history

history

The American myth of Stagolee

The American myth of Stagolee

On the evening of December 25, 1895, “Stag” Lee Shelton  was doing the 19th century version of a bar crawl when he entered the Bill Curtis Saloon in St. Louis.  He took a seat next to William Lyons, and they talked about a number of different things.  But when the subject switched to politics, Lyons and Shelton, who whipped up support for opposing parties, began hitting each other’s hats as a form of retaliation. Shelton ultimately broke the crown of Lyons’ derby hat.  Lyons asked for five bits (about $1.25) to replace it.  When Shelton refused, Lyons took Shelton’s Stetson hat.  Shelton promptly shot Lyons, took his hat back and walked out of the bar.  Lyons died of his injuries only hours later.  … Continued
Three Women of Indiana’s Past: empowering change in education, housing & prisons

Three Women of Indiana’s Past: empowering change in education, housing & prisons

When one thinks of Indiana, thoughts may race from the Indy 500, grow to include cornfields and combines, then settle on limestone. The names Albion Fellows Bacon, Eliza Blaker, and Rhoda M. Coffin may not come to mind. Yet these three women were instrumental in laying the groundwork for how we perceive life in Indiana these days, whether it be housing, education, or correctional facilities. Albion Fellows Bacon (1865-1933) Thanks to the efforts of Albion Fellows Bacon (1865-1933), residents of Indiana had better housing options available to them in 1911. After two of her children developed scarlet fever, Albion went on a search to discover the source of her children’s illness and came across the riverfront slums in Evansville. Appalled … Continued
The 1619 Project and the legacy of slavery

The 1619 Project and the legacy of slavery

In August 1619, the White Lion, an English privateer ship, landed in Point Comfort, a small settlement in the new colony of Virginia.  According to John Rolfe, a Jamestown colonist, the cargo was unique in the history of North America.  “20. and odd Negroes” from Angola were sold for food by the privateers “at the best and easyest rate they could.”  This event is the official beginning of slavery in what would eventually be the United States (although it should be noted that slaves were present in North America before then.)  The New York Times has created the 1619 Project, a set of free resources covering the legacy of slavery, including essays, statistics, maps and creative writing. A map of … Continued
The magic of abracadabra

The magic of abracadabra

We’ve all seen it –  a magician in a top hat waves his wand and says the magic word Abracadabra.  Poof!  A rabbit appears!  A watch is restored to perfect condition after being smashed to bits!  The woman who was sawed in two is now whole again!  Wonders are associated with this word, but what does it really mean? Abracadabra began its life as a healing spell.  It’s been traced as far back as the third century CE, when physician Quintus Serenus Sammonicus (better known as Serenus) wrote the treatise Liber Medicinalis.  This book documented, in Latin verse, numerous cures for common ailments, including the proper use of Abracadabra. The proper use of abracadabra as a healing spell. First, a … Continued
How accurate is Hamilton?

How accurate is Hamilton?

Hamilton, the ten dollar Founding Father musical released in May 2015, is among the most successful musicals in history.  With the all-time best selling cast recording and a total gross of $463 million by January 2019, not to mention 11 Tony awards and a thoroughly lovable collection of alternative “Hamildrops,” the musical continues to remain in the popular imagination.  But one question that needs to be asked is – Just how true to its history is Hamilton? Alexander Hamilton, by John Trumbull (1806) Nobody listens to a musical for a history lesson.  While a new play by novelist Ishmael Reed asks rather pointed questions about the musical’s accuracy, it can be stated that Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton, went … Continued