Protecting the Night of a Nation - International Dark Sky Association

Friday, August 23, 2019 0
Protecting the Night of a Nation - International Dark Sky Association
Protecting the Night of a Nation 
International Dark Sky Association
Leo Smith, IDA’s Northeast Regional Director and Chair of the Connecticut Chapter, is a strategic leader working to build momentum for dark sky protection across the United States. As a long time dark sky advocate well-versed in public policy and lighting regulations, Smith is equipped with the tools and experience to make a meaningful impact.

According to the article, Leo Smith became personally involved in protecting the night sky from light pollution when, in 1999, a large patch of land was sold to a developer for the development of what I'm guessing were cookie-cutter homes (McMansions) practically in his backyard. He became concerned about how the lighting from the development, especially street lighting, would lead to an amount of light pollution that would obscure the night sky. So he began to speak with the developer and they came up with a plan for the light fixtures that would shield the glare from the lights. It was at this time that he learned of the International Dark Sky Association. Soon enough, he joined the network.

The Dirty Thirties - The Dust Bowl

Saturday, July 06, 2019 0
The Dirty Thirties - The Dust Bowl
As anyone who has lived through a tragedy knows, severe circumstances tend to bring out the best in some and the worst in others. This phenomenon can be seen in the history of the region which became known in the 1930s as the dust bowl. While the location of the dust bowl was not static during that trying decade, the term generally refers to the southern portion of the Great Plains. It includes, but is not limited to the northern Texas Panhandle, northeastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, and the Oklahoma Panhandle. One historian describes the severity of life in this area during the 1930s this way:

"The history of the heartland of the dust bowl is a story of extremes. The depression drove farm prices to devastatingly low levels while the weather tormented the residents of the region. Severe depression and extremes in weather were accompanied by plagues of rodents and insects. Although the period is known for its dust storms, the era began with a flood." (Bonnifield pg.61)

Dust storm approaching Spearman, Texas - April 14, 1935 - See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Indeed in September of 1930 heavy rains descended on the area with devastating effects. Homes were wrecked, businesses destroyed, equipment washed away, and the decade known as the "dirty thirties" began on the Great Plains. Of all the destructive forces that would be endured by the plains people during the next ten years - tornadoes, hail storms, plagues of insects - the most inescapable and pervasively destructive force of all was the wind. Once fertile land which had fed the livestock, produced abundant gardens and paid the bills was dried and pummelled into a fine dust, swept up 40 feet into the air, and deposited on floors, in cupboards, on food, between bedclothes, and in every nook and cranny of life. In this way, the wind and sun robbed a people of their livelihood, wore down their resolve, and relentlessly imposed on their very sanity.

As the years of wind and drought wore on, the inhabitants, many whose families had settled the area in the 1800s, were helpless to rejuvenate their land. Instead, they were forced to stand by as livestock starved in the pasture, crops literally burned in the fields, and plans for the future were carried away in the wind with the topsoil. Savings, meant to send a son or daughter to college, or to build up a herd of cattle to support a growing family, dwindled away as year after year the harvest failed to come through.

One of the greatest tragedies of the time was the fact that as mortgages were called in one by one by banks, the government with its 'Resettlement Administration' stepped in to buy up land for pennies. As the government consequently changed the landscape; experimentally building work camps, damming water sources, and trying out different fire prevention methods, many long-time residents who owed nothing on their land were forced to move.

While it is true that farming methods of the time contributed to the extent of the dust storms and land erosion, that fact is only a part of the story. Another part of the story is told by the survivors whose families called the land home for decades. They tell of mismanaged government programs and homes and land destroyed by prairie fires set by inexperienced government workers in the name of progress.

In the end, people who had relied on nature for their livelihood and who were all too familiar with the whims of weather and cycles of abundance and scarcity met the challenge in the way they had met so many before - with perseverance and most of all with hope. Hope for a better time next year. Called "America's Next Year People", these resilient families fought for their lives against unbelievable forces. They hung wet sheets on walls and ceilings to catch the dust. They ate meals under tablecloths to cut down on the amount of dirt ingested. After the worst storms, they literally shoveled the dirt from their rooms. And in the midst of the drought, they gathered tumbleweeds and soapweed to feed the livestock.

In her book, Dust Bowl Diary, Anne Marie Low describes the constant struggle to keep livestock alive, "Teaching a calf to drink from a bucket is a messy job. Nature tells him nourishment comes from above, like manna from Heaven." (Low pg.54)

Like the calf, the plains people were betrayed by the very lessons they had learned from nature. Dry spells are followed by wet spells, and rain eventually does fall, or so they thought. Lured to the area decades before with promises of abundance and government offers of bargain land, now they watched in what must have been awful amazement as nature turned its back.

In 1932 as the trials were just beginning, Anne Low writes of the beauty of her homeland:

"This evening I picked chokecherries in the Big Pasture, starting home just at sunset. Ducks were feeding quietly along the river. Behind me, the hills were turning lavender. In front of me, the fields were a golden mist. My country." (Low pg. 69)

Who could imagine the good times would not return? Just two years later she writes, "This country doesn't look pretty anymore; it is too barren. I'm herding the milk cows on what is left of the grain fields. We replanted the corn and garden...If it doesn't rain, the corn is out of luck." (Low pg. 99)

The story of the dust bowl is a complex story of failure and hope, furious weather and furious human effort, and most of all it is a story of the unending human capacity for faith in a better tomorrow.

Map of regions that were affected by the Dust Bowl.

Dust Bowl Era Photos Prints on ebay


Works Cited:

Bonnifield, Paul. The Dust Bowl: Men, Dirt, and Depression (Albequerque 1979)Low, Anne Marie. Dust Bowl Diary (Nebraska 1984)

Article mirrored from: 

Mass Mortality Events, Strandings of 260+ Dolphins Since February Along Gulf Coast

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 0
Mass Mortality Events, Strandings of 260+ Dolphins Since February Along Gulf Coast
Mass deaths of dolphins have occurred along the coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico. Not just any region though. The main regions where the dolphins have been stranded and died are areas that were affected the most by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Other factors, including an excess of freshwater from the Mississippi, are also said to have contributed to the event.

Detailed coverage: Stranding of 261 dolphins, possibly linked to high Mississippi River, declared ‘unusual mortality event’ - NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune

The stranding of more than 261 bottlenose dolphins along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle since Feb. 1, with 98 percent of the dolphins being found dead, prompted NOAA Fisheries to declare an unusual mortality event on Friday.

More regarding the Unusual Mortality Event, declared by the NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service - Southeast Region: https://wwl.radio.com/articles/more-260-dead-dolphins-found-along-gulf-coast

This declaration allows an investigative team to look into the high number of dolphin deaths stretching from Louisiana through the Florida panhandle.

Dr. Terri Rowles, NOAA Fisheries Coordinator, has issued a statement informing the public what to do if they come into contact with any stranded mammals.

There's a number of factors that well be looking at as part of this investigation, but its too early at this point to say what may be causing the mortalities, said Dr. Erin Fougeres with NOAA Fisheries Southeast Region.

The area where the dolphins have shown an increase of deaths includes the area where the Deepwater Horizon Explosion impacted the gulf in 2010.

Camping Light Bulbs for Tents and Campsites

Monday, June 03, 2019 0
Camping Light Bulbs for Tents and Campsites
For those of us who enjoy camping seasonally, there's only a minimal amount of 'gear' that we need for our temporary outings with family and/or friends. Besides the obvious, tents, sleeping bags, food and drinks, matches, and such, portable lighting is also a convenient item to have. Even when you're camping in your backyard. There are lanterns, light strings, flashlights and the like.

But one of the most useful camp lighting, besides a flashlight, are camping light bulbs. Being LED bulbs, most brands do last a good while running off of battery power. Using new batteries, the charge from the batteries can keep the LED bulbs powered for at least a few hours but usually not overnight. In addition to being able to hang these bulbs within a tent or over a campsite, you can also take them with you when needed in the dark.

Of course, what's important is getting the best light for your money. You wouldn't want to purchase camping light bulb only to find out it doesn't last as long as you thought it off of one charge or, even worse, doesn't work at all. Besides testing the bulb, and having additional batteries instead of included manufacturer batteries, it's good to have a quality item with overwhelmingly positive reviews. Below are some of the best camping light bulbs.

The Best Camping Light Bulb

These lightweight bulbs are a little bigger than most people's palms but they're plenty bright for your needs. They're also durable enough to withstand an accidental drop. Especially when compared to regular glass bulbs. Of course, being LED bulbs, they definitely last longer than old incandescent flashlights and incandescent lanterns. While these bulbs aren't super bright, and not able to light up a large area, they will light up a tent or the immediate area of a camp site. Each bulb has three modes: high, low, and strobe. 

As for placing the bulbs in a convenient place you can hang the bulbs, using the d-clip attached to the base of each individual bulb, in the center of your tent, near the back or front of a tent, on a branch, or tied off with clothesline rope or fishing line if needed. Included in each pack are four individual LED bulbs and three AAA alkaline batteries for each bulb. For those who want more convenience, it's best to also get rechargeable batteries for these bulbs. These bulbs are water-resistant but you should avoid dropping them in water or exposing them to heavy rains since it will most likely damage them. 

• Bright, soft lighting for illuminating your tent or anywhere you need the light.

• Lightweight bulb that can be placed nearly anywhere.

• Very portable and durable enough for regular use.

• Can last for up to ten hours – powered by three AAA alkaline batteries.

• Also works with rechargeable batteries. Note: the lighting may not last as long as when using alkaline batteries but rechargeable batteries may be more convenient in some situations.

• 3 AAA Batteries not included.

Similar brands of LED camping light bulbs:
Follow the links to learn more about the bulbs, including questions by customers and customer reviews.

Myths about Osceola of the Seminole

Monday, May 27, 2019 0
Myths about Osceola of the Seminole

Osceola, the Man and the Myths

The most famous painting of Osceola by George Catlin. 
George Catlin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Over the last few years of doing the educational programs and living history, I have been trying to put to rest some of the myths surrounding our favorite Seminole, Osceola. Problem is, there has been so much written about him from the very beginning that is just not true. Other people read these things, and not knowing any better, copy them down, and the myths are perpetuated. Without doing any further study, people just don't know any better. So what I will do here is try and expose some of these widely believed falsehoods. Keep in mind that even some of these are debatable, and you may have a different opinion.

If looking for facts, avoid novels that are nothing more than historical fiction. Even before he died, newspapers were writing fictional accounts of Osceola. The problem is that many people read these fictional accounts and believe them as fact.

The absolute worst book that you should avoid is "War Chief of the Seminoles" by May McNeer. Her book claims to be from true stories in her family history, but 80 percent of it can be easily proved false by historical documentation. It is a children's book, and easy to read. Problem is that people read this book and assume it is true without checking other historical sources. McNeer is descended from Indian Agent Wiley Thompson, who we know was made Indian agent for the single purpose of removing the Seminoles from Florida. Thompson treated the Seminoles very badly and told them that they were nothing more than ignorant children. When a white man would have a grievance against an Indian, Thompson would usually side with the white man even when the evidence favored the Indian. Osceola finally executed Thompson for revenge of Thompson's bad treatment of Osceola and the Seminoles.

False: Osceola was born in Georgia near the Chattahoochee River.
What the Facts Show: Osceola was born of the Upper Creek Town of Tallassee, in southeast Alabama, in 1804. A prominent early Alabama statesman, Thomas Woodward, was himself part Creek, and intimately knew many of the Creek families. Woodward described the exact location Osceola was born. Osceola was of a band started by James McQueen. McQueen jumped ship in Charleston in the late 1690s and became a well-respected trader among the Creeks, and lived to be 128 years old. McQueen had many children, and was practically the Father Abraham of the Creeks, known as "the soft-shelled turtle."

False: Osceola's name means "Rising Sun."
What the Facts Show: The correct name would be Asi-Yaholo. It is from the words Asi, referring to the Black Drink, and Yaholo, as one who sings out. So it roughly translates to "Black Drink Singer." Yaholo is a title. Many of the Seminole names are their title in society. It is not uncommon for Creeks and Seminoles to have four different names. A title, a personal name, a name as a child, and a private name. Thomas Woodward calls Osceola, "Ussa Yoholo." At the same time, Woodward also mentions a warrior named "Hossa Yoholo," who was with Peter McQueen (son of James McQueen who became leader of the band after his father.) Both Peter McQueen and Hossa Yoholo fought against Jackson. Hossa Yoholo was known as "Singing Sun," and also had a father named Powell, but would have been about 15 or 20 years older than Osceola. The Muskogee word for sun is HvsE (Hus-E'), and the word for "Sun Rise" is Hvseaossv (Hus'-E-aos'-suh.) It is easy to see where the confusion has come from. To complicate things even more, I have found reference to four different people named William Powell who lived during that time. One is buried in the national military cemetery at Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.

Asseola, A Seminole Leader. (11088226445)
Osceola from the McKenney-Hall prints.
SMU Central University Libraries [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons
False: An Englishman named Powell was Osceola's father.
What the Facts Show: This is probably the most debatable of my points on this page. It is well accepted that Osceola was of mixed English and Creek race. But how much of each different ancestry is debatable. Lt. M.M. Cohen wrote in 1836 that Osceola had a Creek Indian father who died soon after Osceola's birth and that William Powell married Osceola's mother soon after. Many claimed that Osceola did not speak English, further proving that he was not Powell's biological son. (But that is a point that is debatable as well.) George Catlin who painted Osceola quoted him as claiming that, "No foreign blood runs in my veins; I am a pure-blood Muscogee." Genetic tests done on what is thought to be Osceola's hair did not answer the question either but pointed to someone of mixed race. Whoever Osceola was, from Indian, white, or even black ancestry, he was 100 percent Seminole.

False: Osceola was a chief.
What the Facts Show: He was not a hereditary chief. He led by his own charisma, bravery in battle, and outspoken views against removal. He commanded at most 100 warriors. Many officers have stated that Osceola only led a small group. In Seminole society, Osceola was a war leader, not a political leader. Much like a general or sheriff. He gained recognition during the 1834 treaty talks as having great influence over Chief Micanopy. The Florida Seminoles and Miccosukees credit Medicineman Sam Jones (Abiaka) for carrying the cause against removal. There was no one "Head Chief" of the Indians in Florida. In fact, the largest single faction of Seminoles at the beginning of the war fled to Fort Brooke and accepted removal over fighting.

False: Osceola fought against Andrew Jackson.
What the Facts Show: Jackson's major campaign against the Creeks and Seminoles were in 1813, 1814, and 1818. Osceola would have been too young to be a warrior at this time. There is a possibility that Osceola and the people of his village did meet or were briefly captured by Jackson in 1814 and 1818. Most likely people confuse Osceola with Hossa Yoholo, who also had a father named Powell and fought with Peter McQueen.

False: Osceola's Black wife was captured by a slave hunter.
What the Facts Show: There is no written eyewitness account of this ever happening. Indian Agent Wiley Thompson makes no mention of it in his letters. If it did happen, I am sure the war would have started much earlier. The story became popular long after Osceola's death when it appeared in a questionable abolitionist pamphlet. Osceola himself said that he had no slaves. And at Osceola's capture, the question posed to him is "Why have you not surrendered any escaped slaves?" There was another Indian, Econchatti Micco in north Florida, who did have a wife captured by slave hunters, and whom had a son known as Oceola Nikkanochee.

Sketch of Osceola from Dr. Andrew Welch's 1841 book: http://www.johnhorse.com/highlights/keyimgs/details/05.8_r.htm

False: Osceola thrust his knife in a treaty.
What the Facts Show: This is our favorite story, but even this might not have happened. After searching through many eyewitness accounts and government documents, I find nobody who says this ever happened. Indian Agent Wiley Thompson makes no mention of it, and he detailed much of what happened at the talks. It is only logical that he would have written about it since he makes a big fuss over the Seminoles leaders who did not even approach the table to sign the treaty. The closest thing we have to an eyewitness account is an anonymous letter written to a newspaper, which says Osceola made threatening looks and flashed his knife outside the window of the building during the talks. Those who first make mention of the knife in the treaty are those who were not even in Florida during the time. Dr. Andrew Welch first mentions it in his 1841 romantically written book, but his book is full of historical errors. There is a sketch in the book of the event, but this was printed in England. John Sprague mentions it in a footnote in his 1848, making it look like he was not sure of the incident. A book written in 1931 has a copy of what is claimed to be a copy of the treaty, but on closer examination, it is only a small rip and not something made by a knife being thrust strongly into the paper. One thing we can conclude is that this story is a symbol of the resistance and struggle to stay in Florida. It is an image that represents an ideal. It is a story much like George Washington and the cherry tree, which is well loved but does not have any historical basis. Even now knowing this, it is still one of our favorite stories.

False: While in captivity, Osceola went to Washington and New York. 
What the Facts Show: This is one of the most ridiculous stories that I have heard. Osceola never traveled further north than Charleston, South Carolina.

False: Osceola attended theater productions while in St. Augustine or Charleston, S.C.
What the Facts Show: There is no record of this. Osceola was captured in October 1837. He was ill from the time of his capture and only got worse until he died. He was too ill to escape from the fort in St. Augustine when 20 Seminoles escaped in November. At the end of December around New Year's Day, the prisoners in St. Augustine were moved to Fort Moultrie, outside Charleston, South Carolina. Osceola was very ill at this time and died in late January 1838.

Seizure of Osceola
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Marker at site of Osceola's capture
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Read more archived articles at http://web.archive.org/web/20010720080931/http://www.geocities.com:80/CollegePark/Stadium/1528/. Especially under the section: "Stray articles not in the tour book".

Sources Used (good and bad ones):
The Complete Story of Osceola, a reprint by the St. Augustine Historical Society of the Florida Historical Quarterly Osceola Double Issue, Vol. XXXIII, Jan.-Apr. 1955, No. 3 & 4.
Seminole Hostilities, U.S. House Doc. No. 271, 24th Congress, 1st Session, June 3, 1836.
Woodward's Reminiscences by Thomas S. Woodward, 1859.
Osceola's Legacy by Patricia R. Wickman, 1991.
Army and Navy Chronicles, journal published 1835-1842.
New American State Papers, Military Affairs, 1979, 19 Vol. Set.
New American State Papers, Indian Affairs, 1972, 13 Vol. Set.
Notices of Florida and the Campaigns, by M.M. Cohen, 1836.
The Origin, Progress, and Conclusion of the Florida War by John T. Sprague, 1848.
A Narrative of the Early Days and Remembrances of Oceola Nikkanochee, Prince of Econchatti by Andrew Welch, 1841.
The Exiles of Florida by Joshua Giddings, 1858.
Osceola; Florida's Seminole War Chieftain by Minnie Moore-Wilson, 1931.
War Chief of the Seminoles by May McNeer, 1954.

Katelyn Nicole Davis ? Forever Missed