Archive for May, 2014

Typesetting The Summer of the Falcon

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.

Front cover

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College Football and All America Review

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.

 

Craigheads Owned Slaves? (part 3 of 3)

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

 

Craigheads Owned Slaves? (part two)

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.

1800 Fed Census Thomas Craighead 3 slaves

<end of part 2>

Pennsylvania Craigheads Owned Slaves?

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>