31 December 2015

My Living Historian Granddaughter


For the last several years, one of my homeschooled granddaughters (Kylee) has volunteered as a member of the John Lewis Society at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley is known for, among other things, to be home to a large and vibrant homeschooling community. Many of the local museums and historical organizations recognize this and go out of their way to cater to this demographic. The FCM notes the following on their website:
The Frontier Culture Museum offers homeschool families the opportunity to learn history in the way that homeschoolers learn best: through active involvement in the day-to-day activities of the past. Students are encouraged to participate in cooking, gardening, wool and flax processing, and animal care. Special events can also be found throughout the year just for homeschool families.
Kylee recently finished up conducting lantern tours for the Christmas season. As my oldest daughter noted:
She has worked very hard the last three years and has learned so much more than can ever be taught from a book. We are so thankful for a community that encourages hands-on learning for our kids. We are thankful for the kindness shown to our girl by the veteran interpreters on the German farm. We are also very proud of our young lady and the hard work she has sacrificed. Milking cows, making cheese, catching chickens, cooking sauerkraut and apple butter and life-long lessons of dedication, commitment, hard work, & integrity.
I'm one proud Grandpa and grateful to the FCM for providing this opportunity for my granddaughter, as well as for many other students in the Valley.

29 December 2015

Review: "Daniel Boone & The Opening of the American West"


*Update: Witnessing History has linked to this post.

Historian Kent Masterson Brown’s film company, Witnessing History, has produced some fascinating and award winning documentaries. I've watched, learned from and enjoyed several of them. I promised Kent a review of his company’s documentary of Daniel Boone earlier this year. Unfortunately procrastination, along with other commitments, kept getting in the way. I’m pleased that I finally found time to finish viewing the film and to offer this review. Full disclosure: Mr. Brown is a fan of this blog and I received a copy of the DVD for review purposes.

Kent Masterson Brown would be known to many readers of this blog as an author and historian of the War Between the States. But Mr. Brown's knowledge, interest and expertise in the field of American history is much broader than his study of the Civil War. This is evident in his recent film project, Daniel Boone and the Opening of the American West. I recently watched the video for the purpose of this review.

The docudrama is an in-depth look at Boone's life and his impact on the American frontier and the settlement of Kentucky. There is also detailed information regarding the geography and natural history of Kentucky which I found quite fascinating. The DVD comes packaged as a 2 disc, 112 minute DVD and was produced by Witnessing History, LLC - a company led by Brown. This is the first full-length film on the life of Daniel Boone ever produced for television broadcast. The film includes an original score by composer Clark D. Cranfill which provides a perfect backdrop for the narrative. Numerous Boone scholars consulted on the film. Included in the film are original Boone documents and works of art.

Let me begin by stating that I thought I knew a little bit about one of the American frontier's best known icons until I viewed this documentary. Born in 1958, I had the privilege of being introduced to Daniel Boone by the popular 1960's TV series, "Daniel Boone." I watched the show so many times growing up (and still on occasion) that I can still sing the show's theme song! Though the 1964-1970 television production took quite a bit of literary license the series was, nonetheless, responsible for instilling an interest in, and love of, American history in many a young boy during that time period. I rarely missed an episode growing up and have purchased the series for my own grandsons. 

While watching this latest production, I couldn't help but chuckle about some of the misconceptions many Americans have about Boone due, perhaps, to that old TV series. Brown explodes some of those misconceptions in this project: Boone was not the first white man to explore or settle Kentucky (then part of Virginia). He did not care for coonskin caps and never wore one. He was court-martialed, refused an attorney, defended himself, was acquitted and then promoted. He never used tobacco and though he did not totally abstain from alcohol, he was never known to abuse its use. He was red-headed and fair-skinned. He had a deep and abiding faith in God. His reading and writing skills were largely self-taught. And he was, as Brown notes, "one of America's most authentic and remarkable men." 

This effort by Witnessing History is the first documentary film of its kind about the life of one of America's best known historical figures. Brown describes some aspects of this project:
The filming of action scenes of Boone’s early explorations of Kentucky, his first attempt at settlement, the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals, the opening of the Wilderness Road, the Revolutionary War in Kentucky and the Ohio Valley (including the sieges of Boonesborough, Ruddle’s Station and Bryan’s Station and the disastrous Battle of Blue Licks), and Boone’s later life as a surveyor, tavern keeper and even a legislator in Virginia were planned.

More than 100 actors and actresses were specially contacted to appear. The production was designed to be studded with magnificent scenes filmed in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky and Missouri, as Boone would have seen them, the traces, caves, springs, rivers, creeks, hills, and even dwellings and cemeteries.

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1734 and (like so many of America's early pioneers), of Scots-Irish stock, the film traces Boone's life through America's founding era, with the American Revolution as the backdrop, to his death in 1820 in Missouri. The film reveals that Boone was an intensely religious man and raised in a Quaker family.

In addition to being instrumental in the settlement of Kentucky, Boone also helped establish Kentucky as the dominant horse-breeding state by presenting a bill in May of 1775 to "encourage the breeding of fine horse flesh." To this day, horse-breeding and Kentucky are synonymous.

The film reminded me of the many hardships endured by the men, women and families that settled the American frontier - something so easy for modern Americans to forget. Particularly heart-wrenching is the film's recounting of the death of Boone's oldest son, James. Just 16, James and some companions were ambushed by a party of Shawnee Indians. Most of the party was killed, but James and one other member of the group were both paralyzed by the attack. They were then tortured for hours by the Shawnee. Their screams and cries could be heard for miles. Daniel Boone soon discovered the sad carnage and buried his son where he had been killed. Boone's efforts to settle Kentucky had cost him his first-born son. It would not be his last sorrow as his brother would suffer a similar fate.

I found much of the scenery in the film breathtakingly beautiful, particularly the landscape of  "the inner bluegrass" with its "sinks, sinkhole topography, sinking springs, sinking creeks and subterranean streams." Much of that particular scenery, with its limestone formations, reminded me of my native Shenandoah Valley to which, interestingly enough, Boone also has a connection.  

Brown's knowledge of and love for his native Kentucky comes through in his narration of the film. This, in my mind, only makes the film more compelling and I found myself feeling as though I was actually standing in the landscape Brown so expertly and passionately describes.

Explorer, pioneer, folk hero, woodsman, frontiersman, militia officer during the Revolutionary War and surveyor; Daniel Boone was most assuredly, as Brown describes him, "one of America's most authentic and remarkable men."

The documentary was written, narrated and directed by Kent Masterson Brown. Full of historical nuggets and surprises, the film is as entertaining as it is educational. And though the documentary is 112 minutes, it moves along at a quick pace and it kept me interested the whole time I was watching. The closing few minutes of the film are quite poignant as Brown summarizes Boone's life in few, but profound words. This is the way that history films should be done. In June of this year, Daniel Boone and the Opening of the American West, won the coveted Telly Award.  

If you are, as I am, a fan of Brown's work or if you're interested in learning something about Daniel Boone you didn't know, I highly recommend this film and give it 5 stars.

Note: If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can watch several of Witnessing History's other projects for free, as part of your membership. Unfortunately, the Boone project is not one of them. 

28 December 2015

Old Virginia Blog & Gettysburg College


As I alluded to in an earlier post, there are a lot of exciting things going on behind the scenes here at Old Virginia Blog as it relates to my work here, my writing and my research. The recent piece at Emerging Civil War was part of that. All of this, in addition to my ongoing study and research, is keeping me rather busy.

As part of this additional work, I'm now pleased to announce that I was contacted by independent historian Dr. Joan Zenzen last September and invited to participate in an oral history project she is working on with Professor Pete Carmichael at the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. The hour-long plus interview was completed in October and focused on my "Confederate heritage perspective and also [my] journey as a blogger."

Joan and I had an interesting and enjoyable chat and I appreciate Professor Carmichael's effort in including diverse views on this topic (as it relates to the Sesquicentennial). It was an honor to participate. 

I hope to have two more big announcements to make some time in January. Happy New Year.

24 December 2015

My Article at Emerging Civil War (Merry Christmas!)

"The Christmas Tree" by F.A. Chapman (1866)
Here's the introduction to an article I wrote and which was just published at Emerging Civil War website:
Earlier this month, I, along with a number of some of my children and grandchildren, embarked on an annual pilgrimage. We made our way down a narrow dirt road here in the Shenandoah Valley to a Christmas tree farm. There, we scattered to scout out a perfect specimen.

After a lengthy debate and judging contest I, along with the assistance of one of my granddaughters, chose a couple of perfect trees and loaded them on my truck.

Of course, this tradition is not exclusive to Virginia, though we Virginians are able to proudly claim to be home to one of the first Christmas trees in America. The man responsible for this claim was the Reverend Charles Frederick Ernest Minnigerode (1814-1894). (Continue reading here.)
Thanks to Professor Chris Mackowski for posting the piece. ECW is a great site for students of the WBTS and I recommend readers look through the other posts and articles they have available. Their mission statement reads:
Emerging Civil War serves as a public history-oriented platform for sharing original scholarship related to the American Civil War.

Our primary audience is the general public, so scholarship is defined broadly: historical research, memory studies, travelogues, personal narratives, essays, book reviews, and photography. Journalistic-style coverage of current Civil War-related events and the Civil War in pop culture are also included. Furthermore, ECW encourages respectful discussion about that material.

ECW does not publish fiction or poetry.
ECW seeks to encourage a diversity of perspectives in the scholarship it presents. We do that, in part, by identifying and spotlighting the next generation of Civil War historians and the fresh ideas they bring to the historical conversation.
As a collective, the individuals who comprise ECW are encouraged to share their own unique interests and approaches. The combined collection of material—and the respectful discussions that surround it—forward ECW’s overall effort to promote a general awareness of the Civil War as America’s defining event.
Merry Christmas!

19 December 2015

Modernity's Ignorance & Presentism


Much has been (and yet will be) posted on this blog about the absolute arrogance and narcissism of moderns, especially many of those presently occupying academia. (See here and here, for some stellar examples.)

So I recently came across a great piece on this same topic at The Imaginative Conservative. I found this passage particularly intriguing:
In order to avoid the chronological snobbery that presumes the superiority of the present over the past and which causes this lack of proportion and focus, historians must see history through the eyes of the past, not the present. [Which they are failing to do in epic fashion.] They must put themselves into the minds and hearts of the protagonists they are studying; and to do this adequately they must have knowledge of philosophy and theology in order to understand their own academic discipline and in order to remain disciplined in their study of it. An ignorance of philosophy and theology means an ignorance of history.
But "ignorance" of theology is just part of the problem. One must have understanding of theology or, in other words, an understanding of the spiritual. Herein lies the problem with a number of academic historians who would scoff at such a notion. But, as this writer further notes, "History is, therefore, best studied through the prism of theology, a fact that has effectively made the study of history impossible in the post-theological modern academy." And adding, "Modernity’s ignorance is indeed a great tragedy, but its ignorance of its ignorance is a greater if darker comedy . . ."

And the piece closes with this gem: 
Yet, although the hollow men are lost—and there are none so lost as those who do not know that they are lost—there is no reason for future generations to follow them into the wilderness of the Waste Land of just deserts that they are building for themselves. The task for those of us who have not succumbed to the malaise of modernity is to ensure that future generations have the gift of a real and true knowledge of the humanities. As Chesterton said, and it is right that the last word is his: “Teach, to the young, men’s enduring truths, and let the learned amuse themselves with their passing errors.” ~ G. K. Chesterton
More here. And I have no doubt that "the learned" will continue to amuse themselves.

18 December 2015

Man of Color Schools a Priveleged White Kid


There's No Denying It Anymore - Colleges Are Indoctrination Centers

Harvard University has apologised [sic] for the distribution of Christmas placemats that instructed students to repeat progressive-left talking points following reports from Breitbart Tech and Campus Reform.
And you can read Harvard's stumbling, disjointed, contradictory, phony apology here. I suppose those placemats are just more "projected fantasies"? LOL!

17 December 2015

"The Constitution should be one big safe space."

Slaveowners wrote the first amendment - so let's repeal it. Maybe I should have titled this post: "Academia to Remove 1st Amendment."

Academia's best and brightest. I wonder where they get such ideas? [Trigger warning] God help us.




And in other news . . . I have several articles in the hopper for various publications. One popular WBTS internet site will publish one of them soon. The venue for that piece will probably surprise some readers. 

I also hope to make an exciting (at least to me) announcement after the first of the year in regards to my writing career and yet another announcement soon in regards to my blogging here (and other work) as it has related to the WBTS and the Sesquicentennial. Lots of things happening behind the scenes here at Old Virginia Blog. Stay tuned and Merry Christmas!

16 December 2015

Relic Hunting Post #139 - Roman Sword on Oak Island?

If this is legitimate, this is a big deal.
The discoveries could cast new light on the mystery of Oak Island which is currently the focus of a centuries-old treasure hunt centering on a 230ft deep booby-trapped shaft known as the ‘money pit’. 

The History Channel’s series Curse of Oak Island, now in its third season, follows the Lagina brothers as they attempt to discover the island’s long-held secret.

Now lead researcher and historic investigator J. Hutton Pulitzer, who also stars in the show, has put a large white paper together with a group of academics from the AAPS (Ancient Artifact Preservation Society).

The main discoveries include a Roman sword found submerged just off Oak Island - and what is believed to be a Roman shipwreck.



Read the amazing story here.

13 December 2015

And the PC Madness Just Rolls On

Update: More and more Americans seem to be waking up and rebelling against the PC madness being fostered upon us, in large part, by academia and the education establishment. Such was the case with the incident featured in this post:
The school board for PS 169 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, overturned a radical decision to ban the Pledge of Allegiance, Thanksgiving, and Santa Claus.
Moreover, the report further notes that hundreds of parents have signed a petition to have the Marxist-inspired principal removed from her position. More here

I'll bet that principal knows that her idiocy was much more than someone's "projected fantasy."

End of update.

Santa Claus is banned. The Pledge of Allegiance is no longer recited. “Harvest festival” has replaced Thanksgiving, and “winter celebrations” substitute for Christmas parties.
New principal Eujin Jaela Kim has given PS 169 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, a politically correct scrub-down, to the dismay of teachers and parents.
“We definitely can’t say Christmas, nothing with Christmas on it, nothing with Santa,” PTA president Mimi Ferrer said administrators told her. “No angels. We can’t even have a star because it can represent a religious system, like the Star of David.” . . . In a memo to staff this month, PS 169 business manager Johanna Bjorken added: “In case you are wondering about grey areas: Santa Claus is considered an ‘other religious figure.’” [Source.]
As I noted in a recent post, political correctness is supported by Marxist ideology. But, as a reader recently pointed out to me, this kind of idiocy is also a manifestation of "virtue signalling" - a need to prove to others that you are "more virtuous" than they are. Or, in the realm of history, becoming a "moral reformer", as historian Gordon S. Wood has pointed out numerous times recently. Just peruse some of the academic related Civil War blogs if you don't believe me. 

As insane as much of this nonsense is, it really should not come as a surprise. By removing the Judeo-Christian foundations of teaching from public schools, that vacuum must be filled by something. Political correctness is part of that "filling" process. PC, in it's own twisted way, is seeking virtue and morality. It's foundation is sand and will eventually, like the Marxist ideology it's built upon, crumble into the dustbin of history.

12 December 2015

Political Correctness For the Academically Challenged

As I've mentioned before, those denying the seriousness (and even the reality) of political correctness typically fall into one of 3 categories:
  1. Academics
  2. Politicians and bureaucrats
  3. Leftist media types
And there are an equal number of reasons any member of these groups are in denial about PC:
  1. They are heavily invested in PC and it gives them power
  2. They're ignorant about PC and are simply useful idiots
  3. They're aware and oppose it, but are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals
Most of the first list would fall into the #1 category of the 2nd list. I am most interested in academics because academia has long claimed to be the guardian and bastion of free thought, expression and speech. That claim is now laughable and demonstrably false. 

But not to fear, I've been asked to share a graphic that very clearly explains PC's history and it's impact in academia. Though the graphic is great, it doesn't explain the ideology behind political correctness. For brevity's sake one only needs to understand that the underlying ideology of PC is Marxism. 

One aspect of the chart that needs correcting is the "old" vs. "new" comparisons. By reading the chart, one might think they are vastly different. They are not. The new would have never emerged were it not for the old. The old was the silly baby, the new is the crazy adult. I would also take issue with the fact that the old was just about "hate speech", was "fundamentally inclusive" and sought "consensus." That was all a masquerade paving the way for the new. And the new, while aggressively being pursued and policed by students, is still receiving an approving wink and nod from professors and administrators. A good analogy  would be Frankenstein. The monster is now cannibalizing its creators.

Political Correctness on Campus
Source: BachelorsDegreeCenter.org

11 December 2015

Political Correctness Can Be Deadly

So you academics keep spewing your childish denials. 


PC Wackydemia Update - More From an Insider


Again, more from inside the academy rather than from those of us "projecting our fantasies" - LOL.
Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in constitutional, administrative, and environmental law at the Case Western University School of Law, where he is the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation.
And he recently wrote a piece at the Washington Post (yes, the Washington Post, hardly one to project right-wing fantasies, huh professor?) titled: Are open inquiry and free expression still alive at Yale? [Before I proceed, the answer to that question is NO.]

And Adler writes:
I may have thought political correctness was bad when I was at Yale 25 years ago. It’s hard to believe how much worse things appear to have become. [For those of us still in touch with reality.] Recall that students recently protested a forum on free speech. Some of the protesters even spit on event organizers, and the university took no disciplinary action.
Moreover, I believe we ain't seen nuthin' yet. The wackier these people get, the wackier these people get - and violent. More here.

08 December 2015

Academia's War on Christmas


Yet another example of academia's extremist PC culture, courtesy of a "directive" from the University of Tennessee:
The directive — entitled “Best Practices for Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace” — instructed students and staff on how to effectively avoid the travesty of hosting a not very inclusive “holiday” party. These steps for ensuring an adequately diverse event include: “Refreshment selection should be general, not specific to any religion or culture” and “Holiday parties should not play games with religious or cultural themes,” such as “Dreidel” and “Secret Santa.”
Can you believe these nutty control freaks? The writer at The Daily Caller piece notes:

The P.C. crowd certainly has a reputation for being anti-fun, and this effort only solidifies that image.
That image was solidified a long time ago. The PC crowd in academia has become a laughing stock, as have the history bloggers who deny their very existence.

I'm thinking about enrolling in college just so I can get kicked out.

More here.

Wackydemia's Credibility Is In Freefall


And is it any wonder? The latest from an insider, Professor Walter E. Williams:
What goes on at many colleges adds to the argument that college for many is a waste of resources. Some Framingham State University students were upset by an image of a Confederate flag sticker on another student’s laptop. They were offered counseling services by the university’s chief diversity and inclusion officer.

And . . .
Campus Reform reports that because of controversial newspaper op-eds, five Brown University students are claiming that freedom of speech does not confer the right to express opinions they find distasteful.
And . . .
Then there is professorial “wisdom.” Professor Mary Margaret Penrose, of the Texas A&M University School of Law, asked, during a panel discussion on gun control, “Why do we keep such an allegiance to a Constitution that was driven by 18th-century concerns?”
And . . .
The bottom line is that George Orwell was absolutely right when he said, “There are notions so foolish that only an intellectual will believe them.”
Academics and educators used to come here and challenge and debate me on this topic. But as the evidence has grown to the point of being undeniable, they evidently have decided to retreat to their safe places.
 
More here.

07 December 2015

Relic Hunting Post #138 - Relic Sunrise

Culpeper, Virginia, December 5, 2015
Historic Andora Farm

02 December 2015

Lee Chapel - Shrine of the South & Dedicated to the Service of Almighty God


Lee’s burial site was not intended to be a *Lost Cause shrine to the Confederacy and the flags that adorned the space, before they were removed last year, only arrived in the 1930s. ~ *Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory
Well, not exactly. Actually, one might make an argument that Lee's burial site was indeed intended, at least in the mind of many, "to be a Lost Cause shrine to the Confederacy."And one does not have to look to "Lost Cause apologists" to support that argument. Simply examining the historical evidence objectively will suffice.

Per the Encyclopedia Virginia:
Lee Chapel, whose spired clock tower rises above the tree-shaded campus of Washington and Lee University (formerly Washington College) in Lexington, Virginia, is the final resting place of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and is popularly known as "The Shrine of the South." 
And, as history clearly shows, there most definitely was a connection to the "Lost Cause." Again, per the Encyclopedia Virginia:
A ceremony at the chapel on January 19, 1872—Lee's birthday—featured an address by Jubal A. Early in which the former Confederate general argued for Lee's "marvelous ability and boldness as a military commander." The speech was delivered in the context of arguments among former Confederates over who was to blame for Confederate defeat in the Civil War (and especially the defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863) and was a landmark event in the creation of the so-called Lost Cause view of the war.
And there's more from the same source:
Lee's tomb and statue were venerated from the moment of their creation—in line with Lee's status as the ultimate hero in the Lost Cause interpretation of the Civil War . . .  the chapel and its grounds continue to serve as a site for important collegiate and civic events, and to honor the legacy of its namesake.
And yet more:
1928 - The United Daughters of the Confederacy, in conjunction with Washington and Lee University, open a museum in the Lee Chapel basement.
And, moreover, were it not for the fine ladies of the UDC, Lee Chapel as we know it today would not even exist. And don't many who are on the cleansing crusade consider the UDC one of the guardians of "the Lost Cause?" 

All this being said, if one is really concerned about the original intention for the Chapel, then I would have to assume one would be all for supporting Lee's original motivations, which he expressed in his 1868 President's report:
“The completion of the new chapel, which has recently been dedicated to the service of Almighty God, is a pleasing as well as useful addition to the College buildings.” ~ Robert E. Lee
So, take your pick about the intended use of Lee Chapel - a Shrine to the South, the Confederacy and the Lost Cause or, a building dedicated to the service of Almighty God. 

*I inserted that link for context. It was not part of the original quote.

01 December 2015

Wackydemia Update

This must be a difficult time for the Flat-Earthers who believe that political correctness and the notion that academia is, shall we say, kinda out there, are simply "projected fantasies" from the great unwashed.

Hardly a day goes by now that we don't hear of some precious little snowflake complaining about a "micro-aggression" on campus. For a top 15 list from Wackyville, check this out.

Wackydemia has become a glorified day care provider. The continuing denial from Wackademics that all the PC stuff is just a boogie-man of the right is only making them look sillier - if that is even possible. 

Consider this on the current "crisis":
By now few are unaware of the campus unrest sweeping across the country’s institutions of higher learning. [The "few" being a number of academic historians and professors.] . . . at Amherst College, students are calling on the president to issue a “statement of apology to students, alumni and former students, faculty, administration and staff who have been victims of several injustices including but not limited to our institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latinx racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism.”
This, of course, fits in with Professor Gordon S. Wood's characterization of academia:
College students and many historians have become obsessed with inequality and white privilege in American society. And this obsession has seriously affected the writing of American history. The inequalities of race and gender now permeate much of academic history-writing, so much so that the general reading public that wants to learn about the whole of our nation’s past has had to turn to history books written by nonacademics who have no Ph.D.s and are not involved in the incestuous conversations of the academic scholars. 
So the students are simply putting into practice what the education establishment has been shoving down their throats for decades now. All of this should come as no surprise. As I've stated before, it is simply cause and effect.

There are, indeed, "projected fantasies" in regards to academia, but those projections are coming from inside the ivory towers, not outside.

More to come on this topic soon.