On May 5, 1829, while digging in the Durham section of the Delaware Canal in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, contractors Porter & Hough uncovered a remarkable burial. Beneath three feet of earth, a “pile of 18 cannon balls was found, and directly underneath, the bones of a human being.” As can be imagined, such a discovery gained a significant amount of public attention, as reported in a number of local newspapers, including an account published in The Ariel, a Philadelphia periodical of the time.
Violence and mining were practically synonymous terms within the United States for many decades. From the activities attributed to the famed Molly Maquires of the anthracite coal sections of Pennsylvania, to that of the Lattimer Massacre near Hazleton, PA, on September 10, 1897, the Commonwealth state has seen its share of conflict.
When one thinks of the Civil War and its participants, most individuals are aware that thousands of foreigners, such as the Irish, Germans, English, and other non-citizens were involved on both sides of the conflict. Ella Lonn's classic work, Foreigners in the Union Army (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1951), reveals a host of persons from various European countries who filled the Federal or Union ranks. However, few are aware that a number of men from Asia or China were also engaged in the "War Between the States." One such person was John Tommy.
When one researches primary source material for the 19th-century American South, occasionally one finds enigmatic references to 'white slaves,' or individuals who were in reality Caucasians, but were sold or held in bondage, by crooked masters or slave-dealers, for a variety of reasons. A number of publications exist on the subject today, but one wonders exactly how many whites were in reality enslaved, since cases or accounts of such incidents are numerically significant.
Today's culture is permeated with so-called 'reality' television shows, which in some ways are no doubt 'mirror-images' of at least a portion of our society, while others are blatantly more fiction than fact, characters and events simply 'staged' for the camera and a gullible public that thrives on sensationalism.
Since Thanksgiving Day is rapidly approaching, it is a credit to the citizens of our nation, to know that we have always had men and women who have willingly and valiantly served their country, though regrettably often resulting in battle-wounds leaving them physically maimed for life.
Surprisingly, exactly two hundred twelve years ago today, the Gazette of the United States and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, for November 15, 1799, recorded the death of HANNAH LEWIS, an elderly woman from Philadelphia. For seventeen years, Mrs. Lewis resided at America's first hospital for the mentally impaired, or the Pennsylvania Hospital, which began on May 11, 1751, by an 'Act of the Pennsylvania Assembly,' largely through the efforts of Philadelphia physician, Dr.Thomas Bond, and well-known resident and citizen, Benjamin Franklin.
As promised, I wanted to mention a few of my favorite macabre or ghost-related accounts, prior to Halloween itself, one of them surprisingly, coming from none other than the famous and gifted English writer, Charles Dickens.