August 15, 2014
Yesterday, Cumberland County Historical Society videotaped an interview of me for their oral history project and for the upcoming exhibit on the Craigheads. The video is to be in conjunction with the artifacts displayed in the two large cabinets in Todd Hall from September through January. I talked about a dozen different topics related to the Craigheads, beginning with their emigrating from Ulster to Boston in the American colonies in 1714 and settling in Cumberland County in the 1730s. The topics selected are related to the various portions of the exhibit visitors will see (if I can fit them all into the cabinets). Jean Craighead George’s writing desk, which Craighead House is loaning for the exhibit, will sit between the cabinets, helping with the space problem a bit.
The backpack Frank Craighead Jr. made for Johnston Coyle fits snugly but is an interesting artifact of which I first became aware when reading an article in a University of Michigan alumni magazine that included the photograph below. Following up on the article, I learned that Frank Jr. and John made a number of these backpacks for their families and friends. I also learned that the canvas portion was made by Maslands—the Craigheads are close friends with the Maslands. Dave Masland informed me that, during WWII when there was zero demand for automobile carpet, his father converted the plant to producing canvas duck and quickly became the country’s largest producer. This fabric was used in tents, jackets, and numerous other products.
We still need some artifacts for the exhibit: a falconer’s glove, an ex, and a ball of cord, all in used condition. If you can lend us any of these, please let me know.
Babies in The Big House
August 3, 2014
William Winneshiek’s grandson just sent me some interesting information about and a great photograph of his grandfather. Winneshiek reputedly came to an untimely end in an Elkton, MD hotel fire in 1950. His grandson of the same name located his death certificate. That document stated that he died in a September 15, 1949 fire in Minquadale, Delaware fire. Now that I know when and where he died—death certificates are usually fairly accurate about dates and places of death—I can look for old newspapers that might have articles about the fire. I’ll first start with Minquadale, if it had a newspaper then, then try New Castle, the nearby large town, because it probably covered the fire due to there being a death in it. After that, I’ll look at the Philadelphia papers because his home address was listed as Hotel Washington in Philadelphia on the death certificate. From there, I’ll try newspapers that covered Lebanon, Pennsylvania because he lived there for many years, and finally at the Carlisle papers because he was once a Carlisle Indian School student.
Follows is a newly-discovered photograph of the handsome William Winneshiek that may have been used for promotional purposes when he had his own band or played in Wheelock’s band.
Little by little, we’re learning more about William Winneshiek.
June 19, 2014
Prior to the Historical Marker dedication, I was approached by WITF, the local PBS affiliate, for an interview concerning the book I am writing about the Craighead Naturalists. Cary Burkett, who has one of the best radio voices I’ve ever heard and whom I saw and heard sing The Impossible Dream in a local performance of The Man from LaMancha some years ago, met me at Craighead House the Monday before the Historical Marker dedication with recorder and microphone in hand.
He didn’t carry a heavy reel-to-reel tape recorder like the one Bob Wheeler lugged as he hitchhiked across the country interviewing people such as President Eisenhower for his biography of Jim Thorpe or the 40-pounder that left Howard Cossell stoop-shouldered. Burkett carried a tiny—relatively speaking—unit that was probably digital and could easily be slung from his shoulder. Recognizing me immediately from my photo, he introduced himself and began the interview.
Other than taking a couple of minutes to record the background sound of the Yellow Breeches flowing over the Craighead dam and into the mill race, he mostly listened to me recite facts, figures, and historical events related to the family for the better part of an hour. When I’d stop to breathe, he’d ask me another question and off I’d go babbling on and on about all manner of things Craighead related.
To make the interview more interesting, I gave Cary a tour of the home and grounds. Sadly, describing the artwork that adorns the kitchen walls is not easily done on radio and couldn’t be included in the seqment that resulted from interview. The 4-minute piece digested from this rambling interview airs tomorrow, Friday, June 20, 2014 at 6:35 a.m., 8:35 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. on WITF 89.5 fm. Mr. Burkett also wrote an accompanying article about the Craigheads that, along with a podcast of his radio piece, is posted on WITF’s site at:
June 15, 2014
Life bring a series of surprises, some pleasant, some otherwise. Yesterday’s dedication of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Historical Marker brought a most unexpected and beautiful surprise. I knew Chuck Heywood was coming to speak about distant Craighead cousins who were also interested in nature. I’d invited him, after all. What I didn’t expect was a gift. And what a gift it was.
Chuck presented a breathtakingly beautiful print of a hand-colored drawing of falcon done by the renowned neurologist, Dr. Tom Swift. I won’t bore you by listing his numerous accomplishments in various fields of endeavor; I will simply relate what his wife, Margaret, shared with Chuck about him, “I’m convinced Tom should be diagnosed with attention surplus disorder.” It sure would be nice to have that diagnosis.
Dr. Swift didn’t just donate a print we could hang on the wall to beautiful Craighead House; he donated ten of them to sell to raise money to preserve the house. The falcon he depicted isn’t any old falcon; it is a male hybrid cross between a European and American peregrine falcons Dr. Swift watched go through its paces at Awendaw Raptor Center north of Charleston, SC.
More information about the dedication can be found in The Sentinel article about the event: http://cumberlink.com/news/local/communities/carlisle/historical-marker-unveiled-at-craighead-house-in-south-middleton-township/article_f003d386-f441-11e3-9ac2-001a4bcf887a.html and on the Craighead House Facebook page and at www.CraigheadHouse.com.
May 31, 2014
A significant part of the work we do on Craighead House Committee toward preserving Craighead House at this stage involves finding ways to raise money to fund repairs and to pay off the mortgage. A recent task for me was to typeset a book, which required me to learn a little about typesetting. Jean Craighead George’s heirs graciously allowed Craighead House Committee to reprint The Summer of the Falcon, a book that was set in Craighead House in the 1930s. No professional typesetting agreed to donate his services, so it fell on me to get the job done. Not wanting to invest the substantial amount of money required to license Adode’s professional typesetting software, I studied Perfect Pages, a book by Aaron Shepard on typesetting with Microsoft Word, a word-processing program not intended for book production. Shepard convinced me that I could do a credible job with Word, especially for a relatively simple book to typeset.
I started off by sending an old copy of the book to be scanned into a text file to eliminate the extremely tedious job, especially so for a slow, error-prone typist, of typing the entire text. Scanning is an imperfect process. I had to correct numerous errors from the scanning process and an experienced proofreader donated fifty hours of her time finding the errors I missed and those I introduced. Through trial and error, I eventually got headers and footers to appear as they would appear on professionally-typeset books: on the bottoms of the first pages of chapters and on the tops of the rest of the pages, except those that only contained photos, which have neither headers or footers. I scanned Jean’s drawing from a book and cleaned up spots introduced by the scanning process. I placed her drawings at the beginnings of chapters as she had done decades ago. I also included photos given me by family members to illustrate sections of the text.
I used a 1933 group photo of the Craigheads for the cover because, although classified as fiction, the book is autobiographical in nature and the characters are thinly-disguised versions of family members. To assist readers, I created a cross-reference that tied characters to real-life names to images on the cover and inserted it as a frontispiece. The finished books arrived from the printer this week. Readers have especially appreciated this key to the characters in the book.
I closed the book out with reflections on the house and family that were written by friends and family members. These musings summarize what the people and place meant to those writing them. At $10 a copy, this book is quite a bargain and can be purchased at www.CraigheadHouse.org.
May 28, 2014
The most recent edition of the College Football Historical Society Newsletter included a historical book review of Christy Walsh’s 1949 College Football and All America Review. What caught my eye most were two things the book included: “the score of every game [ever] played” and “listing of lettermen, by year, from each school.” Determining exactly who played on the Carlisle and Haskell teams is a difficult, if not impossible, project due to the records retained for those teams. So, I searched for a copy of the book and found one at Allegheny College through interlibrary loan. Eventually the sought-after book arrived.
I flipped through the pages of the book searching for the Carlisle lettermen and found none. I repeated the process for Haskell and was disappointed again. Perhaps because neither school was competing at the college level at that time, their records were omitted. Or, it may have been too hard to gather up the information from the available data sources. Regardless, I came up dry. But I did stumble across some things of interest.
The book was dedicated to Pop Warner “with affectionate esteem” and Warner wrote a one-page article, “Flash-back to Carlisle” in which he reminisced about his years with the Indians. His list of highlights included:
- Numerous victories over the University of Pennsylvania
- Defeat of Harvard 18 to 15 in 1911 against Walter Camp All Americans as Percy Wendy, Sam Felton and Bob Fisher, the game in which Jim Thorpe kicked three goals from the field
- The 27 to 6 trouncing the red-skinned youngsters gave to West Point in 1912, when the Cadets boasted players like Arnold, Littlejohn, Hyatt and Devore
- I happily recall the truly great Indian squad of 1913 which handily swamped undefeated Dartmouth by a score of 35 to 0
- Perhaps no Carlisle victory was more important or satisfying than the historic post-season game of 1907 when Chicago, coached by that grand old man Amos Alonzo Stagg and quarterbacked by Wally Steffen, another Walter Camp All American, was soundly defeated by the Indians, after the Conference champions had won the Big 10 title in an undefeated season.
Not listed were the 1905 Carlisle victory over West Point during a season Warner wasn’t at Carlisle and the 1907 defeat of Harvard, possibly because Warner felt the defeat of Chicago overshadowed it.
May 12, 2014
Not overly confident that my analysis would convince readers that I’d broken the code, so to speak, of the 1800 Federal Census, I contacted Ancestry.com. After waiting on hold a good while, a youngish, by the sound of her voice, native speaker of American English took my call. She was quite pleasant and seemed knowledgeable about Ancestry.com’s service—more knowledgeable than I am about my own account. Because I sign in with my email address and password, I didn’t know my account ID. Fortunately, it displays on the upper right corner of the screen. She reviewed my account then asked about my problem.
Since my problem was related to a specific record, all I had to do was to tell her what search criteria I had used and which record I had retrieved. Soon, she had Thomas Craighead’s 1800 Federal Census record on her screen and was able to verify that Ancestry.com had indeed determined that he had three slaves. When she looked at the original record, she immediately saw my problem and went about the analysis I described in the previous post. She arrived at the same conclusion about the numbers of slaves owned but could not find a key to use to decipher the log either. She contacted her technical support but to no avail. Ancestry.com does not know, or isn’t sharing, how exactly they transcribed handwritten and coded census reports into searchable digital form. The only way I can imagine it was done was by doing it manually one person at a time. Someone had to read the census pages, determine how names were spelled and how many people of each category lived at the address, then key it into a database. Errors were made as illustrated previously with Alenander Carothers. This was far from the first time I couldn’t retrieve a record via search that I knew should be available or, as in this case, had already seen along with the result for a different search.
The next step is to contact the National Archives. I’ll get back to you when, if ever, they tell me anything. Here is a link to a search: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7590&enc=1
May 10, 2014
Before I make the claim that some Pennsylvania Craigheads, particularly those who were ancestors of the Craighead Naturalists, once owned slaves, I should be absolutely certain it is true. The first thing to do was to look at the actual census documents to make sure Ancestry.com had the right census page and had interpreted it correctly. I quickly found the 1800 Federal Census page for Thomas Craighead. That page not only included him but his son Thomas Jr. as well as some neighboring farmers. (See below) Deciphering the census page was, and remains, a challenge. The page appears to have been hand drawn in a ledger book. Column headings, such as they are, are not obvious. From Ancestry.com’s analysis and comments from the National Archives, I imputed the first five columns that contained numbers represented free white males in five different age brackets. The second five numeric columns represent the number of free white females in five different age brackets living on the property. The eleventh and twelfth numeric columns, the rightmost columns on the page, had no entries and contained few entries. Thomas Craighead Sr. had nothing in his eleventh column and three is his twelfth column. Alex Carothers has one in his eleventh column and Daniel Holmes has ones in both columns. No one else on the page has an entry in either column.
Verifying how the entries in the eleventh and twelfth columns were determined to represent slaves posed a significant problem. Ancestry.com listed Daniel Homes has having one slaves and one other (non-white?) free person in addition to all the free whites living at his home. Alex Carothers was more of a problem. Several searches involving several spellings were required to receive his record as Ancestry.com interpreted his name as being spelled Corathers. That he had one other free person living at his home and a one in column eleven supports the conclusion that column eleven contains the number of free whites and column twelve contains the number of slaves. Non-citizen Indians were not counted because they were enumerated on their tribal rolls, at least in theory.
The next piece of the puzzle was contacting Ancestry.com to find out how they converted these handwritten ledgers into searchable text.
<end of part 2>
May 7, 2014
Sometimes we all get whacked unexpectedly by something we never expected to be a problem. I was well aware that some Southern Craigheads had been slaveholders but never considered the possibility their Pennsylvania cousins might have been also. Until I read the March 1805 will of Thomas Craighead, eldest son of John Craighead, the first Craighead to settle along the Yellow Breeches Creek in what is now Cumberland County, Pennsylvania that is.
A distant cousin of the Craigheads I have been researching and writing about who lives far from here recently enlisted me to help him research the actual properties certain Craigheads owned and lived upon. Since John Craighead left no will, or at least one that was recorded at the county courthouse, I requested and received a copy of his oldest son Thomas’s will, knowing from the family’s genealogy that he lived on the Mansion farm all his life and likely inherited it from his father. His will verified that he did own the Mansion farm and provided information regarding its size while also identifying other parcels Thomas owned. Bequeaths in the will revealed a truth not known by recent generations.
He left the Mansion farm including “…my cash, bonds, notes, debts, stock, the services of my negroes, and all my other personal property…” to sons Richard and William. William was his youngest son, just eighteen when Thomas died. Richard never married and lived with William and his family the rest of his life. By leaving his negroes to his sons, Thomas Craighead acknowledged the fact they were slaves. If they were free blacks, they wouldn’t have been his property and wouldn’t have been bequeathed to anyone in his will. In an attempt to verify this, I searched Ancestry.com for censuses listing Thomas, Richard and William for the 1800-1820 timeframe. Ancestry.com listed Thomas Craighead Sr. as having three slaves on the 1800 federal census, Richard as having two slaves on the 1810 enumeration, and William as having three “free colored persons” living on the farm in 1820. The shift from slaves to freed black people could have been a result of An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in 1780. This was all very logical but there was a glitch.
<End of part 1>
April 1, 2014
An issue that reared its ugly head during the days Carlisle Indians roamed the gridiron has resurfaced again—still unresolved. The college sports environment then was much different than it is today but the problems facing today’s players are similar to those Carlisle players faced. Because Carlisle’s players were viewed as wards of the government, their food, housing, clothing, and education were paid for by the school. I almost said the government but Superintendant Pratt couldn’t have kept the school open on what the government allocated it. He solicited and received substantial donations from individuals, particularly from Quaker ladies in Philadelphia. Proceeds from the highly profitable football program helped keep the school operating.
Pop Warner was criticized roundly for sharing football profits with the players, largely in the form of chits for clothing at Blumenthal’s (today’s Wardecker’s Men’s Wear). The reason for this was that the government supplied the students with uniforms and work clothing for their daily use, but it didn’t provide them with civilian clothing to wear off campus. Players at the big, private college football powerhouses of the day largely came from affluent families and didn’t need to make money for playing for their alma maters. Today’s situation is different. Many, if not most, top athletes’ families do not have the money to pay the vastly increased costs of attending college, making them more like the Carlisle Indians in financial terms than their opponents of yore.
The recent National Labor Relations Review Board (NLRB) ruling that college athletes are employees of the private universities they represent is just the most recent attempt to deal with the issue. The distinction of private is key to this ruling because the statute on which it is based only affects private institutions, not the large public universities that tend to be the athletic powerhouses today. So, if this ruling stands—which is a big if considering the Supreme Court may reject the manner in which the NLRB board members were appointed and strike its rulings—it will only impact the small number of private colleges and universities that compete in top-level Division I sports. However, if it stands, it may have considerable impact on Title IX and minor sports at those schools. The saga continues…