Tuesday, March 22, 2011

John Brown's Tannery (Part 2)

John Brown Tannery Second Marker, Crawford Co., PACrawford County, PA

Marker Text:  John Brown of Ossawatomie and Harper's Ferry worked here as a tanner, 1825-35. The nearby house was then his home. His first wife and son are buried near.

Location:  On John Brown Road, a short distance south of PA Route 77, New Richmond, PA. (There is another marker same title on Route 77, just west of this road.) Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1946.

John Brown Tannery marker and museum entrance

Photo taken looking toward Route 77 with the path to the museum on the right.

  This is the second marker of two historical markers related to John Brown. (see Part 1) This marker is the older of the two and located on a secondary road across from the old tannery foundation. The newer one (1969) was probably erected to point people to this location, since you would not see this marker, unless you happened to drive this road or knew the tannery was here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

John Brown's Tannery (Part 1)

John Browns Tannery Crawford Co. PA (Click to Enlarge)Crawford County, PA

Marker Text:  On the side road, a short distance south, are the remains of the tannery and home built by the noted abolitionist of Harper's Ferry fame. Here, he lived and worked from 1825 to 1835, employing as many as 15 men in producing leather.

Location: Twelve miles northeast of Meadville, PA following PA Route 77, just west of intersection with John Brown Road at New Richmond. Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1969.

“Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life... and mingle my blood... with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I say, let it be done.” John Brown, 1859, before being sentenced to hang.

John Browns Tannery on Route 77 looking southeast (Click to Enlarge)

Photo taken looking southeast on Route 77 going toward Meadville, PA

  John Brown is most notably remembered as one of the nation’s greatest abolitionist’s, for his failed raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in 1859 and his hanging in Charlestown, WV.  As all historical figures, they also had lives apart from what they are most notably remembered and shaped what was to come in the future.

  John Brown was a businessman, entrepreneur, community leader, civic minded, interested in the welfare of his neighbors and a respectable citizen during much of his life.

  If you read a short biography of John Brown's life, they may not mention or offer only a brief explanation that Brown ever lived in Crawford County, Pennsylvania in a small community called New Richmond (which he helped to start) northeast of Meadville, PA. They might also fail to mention that John Brown lived here south of where this marker is located longer than he lived anywhere else as an adult (1825-1835).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Colonel John Singleton Mosby

Colonel John Singleton Mosby Marker B-16 (Click to Enlarge)Frederick County, VA

Marker No. B-16

Marker Text:  This road, along which many of his skirmishes took place, is named for Colonel John Singleton Mosby, commander of the 43rd Battalion of Confederate Partisan Rangers. Their activities in this area helped keep the Confederate cause alive in Northern Virginia toward the end of the Civil War.

Location:  On U.S. Routes 50 & 17 (Millwood Pike or John Mosby Highway) north of Route 723 (Carpers Valley Road), east of Winchester. Erected by the Department of Conservation and Historic Resources in 1987.

  If you live in or visit northern Virginia, you can not escape seeing the names of some of the more popular southern individuals from the American Civil War, Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Jubal Early, J.E.B. Stuart, and John S. Mosby are some of the main characters. Today's marker tells the traveler that this highway they are driving is named for John Singleton Mosby. When you travel U.S. Route 50 between Winchester and Fairfax County, VA you are taking a journey through some of the same country side that John Mosby and his 43rd Battalion of Confederate Partisan Rangers operated during the Civil War.

  This marker is the western Virginia companion marker on Route 50 with another identical marker located in eastern Virginia on U.S. Route 50 in Chantilly, VA in Fairfax County and is marker B-12.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

National Road (Called the Cumberland Road)

The National Road marker Cumberland, MDAllegany County, MD

Marker Text: Was the first of the internal improvements undertaken by the U.S. Government. Surveys were authorized in 1806 over the route of “Braddock’s Road,” which followed “Nemacolin’s Path,” an Indian trail, over which George Washington traveled in 1754 to Fort LeBoeuf.

Location:  West of Cumberland, Maryland on U.S. Route 40 (National Highway) between Mary Court and Grant Drive on the south side of the street across from the Allegany Co. Library. Erected by the State Roads Commission.

The National Road had many different lives even before it became the National Road.

  • The first use of the route was as a Native American trail called “Nemacolin's Path.”

  • British General Braddock used this same route and widened it for wagons and it was then called “Braddock's Road”.

  • In 1806, the federal government used Braddock's Road to construct a wider road known as the “Cumberland Road” or “The National Road.”

  • In the 1920's the old National Road was widened again and straighten in many sections to became today's U.S. Route 40.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mitchells Presbyterian Church

Michells Presbyterian Church Marker F-25Culpeper County, VA

Marker No. F-25

Marker Text: This Gothic Revival church, built in 1879, contains an elaborate example of trompe-l'oeil fresco painting done in 1888. Joseph Dominick Phillip Oddenino, an Italian immigrant artist, painted to deceive the eye into believing that his plaster murals of Gothic arches, Renaissance-styled cornices, and embellished Corinthian columns were three dimensional. Oddenino decorated the ceilings at Mitchells Church and Hebron Lutheran Church in Madison with geometric designs.

Location: About two miles, south of U.S. Route 522 (Zachary Taylor Highway), 0.28 miles east of (State Route 615) Rapidan Road on Mitchell Road in east of the church.  Another marker by the same name with number F-25a is located on U.S. Route 522 south of Culpeper about 2 miles north of the church.  Erected by the Department of Conservation and Historic Resources in 1985.

Michells Presbyterian Church with Marker F-25  Time for another marker about a church building. Being a pastor I like historical markers related to churches, particularly Presbyterian ones. The Mitchells Presbyterian Church was built in 1879. What sets this church apart as an historical site, on two similar markers, relates to its style as a Carpenter (or Rural) Gothic church, which was a typical style for country structures during this period in the mid-19th century and due to the trompe-l'oeil fresco painting done in 1888 by Joseph Dominick Phillip Oddenino.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge Marker A-72 (Click to Enlarge)Rockbridge County, VA

Marker No. A-72

Marker Text: Natural Bridge holds a unique place in American history as one of the natural wonders and first tourist attractions in the New World. Artists and illustrators popularized its image. This natural semielliptical arch is made of limestone carved by nature over millions of years and is approximately 200 feet high. The Monacan Indians held the site sacred and worshiped there. Thomas Jefferson obtained a land grant on 5 July 1774 to preserve it and to ensure the public could visit it. Natural Bridge was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1997 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998.

Location: On U.S. Route 11 (South Lee Highway) south of VA Route 130 (Rockbridge Road) Natural Bridge, VA in front of Natural Bridge Visitors Center.  Erected by the Department of Historic Resources in 2000.

Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, VA  A person coming to visit the Natural Bridge in Virginia might not be aware that they are actually coming to probably one of the first tourist attractions in the U.S. dating back to the time of Thomas Jefferson.

  Deemed the “Bridge of God” by Monacan Indians, the Bridge has a rich spiritual history for Native Americans dating back over 300 years.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Population Center

Wardensville, WV Population Center markerHardy & Upshur County, WV
Two separate markers with same text.

Marker Text: The population center of the United States was in present West Virginia four times as it moved westward across the nation: near Wardensville in 1820; at Smoke Hole in 1830; west of Buckhannon in 1840; near Burning Springs in 1850.

Location of the Hardy County marker: On WV Route 55 in Wardensville next to the Wardensville Visitors Center. Grouped with marker titled Wardensville. Erected by the West Virginia Archives and History in 1999.

Lorentz, Upshur Co. Population Center markerLocation of the Upshur County marker: On U.S. Route 33/119, at junction with County Route 5/1 (Sauls Run Road), Lorentz. Erected by the West Virginia Historic Commission in 1965.

  The results of the 2011 census are beginning to come to light as we see how the population of our specific areas of the country have changed in the past ten years. I recently heard that the population of the county where I live increased 18% in the last ten years. Sometime in April, the U.S. Census will announce the population center of the United States from the results of the 2010 census totals. Each decade, after it tabulates the decennial census, the Census Bureau calculates the center of population. The center is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly, if each resident were of identical weight represented as points of equal mass.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Forbes Road

Forbes Road marker in Bedford Co. (Click to Enlarge)Bedford County, PA

Marker Text: This intersection marks the point where Forbes Road of 1758 diverged from the path cut by Col. Burd in 1755. The Forbes Road led through the Wilderness west toward Ligonier from this point.

Location: At the junction of U.S. Route 30 & PA Route 31, 4 miles West of Bedford, PA. Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1947.

Forbes Road marker looking west on Route 30  Many historical road markers speak of the creation of early colonial roads that existed in the area or in most cases still exist in some form though they have gone through many evolutions. When the first settlers landed in places, like Jamestown, VA, they chiefly used the waterways, such as, the James River, Chickahominy River or the Chesapeake Bay to travel to other locations or form other communities. Eventually, the need for developing trails and later roads were needed to journey further inland away from main waterways. Many early colonial roads developed from paths through the wilderness that were already in use by Native Americans. Often, these early roads main purpose was as a military transportation route, later their importance in aiding in the develop of a region where realized.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Warren County, Virginia

Warren County VA Marker Z-248 (Click any photo to Enlarge)Page and Rappahannock Counties, VA

Marker No. Z-248 (Marker 1)

Marker Text: Formed in 1836 from Frederick and Shenandoah, and named for General Joseph Warren, killed at Bunker Hill, 1775.

Location: On Route 340, south of Front Royal going toward Luray at the Warren/Shenandoah County line. Marker is on the Page County side and next to an historic bridge and the site of a Civil War military action. Erected by the Virginia Conservation Commission in 1948.

Warren County VA Marker Z-173 (Click any photo to Enlarge)Marker No. Z-173 (Marker 2)

Marker Text: This lower Shenandoah Valley county was formed from Shenandoah and Frederick Counties in 1836. The county was named for Joseph Warren, a Boston Revolutionary War patriot killed during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. It contains a portion of Shenandoah National Park and the world-famous Skyline Drive, which was completed in 1939. The county seat is Front Royal.

Location: On Route 522, at the county line with Rappahannock/Warren Counties between Chester Gap and Huntly. Grouped with marker J-25 (Gettysburg Campaign) Marker is on the Rappahannock side of the line. Erected by the Department of Historic Resources in 2001.

  On March 9th, Warren County, Virginia will be celebrating the 175th Anniversary of their formation as a county in 1836. Throughout Virginia historical markers related to counties are found at the the county line boundaries as you enter a county. Any county might have seven or more markers about the county depending upon the number of roadways entering the county.  Many Virginia county markers were erected in the marker program's early years and have the shorter text. Some of these markers have been replaced and contain smaller, expanded text, which is why I have included, an earlier and newer version of the county marker from two different locations.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Virginia Inventors

Virginia Inventors Marker No. A-51Rockbridge County, VA

Marker No. A-51

Marker Text: A mile and a half northwest, Cyrus H. McCormick perfected, in 1831, the grain reaper. In that vicinity, in 1856, J. A. E. Gibbs devised the chainstitch sewing machine.

Location: On U.S. Route 11 (Lee Jackson Highway) at the intersection with Route 606 (Raphine Road) in Steeles Tavern near Rockbridge/Augusta County line. Erected by the Conservation & Development Commission in 1929.

  Today's marker located near the county line of Rockbridge/Augusta is an older one with the customary shorter text used in the early markers. The marker makes simply references to two inventors who lived in the area, Cyrus McCormick and J.A.E. Gibbs.

  If you remember your high school history you probably remember Cyrus McCormick and his historically significant invention of the grain reaper. McCormick joined with his father who earlier attempted to invent a machine to help in the harvest of wheat and his father's interest came from the crops grown at the family farm. The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia was one of the top grain-producing regions in the country from the last part of the 18th century to early in the 20th century. Growing grain, particularly wheat, rye and/or oats, required intensive labor. Harvest involved backbreaking stooping and bending with tools, such as, sickles, scythes or grain cradles.

McCormick Farm marker Birthplace of Cyrus McCormickText:  Cyrus H. McCormick, inventor of the reaper was born on this farm Feb. 15, 1809. Here he completed the first practical reaper in 1831. Erected by V.P.I. Student Branch American Society of Agricultural Engineers 1928

  Robert McCormick’s son, Cyrus, grew up watching his father tinker with machinery in the farm’s blacksmith and carpentry shops and in the mill. Cyrus was born on the farm Feb. 16, 1809. By the time he was 22, he learned enough from his father that he invented and patented a hillside plow. Two years later, he invented another plow.