sin.
We are approaching Halloween and remember that people wore masks at this time so evil spirits wouldn’t recognize them or maybe be scared away. People also gave treats to those who promised to pray for a family’s deceased loved ones on Beggar’s Night. Going to heaven was very important to the people. I’m not sure how many people are concerned with that today.
The book Weedflower tells the story of a Japanese internment camp in Arizona.
Weedflower was written by Cynthia Kadohata and my students and I read this when I was teaching. At that time, I had no idea I would share two granddaughters with their Japanese grandmother. I recently bought the book for my granddaughters and thought I’d share some of the things I learned from researching Japanese Internment Camps.
Ten internment camps housed 120,000 Japanese who were removed from the west coast of America shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Transports began in February 1942. There were ten camps in the following states: California, Montana, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona. The camp in Poston, Arizona, was built on a Native American reservation. This was the setting of Weedflower.
The book is written through the experience of a young girl, Sumiko, and is historically correct. The Native Americans did not want the camp and resented the camp having electricity and running water. The Japanese people were fearful of the Native Americans and believed they were savages because of the stories they had heard. Sumiko developed a friendship with a Mohave boy and a Romeo and Juliet story unfolds.
Interesting things I learned from my research: Canada sent 24,000 to 26 Japanese internment camps. Mexico also had internment camps and zones of confinement. As a result of the Japanese workers digging irrigation canals, Poston, Arizona, became an agricultural center. Men were allowed to enlist in the army and fight in Europe during WW II and 33,000 Japanese Americans did. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was composed almost entirely of second generation American soldiers of Japanese descent (Nisei) and is known as the most decorated unit in US military history.
Why is the book called Weedflower? Sumiko’s family grew and sold carnations, but she loved the weedflowers best and took the seed to the desert where they grew. I have no idea what it is, but I took a picture of a weedflower growing in an area where grass is struggling to survive. It’s my weedflower, but unlike Sumiko’s, it doesn’t have a scent.
Mother’s day has been celebrated in America since 1914.
Every time I smell fried chicken I think of my grandmother. She was a hard working farmer’s wife who cooked a huge noon meal every day for my grandfather and uncles who worked the farm. Endless chores filled her day and I believe my work ethic was influenced by her. “Take time to do it right. If it’s worth doing, do it right. Finish one job before starting another.” These are all sayings I grew up hearing.
A friend of ours asked his university freshmen students who their role model was growing up. He said that 20% of the students said their grandmother and that was followed by a parent or a teacher. That led me to doing a little research on grandmas.
I had never heard of Granny Witches, but am familiar with herbal medicine. Appalachian grandmas became known as Granny Witches because they used plants, prayer, and wisdom in treating people. German, Scottish and Irish traditions for healing came to America with the first settlers and they learned more about plants from the Native Americans. This knowledge was needed since doctors were scarce. Religion came with the settlers and Bibles were regularly read and church was attended. Superstitions about the grannies’ abilities were not erased by attending church. Grannies believed in prayer and superstitions.
A part of a girl’s education was identifying plants. Women passed their knowledge from one generation to the next and were able to find water with a forked stick, treat ailments with herbs and deliver babies. Grannies quoted scripture, read tea leaves, and gave advice. The importance of the Granny Witches in the communities can’t be emphasized enough.
Today many grandmas receive gifts and cards. I recently taught my 13 year old granddaughter how to make a lemon meringue pie. She appreciated the help, but she gave me a gift by asking me to teach her.
April in Ohio makes the entire month subject to unwanted surprises.
This picture was from April 21, 2021, so it wasn’t nature playing an April Fools’ Day joke. In Ohio, any day in April can reveal a joke played by nature. I remember one Good Friday in April when my children made a giant Easter Bunny from the snow. I wish nature would agree with me and not allow snow after March 1. I’m perfectly happy with it December through February, but when March arrives I want spring.
Historians aren’t sure of the origin of April’s Fools’, but some suggest it began in 1582 when the calendar was switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. It took awhile for people to hear that the new year was to begin on January 1 instead of April 1. These poor uninformed people were called April Fools.
I have never been a fan of practical jokes which are performed on April 1. I remember both as a child and as a teacher seeing signs stuck on someone’s back. These were not words of praise. There were many acts of meanness performed and it made the day miserable. What would have been nice was to see people surprising others with a compliment, a candy bar, an invitation or for me a flower.
The other problem I have with this day was the person humiliated or hurt wasn’t allowed to be upset because it was just an April Fool’s joke and that was expected on this day. They were to laugh it off. I don’t agree. There is no day that should encourage people to embarrass or harm another.
I have come to accept nature’s jokes, but I can’t accept cruel acts. Why ruin a person’s day when you could do something to make them happy?
A picture from the past but the message is still the same.
Julius Caesar created the Julian calendar and moved the new year to January 1 from the vernal equinox. This was because the existing calendar no longer was aligned with the sun. After consulting with astronomers, he added 90 days and honored the Roman god Janus who had two faces. It was believed that Janus could look into the future and was able to examine the past. The year was 46 BC and the calendar is very close to the Gregorian calendar that Pope Gregory XIII issued in 1582 and is still used today.
It is amazing that the calendar has not changed in centuries, but we did add daylight savings which I am not a fan of. I say choose a time and stick with it! The other thing that hasn’t changed are all the joys each year holds. Births, weddings, holidays and graduations all provide opportunities for celebration. I look forward to all of these in 2022.
I have mentally been comparing leaving 2021 to taking a shower. I want to wash away all fear, nastiness, and negativity. When I am mentally clean, hope, joy and positivity will replace all negativity. I wish that for everyone. Attitude is everything and I choose to believe 2022 will be a great year full of opportunities and great blessings. I wish you all a year filled with happiness and one filled with delightful surprises. They are the best!
Many students read The Raven and wonder what it means.
I never got tired of reading and talking to students about Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. The rhythm sells the poem and even if students didn’t understand it, they enjoyed hearing it read. To understand it, one has to understand the time period. The Raven was published in 1845.
The question asked of many writers is what was your inspiration? Some have tried to answer that on Poe’s behalf and some attribute it to the loss of his wife, Virginia, but she died two years after The Raven was published. However, Virginia died of tuberculosis and she would have been suffering from it at the time the poem was written and published. Poe could have been looking ahead to his life without his beloved wife. There was no cure for tuberculosis and one suffered an average of three years before passing.
Poe clearly believed in an afterlife and the suffering man in the poem questioned the raven about being reunited with Lenore when he passed. The raven was thought to be a messenger between the living and the dead, so this conversation was appropriate. The bird was merciless in answering Nevermore when asked if he’d “clasp a sainted maiden name Lenore” in Aidenn which is heaven.
The man asked if angels sent the bird, and if there is balm in Gilead which means relief in heaven. The raven is shouted at and called a prophet and a thing of evil, but anger did not change the raven’s answer from Nevermore.
The ending is painful because the prophetic bird’s words have been realized. Hell is spending eternity in that room with the demonic bird and never being reunited with Lenore. That is Halloween horror!
One hundred and five settlers arrived at Cape Henry, Virginia in 1607. They brought with them a seven foot, heavy wooden cross from England on a very small boat. Pastor Robert Hunt declared that the gospel would go forth throughout this land and to the whole world. The settlers moved to what became Jamestown and established the first permanent English colony. They gathered three times a day at the center of town to pray and dedicated America to God. They prayed that for generations to come America would be a country where God’s work was fulfilled. America’s history is filled with many who worked to make this a country where God’s presence was felt and his love for his children was seen. One of these people was Anna Gardner. She was born into a Quaker family in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1816. Anna was raised in the Quaker belief that all men and women are equal. She became a teacher, writer, and abolitionist.
In 1841, Anna held an antislavery meeting where Frederick Douglas spoke. When she was a child, her father had helped save a runaway slave and his family from slave catchers and she never forgot. Anna worked tirelessly against slavery and for women’s rights. After the Civil War ended, she taught in Freemen’s schools in North Carolina and South Carolina.
In the late 1870’s, Anna turned her attention to women’s rights and spoke out on this injustice. Many of her former students were now teaching in the Freemen’s schools and she felt the need to address another inequality issue. Anna died at the age of 85 and was remembered as a servant of God who fought for equal treatment for all his children.
The Quakers were instrumental in establishing and running the underground railroad. According to National Geographic, 100,00 slaves found freedom via the underground railroad between 1810 and 1850. The Quakers were considered the first to actively help slaves escape, but many others joined them in order to accomplish this large number.
There are many people throughout America’s history who remembered that America was dedicated to God by the first settlers. We have come a long way in accomplishing this, but have farther to go. I think it’s important to remember all the good that has been achieved and the people who carried the load. Maybe remembering the acts of faithful people in the past will inspire us today.
Our flag represents freedom to people all around the world.
Seventeen year old Robert Heft of Lancaster, Ohio was in high school in 1958 when he submitted his design for the American flag. His design was selected by President Dwight Eisenhower and has lasted for over 50 years. Previous to this design, the design had changed 27 times.
The colors were chosen by the founding fathers of our country and each color has meaning. Red represents valor and hardiness. White stands for purity and innocence, and blue means justice and perseverance. The fifty stars represent each of the fifty states and the 13 stripes stand for the first 13 colonies.
Flag Day is a national holiday (not federal) which is celebrated on June 14. Why June 14 one might ask. It was on June 14, 1777 that the American flag was approved at the Second Continental Congress. At that time, thirteen stars were put on a blue background to represent a new constellation. I found it interesting that creating a new government was compared to creating a constellation. It must have seemed that overwhelming and grand.
Every store seems to be selling flags of all sizes in preparation for July 4. People have decorated their homes and yards with flags. I see them everywhere, and it adds to the excitement. I’m excited to be able to sit in a field and watch fireworks this year. Hope everyone is able to see friends and family this weekend and enjoy being together! Don’t forget the sparklers!