Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Clara Barton is Diagnosed by a 1700 Year Old Spirit!

"Miss Barton - Enclosed find a spirit photo - the spirit is Dr. Galen - he is one of the three leaders of Mrs. Morrison's "Medical Band" - has been out of the physical about 1700 years.  Mrs. M. sees and talks to him as readily as we do with one another." - Letter to Clara Barton, 1874

Letter to Clara Barton - June 1875 - Sophia Smith Collection

Just about a year ago at this time I wrote a blog post (here) about a fascinating c.1870s business card (below) I had added to my collection: it was for Mrs, C. M. Morrison, a blind clairvoyant healer who provided diagnoses and a recommended treatment fora dollar and a lock of the patient's hair.  She was aided in her mission by her "Medical Band of Spirits."

Mrs. Morrison Business Card - c. 1875 - Collection of James M. Schmidt

Mrs. Morrison Business Card - c. 1875 - Collection of James M. Schmidt
That description - and some other information I had gathered for the post - as enough to make it interesting...

...but I wanted to know more! 

A little more searching and - as always - the kind and enthusiastic cooperation of an archivist, have indeed added more to the story!

I share some of that story you'll see, I'm constrained a bit in sharing too much of the archival material here on the blog, presently, but I'm hoping to gain permission to quote more in a future article for publication.

Even so, I'm hoping you'll share my enjoyment in the thrill of the search...and in the treasure that was found!


Part the First - The Search! 

Several things intrigued me about my original search for information - one was who were the spirits in her "Medical Band"; the other was whether any records existed for her customers, as she was reported to have "diagnosed over twelve hundred cases of disease from locks of hair, sent to her by letter, the result of the prescription in many cases being a permanent cure."

So I did some Googling ("Oh, they have the internet on computers now!" - Homer Simpson) and struck gold: It turns out that Mrs. Morrison had at least one very famous customer: Clara Barton, Civil War nurse, founder and president of the American National Red Cross, and much more!

Clara Barton c. 1860s - LOC
Even better, there were copies of correspondence from Morrison to Barton in the Clara Barton Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College in Northampton, MA.  One of the collection descriptions indicated:

In 1874-75 Barton corresponded with doctors and clairvoyants in search of medical advice. Of interest are letters from Dr. Edward B. Foote (1875), Dr. S.W. Hewett (1875), Dr. Charles Main (1874-75), Mrs. C.W. [sic] Morrison (1874-75), and Dr. H.B. Storer (1875) which, along with notes located in SERIES III which Barton made during her illnesses, not only provide information on Barton's health, but also interesting insights into late nineteenth century medicine and spiritualism.

Exactly what I was looking for! Yay! After a quick e-mail to the archivist and the payment of a very reasonable reproduction fee (just a few dollars), I soon had a PDF in my inbox of some great material and answer to some questions!

Part the Second - The Letters! 

The PDF includes about 20 pages of handwritten correspondence, more than half of which is from Mrs. Morrison (the other half? just as interesting as you'll see in part III below).

There are restrictions that prevent me from reproducing the images - or the transcriptions - wholesale, but I did want to share a few really interesting items:

1) There is a copy of the very same business card in the papers as I have in my collection, so - if there was any doubt - we are definitely dealing with the same Mrs. Morrison

2) The letterhead (provided at the top of the blog post) is especially great as it gives us some sense of Mrs. Morrison's appearance.

3) The letters are actually written by Mrs. Morrison's "secretary" - Mr. H. B. Wilcox...a quick internet search shows that he was also involved in the 19th century Spiritualist movement and - indeed - after her "transition" (passing) he picked up the reins of her practice.

4) One of the great finds in the letters is that Mr. Wilcox names at least one of the members of her "Medical Band of Spirits": Galen, a prominent physician and philosopher who died ~200 A.D., nearly 1700 years before he joined Mrs. Morrison!

5) And there are multiple letters that give diagnoses and recommendations for treatment for what was ailing Clara Barton.

Letter to Clara Barton - Nov 1874 - Sophia Smith Collection
Clara Barton's diaries are held by the Library of Congress; there is a wonderful finding aid here with links to a lot of digitized material here...Barton often made notes about correspondence written and received and it would have been GREAT to find mentions of Mrs. Morrison in her diaries.  Unfortunately, the two years encompassed by the letters in the Smith collection - 1874-75 - are two years where her diaries are either missing or there was a lapse in her dedication to maintaining them.

Part the Third - There's More!

As noted in the collection description above, Clara Barton's correspondence with clairvoyant healers was not limited to Mrs. Morrison. In late 1875, she wrote the offices of the Banner of Light, one of the nation's leading Spiritualist periodicals for advice on other reliable clairvoyant physicians...perhaps she was not satisfied with Mrs. Morrison?

In any case, there are a few more pages of correspondence, including from Dr. H. B. Storer and Mrs. M. G. Folsom.  Here's their advertisement in the January 2, 1875, issue of Banner of Light:

But they were by no mean the only clairvoyant healers advertising...there's a whole column of Mediums and the better part of those offered healing services:

This bit of research was great fun:

1) It brought an item in my collection more to life
2) I became acquainted with more archival collections
3) It further increased my interest in the intersection of 19th century medicine and the 19th century Spiritualist movement
4) It's opened up additional avenues of research
5) It's provided a possible writing opportunity

What's not to like?!?!  Hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sunset Hills Cemetery - Boonville, MO - Part II - Ambushed at Rawling's Lane

"Captain Parke stated he fought for fifteen minutes and had 7 men killed...The men killed are said to have been massacred, four being scalped, one hung and scalped; three had their throats cut; their bodies were afterward recovered and buried at Boonville." - Official Report, August 30, 1864

As a follow-up to my first post on my recent visit to historic Sunset Hills Cemetery in Boonville, Missouri, I wanted to highlight a marker that will be of interest to Civil War enthusiasts.

The cemetery is actually one of more than a dozen stops - and of four stops in Boonville alone - on the Missouri Civil War Heritage Foundation's "Gray Ghost Trail." The trail concentrates on Civil War actions in the "Little Dixie" section of central Missouri that witnessed a good amount of guerilla warfare and "bushwacking" activity, associated especially with the notorious William "Bloody Bill" Anderson.

(Just as I had started to build a personal library of books about the Civil War in Texas, I can see that I'll need to do the same for Missouri!)

A marker in the cemetery commemorates the resting place of eight Union soldiers who were killed in an ambush:

Photo By Jim Schmidt

Photo by Jim Schmidt

In Memory Of Soldiers Of The 4th Regiment, Missouri State Militia Cavalry Killed By Bushwhackers Under The Command Of "Bloody Bill" Anderson In Howard County, Missouri, 28 August 1864: 

Sgt George H. Baugh, Orderly Sgt Porter W. Davis, Pvt John F. Hathaway, Pvt Alfred Gosnell, Pvt Thomas Mitchell, Sgt Alvin Moore, Pvt James O'Neal, Corp David A. Shough

The men no longer rest in this cemetery: as mentioned in my previous post, many of the soldiers who in battle or of disease - once buried here - had since been exhumed and reburied at Jefferson City National Cemetery or at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.

A wayside marker has some details about the battle, styled "Affair at Rawling's Lane":

The plaque pictured at left has been placed in Sunset Hills Cemetery in remembrance of eight Union cavalry soldiers who died in action and are buried here. In central Missouri in the summer of 1864, bands of Southern partisan cavalry roamed the country making life di”ffcult for civilians and militiamen alike. In late July, 1864, William “Bloody Bill” Anderson led a raid out of Rocheport (located 10 miles to the east, north of the Missouri River). That raid went far north and east, nearly to Hannibal. Anderson may have been in Boone and Howard counties during August, 1864, but people generally assumed that all of the “bushwhacking” in this area was the work of Anderson and his band.

A detachment of the 4th Missouri State Militia Cavalry (Union), under the command of Captain Joseph Parke, was stationed in Boonville at this time. After hearing reports that Anderson and his men were in the vicinity, on August 28th Parke with 44 troopers of the 4th Cavalry crossed into Howard County. Heading east in the direction of Rocheport, Parke’s command got caught in ambush at a place called Rawlings Lane, on the old Boonville Rocheport Road about 3 miles northwest of Rocheport. These were Anderson’s men for the most part, but a small group of riders led by Clifton Holtzclaw of Howard County was there as well.

Anderson had placed several horsemen in the lane to the Rawlings farm to serve as decoys, while the bulk of his men lay in wait over a hill, in a line parallel to the farm lane. Parke took the bait, following the decoys as they rode east through Rawlings Lane. Parke charged, and once all of of his men were in the lane the Southern cavalry charged up and over the hill. Parke’s detachment was decimated in the attack.

Captain Parke left the scene before the action was finished, and on the road to Fayette he met Major Reeves Leonard and a detachment of Union cavalry moving south in the direction of the š fight. Anderson drew his men off , but some continued the š fight along the Boonville-Rocheport
Road. Survivors from Parke’s command fought a rear guard action while retreating to Boonville. Captain Parke was dismissed from the service for his actions at Rawlings Lane.

Men of the 4th Militia Cavalry who were killed in the action at Rawlings Lane were: Sergeants Alvin Moore and George Baugh; Corporal David A. Slough; and Privates John H. Hathaway, Alfred Gosnell, James O’Neal and Thomas Mitchell. The bodies were brought to Thespian Hall, placed in co”ffins and prepared for burial. e Reverend James Morton conducted a brief service and some men of Parke’s command spoke in tribute to their comrades. The coffins were taken to the old cemetery and laid side by side in a common grave. Orderly Sergeant Porter Davis, who was found dead several days later near the scene of the battle, also was buried at Sunset Hills. The story is told that Davis and several of the others had been scalped.

[Some quick additional research shows there may be some errors in the wayside marker and the cemetery marker: it seems some of the soldiers' name may be misspelled, which is not surprising as official records and muster cards are notorious for inaccuracies; it may also be that Parke resigned from the service rather 

The action is described in the Official Records - Series 1 - Vol. 41 (XLI) - Part I - pp. 299-300

AUGUST 28, 1864.-Skirmish near Rocheport, Mo. 

No. 1.-Report of Major General Alfred Pleasonton, U. S. Army, commanding District of Central Missouri.
No. 2.-Report of Captain Joseph Parke, Fourth Missouri State Militia Cavalry.
No. 3.-Report of Lieutenant William Argo, Seventh Missouri State Militia Cavalry.

Here is No. 1, Gen. Pleasonton's report:

Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton
Numbers 1. Report of Major General Alfred Pleasonton, U. S. Army, commanding District of Central Missouri.

WARRENSBURG, MO., August 30, 1864.

Captain Parke, at Boonville, reports having crossed the river on the 26th with forty-four men after Holtzclaw; near Rocheport came   up with two of Holtzclaw's people; wounded 1 and captured both horses. Advanced a mile and was attacked in rear by a band numbering 100 men, commanded by Holtzclaw and Anderson. Captain Parke stated he fought for fifteen minutes and had 7 men killed, 2 wounded, and 3 missing. The men killed are said to have been massacred, four being scalped, one hung and scalped; three had their throats cut; their bodies were afterward recovered and buried at Boonville. From this report Captain Parke's forces were evidently surprised on the march and did not attempt to do any fighting. I recommend that Captain Parke be dismissed the service for this after.


The fallen soldiers' Compiled Military Service Records are available through my subscription to have included a few of their records below.

May They Rest in Peace.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Taphophilia! Sunset Hills - Boonville, MO - Part I - "Little Willie"

Willie - "The Little Stranger" - Photo by Jim Schmidt
"[He] bade me select some stones, asking how I would have them lettered. I chose some that he would ask nine dollars for, and said 'All I want marked on them is: "Willie, the Little Stranger."' He assured me that they should be immediately lettered, and if I did not leave to-day, might go out to the burying ground with him in the morning to see them set. I thanked him, returned to the hotel."

- Went to Kansas - Miriam D. Colt - 1862

One of the great things about living in Columbia, MO, is that I'm not too far from historic towns on the Missouri River.  One of those is Boonville, Missouri (named for Nathan and Daniel, sons of the famous Daniel Boone), which can trace its history to the early 1800s.  There's a lot to appreciate in terms of its history, including many extant buildings, and I'm sure I'll be visiting many times and posting many time as well!

Today's post concerns one of several historic cemeteries in Boonville: Sunset Hills Cemetery, established 1841.  A wayside marker at the cemetery gives some additional information:

Entrance to Sunset Hills - Photo by Jim Schmidt
 Originally this cemetery was known as the “old Methodist Episcopal Church Burying Ground.”  The area was possibly used as early as 1818, but certainly several burials had occurred here by 1820.  In 1841, prominent local merchant Jacob Wyan began proceedings to turn over the burial ground to the City of Boonville. The ground was accepted by the city, and served as the city cemetery for many years...Sunset Hills was the burial place of the Illinois and Iowa soldiers who died of disease or other causes while stationed in Boonville during the Civil War, but the bodies of these men were exhumed and reburied in the JeŠfferson City National Cemetery after the war.

Among the well-documented burials in the cemetery is that of "Little Willie" Colt and his father, William Colt. They died within weeks of each other in Boonville in 1856 from a fever contracted as they traveled overland from Kansas. The town cared for them in their final days, and laid them to rest, and it cared for a devastated wife and sister who survived to complete the trip home to New York.

Headstones of "Willie" and William Colt - Photo by Jim Schmidt
 The travels of the family are told by the wife/mother, Miriam Davis Colt, in her 1862 book:


You can read the entire book by clicking on the image can read transcriptions of the chapter describing the deaths and burials of Willie and William at the "Kansas Collection" website here.

More photos of the Colt's and Sunset Hills below:

Photo By Jim Schmidt

Headstones of Willie and William Colt - Photo by Jim Schmidt

Headstone of William Colt - Photo By Jim Schmidt
The heights of the cemetery afford some amazing views of historic Boonville and bluffs overlooking the Missouri River in the distance - Photo By Jim Schmidt

The heights of the cemetery afford some amazing views of historic Boonville and bluffs overlooking the Missouri River in the distance - Photo By Jim Schmidt
Photo By Jim Schmidt
Backward "N" on this crudely written headstone - Photo by Jim Schmidt

Photo by Jim Schmidt
Photo by Jim Schmidt

But wait! There's more!  Part II of this post will be about a Civil War skirmish nearby and a marker/memorial for several soldiers killed in the raid.  A future post will also cover the bigger - and more ornate - Walnut Grove Cemetery, also in Boonville, established 1851:

Walnut Grove Cemetery - Boonville, MO - Photo by Jim Schmidt

Monday, March 17, 2014

Citrusy History: St. Augustine and the Civil War

"Yet St. Augustine is a most beautiful place, and the scenery - the oranges - lemons - dates and bananas are a source of continual wonder to me, and the gorgeous tropical plants and the beautiful flowers I have not tired of, and though I never go out of my Fort without a guard to protect me, yet I constantly see curious things and strange customs that are a ceaseless source of interest to me, and would be to you were you with that husband who loves you so much."

- Letter, March 25, 1862, Col. Louis Bell, 4th New Hampshire Infantry, to wife.

About a year and a half ago I had the great privilege and pleasure of assisting author and blogger Robert Redd with the proposal/outline for his first book project.  It was with great enjoyment and no small amount of pride in his accomplishment that I recently read the "finished product": St. Augustine and the Civil War (2014, The History Press).

 His kind mention of my assistance in the Acknowledgments in his book touched me greatly; truth be told, I get tremendous satisfaction in seeing my friends achieve their goals. All the more so when the writing entertains and edifies, as this effort does!

 1) I had no background at all on Florida in the Civil War, and this book was a great introduction to that topic.

2) The longest chapter and the meat of the book - "The War Years" - was great...the early exuberance of the secession-minded majority, the courageous actions of the town's few Unionists, the strategic abandonment of Floridamby the Confederate government, the capture of the city by Union forces, the hardships of the citizens due to the Union blockade and occupation, ambushes by Confederate guerillas, the joy upon news of victory and peace, and sadness on news of Lincoln's assassination are told very well, indeed.

3) His telling of the Union soldiers' experience in wartime St. Augustine is exceptional as is his use of primary sources to share their words...he used primary material from archives as far north as Connecticut, as far west as Texas, and - of course - multiple collections in Florida...and a quick search indicates that some of these sources are rarely, if ever, used, and will be fresh voices to many readers. Readers will especially delight in first hand accounts of the men seeing and savoring flora and fauna they might never have seen in their lives...from oranges and other fruits, beautiful plants and flowers, and fresh-caught bass.

4) Supporting chapters on associations of St. Augustine with Abraham Lincoln (a letter from the widow Mrs. Lincoln during her 1875 visit to the town is very affecting), African-American history, blockade runners/privateers, and more are interesting. Especially interesting is the town's association with so many Civil War generals - Union and Confederate - with the town, both pre-war (associations that similarly attach to other well known posts across the country) and post-war.
5) The inclusion of walking and driving tours is just excellent and will be a great guide for any visitor to the city and almost certainly for townspeople who want to reacquaint themselves. with St. Augustine's rich history The descriptions and transitions are all the better because they are expertly written by the visitor, and show his great firsthand familiarity with the sites that is often missing from similar tours. It would serve as a great model for other writers and makes me wish I had added a similar section to my own local history efforts, assuming I could have attained his level of quality.

6) The book is very well-illustrated with period and modern photographs and engravings, especially the walking/driving tour section.

Highly recommended!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Taphophilia! Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site - Columbia, MO

Photo by Jim Schmidt
Well, I've only been here a week in Columbia, MO, and I'm already stopping at places on the side of the road!

This site - the Jewell State Cemetery Historic Site - is on the outskirts of the city and is easy to find.

Info from the wayside marker:

This cemetery is part of the former farmstead of George Jewell (1769-1844).  The Jewell family first moved from Virginia to Kentucky, then Franklin, Mo., and finally Columbia, Mo., in 1821.

Dr. William Jewell (1789-1852)
George, his son William, and sons-in-law Charles Hardin, father of 22nd Missouri Governor Charles Henry Hardin, and William Hitt were all prominent in the community.  All served on road commissions and the county court, and helped shape the early community in various endeavors.

The first person buried in the cemetery was
Charles Hardin (1820-92)
Cynthia Jewell, William's second wife, in 1822. The family cemetery was officially set aside in June 1841.  By then, there were at least three others buried here.

Many of the graves are elaborate and marked with head and foot stones. The above-ground box tombs do not contain human remains, but they mark the location of graves. The two rows of graves along the west wall of the cemetery are thought to belong to slaves. The surrounding stone walls were built between 1841 and 1852.

Photos and descriptions below.

Here are links to other "cemetery" posts on this blog.

Photo by Jim Schmidt
Photo by Jim Schmidt

Photo by Jim Schmidt

Photo by Jim Schmidt
Two rows of neatly cut but unmarked graves along the west wall are thought to belong to slaves - Photo by Jim Schmidt

Two rows of neatly cut but unmarked graves along the west wall are thought to belong to slaves - Photo by Jim Schmidt
A number of infants are buried in the cemetery - Photo by Jim Schmidt

A number of infants are buried in the cemetery - Photo by Jim Schmidt
William Jewell (1789-1852) - Photo by Jim Schmidt

William Jewell (1789-1852) - Photo by Jim Schmidt
Photo by Jim Schmidt

Many of the headstones include iconography popular in the 19th century - Photo by Jim Schmidt

Many of the headstones include iconography popular in the 19th century - Photo by Jim Schmidt

Many of the headstones include iconography popular in the 19th century - Photo by Jim Schmidt

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Happy 100th Birthday BB-35 (USS TEXAS)!!!!!

Photo by James M. Schmidt
This week marks the 100th anniversary of the commissioning of BB-35 - the battleship USS Texas! 

The "museum ship" is moored in the Houston Ship Channel near La Porte, Texas, and the San Jacinto Battlefield Monument and is the only surviving example of a dreadnought battleship.

You can learn more about this great ship here: 

Wikipedia (here) 

U. S. Navy - Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (here) 

Battleship Texas Foundation - they are hosting a centennial celebration! (here) 

Andy Hall at "Dead Confederates" has some great photos of the "bowels" of the ship (here) 
As I lived north of Houston, I had the great pleasure of visiting the ship at least three or four times over the past several years and I happily share my photos of the ship as well as archival photos. 
Happy Birthday, USS Texas!
Photo by James M. Schmidt

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Photo by James M. Schmidt

Archival photo

Archival Photo

Archival Photo