ForeWord Reviews Now On-Line

May 28, 2016

Summer 2016 ForeWord Reviews cover 1 in

The Summer 2016 edition of ForeWord Reviews is on-line as of midnight. The Spotlight section on Climate Change, in which my book is featured, hasn’t been uploaded as yet although it is in the print version.

The full review of my book can be found in full at: https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/glorious-times/

First Review for New Book

May 20, 2016

Summer 2016 ForeWord Reviews cover 1 in

The first review of my new book, which is to be released in late June, arrived in today’s mail. It received a prominent position on a Spotlight page but the last sentence and a half of the review were cut off. One would expect the entire review to be in the on-line version at ForeWordReviews. com when it is released.

 

 

 

 

 ForeWord Reviews

Summer Issue 2016

 Glorious Times: Adventures of the Craighead Naturalists

Tom Benjey

University of Montana Press

Softcover $16.95 (370pp)

978-0-1-9909748-7-1

In this genealogy of the Craighead family, the author explores the history and exploits of this famously nature-oriented clan.

The tale of the Craigheads begins with the dawn of the American colonies, but the book itself begins with the engaging tale of two Craighead brothers capturing and training hawks in Depression-era Pennsylvania. This story-oriented style typifies Glorious Times, which recounts the lives of the historical Craigheads in lively detail, bringing readers into close, personal proximity to the subjects’ lives. Roughly chronologically, the book describes each significant Craighead chapter by chapter, always highlighting their nature-loving and environmental points. Since the family’s story begins so early in American history, the book spends several chapters working through older relatives, who predated what modern activists would recognize as environmentalism, before getting to the generations that produced the more famous conservationists and natural scientists. However, the theme of the Craigheads as nature-lovers, hikers, campers, and outdoorspeople remains a powerful thread throughout the book. The author’s research on the topic could not be more meticulous, incorporating typical genealogical sources, such as newspapers, as well as personal interviews with Jean Craighead George and family documents, such as diaries.

Particularly valuable to book people may be the insight that Glorious Times provides into the mind and personality of Jean Craighead George, who is presented as at once more liberal and ambitious than other Craighead women and fully in step with her family’s environmentalist tradition. Fans and critics of her work and of the roots of the twentieth century environmental stewardship movement will find this work a fascinating insight. Genealogists may also be interested in the book as an example of a family history well executed.

50 Years Ago Today

May 10, 2016

My blogs are almost always about some person or thing other than myself. This one is intentionally different. This morning’s Facebook post generated some interest in my life I hadn’t expected:

50 years ago today, I was inducted into the U.S. Air Force. I didn’t want to be there but I was about to be drafted and my dad suggested I’d have better conditions than in the Army and might learn something useful. He was right but it was a very long 3 years, 7 months and 16 days, including 18 months in The Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

Besides receiving well wishes from several people, I was asked about what was it I did when in the Air Force and responded with the following:

I was an Automatic Weapons Control System Technician on MG-10 and MA-1 systems. In English, I worked on the fire control radar on F-102 & F-106 interceptors.

To make sure I remembered some of the terminology correctly, I Googled the terms to unexpectedly find this written by Tim White:

PACAFUSAFETAC An Extraordinary Bunch

In the middle and late 1960s, the sophistication of high-tech electronic systems began to grow at a phenomenal rate. Fortunately, the USAF (and a few other nations) had a small number of technicians – rarely exceeding 600, worldwide–who had the ability to maintain, upgrade, and even improve upon these state-of-the-art systems. Sustained, at first, by the compelling “equality” of the Vietnam draft (a rich source of competent and intelligent recruits who otherwise would have excelled in civilian life) the switch to an all-volunteer military resulted in a slow decline in the “quality” of personnel available for this challenging task.

They were farm boys and ghetto punks; college drop-outs and those who barely passed in high school. Scoring in the top 5 percent of the population in spatial perception, electronic/mechanical aptitude, and command of language, they were some of the best and the brightest the nation had to offer.

Eventually, basically-analog systems (containing digital components) were completely replaced by digital; in many cases, the software writers had no idea how the electronics worked, and never considered the hardware to be a maintainable, alignable system. In a binary world of on/off, there was no room for a concept other than pass/fail. Maintenance mock-ups became “test stations” in a “smart machine/dumb technician” form of maintenance–and the WCS troops were no longer required. Failing components were trashed instead of repaired (because no one knew how anymore), and dependence upon “spares” grew, along with depot and manufacturer-level repair. WCS troops, as a species, started to become extinct. It was the end of an era.

I assumed the newer aircraft used digital systems but was unaware that the newer equipment does not require alignments—which were a significant part of my job—and of the shift to a “smart machine/dumb technician” approach to maintenance. Thank you for the kind words about my generation, Mr. White.

F-102-37

Two F-102s I worked on overseas. PK on the tails indicates that they are 509th FIS birds.

New Jim Thorpe Movie

May 6, 2016

Yesterday, the ever-vigilant sports statistician Tex Noel sent me a link to an article he thought I’d be interested in reading. As usual, he was correct. The link was to a news article about Bright Path: The Jim Thorpe Story, a much-needed new movie about Jim Thorpe. The previous major biopic about the world’s greatest athlete, starring Burt Lancaster as the young Thorpe, was released in 1951. Sadly, that dated film came as much from the screenwriter’s imagination as from actual events.

JimThorpePremiere

Crowds throng Carlisle Theatre

Abraham Taylor, producer of the new film, is striving for accuracy. He explained, “To tell an authentic Jim Thorpe story we have to maintain control of the project. The only way to do this is with the help of Indian country. We are honored and incredibly grateful for Tuolumne’s partnership on this project.” The reason I believe him—much fluff comes out of Hollywood that is far from the truth—is that Bob Wheeler is involved in the project.

When a grad student at Syracuse nearly a half century ago, Robert W. Wheeler undertook a new approach for writing his thesis: an aural history of Jim Thorpe. He acquired a bulky reel-to-reel tape recorder similar to the one that his boss some years later, Howard Cosell, blamed for making him stoop shouldered, and crisscrossed the United States, hitchhiking from one place to another to interview people who knew Thorpe or had experiences with him. The noted Dick Schaap called him “Jim Thorpe’s Boswell” for the thoroughness of his research.

Bob has worked as an unpaid technical advisor for the film for more years than I can remember. Our numerous conversations and emails always dealt with the same thing: getting the details right. My next hope is to see Bob sitting in a director’s chair with a megaphone at his side, scrutinizing each scene for accuracy at Carlisle Barracks, the real-life site of where much of the story told in the film actually took place.

 

Joseph Tarbell at Craighead

May 1, 2016

One of the Carlisle Indian School students to stay with Charles and Agnes Craighead on one of his outing periods was Joseph Tarbell, Mohawk from the St. Regis Reservation at Hogansburg, New York. His Carlisle student file suggests that his father had attended the school earlier. However, the student file number given for his father appears to have been lost or renumbered. Joe first arrived at Carlisle on August 10, 1901 at 12 years of age. His previous off-reservation schooling had been 8 years at The Educational Home (for American Indians) in Philadelphia, which closed in 1900. That Joseph was sent away from home at such an early age is curious, especially since both of his parents were still alive when he first enrolled at Carlisle.

Joseph TarbellTo the best of our knowledge, Joe only spent one outing period in the vicinity of Boiling Springs, during the fall of 1907, after spending much of the summer in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. He returned to Carlisle on August 13, staying there till leaving on September13. He stayed with Charles and Agnes Craighead until December 8. It’s not clear whether they had moved to Harrisburg by that time or not. Other evidence suggests that Joseph Tarbell stayed with them at Craighead station.

Joe was photographed in a team photo in which all the players wore the uniforms of a Boiling Springs baseball team, not a high school team, but a town team made up of players from the area. How Joseph Tarbell came to be associated with this team is unknown. He may have come to the Craigheads as a result of being on that team or vice versa. What is known is that he was a very good baseball player. He spent his next summer in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where be played for the Hershey Chocolate team along with his brother, Louis.

 

 

 

Joe Bergie

April 27, 2016

Bergie, Joe from 1912 line photoI often learn things while giving book talks. Yesterday was no different. One of the attendees (whom I didn’t ask permission to use his name) informed me that, when doing some work at Fort Peck Reservation in northeastern Montana in the 1960s, he met Joe Bergie. The first thing I learned is Joe pronounced his last name with a hard G not a soft G as I had assumed. That’s one of the problems of only reading someone’s name; you don’t know how it is pronounced.

The gentleman had talked at length with Bergie out in Montana. Bergie shared with him that, after the 1912 game at West Point, the team had a three-hour layover at Grand Central Station in New York City. Warner let them use the time to see as much of the city as they could before it was time for their train to leave. For boys mostly from reservations, Carlisle was a big town with modern conveniences such as electricity and trolleycars. New York was something else again. Without going into the specifics of their exploits, Joe thought it was a miracle all found their way back to catch their train on time.

Joe told a story major newspapers didn’t include in their coverage of the 1912 Carlisle-Army game. Winded after having his kick-off return for a touchdown called back for having stepped out of bounds, Jim Thorpe returned the re-kick well but ran out of steam and was tackled at the 3-yard line. Bergie, who was the back up fullback, was given the ball instead of the tired Thorpe. Joe punched the ball over the goal line but landed on the ball, something that can be painful any time. This time, he had half of each team on top of him and the officials were slow in pulling players off the pile. He thought he was going to suffocate under the weight. The national papers didn’t notice that he was the ball carrier and gave credit for the score to Jim Thorpe.

Craigheads Host Carlisle Indian School Students

April 22, 2016

The ability to search Carlisle Indian School Student Files has given me the ability to identify (however incompletely) the students who worked and lived with the Craighead family on their outing periods away from the school. That Richard Reynolds and Mary Leidigh Craighead were early supports of the school and their location adjacent to the railroad tracks at Craighead Station likely made them favored hosts. After Charles Cooper Craighead married Agnes Miller in 1886, they also had Carlisle students with them on outings.

The files available on-line at Dickinson College include partial outing rosters on which only three students were listed as having stayed with a Craighead family: Henry Morning, Sadie Metoxen and Myrtle Thomas. Student Files proved to be more reliable. A search of them for “Craighead” returned the names of 22 unique students (some were duplicated) who had been with a Craighead family on outings, one of which was Myrtle Thomas. A Student File wasn’t found for Henry Morning and Sadie Metoxen’s file wasn’t returned by the “Craighead” search because it doesn’t include a card for the time period in which she was with the J. B. Craighead family. A search of images not unexpectedly found no photos taken at Craighead Station or of Craighead family members. I would have been surprised if any had been in the school’s files.

A search of Carlisle Indian School publications on “Craighead” found no occurrences. I knew this was misleading because I had previously found references to Craigheads as supporters of the school in the school’s newspapers. I had also read an article in one of the school’s newspapers that mentioned Emma Strong being with Agnes Craighead but her Student File could not be found. A complete manual scan of the Carlisle Indian School newspapers and literary magazines would be necessary to identify the names of all the Carlisle Indian School students who stayed with Craigheads on their outings.

To access the Dickinson College site, key in or click on http://carlisleindian.dickinson.edu/student-files.

 

Searching Scanned Carlisle Files

April 19, 2016

Something not previously mentioned is that people’s names were not always spelled uniformly or correctly. It’s always a good idea to also search on common misspellings of the name. A simple example is Lone Star Dietz whose father spelled the family name Deitz. Something to keep in mind is that some students went by more than one name, such as Charles Guyon aka Wahoo. If you are looking for information on a woman, make sure you also have her maiden name if she was ever married as her records are likely to be under that name. Also search on her married name because some of her  items might be associated with that name.

Student files aren’t the only things that can be retrieved. Links to photographs are not uncommon as are inclusions on lists that have been scanned. Mentions of the person in Carlisle Indian School publications, such as The Morning Star, The Red Man, The Carlisle Arrow, etc. are often found but are generally incomplete.

Emma Strong 1902Sometimes information can be found for students whose student files have been lost .  Emma Strong is an example. Her name appears in the student file for Frank DeFoe, whom she married after leaving the school. Her name also appears on some lists, however those entries are for other people named Strong or Armstrong or for students not strong (healthy) enough to remain at Carlisle. Emma Strong’s name appears several times in Carlisle Indian School publications but none of those articles are found by this search.

Sometimes, such as in the case of long family names, using just the first five or six letters may return results where spelling it completely won’t. That is because searching on scanned documents is an imperfect process at best.

To access the Dickinson College site, key in or click on http://carlisleindian.dickinson.edu/student-files.

 

Carlisle Indian School Files (cont’d)

April 16, 2016
Rowe_A_35a

William Newashe in football jersey

Today’s blog deals with one simple search request:  Carlisle Indian School records for William Newashe, left tackle on the great 1911 football team. From perusing the school’s newspapers, I was also aware of a star student named Emma Newashe. So, instead of searching on “William Newashe,” I searched on “Newashe” only to bring up both of their records.  Often, siblings’ records provide information about the person of interest, especially regarding their birth family. This search returned nine items, including student files for both William and Emma. It also returned a photo of William that was donated by Robert Rowe and one of the 1911 football team. Also of interest was an article Emma wrote for The Red Man, Carlisle’s literary magazine, about a Sac and Fox legend, the merman’s prophecy. The last three items were listings of boys enrolled, girls enrolled, and girls’ outings. Even though, Bill’s name didn’t apparently show up on the boys’ outing register, we know that he went on outings.

His student file included “Descriptive and Historical Record of Student” cards that list times spent away from school. He spent two stints with the C. Carwithen family with a Doylestown, Pennsylvania address and one with Henry F. Sickles of Furlong.

Emma’s file listed her as having gone on outings to William Floyd of West Chester, Pennsylvania, Samuel Greene of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and L. R. Hollingshead or Moorestown, New Jersey. Her file also included an evaluation of the home and her performance, some of which provided information about her personality: “More fond of study than work.” Bill’s file didn’t include evaluations. Both of their student files were more extensive than the average.

To access the site, key in or click on http://carlisleindian.dickinson.edu/student-files.

<to be continued>

 

Carlisle Student Files

April 13, 2016

Several times over the years I have been writing this blog, people have requested information on Carlisle Indian School students that, if it existed, could only be found in the paper records in the National Archives in Washington, DC. Traveling to Washington to look at the Carlisle Student Records in person is impractical for many people. Even for those of us who live close enough to make day trips, it isn’t easy. Parking garages aren’t inexpensive and learning the National Archives’ procedures for retrieving files are nontrivial. Having photocopies made to take copies of records home with you isn’t cheap either. Plus, the copies are stamped disallowing you from making copies of these copies to give to others. The Archives does allow researchers to submit requests from their homes to have Archives’ personnel retrieve the records of interest, make copies of them, and mail the copies to the requester. Significant time delays and costs are involved.

Fortunately, those of us who want to access Carlisle Indian School Student Files have another option now. The Dickinson College Archives have scanned the Carlisle Indian School Student Files and have made them available to researchers. One need not come to Carlisle to access these files because Dickinson College makes them readily available on their website. I give Dickinson high marks for their site. Retrieval is easy and straightforward and retrieved records can be printed on your home printer.

To access the site, key in or click on http://carlisleindian.dickinson.edu/student-files. On the left side of the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center screen, you will see a box under Search All. Enter the name of the student whose records you would like to see in this box and click on the search button. I generally start with the student’s last name to avoid problems with spelling and inconsistent recording of the first name. Also, many siblings attended Carlisle. In their files, information about the person in whom you’re interested can sometimes be found.

<to be continued>