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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Moonrise on Pea Ridge Battlefield


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Yesterday, after a full day of family genealogy research at the Bentonville, Arkansas, Public Library and the Benton County Historical Society, I traveled about half an hour to Pea Ridge Battlefield National Park. 

As you can see in the photo above, the moon was on the rise when I arrived.

The interpretive center was closed for the day but the park was open until 9 p.m. so I took the driving tour, taking advantage of the audio narration via my cell phone.

I grew up listening to stories about the Civil War from my grandparents on both sides -- tales of their respective fathers, grandfathers, uncles, great uncles, you name it.

My maternal roots are in northwest Arkansas (Confederacy) and my paternal roots are in southwest Missouri (Union).

Pea Ridge was the most important Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River. Over the course of two days in March 1862, more than 26,000 soldiers fought it out in the battle that would decide Missouri's fate. When the smoke cleared, more than 1,000 soldiers were dead and nearly 1,800 were wounded. Learn more about this important military action here.

My great-grand uncle Dempsey Powell Dickson (1843-1862), a Confederate soldier, was killed in action during the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern here.

I shot this photo of a portion of the huge Pea Ridge battlefield (note the cannons) when the near-evening sky cast a blue glow on everything:

I ever so slowly approached this buck that stopped and stared at my car before it bounded over the fence. 

The moon had risen before the sun set on my way out of the park.

I'm going to try to find time to visit nearby Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park before I return home.

One of the family stories I grew up with was that my great-great-great grandfather Andrew Jackson (no relation to the president), a captain in the Confederate Army, was captured during the Battle of Prairie Grove, taken as a prisoner of war to a Union prison camp in Springfield, Illinois, where he was transferred to the prison at Ft. McHenry in Baltimore. He escaped from Ft. McHenry somehow and walked home from Baltimore, Maryland, to his hometown of Cane Hill, Arkansas, where he lived a long and productive life.

I would really like to stand where he stood at Prairie Grove.

I'm grateful that many of the Civil War battlefields have been conserved for the sake of our national heritage. It would be a shame for Walmarts to be built on any of them!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Historic Craig-Bryan House

As a young man, my third great grandfather James T. Craig (1818-1895) spent two years out west during the California Gold Rush.

In 1871, when he was 53, he had this lovely 4,800-square-foot home built at 307 Central Ave. in Bentonville, Arkansas. He was one of the earliest settlers of this city and made his fortune as a very successful merchant and a wise investor in the mining industry.

His was the first two-story home in Bentonville. Now called the Craig-Bryan House, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its significance in the brick Italianate style.

The Bryan family purchased the home shortly after James T. Craig's death in 1895; various generations of Bryans occupied it for more than a century until it was sold again two years ago.

Excerpt from the Northwest Arkansas Times in 2010:

With 18-inch thick walls, the clay brick was made on site over 135 years ago. The gingerbread trim and traditional “welcoming” concrete pineapples on the front porch are also among the many original details.

On two lots, the grounds meander beside a circular drive off an alley driveway and include a detached two-car garage and guesthouse with a one-car garage. A side entrance to the house opens to the casual dining room and kitchen remodeled from a porch. French doors open in back to a shady patio with fountain, garden and in-ground pool shaded by a decades-old pecan tree.

Inside, the stunning foyer stair was hand-steamed and bent in a graceful curving design upward. Rooms branch off all around, as original hardwood floors sprawl throughout. Gas-burning fireplaces are located in the ballroom to one side of the foyer and the library on the other. Interior walls are painted in colors true to the late 1800s. Many of the leaded glass windows are original, as are the gas light fixtures hanging in the library.

When I took these photos of the house three days ago, my sister Charlou and I were pleasantly surprised to see that the home is occupied by a family with children. That's the way it should be.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mystery History -- Solved!

Mister Earl came closest with his 8:57 p.m. Tuesday guess "Is it the lobby of Castle Green?"
In the circa 1900 photo above, men lounge in what is identified on the back as "the rotunda" at the Hotel Green.
I did a somewhat comprehensive post about the Hotel Green on my Pasadena PIO blog last year. You can see that post here for plenty of background.
A couple of photos that weren't included in that post:
The Moorish Room circa 1900 in the portion of the hotel that is now known as the Castle Green...

...and the Moorish Room today:
A woman examining flowers in the lush gardens:
And of course here's the Castle Green today as seen from across the street.
Many thanks to the Pasadena Museum of History for the black-and-white photos above and the Castle Green for the color photos.
My retirement bash in March was in the salon, sunroom, Moorish room, Turkish room and ballroom at the Castle Green and it was a wonderful affair! See some photos here (click on each photos for a description).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The first person to guess correctly will win a fabulous prize: the big, bright smile that comes with being a brainiac!

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday. (If you know the answer, please don't give the entire back story with your guess; the back story is my job!)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bloggers' Tour of City Hall this Saturday!

If you're a fellow blogger, join me for a behind-the-scenes tour of the 1920s-era City Hall, including background about the history and architecture of Pasadena's most famous landmark.

We'll meet in the courtyard this Saturday, Sept. 15, at 10:30 a.m., then go along corridors, into stairwells, all around the courtyard and every other exterior nook and cranny (with the exception of the tower, which is off-limits these days).

See the Facebook event item here.

Don't forget your camera!

After the tour, as bloggers' schedules allow, we'll head to a nearby restaurant for food and those all-important beverages.

Parking: My best advice is to leave your car behind and take the Metro Gold Line to the Memorial Park Station, then walk a short block and a half to City Hall. If you're totally tied to your vehicle, the first 90 minutes are free under Paseo Colorado just a block away; there are also a couple of surface parking lots in the area. Paying at a garage or lot is a lot cheaper than getting a nearly $50 parking ticket!  Please note I cannot provide parking validations.

For more information e-mail me at or call me at (626) 375-2742.

PLEASE NOTE this is not a "y'all come" community tour -- I can't accommodate a cast of thousands! But for all you bloggers, I hope you can make it!

All of the photos above were shot by Tavo Olmos.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been


Tom Coston led about a dozen Pasadena Museum of History docents in a tour yesterday of the new exhibition "What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been: 35 Years of the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade."

I'm not a docent but came along for the ride anyway.

The collection winds around a large exhibition space and includes many more elements than what I'm showing you below. So get to the museum and check it out!

There are many costumes, including these two: On the left are the jacket and sombrero worn, each on separate occasions, by Andrew the Duke of Doo Dah and on the right is the dress worn by 2009 Doo Dah Queen Skittles, AKA Julie Klima.

And of course there are costumes and memorabilia from truly iconic parade entries, including (left to right) the Synchronized Briefcase Drill Team, the Invisible Man Marching Band, the Lounge Lizards. . .

A fun little section invites visitors to sit on beach chairs to have their photos taken, as if sitting curbside at a Doo Dah Parade.

This chest is filled with dozens of Julie Klima's photos of Doo Dah Parade queens and grand marshals through the years. Hey, who's that with the rose in her teeth?


Here's the hat worn by beloved Jirayr (Jerry) Zorthian when he was grand marshal of the 1997 Doo Dah Parade. He passed away in 2004 at 92 and his memorial service at the ranch was a truly beautiful experience.

The Pasadena Doo Dah Parade was conceived in 1976 in Chromo's Bar, which is replicated at the exhibition. When you go inside, you'll see the walls lined with memorabilia and a wide screen TV that loops video of past Doo Dah Parades.

Do you have a favorite Doo Dah photo or remembrance that you'd like to include in the exhibition? Bring it to the museum and put it on the bulletin board!

There's so much more to the exhibition that I haven't included here, mostly because I want everyone to get there and see it in its entirety. Go!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mystery History -- Solved!

Dale wins with his 1:15 p.m. Tuesday guess "This is the La Pintoresca/Painter/Pasadena Hotel after the fire which destroyed it in 1912."
In the Jan. 2, 1913, photo above, the La Pintoresca Hotel lies in ruins at the northeast corner of Fair Oaks Avenue and Washington Boulevard after being destroyed by a fire.

When it was first built it was called the Painter Hotel.

Check out the trolley cars in the lower left and right corners of this photo:
After significant landscaping was completed, the name was changed to La Pintoresca because of the picturesque setting:
I did a Mystery History post about the hotel's gardeners in 2010, which you can see here.
Over the years there were substantial additions to La Pintoresca Hotel, making it one of the largest hotels in Pasadena.
It was sold in 1905 and then destroyed by fire seven years later.
Here's an excerpt from my favorite reference book, "Pasadena: Historical and Personal" by John Windell Wood:

"The Painter -- or as it became, La Pintoresca, i.e. 'the picturesque' -- was built by J.H. Painter and his two sons, Alonzo and M.D., in 1887. J.H. Painter had been the partner of B.F. Ball in the Painter & Ball Tract and had amassed much money thereby. A fine and sightly spot in North Pasadena was selected, and upon it a fine hotel was built and opened for tourist trade in 1888, under the management of M.D. Painter. The investment cost about $100,000, and prospered for several years, but it was in 1905 sold to others and was destroyed by fire December 31st, 1912. The grounds it occupied were purchased by the city in 1914 and now comprise one of the city's handsomest parks, small it is true, but like the name it bears, picturesque and beautiful and much appreciated by the residents of North Pasadena."

Many thanks to Pasadena Museum of History.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The first person to guess correctly will win a fabulous prize: the honor of being the smartest person in the room.

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.