Daniel Rolph

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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.


This appeared in the December HSP email publication, History Hits: Collecting & sharing the stories of Pennsylvania.

The Christmas holiday season has generated much interest from both a personal and commercial perspective within the United States for many years.


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.

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Since this is the month of October and close to Halloween, it's only appropriate that I relate at least a short supernatural tale. Without further introductory remarks, it's best to simply quote the article in full, as it appeared, within the published pages of the New Jersey Journal and Political Intelligencer, for September 12, 1787, which goes as follows:


It was a common practice in America, from the Colonial period and well up into the American Civil War era, for family members to express their mourning or grief, in what are referred to as elegies, a written 'lament' or tribute to the dead. Often times these elegies were rhymed couplets, which appear quite frequently in newspapers of the day, revealing not only the bravery, courage, and sacrifices of the soldiers involved, but also the eloquence in writing, of those who paid tribute to the deceased in verse.

This appeared in the September HSP email publication, History Hits: Collecting & sharing the stories of Pennsylvania.