Gottlieb Mittelberger immigrated to Philadelphia from Germany in 1750 in search of the “American Dream.” He returned to Germany late in the year 1754, never to return. Afterward he published his memoir of his sojourn in America1. From the start, both his voyage to the New World, as well as his life in the American colonies, did not turn out the way he’d expected. Nor was he particularly thrilled with events he learned of during his stay in Pennsylvania.
Recently the world watched with shock, or perhaps with humor, at the recent debacle in the Ukrainian Parliament when lawmakers literally got into a brawl with each other over an election. Fists were flying and punches landed on many a member that day in December of 2012. Though many viewers within the United States have seen, heard, or read many of the verbal salvos or accusations being hurled between members of the Senate or House of Representatives in the current political climate of Congress, they have not come to physical blows.
As is demonstrated with the popularity of the present movie The Hobbit and its literary and cinematic successor The Lord of the Rings series, as written by J.R.R. Tolkien, the western world is obsessed once again with dwarves and elves. Tolkien was a distinguished linguistic professor and specialist of Anglo-Saxon and Nordic literature. It is not surprising that the names borne by the dwarves in The Hobbit derive from Scandinavian mythology.
Life often exhibits some inexplicable twists and turns not planned or expected. Perhaps none are so self-evident than the experiences of those who’ve served in the military. There are numerous accounts of individuals who survived horrendous battles while suffering through insurmountable odds, with death staring them in the face, only to have perished or died in peacetime in unexpected and often violent ways. Revolutionary War veterans are simply one example of such bizarre encounters with life and death as revealed by the following examples.
On April 28, 1842, the Perry County (PA) Democrat remarked that “if the ghosts of starved-to-death animals were permitted to haunt the men who have so cruely [sic] used them, we have some men in our mind’s eye who would have little quiet sleep about these days.”
The discussion of African Americans who served in the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War has become a source of controversy among historians. The records show that both free and enslaved African Americans served on behalf of the Southern states. The first "ex-slave pension movement" appears to have been suggested by a former captain in the Confederate Army, Alabama native Walter R. Vaughan. A former mayor of Council Bluffs, Iowa, he "argued that the federal government owed a debt to the former slaves."1
Many events that occurred during the War of 1812, like so many other periods in American history, are now largely forgotten and unknown to the general public. Atrocities or barbarities perpetrated against the Indians by settlers are well attested facts, yet the opposite is often ignored in current histories pertaining to the time period in question. The Fort Mims Massacre is one such account that transpired on August 30, 1813, in Baldwin County, Alabama.
Cholera! The very name in 19th-century America brought justifiable fear and the dread of certain death among many of our nation's citizens. It usually killed quickly, often within four hours of contamination. The death toll from the disease rose into the thousands, specifically in 1832, 1849, and 1866. Many members of my own family in Kentucky left the state to escape its wrath.
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.