Monday, March 28, 2011

American crow folklore and folklife

(not my photo)
I've been watching the play behavior of "gang" of young adult crows in my back yard.

At first I took it for aggressive behavior, that the crows were establishing status within the group, or vis a vis a potential mate.

The next time I saw them I realized that I'd watched these crows' parents doing the same flight maneuvers to harrass a large broadwing hawk ("my hawk" a few weeks ago, the one who shat on me.)

The young hawks were playing, like most young animals do.  And, in playing, building a repertory of complex maneuvers with substantial survival benefit.. 

But what has been written by scholars about crow behavior?  Not much, it turns out.  (I am aware of human folklore about crows, but know nothing about the crow's repertory of behaviors, their adaptability, reported proto-language capability, even tool-making and use.)

Check this article out, though, a profile of one of the few animal behaviorists who do study crows in a methodologically sound, scientific way.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mid-spring in the Valley, 2001

 
The lady of the house where we used to buy organic eggs, poultry and meat allowed me to take a picture of the family's aprons out to dry on one warm, breezy afternoon.  The Yoders were (they've moved since, and another family of Brethren has taken over the farm) Beechy Amish Mennonites, one family of a community of Anabaptists around Stuart's Draft, Virginia.  The Stuart's Draft Beechy Amish have ties with the Cold Springs, South Carolina community I worked with around the same time.  I have more documentary photos of the that community.

Michael Bradley Jeter

From south carolina fieldwork photos
This is a striking roadside memorial near Newberry, South Carolina in 1988.  I photographed the angel during folklife fieldwork I was then doing in the "Up Country" for the South Carolina Arts Commission.  From what I can tell, from, frankly, not a whole lot of research, Jeter was a local athlete who was killed in a car accident some years earlier.  (There is a memorial fund set up in his name at Westview Behavioral Services in Newberry.)  


Friday, March 18, 2011

October the 30th, 1800


Another letter in my family's hidden trove: this from my great-great-great-great-grandfather John Guthrie in 1800 to his father-in-law, Bethaniah Hodgkinson of Burlington, New Jersey. Hodgkinson's father, my fifth-great-grandfather, was a clergyman from Dublin, Ireland named Peter Amis Hodgkinson.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Warrenton May 22, 1861


                   
This is one of the letters I found in my father's garage a few weeks after he shot himself.  (In two boxes of letters, records, photographs, and genealogies of several branches of the family, assembled in the 1910s by a maiden great-aunt Annie Granger Day.)  This is the letter by which I discovered that my great-great-grandfather was a Yankee.

The letter is to Dr. Douglas Day of Zanesville, Ohio from his younger sister Jennie, of Warrenton, Virginia.

I have broken the text into paragraphs not in the original, for ease of reading:

                      Warrenton May 22, 1861
My Dear Brother___

                                    We were surprised and grieved to see by a paper which (sic) was received yesterday from John Douglas, the announcement of your appointment as surgeon in one of the Ohio regiments. ____

It cannot be that you are leagued (sic) with those miserable abolitionists who thirst for our blood & will never be satisfied unless they obtain it.  You cannot willingly resign your native state __ the land that gave you birth & take up arms with as merciless a foe against us. 

I know your situation is a trying one, but do you not think it best to come home & try for an appointment in the Southern Army.

The southerners are so exasperated with the treatment they have received from the North, that I think it almost impossible that any good feeling can exist between them. 

When do you think (?) and I could come.  I want to se Annie so much __ I will send her a little flag & you must put it on a little staff for her.  I would do it myself, but am afraid those vigilant “Lincolnites” might examine the contents of my letter.  Tell her it is the flag under which she must march. 

Warrenton is full of strangers; persons who have run away from Washington & Alexandria have taken refuge here.  Troops are constantly passing through, & companies are stationed here.

The people are all alive & are ready for action; if blood the Yankees must have, they will have to pay dearly for it. 

Henry has been in the regular service six weeks__Alec is very anxious to join Cap’t. (Man, Marr’s ?) company, but Ma thinks he is rather young. 

I cannot believe that report is correct that you intend to go in opposition to the wishes of your dearest friends, & fight hand in hand with your brothers.  There is an alternative.  You must choose one thing or the other.  If you have joined the Northern Army you will never be able to come here again with any satisfaction.  You will be our enemy ___ Why could you not remain neutral until Jennie is able to travel& then leave Ohio forever __

Write and give us a correct account, if the information about your acceptance of the appointment is incorrect.  I would like to write more, but it is time for the mail to close.

With the hope of soon hearing from you I remain as ever,
                                   
                                    Your devoted sister,
                                                Jennie

God grant that you may chose the right side, which is ours, & (she must?) prevail.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Great-great-aunt Betty


This is my great-great-grandmother Virginia Turner's far prettier little sister Betty, who married Robert Granger. The Grangers were Douglas and Virginia's closest friends in Zanesville, Ohio.

The Day's eldest daughter, born in Zanesville, was named Annie Granger Day. She seems to be the one who gathered all this stuff together and did a genealogy around the turn of the 20th century. I found all the letters and photos in a box in my dad's garage after his suicide.

Douglas courted and married Virginia in Zanesville in the 1850s. The Turners, originally from Fauquier County, Virginia, had moved to Zanesville in the '40s. Virginia's father, also a doctor, had a practice there. I have the lectures he gave at the University of Pennsylvania. Apparently, Douglas studied under him; though his degree is from U. Va., he earned additional certificates from Penn.

Granger became a general in the Union army.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring is coming soon.



I took this picture in 2001, while working part-time as the Ag Section reporter for the local newspaper, the News Virginian. I learnt Photoshop and scanning from film negatives there. Also had a helluva good time getting to know all the local farmers and families. The standing joke was what kind of animal shit I would have on my boots when I came in to write my pieces. At least I could get away with wearing jeans and boots, long as I wore a tie. I later worked courts and police beats. Also very interesting, but I had to dress nicer.

Lucretia Guthrie Day




This is a photograph of my great-great-great-grandmother, Lucretia Guthrie Day.

Lucretia lost a son, Alexander, in the war. He was the baby of the family, and everybody'd always made over him.

At age 18 he died, as a soldier in the Confederacy, during the siege of Richmond. Lucretia never recovered from her grief.

Her older sons, Henry and Douglas, had both learned to be doctors at the University of Virginia. I've seen where their rooms were on campus. My dad showed me, some 35 or 50 years ago.

Henry was an officer's surgeon for the Army of Virginia.

My great-great-grandfather Douglas held the same commission, but for the Ohio 22nd, of the Union Army.

That part hurt Lucretia, too.