Genesis 1:31
"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (New International Version-NIV)

Truly Gods vast creation, landscape, wildlife and man is beautiful beyond description.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Liberty Island / Ellis Island, Oct. 17,2012 # 2

In the posting # 1 on this posting title many reference were made to Ellis Island so now I hope to shed some more detailed information about the history and people who came through Ellis Island to the land of their dreams. Just to whet your appetite it is said that over a hundred million Americans can claim ancestors who came  through Ellis Island. Can you? First lets look at a few photographs of Ellis Island.

Ellis Island In The Distance As Seen From
 Our Ferry Boat. The Large Building In The
Center of the Picture Is The Main Building
Ellis Island As We Approach Dock
Ellis Island Main Building

Passengers leaving Ferry at Ellis Island Dock
Notice People Lined Up Waiting To Board Ferry
The following is a short chronology of Ellis Island:
   1909 - Fort Gibson is built on Ellis Island for coastal defense.
   1830 - Immigrants begin to arrive in the United States in large numbers from Ireland, Great Britain  and Germany.
   1855 - 1890 - Castle Garden ( Now Castle Clinton ) serves as New York state immigration station.
   1862 - The Homestead Act makes land widely available. Immigrants begin to arrive from Scandinavia.
   1870s - Congress enacts first restrictions on immigration. Italians, Russians, and Austro-Hungarians begin to arrive in large numbers.
   1880s - 5.7 million immigrants arrive in the United States.
   1890 - 1791 - Immigration, now under federal control, is located at the Badge Office in Battery Park.
   1892 - Immigration station opens at Ellis Island, January 1.
   1897 - Fire destroys original wooden immigration station. Many of the immigration records were also destroyed.  Processing returns temporarily to the Badge Office in Battery Park.
   1900 - Present Main Building opens December 17 and welcomed 2,251 new arrivals. This building was and is a fireproof, French Renaissance- style building and is pictured above.
   1901 - 1910 - 8.8 million immigrants arrive in the United States. 6 million were processed at Ellis Island with 860,000 persons processed in 1907 alone.
   1914 - 1918- World War I curbs immigration; Enemy aliens are detained at Ellis Island.
   1920s - Federal law set immigration quotas based on national origin. In 1924 United States consulates took over immigration inspection. In later years, Ellis Island served as deportation center, Public Health Service hospital, and Coast Guard station.
   1939 - 1945- World War II Japanese, Italians, and German aliens are interned at Ellis Island.
   1954 - Ellis Island immigration station closed permanently at the end of November.
   1965 - National origins quotas were abolished and Ellis Island became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
   1960 - The restored Main building opened as an immigration museum on September 10.
I can't begin to imagine the wide variety of emotions that went through these immigrants. Ferries and barges brought steerage passengers out to Ellis Island from steam ships. First and Second Class passengers were quickly processed on board the ships. The inspection process took approximately 3 - 7 hours. For the vast majority of immigrants, Ellis Island was an " Island of Hope ". The first step on the way to new opportunities and experiences in America. For the rest it became the " Island of Tears. A place where families were separated and individuals were denied entry into this country. "Doctors watched the immigrants as they entered the building and climbed the stairs; a limp, labored breathing, or other suspected troubles warranted further medical exams which you can imagine only added to the anxiety. In the Registry Room each individual was questioned by an inspector. They were asked 29 questions some of which were, home town, occupation, destination, and amount of money they carried. Those who were allowed to pass continued downstairs where they exchanged money, bought provisions and perhaps rail tickets.  One Russian Jewish immigrant recalls the uniforms the inspection officials wore and said " We were scared of uniforms. It took us back to the Russian that we were running away from. "A third or so stayed in New York City. Others headed elsewhere. Only one to two percent were denied entry.
So why did all these people come to the United States? The reasons are likely as varied and many as the immigrant's themselves.Chiefly reasons were religious persecution, political strife, unemployment, family connections, and the lure of adventure. These were the circumstances which brought about the greatest migration in modern history.
To me the task of processing the numbers of people described above is taunting and required a large number of trained and dedicated employees. The vast difference in language, customs, different nationalities must have at times been overwhelming. On a typical day immigrants came face to face with inspectors, interpreters, nurses, doctors, social workers, and many others. At any one time there were approximately 500 employees working at Ellis Island. As stated earlier most immigrants processing was finished in 3 to 5 or 7 hours but about 20% stayed overnight in dormitory rooms until their cases could be cleared. Many of these immigrants found the accommodations vastly superior to the steerage quarters they had aboard ship.
A quick look at the duties of some of these employees is interesting and follows:
Inspector -  The United States Immigration Inspector's job was to conduct face to face interviews with all immigrants and this process was known as immigrant inspection. Every immigrant was questioned either on board ship or at Ellis Island. On Ellis Island where most of the immigrants were questioned the inspector sat at a high desk in the Registry Room. The inspector looked at the official list of a ship's passengers called a " Manifest of Alien Passengers ". The inspector in questioning the immigrant was verifying the immigrants answers to what had been originally entered on the ship's passenger manifest at the port of exit. The inspector was charged with allowing to enter only persons who were " clearly and beyond doubt entitled to enter ". He had to make sure the immigrant was not a member of one of the classes of persons barred from entering the country under various immigration laws, such as contract laborers, polygamists, paupers, convicted criminals, anarchists or anyone likely to become a dependent on the public for support.
I found that one of these inspectors was Harvey Snider who was born in Butler County, Ohio in 1870 my county in Ohio. In 1894 he came to New York in search of work with his wife and their small children. He was hired as a gatekeeper at Ellis Island. He worked as a watchman and guard and helped out in other ways. He obviously was a good worker because over time he was promoted  in 1910 to Chief Inspector of the Night Division and supervised all night worker. He retired in 1934 after 40 years at Ellis Island. He died in 1937 in Los Angeles.There are a lot of Sniders in Butler County but I do not know if any of them might be related to  Harvey Snider.
Clerk - You can imagine the enormous amount of paperwork that was generated and processed in the immigrant processing and the people that took care of this matter were the clerks both male and female. There were dozens and dozens of clerks and stenographers working there. They kept a running count of the number if immigrants being processed, the disposal of their cases and their eventual departure from Ellis Island. They were charged with filing the passenger manifests, completed detention and deportation records, wrote reports and dossiers, and retrieved warrant case records. The stenographers were essential for all the immigration hearings of the various boards of special inquiry.
One of these clerks  Augustus F. Sherman eventually became Chief Clerk of Ellis Island. This was an important job and he handled the appeals of immigrants to the Ellis Island Commissioner of Immigration who had been barred from entry into the United States. This chief Clerk might not be recalled except for the fact that he was an accomplished photographer. He often asked immigrants if he could photograph them in their native clothing. His legacy comes to us through the numerous photographs of elaborately costumed immigrants that might have been otherwise lost.
At this point spell check stopped working so from here on there may be a lot of you know what.
Interpreter - In my estimation one of the most critical persons at Ellis Island as far as the non English speaking immigrant was concerned was the interpreter. Having studied a foreign language and working with interpreters my self it is critical that your exact meaning is translated and questions and answers etc are accurately translated to you. Many interpreters at Ellis Island were themselves immigrants or children of immigrants. They had to pass examinations that rated their speaking, reading and comprehension of each language. There were 23 common languages spoken at Ellis Island. Can you imagine the clamor this would have made and on any given day many of these languages would be spoken and heard at the same time.
One of the noteworthy interpreters was Florello LaGuardia who was the son of Italian father and a Jewish mother from Austria-Hungary. After leaving work at Ellis Island he became a lawyer and entered politics. He served in the United States Congress for about 12 years and a three term mayor of New York City. One of the major airports ( LaGuardia ) in New York City is named after him.
Immigrant Aid Worker - Throughout the years, numerous organizations offered aid to immigrants at Ellis Island. The organizations were called various names such as: missionaries, chaplains, agents, matrons, port workers,colporteurs, or social workers. Regardless of what they were called they provided an essential service to immigrants in the form of counseling, guidance, information, translation, money, food, clothing, books, periodicals, and religious instruction and services. You can just imagine yourself as an immigrant in a strange land  not knowing the language or customs or where to go. There were about 23 organizations and societies on Ellis Island to help the immigrants. Many of them are well know relief organizations that we know and rely on today for help in various circumstances.
Nurse - The 25 nurses at Ellis Island were employees of the Public Health Service. They were assigned to work in the general hospital wards and the contagious disease wards. They worked under the direct supervision of the doctors. An interesting fact is that both male and female nurses were required to live on Ellis Island. If they visited New York or New Jersey during their off duty time they were required to return to Ellis Island no later that the 12:00 am staff boat.
Doctor - The doctors of Ellis Island were commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and were officially known as surgeons. They were in charge of the Ellis Island Hospital and the medical examination of immigrants in the routine procedure known as the line inspection. As the long lines of immigrants slowly entered the main buiding they were swiftly examined for any sign of disease or physical or mental weakness. They were on the lookout for trachoma ( disease of the eye ), tuberculosis, diphtheria, and other states of poor health such as poor physique, pregancy, and mental disability. Those who were suspected of being in questionable health were marked. This marking  was a chalk letter of the alphabet. B for back, F for face and H for heart and these immigrants were pulled from the line and sent to a physical or mental examination room. If they were determined to be ill they were sent to the Ellis Island  hospital. Interestingly as important as the role of the doctors was they played no role in determining the fitness of the immagrant to enter the country. They solely were responsible for the medical examination, diagnosis and treatment of the immigrants. Also they were not involved in the quaratine process as this operation took place on Hoffman and Swinbume islands off the coast of Staten Island. I had never heard of these operations and it is unclear to me how these immigrants were identified for quarantine. Obviously the inspectors were the deciding authority and I suspose their decisions would have been aided by comments from the doctors but this is pure speculation on my part.
Display In Main Building Of stacks Of
Immigrants Baggage

Display Of Immigrant Baggage
Immigrants Had A Influence On American Music
Millions Of  Immigrants Had No Choice In Coming
They Were Slaves
Nature Had An Effect On Immigration And Migration
Religious Persecution Contributes To Immigration
Famine In Ireland Forced Many To Leave Their Homeland
The Promise Of Land Brought Many Immigrants To Our Shores
Conflict Between England And France Cause Many To Relocate
Puritans Immigrate To The Land That Would Become The United States Of America
Dutch Tennant Farmers Brought To New Netherland
Railroads Aid Migration Westward
Sorry About The Quality Of This Photo But What It Relates Is The Train Loaded With Orphans and
Children Whose Parents Could Not Take Care Of Them Who Are  Being Shipped West To Families Who Want Children And Do Not Have Any Of Their Own
Deportee Reasons
Photo Of Men Awaiting Deportation
The Sign Tells The Story
Women Excluded From Entry Into The United States. Notice The Women On The Left Is Pictured Alone. The Women In White In The Center Is Bare Footed.
Worker Giving Milk To Children Twice A Day.
Enlargement Of Plaque On The Picture Above Of Man Giving Out Milk
The Plaque Tells It All
This Is Really What You Call Mail Order Brides
Marriage Contract
People Getting Ready To Board Ferry Back
To Manhattan
One Tired Son-In-Law And We Have Not Arrived
At Ellis Island Yet
The literature about visiting Ellis Island recommends you allocate about 3 hours for your visit. For me that would not even get me started.  Obviously virtually all displays at Ellis Island are static and are generally large poster or photograph many of which I have shown above.The main building was vacant for years and detoriated badly until it was decided to restore it to its original layout as nearly as possible. This is a large 3 storied building with many room which are open for viewing or viewing the posters and photos in them. I think they said there are 30 buildings on Ellis Island many of which are either being restored or will be restored. At present the main building is all that is open to the public.
I believe I have mentioned that Ellis Island is closed due to the hurricane Sandy and I have not seen any detailed explanation of the damages or when it will reopen for public tours.
I was very impressed with Ellis Island. There are millions of stories about the immigrants who entered through this facility and many of them are displayed in the building. I just could only capture a few of them. I know that as I look over my notes I will see many things I forgot to tell you about. If I find anything note worthy I will give an update. I know I want to do one more update on things I failed to discuss about portions of this trip.This final update will cover items from the entire trip.
Well it is late. I had a hard workout this morning and worked on Landon's barn and spent about 8 hours on this blog today. Thus said I am tired and need to get to bed shortly. So good night and I love you.
Grandpa Bill


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Liberty Island / Ellis Island , Oct, 17, 2012 #1

On 17 Oct, 2012, Joyce, Charlie and I boarded the big ferry boat at Lower Manhattan across from Castle Clinton ( Battery Park ) along with several hundred other people for a short ride. There are two major location in New York Harbor and these are Liberty Island ( Statue of Liberty ) and Ellis Island. On the way to Ellis Island the ferry makes a couple of passes near and by Liberty Island.

Liberty Island - Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island
New York Harbor is a very busy place with lots of pleasure boats of all types, ferry boats, police and Coast Guard boats as well as large cargo, passenger, tankers, construction vessels docked and moving around. The route we were taking had us in the lower part of the Hudson River where it joins New York Harbor and goes on out under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to the Atlantic Ocean. I found it interesting that when we are on our lakes fishing etc. there are " No wake" zones. Not so in the harbor. Boats go by at great speed and create a pretty big wake which rocks even a large ferry like we were on. Now I am sure there are speeds which the larger vessels have to abide by but still they move a lot of water as they pass through it. Some of the views in and from the ferry follow:
Tour Boat Traffic

Look At All Them Boats Mr Dillon ( Gun Smoke lingo )
Lower Manhattan
Lower Manhattan On Left - Brooklyn On The Right
Tower Replacing One Of The Twin Towers
 That Was Destroyed In The Terrorist Attack
Staten Island Ferry - Newark, New Jersey
Are The Buildings In Background
Fire In Some Dock Area Miles Down
 In The Harbor
As I mentioned earlier the ferry makes a couple of swings by the Statue of Liberty. Actually it goes by it then turns around and goes back by it so people on either side of the ferry get a clear view of the statue. There is another ferry trip that takes you to the Liberty Island. The following comments are summarized in part from some of the Statue Of Liberty literature and my own musings. Our Lady Liberty was herself an immigrant. In 1865 a group of French intellectuals were protesting what they saw as political repression in France decided to honor the ideals of freedom and liberty with a symbolic gift to the United States. The timing was right. The Civil War was over, slavery was abolished and the nation looked forward to the centennial celebration. This was a time of monument building in the United States. A sculptor friend of one of the protesters seized the opportunity to create a modern-day Colossus. Twenty-one years later " Liberty Enlightening the World " stood in New York Harbor. Over the years Liberty started to change from the " Mother of Exiles " to the use of her image to encourage the buying of war bonds or encouraging enlistment in the military. I can never forget the pictures of Lady Liberty saying " along with the image of " Uncle Sam " pointing a finger at you saying I want you " on the recruiting posters. Even more years past and her image has been used repeatedly in political movements, selling furniture, cars and every thing else and for worldwide tourism to see the original statue in its original setting more wonderful, meaning and wondrous.
 " The New Colossus " by Emma Lazarus, 1883 has the following word, " Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With Conquering limbs astride from land to land, Here at our sea-washed, sunset-gate shall stand a mighty women with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lighting, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome, her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin-cities frame. " Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp! cries she, with silent lips. " Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore; Send these, the homeless, temptest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" his poem was written in an effort to help raise funds for the construction of the foundation upon which the statue would sit.
 Isn't that wonderful? I get chills every time I read that. If only we all felt that way and acknowledge that God has made this all possible. What a God.

The early history of Liberty Island reportedly goes back to A. D. 994 when Native Americans begin to live on the island. This island is one of the three " Oyster Islands " in New York Harbor and gets the name from the numerous shell fish beds in and around the island. For the Native Americans this served as a major source of food.

In 1609 Henry Hudson lands in New York Harbor and Europeans start colonization of the area which included the Oyster Islands. Because of war, disease and occupation the Native Americans were forced to move north and west.

In 1667 Issac Bedloe a Dutch colonist obtained a land grant for the Oyster Islands and was forced to name the Island " Love Island ".

In 1673 Bedloe died and Love Island was renamed Bedloe's Island and the following year the British took control.

In 1732 the island was sold by Bedloe's widow because of bankruptcy to New York merchants. In 1738 New York took control and used the island as a quarantine station inspecting incoming ships for contamination and disease. Over the next 20 years the island was a private residence, quarantine station due to an outbreak of smallpox, and a hospital. During the American Revolution it was used as an asylum for Troy sympathizers ( these were people who were loyal to Great Britain during the war ). Following the American Revolution there were rising tension between the United States, England and France so federal money was appropriated to construct fortifications on Bedloe's Island. This fortification was a 11 point star fort to aid in protection of New York Harbor and was named Fort Wood. It was active until the out break of the Civil War at which time it served as a recruiting station and ordinance depot.The military unit at Fort Wood was disbanded in 1877 but the United States Army maintained supervision of an ordinance facility on Bedloe's Island until 1937.

In 1834 an interesting interstate agreement between New Jersey and New York places Bedloe's Island ( the land above low level water mark ) within New York while New Jersey retains  rights to waters and all submerged land surrounding the island.

Statue of Liberty

Beautiful Lady

Statue Of Liberty
Statue Of Liberty
The early ideas of development of the Statue of Liberty was discussed earlier and of course we know she was a gift to the United States from France. She was constructed in France starting in 1876 and finished in about 1884. The statue hand holding the torch was the first portion finished, sent to the United States and displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia on May 18,1876. In 1877 the Statue's torch was displayed in Madison Square in New York City and remained there until 1882.  In 1878 The statue's head and shoulders were completed and displayed for the first time at the Paris Universal Exposition. During 1879 and 1880 many problems arose about the statue's structure and assembly. A 98 foot inner iron framework was devised to support the statue's structure. In 1881 the statue's copper plates are completed and assembly begins in Paris. The French people fall in love with her and they refer to her as "The Lady Of The Park".  On July 4, 1884 the completed statue is formally presented to the United States Minister to France. The statue is disassembled and shipped to the United States aboard a French naval vessel and arrives in New York Harbor on June 17, 1885. She is put in storage for a year while the pedestal that she will stand on is finished. She is more than a monument, she is a beloved friend and living symbol of freedom to millions of people worldwide. The Statue of Liberty's construction in Paris holds great significance for it is a tapestry of old symbols woven together to create new meaning. Her classical face and drapery suggest a Roman Goddess of Liberty; the broken shackles symbolize freedom newly achieved; the radiant crown represents her shedding light on the seven seas and continents.The tablet she holds has the inscription in Roman Numerals " July 4, 1776 " identifies her as a symbol of American freedom, law, and justice.
The opening of the immigration center on Ellis Island saw almost 14 million immigrants entered between 1886 and 1924 and the Statue of Liberty was a reassuring sign that they saw when they entered New York Harbor that they had arrived in the land of their dreams. One of the ideas of the uplifted torch was that of enlightenment but to these immigrants it represented " welcome " and as stated earlier the Statue of Liberty emerged as the " Mother of Exiles ", a symbol of hope to generations of immigrants.
Over the years repair and additions to the statue have taken place all without altering the original statue appearance. Right now Liberty Island is closed due to Hurricane Sandy. One final note. The only way for the public to reach the statue is by ferry boat since private boats are not permitted to dock at Liberty Island.
Next will be some information about Ellis Island. Until then enjoy these comments and photographs. I guess I should note the photograph of the statues head and arm was all lined up to show her head, arm and torch but just at the worse time someone bumped me so the torch is missing. On this type of ferry ride you seldom get a redo and this was one of those times.
Again, I thank God for the blessings and protection He has provided to us over time and pray that we will be deserving of His future protection and blessings. Thank you Lord.
I love you all. Grandpa Bill.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Battery Park, New York City, Oct.,2012, item 2

Reference my last posting about Battery Park there are some more items I wanted to share with you. When we were there one thing I found interesting was a fairly large vegetable garden that was planted in the park area. There were several people around in the garden working in it doing the normal things you do in a garden. It appeared they were growing all sorts of vegetables. I laughed at the fencing they had up around the garden which was there not to keep deers out ( doubt they have that problem in lower Manhattan )  but to try to keep the people from helping themselves to free vegetables. Oh well it was a valiant effort that I doubt was successful. I for got or failed to note the name of the project that was sponsoring this gardening effort.

There were several more significant memorials that I want to share with you.

The first is the New York Korean War Veterans Memorial. This monument in Battery Park, is north of Castle Clinton and honors military personnel who served in the Korean Conflict ( 1950 - 1953 ). This is suppose to be one of the first Korean War memorials erected in the United States. It is a shame but the Korean War is often referred to as the " forgotten war ". It certainly is not forgotten for families who lost loved ones in the war. This memorial is a 15 foot high black granite stele with the shape of a Korean War soldier cut out of the center. Also known as " The Universal Soldier " it forms a silhouette that allows viewers to see through the monument to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. One of the many interesting features of this memorial is it functions as a sundial. Every July 27 at 10 A. M., the anniversary of the exact moment in New York when hostilities ceased in Korea the sun shines through the soldier's head and illuminates the commemorative plaque installed in the ground at the foot of the statue. The statue stands on a three tier base. One of the tiers is decorated with a mosaic of flags of the countries that participated in the United Nations sponsored mission. The plaza's blocks are inscribed with the number of dead, wounded, and missing in action from each of the 22 countries that participated in the war.

Sorry no photograph of this memorial
Of a personnel note my parents were very worried that I would be drafted to go to the Korean War and they were very insistent that I go to college . First of all they wanted me to go to college because no one in our family had graduated from college. Secondly being in college was a deferment from the draft unless things went terribly bad in the war. ( that sounds terrible saying if things were to go terribly bad. How much worse could they be than our countrymen dying  in the war ). Of course I wanted to go to college as I wanted to get my Air Force commission and go into the Air Force. Also, it helped that I was getting some scholarship help being recruited to  run on the University of Arkansas track team. This turned out to be a full scholarship. God knows what is best for us doesn't He if we just follow him let Him fulfill His plans for us.
East Coast Memorial
Another impressive memorial is the East Coast Memorial which is located at the southern end of Battery Park and faces the Statue of Liberty across New York harbor. This memorial honors the 4,601 missing American servicemen who lost their lives in the Atlantic Ocean while engaged in combat during World War II. The monument consists of a large paved plaza with eight massive 19 foot tall gray granite pylons. Four on the south side and four on the north side.The names, rank, organization and state of the deceased service members is inscribed on the pylons.
On the eastern side of the plaza a monumental bronze eagle is set on a pedestal of polished black granite. It grips a laurel wreath over a wave-signifying the act of mourning at the watery grave. The eagle is 18 feet 6 inch tall.
The front of the pedestal upon which the eagle sits is inscribed 1941****1945 / erected by the United  States of America / in proud and grateful remembrance / of her sons / who gave their lives in her service / and who sleep in the American coastal water of the Atlantic Ocean / into thy hands, Oh Lord.
The back of this pedestal is inscribed as follows: 1941*** 1945 / In addition to the 4,597 American servicemen honored here / who lost their lives in her service and / who sleep in the American coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean / the United States of America honors the 6,185 seamen of the United States Merchant Marine / and the 529 Seamen of the United States Army Transport Service / who lost their lives during World War II.
Other Memorial
There are many more memorials in Battery park. I will mention a few more of them:
     Irish Hunger Memorial
     Wireless Operators Monument. This honors wireless operators who lost their lives performing their duties. Later additional bronze markers were were added naming those who lost their lives performing their duties. The first name inscribed was that of Jack Phillips, the radio operator aboard the R. M. S. Titanic the day of its sinking on April 15, 1912.
     Walloon Settlers Monument. These were natives of the County of Hainaut in Belgium who fled to Holland to escape religious persecution and were a group of 32 Belgium Huguenot families who joined the Dutch in 1624 to colonize New Amsterdam what we now know as Manhattan New York.
     Historical Marker For Shellfish in New York. In the 19th century, New York city shipped shellfish all over the world. Oysters and clams became some of the city's biggest exports. In 1916 several cases of typhoid fever were traced to oysters taken from New York Harbor so  Board of Health condemned the oyster beds.
I think this just about finishes my notes on Battery Park. I apologize for the lack of photographs of many of the things I have described. I may get to Ellis Island tomorrow or some other update. I had to update my Google Storage because I ran out of space. Good night. I love you. Grandpa Bill.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Battery Park, New York City, Oct., 2012

Hello everyone, I am trying to decide just what I want to say about our tour of lower Manhattan Island, Battery Park and Ellis Island. I guess it is more of a problem of trying to find the photos that go with that occasion. Well after some searching I found  them so on with the show as they say on Broadway in New York City. Battery Park is on the tip of Manhattan Island in New York City. New York City is made up of five Boroughs ( which here in the mid west we would call counties. Manhattan Island is the big place you think of when you see pictures of New York City with all the tall sky scrapers, The United Nations, Times Square, etc. Then you have Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and Bronx. When we lived there  my office was in lower Manhattan several blocks up from Battery Park. We lived in Garden City, New York which is on Long Island, New York. The photo below shows why it is called Battery Park. In the red brick building you see the openings in the wall, well those were for cannons which could shoot out toward the harbor and protected the island from invading forces. This was one of several forts that guarded the harbor.The  harbor is out toward the bottom of this photograph and the Atlantic Ocean directly joins the harbor. The Hudson River is to the left of this photograph..

Battery Park, Lower Manhattan, New York City
Battery Park is where the history of New York City began. The areas strategic location was recognized by Native Americans and Dutch settlers, who called it Capske Hook ( from Kapsee, an Indian term for rocky ledge ). Near this point, the colonists of the Dutch West India Company began the settlement of New Amsterdam in 1625. With that start the rest as they say is history. Over many years the area was enlarged many times by massive landfill projects. Part of one of these landfills was an old fort which was completely demolished and a new one built. Over the years this fort served many functions and was renamed Castle Gardens. The fort ( building ) was used as the federal immigration center for the east coast from 1855 to 1890 and roughly eight million immigrants were processed through it. In 1890 Castle Clinton was acquired by the New York City Department of Public Parks and from 1896 to 1941 the New York Aquarium operated there. Castle Clinton was ceded to the United States Department of Interior in 1950 and designated a national monument. Battery Park contains many monuments honoring soldiers, explorers, inventors and immigrants and important personalities. One of these was a singer known as the " Swedish Nightingale " Jenny Lind. In honor of her an American Linden tree was planted in the park. I have heard of Jenny Lind cakes, hats, opera glasses an other things and never knew how they got that name. Now I know. They were named after her because she caused such a stir when she performed at Castle Gardens in an event that was billed as the musical event of the century. She toured the United States during the 1850s.
A few of these monuments are shown:

 Statue to Immigrants. The Sculpture Depicts Figures Of
Various Ethnic Groups And Eras, Including Eastern European
Jews, A Freed African Slave, A Priest An A Worker.

Monument To Immigrants Who Entered
The United  States Through Castle Clinton
View Of New Tower From Battery Park

Plaque About " The Sphere " Which Is Pictured Next
" The Sphere "
Some History Of Castle Clinton

Now time for some somber reflection. Just a few weeks after we were standing in Battery Park and enjoying the beautiful park scenery and reading about this historic place along comes hurricane Sandy with its massive surge of water and changed every thing. Many of the places where we were standing were under 10- 12 feet of water and to this day many businesses in the area are not open and have no idea when they will be able to open. The buildings in the park and the waterfront suffered extensive damage. What you see on TV gives the appearance that everything is back to normal. That is true in some areas such as trains and subways running, bridges and tunnels open but many other places are still filled with stagnant and polluted water, trash, cars and everything imaginable with no timetable when they will be restored and cleaned up. It takes a disaster like this to make us realize that with all our knowledge and advances we are helpless when it comes to the power of nature.
Next posting some information about Ellis Island and then some updates on prior blogs.
Take a few moments to pray for those still struggling from the damage of Sandy and pray for all the relief workers who are working so hard to help those people.
Love you all. Grandpa Bill. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gettysburg National Military Park, Oct. 21,2012

Arrived at Gettysburg, PA. around 10 AM Oct 21, 2012 after touring Valley Forge Oct 20, 2012 and went straight to the Gettysburg National Military Park and checked out the visitor's center.
Gettysburg Visitor Center
Kids Playing On Lincoln Statue While I Try To Take Picture
And Mother Tries To Move The Little Girls
President Lincoln Statue
Beautiful Leaves
After a quick stroll through the book store I checked out the various ways to tour the park. I found that a free Ranger led walking tour of about 90 plus minutes was about to start so I went to join that group. While we were waiting for everyone to arrive the Ranger ( John ) gave a few insights about the park and himself. For example he explained that we were free to ask him any questions we had as he was an expert on any subject  and would answer any questions.  He went on to say that  his answers on any questions about math and science would be lies; however, his answers about history and Gettysburg would be true. Of course this provoked a laugh from his captive audience. He advised that both the Confederate and Northern Armies lost many soldiers due to desertion and sickness ( about 1 of each 10 ).  That is a staggering number. He added that the peak season for fall colors was another week away. Oh joy, I have traveled 3 weeks looking for peak fall colors and I am missing it by another week. At this point I will trade a night in my bed for fall colors. Before we started walking I asked him how fast he planned to walk and he said he walked slow. I said that is good because an old duffer like me can't walk very fast so he assured me I would be able to keep up with his pace without any trouble. Well let me tell you before we had gone a quarter of a mile the group was already out of sight so I turned around and went back to the visitor center. I can't imagine what his pace would be if he was walking fast. When I got back to the visitor center I stopped at the desk that controlled these Ranger led walking tour to let them know that I had dropped out. You know just in case Ranger John happen to notice that he had one less person with him than he started out with because he counted head before we started. 
I next went to a short  movie " We are met on a great battlefield " about the civil war dealing with many of the causes of the Civil War and strolled through the museum. The movie was very informative.  Next I went to the to the Cyclorama " Battle of Gettysburg ".  This is an interesting display. It is a complete circle with light show and sound of the spectacular 377 foot painting by Paul Philippoteaux of Pickett's Charge. This painting was completed in 1884. The audience stand in the middle of the theater with this magnificent painting on the wall surrounding you.  Light and sound are shown on the painting. For example you hear a cannon fire behind you or to your right and left and then you see the smoke from the discharge and then you see where the cannon ball hit ( that is if you can turn your head fast enough ). This goes on for several minutes. It was very difficult to follow the action and keep up with the action. It is very realistic because this painting depicts all the horrors of a battle such as this.  A cannon ball hits a wagon and it is destroyed, Horses and men are killed. Lines of soldiers are charging each other in pitch battle. Of course the painting is static but the adding of sound, light flashes and depiction of smoke make it real. I have changed my mind about 3 time about what I thought about the Cyclorama presentation. First it was very expensive and not worth the price of admission. At times I felt it was a waste of time but in final analysis of my thought it was a tremendous presentation. I think it is one of those things that if you could afford to see it 2 or 3 times in a row you would get the full impact of the horrors of this battle here at Gettysburg.
The following is information I gathered from movies, plaques and inscriptions on memorials and statues during my visit and are not necessarily exclusively my original thoughts.  Lets start with three days in July,1863. On June 3, 1863 after Confederate General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia to the west through the Blue Ridge Mountains then North to Maryland and Pennsylvania. They were followed by the Union Army of the Potomac under the command of Major General Joseph Hooker. At this point General Lee had no idea of the whereabouts of his enemy.  The two armies met strictly by chance on June 30, 1863 and the main battle started July 1 with the Confederate forces  attacking Union forces on McPherson Ridge west of Gettysburg.The Federal forces were finally overpowered and were driven back to Cemetery Hill south of Gettysburg. During the night the main body of the Union army under the command of Major General George G. Meade arrived. July 2 the battle lines were in place and represented two large arcs with the armies about a mile or so apart on ridges that ran parallel to each other. The Confederate forces were on Seminary Ridge to the west and the Union troops on Cemetery Ridge.What followed turned the wheat fields and farm land of this Pennsylvania countryside into fields of dead and wounded in horror hard to imagine. On July 3 General Lee ordered his cannons to open fire on the Federal troops on Cemetery Ridge and Hill. This bombardment lasted for about 2 hours with both sides exchanging cannon fire. In truth neither side gained much of an advantage of this cannon duel except to kill and mained many troops on both sides.  Then the decisive battle started with 12,000 Confederate troops crossing the open field toward the center of the Federal lines. This attack became known as the " Pickett's Charge " and failed. Over 5,000 Confederate soldiers lost their lives in one hour and the Battle of Gettysburg was over and on July 4, 1863 General Lee began to withdraw to Virginia.
When the dust, smoke and sounds of battle abated and the armies gone from Gettysburg the area was destroyed and over 51,000 troops dead, missing or wounded. Wounded and dying were crowded in almost every standing building in the community. The dead were buried in shallow graves and many were left lying in the fields and not buried at all. Information at Gettysburg shows that the Governor of Pennsylvania saw to the purchase of 17 acres of land for the proper re interment of the Union dead and re internment started four months later. This acreage became the Gettysburg National Cemetery and was dedicated In November 1863. Interestingly, President Lincoln was at the dedication ceremony and had been asked to make " a few appropriate remarks."  He followed a speaker who gave a 2 hour speech and it took Lincoln 2 minutes to deliver his 272 word speech which is considered a  masterpiece of the English language " he Gettysburg Address ".  Within a few years over 3500 Union soldiers who had been killed were re interred. Following the war the remains of 3320 Confederate soldiers were removed from the battlefield to cemeteries in the South.
As I noted earlier there are several ways to see the Park.  Ranger led walking tours, self guided walking tours, bus tours, tour guides using your personal car, or self-guided personal auto tours ( which I did ).
The Self-Guided Auto Tour starts at the Visitor Center and covers 24 miles with 16 tour stops at major points of interest with numerous stops for other plaques and statues. I will try to show some of these major stops and perhaps a few comments.


The Above Plaque Tells The Story Of One Of The Battles On The First Day Of Fighting Which Began At About 8 AM At Gettysburg. This Occurred Near And At The McPherson Ridge And Barn. Heavy Fighting Spread North and South Along This Ridge Line As Additional Forces Arrived For Both Sides.

Eternal Light Peace Memorial. At 1 PM, July 1, 1863 Major General Rhodes' Confederate Troops Attacked From This Hill Threatening Union Forces On McPherson And Oak Ridges. Seventy Five Years Later Over 1800 Civil War Veterans Helped Dedicate This Memorial to " Peace Eternal In A Nation United ".

Inscriptions on Eternal Light Peace Memorial
Cannons On Hill Where Eternal Light Of Peace
Is Located Aimed At And Over These Fields
In the Distance

Comment As Above
Cannons Like This Aimed As Seen Above
This Is A Long Range Telephoto Shot Of The Area
Shown Above Where The Cannons Were Aimed.
In Those Photos These Fences Were Not Visible.
Imagine Troops Lined Up Behind These Fences
And That Is Where The Cannon Balls Would Fall.
Observation Tower On Oak Ridge. Union Forces Here Stubbornly Held Against Major General Rhodes' Advances. By 3:30 PM The Entire Union Line From Here To McPherson Ridge Had Begun To Crumble. Finally They Fell Back To Cemetery Hill.
Early In The Day ( July 1, 1863 ), The Confederate Army Positioned Itself On The High Ground Here Along Seminary Ridge, Through Town, And North Of Cemetery Ridge south to the Round Tops. The Lines Of The Two Armies Formed Two Parallel " Fishhooks ".
The Plaque Tells The Story Of The Virginia Memorial
Virginia Memorial. It Can't Be Seen From This Photo But The Large Open Field To The East Is Where The Last Confederate Assault ( Pickett's Charge ) Occurred July 3, 1863.
Statue Of General Lee On His Favorite Horse
General Lee Makes Plans For The Second Day Of Battle But The Timing Was Not Right
Brief Account Of Pickett's Charge.
More On The Story Of Pickett's Charge. If You Can Enlarge This Photo You Will See That General Lee Accepted Responsibility For The Failure Of Pickett's Charge. This Has Been My Fault He Told Pickett. I Thought My Men Were Invincible.

General Lee Realized All Was Lost And July 4, 1863 Started Retreating In A Heavy Rain. He Had 6,000 Casualties On The Bloody, Sodden Fields Of Gettysburg.

General Lee Meets His Retreating Troops

More On Lee's Retreat

Arkansas Memorial

Arkansas Memorial Tribute To The Fallen

Alabama Memorial

Memorial To Confederate Soldiers And Sailors

Base Of Above Memorial

Inscription On Above Memorial Recognized The Last Surviving Confederate Veteran

Brevet Major General William Wells Tribute Plaque

Brevet Major General William Wells

This " Little Round Top " Plays a Major Role In The Battle
Little Round Top Plaque

Sharp Shooters Have Always Played A Major Role In Battles And A high Point Like Little Round Top Provided The Advantage. Union Sharpshooters Could Kill At 1,000 Yards While The Confederate Sharp Shooters Range Was Only 500 Yards.
Looking Down From Little Round Top. Union Sharpshooters
Shooting At Confederate Troops Trying To Advance Among
These Large Rocks. To My view It must Have Been Like Shooting
Fish In A Barrel.
Cannons On Little Round Top Fire On Advancing Confederate Troop
In the Fields Below And Beyond.
Both Sides Used Rifle-Pits, Trenches And Breastworks To Defend Against Sharp Shooters
On Little Round Top Union Troops Erected Rock Walls ( Breast Works ) To Defend Against
Confederate Sharp Shooters
Union Defending Little Round Top From Advancing Confederate Troops
Col. Patrick O Rorke's 140th New York Infantry Charged Down The Slopes Of Little Round Top Toward The Confederates And Was Killed. His Action Probably Saved Little Round Top For The Union Forces.
Memorial On Little Round Top

On Little Round Top Looking Out Over The Valley Of Death. Some Points Identified are 1. Warfield Ridge, 2. The Slaughter Pen, 3. Devil's Den, 4. Houch's Ridge, 5.The Valley Of Death

Information About Points Identified In Photo Above.
Information About Devil's Den Identified In Above Photo.
Information About Points Identified In Photo Above.
Dead Confederate Soldiers In The Valley Of Death 3 Days After The Battle Was Over
Depiction Of Confederate And Union Troops In What Was Called The Fish Hook.
Explanation Of Union Line Of Defense
From Little Round Top Looking Out Over The Union Fish Hook. The Pennsylvania Memorial Is Visible From Here And Is Shown In The Lower Right. More Photos Of It Later.
See Comment 4 Above.
Pennsylvania Memorial And Comments On Cemetery Hill.
General Looking Over Battlefield. Sorry I Lost His Name In My Notes.
Fierce Fighting Occurred In This Tranquil View Of The Battle Field As Union And Confederate Troops Attacked And Counter Attacked.
You Can Tell I Was Getting Tired. I Lost My Notes On This Memorial, However The Wall You See Lists Hundreds Of Names And I Think It Is The New York Memorial. If Not I Am Sorry.
One Of Many Cannons Used For Defense And Attack.
Pennsylvania Memorial And Cannons
Pennsylvania Memorial
Plaque Describes The Pennsylvania Memorial Which Is Impressive.
This Describes The Important Aspects Of The Pennsylvania Memorial.

Each Corner Of The Memorial Has Two Statues Of Key Officers Of The Pennsylvania Forces. Each Of The Long Rectangular Plaques Contains Names Of Pennsylvania Troops.
One Of The Numerous Plaques Listing Every Pennsylvania
Soldier Who Participated In The Battle Of Gettysburg.
The 3 days of battle at Gettysburg was a tragic chapter in our national history but  a necessary one to end the terrible policy of slavery.  Information at the park indicates that total casualties ( killed , wounded, captured and missing for the 3 days of fighting were 23,000 for the Union army and as many as 28,000 for the Confederate army.
The park is an interesting place with farm land, homes, bed & breakfast places all along the perimeter and even inside the park in some instances. There is a Lutheran Theological Seminary in the park. There are all kind of walking and bike trails to enjoy as you see this historic area.
In the midst of tourist from all over the world and our country who represented all classes of society from school children, workers and a few executives I could not help having the most eerie feeling about people's reaction to what they were seeing and a real realization of what had happened here right under their feet. As I would stand at any of the viewing points many of which I have pictured above I could not help but realize that many, many soldiers of both sides had bleed and died right where I was standing. Their blood had soaked into the very dirt where I stood. There were numerous soldiers who were never found and recovered for proper burial and their remains are here someplace. It was very sobering at least for me to realize that these were my fellow Americans who sacificed it all for a cause they believed in so deeply and they had died right where I was standing. I suspect this would be the feeling I would have on any of the major battlefields of the world where American troops have fought.
I know there are things I wanted to explore in this posting which I have just failed to mention. One thing at every plaque or memorial where names were listed I did spend a lot of time seeing if I could recognize some past relative or family but I did not see any. In fact I don't know what I expected to find because I am not aware of any family members  who might have been involved in the Battle Of Gettysburg.
Of all the places I visited on this trip Gettysburg had the most profound impact on me. My effort at trying to relate what I saw and felt has been a labor of love in fact about 12 hours worth of time over the last two days.
Time to get this posted. I love you. Grandpa Bill.