Thursday, March 26, 2009

February 1864, Lt. Chas W. Wolsey with horse.

For me, the best way to learn about history has been to find a connection that is personally meaningful. Gettysburg has so much to tell us; but it can often be overwhelming. Whenever I go to the battlefield, I find it hard to process it all-I desperately want to know every detail, but I find my memory is not what I wish it would be-I often walk away with alot of jumbled facts in no particular order swimming around my brain. The times when I have commented to my husband that I think I am losing my mind, he fondly replies, "Its a small thing to misplace."
A good way for me to retain some semblance of information has been to research those things of interest to me. Having a life long love of horses, I thought I would do a little investigating about the horses of the Civil War.
Apparently, there were approximately 72,000 horses and mules that were involved at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Probably the best known of all the horses is Traveller, originally named Jeff Davis,(1857–1871). He was Confederate General Robert E. Lee's most famous horse during the American Civil War.

General Lee took a great fancy to the horse. He called him his "colt", and predicted to Broun that he would use it before the war was over. After Lee was transferred to South Carolina, Joseph Broun sold the horse to him for $200 in February, 1862. Lee named the horse "Traveller" (spelling the word with a double 'l' in British style).

Another amazing horse is General George G. Meade's horse, Baldy.

According to the story of Old Baldy, he was wounded 14 times in as many battles and survived the war and General Meade. Old Baldy survived the General by ten years, dying in 1882 at the age of thirty. On Christmas Day of that year, nine days after his death, Old Baldy was "resurrected" by two admirers of General Meade, Harry W. Hervey and Albert C. Johnston. They had Old Baldy's head preserved and then mounted on an ebony shield on which they inscribed his service record. Old Baldy was then presented to Gen. George G. Meade Post #1, Grand Army of the Republic, of Philadelphia. The head of Old Baldy was cleaned and restored in 1991 and is now on display in the Civil War Museum in Philadelphia.
(Okay, I love my horse, but I don't think I would ever consider doing that to her.)

Major General William T. Sherman astride his horse

I know there are many, many more stories about these regal creatures that I will be looking forward to sharing with you, from the past and present. And, who knows, maybe someone will be writing about me and Dancer someday- (hopefully, no one will have either of our heads mounted on a plaque.) We're just your average, everyday girl and horse!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Battlefield Tour Guides

In my never ending journey of research and discovery, I recently found an incredibly informative and fascinating site titled "The Gettysburg Daily" ( Here is a brief description of their purpose on the "About Us" page:
" The Gettysburg Daily is an independent website, whose purpose is to provide at least one picture a day related in some way to Gettysburg."

I could spend hours here-there is so much to see and read about and they have written it in a fact based, engaging and informative style. I was excited to find that while all the Licensed Battlefield Guides of Gettysburg have an in depth knowledge of the battle, the Gettysburg Daily reports that each has a "specialty". For example, LBG (licensed battlefield guide) Richard Goedkoop specializes in John F. Kennedy's visit to Gettysburg.

"On March 31, 1963, President John F. Kennedy with some friends and members of his family drove from a church service at Camp David, Maryland, to tour the Gettysburg Battlefield. Their guide was Jacob Melchior Sheads, a longtime Gettysburg High School History Teacher and seasonal historian with the National Park Service. Licensed Battlefield Guide Richard Goedkoop follows what we know of the route that the Kennedy party took around the battlefield".

Another guide, LBG Ted Gajewski, has made his focus Neill Avenue, or (Lost Avenue)

"Lost Avenue, as it is also known, is one of the least visited locations at Gettysburg National Military Park".

I personally enjoy learning more about those facts of the battle that might not be well known, and this was HUGELY informative.

(If you cut and paste the following address into your browser you will be able to view a video Of Neill, courtesy of Gettysburg Daily. This is absolutely fascinating!

NOTE: There are a total of three videos (two are on this page and one on the previous page). When you are on the page from this link, you will need to scroll down the many pictures to locate and view the video. An indicationof the video will be that you see a picture of Neil standing before the monument- and there will be a large white arrow that you need to click on and the video will begin.

Our family has thoroughly enjoyed all the hard work Gettysburg Daily has put forth. Thank you so much! This has allowed us to bring a little bit of Gettysburg's fascinating history into our home.

To learn more about Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides and how to hire one, cut and paste the following address into your browser:

Parts of this article were reprinted from Gettysburg Daily's licensing guidelines which can be viewed here: (you may need to cut and paste as I haven't quite figured out how to properly link yet.) :0)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

While helping a friend do a little marketing for his business, I came across the most intriguing little B&B tucked away in Gettysburg....I had never heard of it before and was so impressed with the presentation of her website I just had to share. It seems they just debuted in 2008. And much to my surprise and delight, it is all done up in a superb 1940's style I am just crazy for. How could they have known that for my wedding reception, to honor my late beloved grandfather and my dear grandmother, we had carefully planned our reception using a 1940's theme-complete with a fifteen piece orchestra! (They played Glen Miller like you wouldn't believe). It was as if Jolene, that clever girl, just knew that there is a little nostalgia that rests in all of us and that we often yearn to go back to it. This must have been in her heart when she drew up the plans for this place.

An excerpt from her site reads: "What began as an edgy, kitchy dream for your Innkeepers has finally become a showstopper of a wow-reality in Quite The Stir. Once a part of the lands lying in the shadows of the grand 1800's Gettysburg Springs Hotel, Quite The Stir in small part, has now re-awakened the Hotel's original intent and is again hosting guests to the charm of Gettysburg and surrounding countryside. When planning your Bed and Breakfast stay and looking for the unique and an abandoned relaxation, remind yourself that, in life, in the here and now, today is all we have here on earth... so sing like no one is listening, dance like no one is watching, look for the unpredictable, rather than the predictable, the extraordinary rather than the ordinary and we think you'll most certainly find this and more at Quite The Stir. "Carpe diem !"
This really speaks to me! I am all ready to book a night like, right now! (Unfortunately for me I have little obligations to fulfill at this moment-things like kids, husband and a horse.) Oh yes, there is also work..... :0)

I have been graciously invited to tour this lovely bungalow in the near future and am on pins and needles to share all the fabulous details with you just as soon as I can! I'm sure it will be a place I will want to rush back to when I need some special "me" time.

Think Spring

For me, Spring is a time of renewal. I usually take this time to go around my home and take stock of everything that survived the harsh winter and see what might need a little "lift".
This year I felt like a little curb appeal was in order. Our front door is one of the first things to catch people's eye on their drive past our home. I often get teased that I change the color of our door as often as one changes their underwear. I hope that's not the case; its been about a year and a half since I have done anything.
This go-round I was inspired to paint my door a cheerful yellow. After completing my project, I was a little bit concerned about how bright it was. I was thinking an easy solution to the problem would be to switch out my door crown over the front entrance to balance it out; I set out to search for the perfect thing on Lo and behold, I discovered a wonderful little shop where this incredibly talented gal creates one of a kind works of art with real flowers.

I am so enamoured with Kathryn's things that I just had to order something! She is the kindest person and is fashioning me a custom door knob similar to the one pictured above. She is extremely accommodating and its plain to see-a very gifted artist. You will want one of everything when you visit her shop. I've decided this is what I was looking for to complete my look. I love decorating my home with special treasures; it is approximately 1100 square feet and there is obviously limited space. I have made a rule to only bring in those things to our house that are essential; its easy to see this is something that we can't live without!
I invite you to visit Kathryn at her shop, I can't think of a better way to usher in Spring! Who wouldn't love a nosegay of flowers greeting their hand at the door?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gettysburg in My Backyard

To celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary, my husband took the girls and I to the battlefield to locate some of the witness trees I had recently been made aware of. I researched their approximate locations and much to our delight, we actually found eight of them! The United States War Department placed tags on the trees in the early 1900s that they felt were “witness trees” to the Battle of Gettysburg-some of these trees don't display them, but each of the ones we found had the tags! Its hard to describe the feeling of touching something that was actually there in 1863;you can't help but wonder who might have rested in the shade of their leafy branches or leaned wearily against their trunk?

Gettysburg is a place with so many stories to tell; for me these trees have helped me immensely in my personal journey to better understand the scope of what must have happened.

In my many searches to learn more about the witness trees, I discovered a place where you can actually purchase seedlings from living history; propagated offspring of trees connected to famous people, events, and places. (Cut and paste this address to find out more:)

An excerpt from their site reads:

"American Forests Historic Tree Program is the nation’s only resource for
offspring from famous and historic trees. All of our trees are authentic,
direct descendents of trees that shaded the lives of famous people or events.
You can grow a Redbud from George Washington's River Farm, a honey locust
from Gettysburg, a red maple from Walden Woods, a sweetgum from Graceland.
Check out our extensive collection from historical sites across America."

In honor of our anniversary we are going to purchase a "Gettysburg Address Honey Locust" seedling and plant it in our backyard.

I can't think of a lovelier way to honor and remember the history that surrounds us.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Witness Trees

One of the best known Witness Trees on the Gettysburg Battlefield is the Swamp White Oak near the Trostle Farm. Major-General Daniel Sickles established his headquarters here on July 2, 1863. The tree still appears to be in good shape despite being in the area of one of the most intense actions of the battle.

My objective in starting this blog was to provide random snapshots of family life in Upper Adams. I always try to post information with the hopes it will reach someone who lives in another part of the country, (or in the world, for that matter,) or even someone who lives around here and inspire them to discover this wonderful area and all it has to offer. Full of history, art and natural resources, the sky is the limit when it comes to activities and fun things to do that won't cost an arm and a leg.

In my every day encounters, it often occurs to me what must have gone on long before me in the very places I pass through. I wanted to share a poem I came across recently that seemed fitting:

"What I Know for Sure," by Bob Hicok

Some people, told of witness trees,
pause in chopping a carrot
or loosening a lug nut and ask,
witness to what? So while salad
is made, or getting from A to B
is repaired, these people
listen to the story
of the Burnside Bridge sycamore,
alive at Antietam, bloodiest day
of the war, or the Appomattox Court House
honey locust, just coming to leaf
as Lee surrendered, and say, at the end,
"Cool". Then the chopping
continues with its two sounds,
the slight snap to the separation
of carrot from carrot, the harder crack
of knife against cutting board,
or the sigh, also slight, of a lug nut
as it's tightened against a wheel. In time,
these people put their hands
under water and say, not so much to you
but to the window in front of the sink,
"Think of all the things
trees have seen." Then it's time
for dinner, or to leave, and a month passes,
or a year,....when some people
say, "I feel like one of those trees,
you know?" And you do know.
You make a good salad, change
a wicked tire, you're one of those people,
watching, listening, a witness
to whatever this is,
for as long as it is
amazing, isn't it, that I could call you
right now and say, .... I still
can't say everything I want to
but am closer, for trying, to God,
if you must, to spirit, if you will,
to what's never easy for people
like us: life, breath, the sheer volume
of wonder.
Bob Hicok is the author of This Clumsy Living (University of Pittsburgh)

In your travels in and around Gettysburg, in addition to the well known memorials and sites, I hope you will also take a moment to visit one of these gentle giants. They have seen so much in their lifetimes, not much unlike each of us. There is so much to see and learn around here that is right in front of us if we just take the time.

"On that memorable November 1863 day when President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery (now Gettysburg National Cemetery), a young honey locust tree stood about 150 feet from the speakers platform. Being rooted on Cemetery Hill on the right side of the Union line, this tree, the "Gettysburg Address Honey Locust," was a silent witness to the Battle of Gettysburg that had raged there during three momentous days in July."

You and I: we're alot like those witness trees, aren't we? Aaah, the things we've seen.......

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Piece of Gettysburg....

The National Park Service has agreed to lease its garage located
on South Washington Street in Gettysburg to HGAC for an architectural salvage warehouse. The warehouse will allow the public to purchase architectural materials that have been salvaged from demolished or remodeled buildings.

The warehouse will meet the need for quality vintage materials at a reasonable cost here in Adams County. The warehouse will also provide an opportunity for local property owners to recycle materials as they renovate their buildings.
HGAC will accept donations of quality architectural materials once the warehouse is re-open for the season.

A project like this needs support from volunteers. Initially the warehouse will be open the third Saturday of each month. If you'd like to help at the warehouse, please give Merry Bush a call at 717-334-5227.
The warehouse will be open in 2009 on the following Saturdays from 1 to 4 pm:
April 18
May 15
June 20
July 18
August 15
September 19
October 17
The warehouse is also open by appointment by calling
Merry Bush 717-334-5227.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Horrible Things She Does to Me (As Told By Dancer To Her Herd Buddies)

"One minute you're out in the field minding your own business, and the next thing you know, you're being dragged away to go for a ride. It's been like, three months? I was just getting settled in and relaxed and really starting to enjoy things."

"I mean, did anyone ask me how I felt about riding? Did anyone say, Dancer, want to go riding today? Like, I thought this nutty lady got me so I could grace her with my beautiful presence-just by simply existing, you know? After all, I am a gorgeous thoroughbred. Okay, so I know how to take advantage a little bit, doesn't every girl have a trick or two up her sleeve?
So, I figured I would come up with this great plan; I figured I would act hyper and get all sweaty and lathered up, so she would just give up on me."

"Then, I demanded some hay and that she take me back out in the field; I pawed with my hoof and threatened to dig a hole to China if I wasn't immediately returned to the field. Surprisingly, I didn't get a reaction or any hay!!!! Then I thought I'd try whinnying as loud as I could. I pawed the ground some more. Then I tried pushing back and forth on the cross ties. I also tried all three things at once; whinny, paw, push. Whinny, paw, push. I figured if I kept doing this, I was bound to get somewhere."
"Finally, we started going someplace. But would you believe it? She took me to that round pen......The nerve of her to put me in my place and remind me that she is the boss. Who do does she think she is anyway?"

Friday, March 6, 2009

Big Nose Wyatt

Every day when I go to visit my adopted off the track thoroughbred, Dancer, her buddy Wyatt tries to frisk me for treats. Today he was after my camera. I love his velvety whiskered nose. He is a four year old quarter horse and still quite the baby.
I would like to say my sweet girl loves me just for me, but I think its the carrots I bring every day. I have had her since last October. She is seven, and we got her from the DC Park Police. We are making slow but steady progress in the bonding department. The weather has really made it difficult to work with her, but Spring is right around the corner!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The End of the Beginning

An excerpt from a book my youngest was reading to me. This is so profound. How is it when I need to hear some comforting words, they come from a children's book? And from an ant, of all things. Just goes to show you, wisdom comes from everywhere, you just have to listen really hard and be ready at any moment.

"Have you any idea how long this journey is going to take?" asked Edward.

Avon stopped suddenly. "Me?" he asked. "I thought you were leading the way."

Edward was upset. "Great." he announced. "We're lost."

Avon felt like crying. "I'm sorry, Edward. My mind is on any adventures that might come along. I wasn't paying particular attention to whre we were going."

"There, there," said Edward, realizing he had hurt Avon's feeling. "Getting yourself lost is easy. Happens all the time. It's finding yourself that's hard. So, I suggest we stop at the first door we come to and ask for suggestions."

"You mean directions, don't you?"

"It's hard enough being lost,"explained Edward, "but worse if you don't know what you're lost from. So, suggestions first, directions second."

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Good Day

Ever had an idea in your mind that you tried to carry out in real life and it didn't turn out? Well, I am happy to say this one did.
I have been fascinated with repurposed jewelry, which basically means you take vintage or castaway pieces, take them apart and make new, one of a kind treasures worthy of an Oscar evening (or just a trip to the grocery store.)

While my true love is horses, birds have been my inspiration the past month or so. I had purchased three blue bird beads on Etsy a while ago; one found a home into a bracelet I made for my mom's birthday, and another one just found her home onto this vintage moonglow button. I mounted this "altered assemblage" on a tiny rhinestone belt buckle, linked it with some 50's style flowers (I rescued from a pair of screw on earrings) which I then finished off with bits from a lovely pearl bracelet and some chunky, oxidized french turquoise beads.

I love pieces like this so much because they are one of a kind-and fashionable! You know will you will never find anything else like it anywhere and you are doing your part for the environment because it is recycled, or upcycled, or whatever the word of the moment is! Its just a wonderful way to celebrate Spring!
FYI-the necklace measures approximately 14". The focal piece of the necklace is approximately 2" wide by 1" tall; the pink flowers are about 1/2" in diameter.