Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

John Fife Redux

The newly refurbished headstone for John Fife (1782-1848).

Pa making the headstone bombproof.

Not far from the cemetery is the original Fife homestead. This house is around two-hundred years old and still currently occupied. The front part of the house is the original log cabin (of course, now covered over). There were originally two chimneys . . . the one on the other side no longer exists.

Dudeboy in front of the stonework on the chimney.

This old photo is of the John Fife homestead from the period when the present owners bought the property.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Red Scare

I am proud to relate that Dudeboy has attained the rank of Red Belt in Taekwondo . . .

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Nearest thing to a Cannae . . . "

While in Richmond for the talk by Richard Dawkins, we also took time to tour some of the sites of the Battle of Richmond. This battle was one of the most complete routs of the Civil War. As the historian and novelist Shelby Foote stated, "Kirby Smith accomplished in Kentucky the nearest thing to a Cannae ever scored by any general, North or South, in the course of the whole war."

The Civil War Trust lists the Battle of Richmond as one of the most endangered battlefields of the Civil War. Saving a good portion of this battlefield is a very difficult proposition for the area contested had such a large scope, and much of it took place in what is now an urban area (which is continuing to encroach upon the battlefield). And then a good part of what remains is off limits behind the fences of the Blue Grass Army Depot. So I must commend all of the organizations involved who have been able to preserve what little they have . . . including the ca. 1811 Rogers House (above), which now serves as the Battle of Richmond Visitor Center. It seems that there is a priority to save period buildings. You do what you can.

Just a wee bit of the displays at the museum . . . a bust of Bull Nelson looms over Dudeboy's right shoulder.

Pleasant View (ca. 1824), which served as a Confederate hospital . . .

In the room to the right in this photo, one can still see a stain in the wood floor believed to be blood.

This marker denotes the location of "Churchill's Draw." Here the Confederates used a hidden ravine to outflank the Union troops . . . which precipitated the collapse of their lines and retreat back towards Richmond.

The final stages of the battle actually took place at the Richmond Cemetery. Soldiers used the headstones as shields (some of the stones are supposedly pockmarked by bullets). It was here that William "Bull" Nelson, in "berserker rage," tried in vain to rally his fleeing troops. The above photo is of the monument which marks the mass grave of the Confederate soldiers who were killed in the battle. Nearby is a Union memorial, however those bodies were disinterred and reburied at the National Cemetery at Camp Nelson.

While at the Richmond Cemetery, we saw this very strange headstone arrangement. I know nothing about the particulars of these gravesites.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"The Lion of White Hall"

While we were in Richmond for the Dawkins presentation, we visited the grave and home of Cassius Marcellus Clay . . . "The Lion of White Hall." Clay was the American minister to the Russian court of Czar Alexander II (where he negotiated the purchase of Alaska), an emancipationist, publisher of the anti-slavery newspaper The True American, and Bowie knife carrying, cannon shootin' all-around bad-ass.

The burial site of Clay in the Richmond Cemetery.

From his obit in The New York Times:
"I haven't had a day's sickness for thirty years," he told a friend a few years ago, "except when I was laid up a little while because of a little encounter with a man named Turner." This Turner, the friend recalled, had cut about thirty gashes in the doughty General's body before the latter finally killed him.

White Hall . . . family home to Cassius Marcellus Clay.

The obituary in The New York Times also related this story:
It was during his campaign for Congress against Wickliffe that Gen. Clay had his bloodiest encounter, in which his only weapon was a bowie knife. He had challenged his opponent for using Mrs. Clay's name in a political speech, but their seconds called the fight off after each fired an ineffective shot. Then a bully named Brown, one of Wickliffe element, lay in wait for him at a meeting. The General for once had forgotten his pistols, but as Brown shot him above the heart, he closed in with his knife, cut off the assailant's nose and ears, and nearly killed him, receiving himself a dozen or so serious wounds from the hostile crowd that surrounded him.
Our docent also related this story, but added that Clay also gouged out one eye and cleaved the man's skull to the brain!

Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the beautiful home with its 44 rooms!

The docent also related this story about Clay being attacked in his own home . . . Clay had somehow found out about a plot to harm and rob him, so he lay in wait. The first intruder was dispatched by pistol. The second intruder was able to struggle with Clay hand-to-hand (Clay was singed by the fireplace during this struggle) with Clay finally able to wield his Bowie knife to effective use. This man was found later in the back yard dead. The third assailant, seeing the other two dispatched, fled before Clay could address him. And wait for the drum beat . . . Clay was 89 years old at the time of this incident! And, if all of this is not proof enough that he was a bad-ass and all around eccentric character, when he was 84 years old he married a 15 year old girl (his second wife. His first wife left him after he supposedly had an affair with a Russin ballerina), and Muhammad Ali's birth name was Cassius Marcellus Clay. And I didn't even go into the stories about his cannons.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dawkins and Dudeboy

Thursday the Fife clan, along with Uncle Panpau DelGato, traveled to Richmond, Ky. to the campus of Eastern Kentucky University to hear eminent evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins spoke about his new book, The Magic of Reality, to an overflowing crowd.

This photo of Dawkins answering questions was taken by Dudeboy.

Dudeboy gets his book signed by Dr. Dawkins. The book is geared toward 12-year-olds and discusses the scientific explanation behind many world myths. Photo taken by Uncle Panpau DelGato.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Octagon Hall

Saturday was such a beautiful day that we had to get out and do something, so we ambled down to road towards Franklin, Kentucky to Octagon Hall. We have passed by this place hundreds of times, but had never stopped by to investigate. Completed in 1859, Octagon Hall, according to the brochure, is the "only surviving Octagonal house in Ky." Most of the rooms now contain exhibits pertaining to the Civil War.

Originally the home had a cupola which was removed due to damage sustained by a lightning strike back in 1918.

For better or worse, the home is now mostly known for the "paranormal investigations" of haints and such. Here Dr. J and Dudeboy are looking at some of the press clippings. Apparently, Octagon Hall is a ripe location for EVP (Electronics Voice Phenomenon). Interpreted in one recording is the voice of a little girl asking "Will you play with me?" Another voice, recorded at the gravesite of a Mary Elizabeth, supposedly sings "Blinded By the Light," which the website explains as "Mary trying to sing a song she heard an investigator sing." I am just curious if Mary sang the corrupted next line in the song.

A display pertaining to Marcellus Jerome Clarke (aka "Sue Mundy") . . . a local boy who became an infamous Confederate guerilla. Clarke was hanged in Louisville near the end of the war.

As we were nearby, we also payed a visit to the gravesite of Sue Mundy in Franklin.