Kansas Again

17 11 2006

I was able to find a few more bits related to the Eldridge Hotel (and I’m sure I could find a whole lot more).  Various history organizations in the state have put beau coup stuff online.  Here’s an image of  Sheriff Sam Jones, courtesy of Kansas History Online by way of Google Images.


And here is an image of the ruins of the Free State Hotel after Sheriff Sam burned it down.  This is from Territorial Kansas Online


 It turns out that Shalor Eldridge vowed to rebuild the hotel with an additional floor were it ever destroyed by pro-slavery forces, and he was true to his word twice.  Here he is with his family, thanks to Territorial Kansas Online once again.  Click the image for a full size version.


And here are the rules for guests of his establishement from TKO again (click on the image to get a more legible one).


You see, this is the thing with pulling threads.  It’s really not conducive to the bleeding-kansas.jpgcompletion of a narrowly defined project.  I could go on and on with web research alone.  There are a number of books written on “Bleeding Kansas”, and here is a recent one.  It is by Nicole Etcheson, a history professor at Ball State.  I’ve not read the book, so if any of you have, I welcome your comments.

Now, some of you may be asking “What the heck does Kansas have to do with Bull Run?”  Well, come back within the next week or so and I’ll tell you.  And I promise it won’t be the standard “The Civil War started in Kansas” line (even though it is a valid link).  For now, here’s a hint:


I can hear him thinking to himself: “Will it be Delawarians, or Delawarites?”

A Test of Text

17 11 2006

OK, I had to make some changes to posts made today.

For some reason, if the view text option in IE is set to “larger” when I compose my post, it changes the appearance of that text even if the setting subsequently is reset to “medium”.  The good new is that the text will appear larger than text of posts composed when the setting was “medium”.  The bad news is that I have to be careful about switching between medium and large while I am editing posts, because their appearance gets fouled up and, particularly when images are involved, will appear “jumbled” depending on the setting of the browser.  So, from here on out I will compose with my browser text view option at “larger”.  Now, I know you’re going to say “Dude, that only affects the viewing of your text on your particular browser”, but I have learned that it does not.  So I have removed the post that was “More Kansas” posted earlier today and replaced it with “Kansas Again” above.

The Eldridge Hotel

15 11 2006

A few days ago on the To Purge This Land With Beer post reader Eldridge HotelPat Jones mentioned that the Free State Brewing Co. is located nearby the historic Eldridge Hotel.  I thought I’d flesh that out for everyone who may not be up on their Kansas history and did a little surfing.  I knew the hotel played a prominent role in “Bleeding Kansas” and in the Civil War, but I wanted to get a little more info so I went to the horse’s mouth, in this case the website of The Eldridge and that of the Kansas Historical Society. Like so many other historic hotels (Chattanooga’s Read House and Willard’s of Washington, DC), the present day Eldridge, while situated on the original site, is not the same structure which was present when the historic events with which it is associated occurred.  The first building, The Free State Hotel, was constructed in 1855 and was to serve as temporary living quarters for members of the Boston based New England Emigrant Aid Society.  This organization was funneling settlers and money to Kansas in order to assure its admission to the Union as a free (non-slaveholding) state. 

Pro-slavery forces under Sheriff Sam Jones burned down the Free State Hotel in Palmetto Guards Flag1856.  Prior to burning the building, a contingent of South Carolinians called the Palmetto Guards flew this flag from its roof.  Proprietor Col. Shalor Eldridge soon rebuilt the hotel, but in the infamous William Clarke Quantrill led raid on Lawrence in 1863 it was again burned to the ground.  Rebuilding the hotel once more, Col. Eldridge lent his own name to the establishment.   That hotel stood until 1925 when the deteriorated structure was torn down to make way for yet another incarnation of the Eldridge Hotel.  In 1970 the building was converted to apartments, but was renovated and converted back to a hotel in 1985.  In 2005, the current owners executed a multi-million dollar renovation. 

I’m sure I could write a lot more on the Eldridge Hotel.  That’s what usually happens when you pull a thread.  Pat really knows her Kansas history, and I encourage her to post as much as she likes about the Eldridge Hotel in particular or Civil War Kansas in general in the comments section here.  That goes for all of you…if you’ve got something you’d like to share, please do!  That’s why I have the comments feature turned on. 

Eldridge Hotel photo from Yahoo Travel Palmetto Guards Flag photo from Kansas Historical Society


Doing Digitial History

14 11 2006

Yesterday I corresponded with a friend about the possibility of his setting up a digital history project.  He is recognized as one of the leading researchers and authorities on a prominent Western Theater battle.

Brian Downey (there’s that name again) recently posted a tutorial of sorts about how to get started on a digital history project if you are sick and twisted enough to attempt it.  Below are the links to his three part posting on Behind Antietam on the Web.

Part IPart II; Part III


14 11 2006

Thanks to reader Pat Jones, I am able to offer a solution to those experiencing difficulties with the small text font used by this theme.  You see, I have no practical control over the font size within a theme, and WordPress can’t change the size of my font without changing the font size of the blogs of everyone using this theme.  But here’s what you can do at home: on your browser’s toolbar, there should be a “view” option (that’s what it is on Internet Explorer anyway).  Click on that, and look for something like “text size”.  Click that, and you can increase or decrease the size of the text displayed on your screen.  Default is usually medium.

This will change the size of the text for all sites you view.  But then, “Bull Runnings” is after all the most important site you visit.

Monster in a Box

13 11 2006

For a couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to write this summary of what I think my digital history project, the First Battle of Bull Run (BR1), is all about.  During that time, this summary has turned into the equivalent of Spalding Gray’s “Monster in a Box.”  In the one man play (and film) of the same name, that’s how Gray referred to his work in progress, his first novel.  The thing took on a life of its own, and Gray was having such trouble with it (and many, many other things) that it became his enemy.  Every time I try to finish this summary, I just keep getting pulled in other directions: what is it; why do I want to do it; why on the web; what is history; what is important; what role should this blog play; what is the air speed velocity of a swallow (African or European, laden or unladen)? 

It occurred to me that the trouble I’ve been having summarizing the project is probably due to the nature of the project itself – it’s very free form in a, ummm, errrr, structured (?) way.  It’s founded on a concept that my friend Brian Downey refers to as “thread pulling” – taking a story and seeing where it leads, removing the blinders formed by the “goal”.  The long and the short of it is that I’ve decided in my case thread pulling IS the goal.  The distraction is the attraction.

However, I don’t think I’m going to be able to cover everything in one post, so let’s just discuss the digital Bull Run project in very narrow terms for now.

Here’s what I want the website to do:  I want it to be a sort of one stop shop for just about anything having to do with the campaign and battle of BR1 (First Manassas if you are of a secesh leaning).  A detailed order of battle; official reports and correspondence; first person accounts (contemporary and memoir); newspaper reports; images; timelines; maps; bibliographies; and what I hope to be the centerpiece of the site, individual and unit biographies.It is in the biographies that thread pulling is most productive (or most distractive, depending on your POV).  I feel that it’s important to know more than the minimum about people leading up to the central event, because that event is only central to the researcher, not to the historical actor.  Without getting too metaphysical, their lives were bigger than that moment.  How these lives spread out through time, and how they intersect with other lives, particularly those of their fellow actors, to weave a bigger and perhaps more important “story” is what I find fascinating.

Will the project be any less useful to researchers with a more narrow focus because of these threads?  I think not.  The site will be dedicated to the gathering and storing of relevant data, with very little (if any) interpretation.  But I’m going to have fun while I’m at it, and hope to share the fruits of the thread pulling here.

So, stay tuned.

Variations on a Theme

13 11 2006

So far I’ve only had two complaints about the theme, and both concerned the white text on black background.  One was from an old – and I do mean old – friend (JUST KIDDING!!!).  The other was from the folks over at Civil War Interactive’s This Week in Blogs.  (Why do I always hear that in my head as a Mel Allen voiceover?)

For now, I’ll keep the format as is since most folks seem to like it.  If it’s a problem, just say so.  Remember, I can change the theme with the click of a button.  It’s that easy.