Author Archive

Teaching Preservation: The People of Potters Field

Posted on: April 17th, 2009 by Guest Writer 1 Comment

 

I love a good mystery.

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Making a list and checking it twice! My Research History classmates hard at work recording names on gravestones in Good Hope Cemetery.

It’s a passion that, through my school’s 4-H program, has kept me knee-deep in old records for a two-year genealogy project. The result? I’ve learned to root through census records (among many other sources) to collect information and piece together stories. Along the way, I’ve tracked down members of my own family dating back to the early 1600's.

Needless to say, I was quite excited when Mr. LaRue asked me to research the people who were laid to rest in the elusive Potters Field section of Good Hope Cemetery.

With a list of gravestone names recorded by my classmates in hand, I headed to my first stop in the research process – our local library. I pulled the 1880 census information and searched for all of the names I was given. I also worked my way through microfilm for each. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find all the names, but I was able to gather some interesting information on three families – the Martins, the Galloways and the Lyles.

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One of many mysterious gravestone remnants uncovered in the Potters Field section of Good Hope.

The first family I found, the Martins, was a large African-American family. James Martin, 70, was the leader of the household, and it was noted that he made a living as a local farmer. He was born in Kentucky and eventually moved to Fayette County. According to the census record, there was no wife living in the household at the time. James had one son, Scott, who was 24 and also a farmer. He also had four daughters: Mary, 17; Ella, 15; Dileina, age unknown; and another with an unknown name and age. Dileina was listed as “keeping house.”

The Galloways were the exact opposite of the Martins. Listed as Caucasian, their family was very small. Joseph Galloway, 27, was the only male in the household, and his occupation was noted as laborer. He was born in Pennsylvania and married to Amy Galloway, 26. Amy was listed as “keeping house.” She was born in Ohio. At the time of the census, Joseph and Amy were the only two people in their household.

Lastly, the Lyles had a four-person household consisting of a father, a mother and two daughters. The father, 26, was a farm laborer, and his wife, 24, was the keeper of the house. Their daughters were very young at the time of the recording; Alice Lyle was 2 and Emma Lyle was barely 1.

After finding all of this interesting information in the 1880 census, I decided to expand my search to other years. I started looking in records from 1870 and the early 1900's. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get my hands on the 1890 census because it was destroyed in a fire many, many years ago. I was able to find a family in the 1900 records that I believe to be the Lyles. I’m not 100% sure, but I have some reasonable facts to suggest that it is. For instance, the information from 1900 is exactly 20 years apart from my original 1880 source, and all of the ages noted reflect that same difference. Also, in the 1900 census, they have a daughter who is 16 years of age. This makes sense because she would have missed the 1800 records by four years.

At the end of the day, I wish I could have crossed a few more names off of my original list, but that’s how research goes. However, I hope the information I uncovered will be a good jumping off point for future curious minds.

And the mystery of Potters Field continues...

- Bryan R.

Bryan R. is a senior at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. For the remainder of this semester, he'll be working with his Research History classmates on a variety of preservation projects, including documenting and preserving local cemeteries like Good Hope. Stay tuned as they share their experiences here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

What We Lost, and Gained, in the Fire

Posted on: April 15th, 2009 by Guest Writer 14 Comments

 

Written by Justin D. Sanders

At 8:45pm last Wednesday I geared up for my favorite guilty pleasure—American Idol. I sat down on the sofa and noticed a missed call on my cell phone from Lori Ann, a local high school teacher with whom I’d been working on a restoration project. I found this odd as we had spoken a few hours earlier. I was still excited from the news she had shared with me earlier that evening.

Our first visit to the site in April 2008.

Our first visit to the site in April 2008.

I’ve been working with Lori Ann, and fellow teacher Amy, for a little over a year. Some of their students had discovered a lost treasure in the old Erwin (Tennessee) Municipal Building. A performance theater filled the second floor of this 1923 building; and while time and neglect had shadowed its former beauty, the essence of the place was still there. Amy’s Key Club students felt it only right to attempt to restore this piece of town history. Others joined from the Unicoi County High School’s theater program and the library’s Teen Advisory Group. The students quickly gained support of the school board, local government, and members of the community. The group and the project were reaching critical mass, planning fundraisers and community events, and recently beginning an oral history project to raise awareness of the building’s rich history.

So it was no surprise that I was still ecstatic when she called earlier that evening to tell me another group of students had adopted the Theater Restoration Project as its focus for the community Earth Day celebration. The students, who recognized the importance of reusing historic buildings, wanted to highlight what they called “recycling on the largest scale,” with proceeds from admissions to go to the restoration effort. I assumed she had more information, so I quickly returned her phone call.

Flames ravage the historic 1923 building.

Flames ravage the historic 1923 building.

Then, everything changed. I learned that a fire had started in the municipal building and was quickly spreading. I rushed out of my apartment and made my way towards Erwin. The calls from teachers, friends, and others started flooding my phone. At this point, the story had made it to the news media, and the images were bad. When I crested a hill entering the downtown historic district, the sight I was greeted with made my jaw drop. Flames had reached the roof of the four-story building and were at least another 15 feet in the air.

I rushed to find Amy and Lori Ann, and was met with a sea of people—mostly students, with tears in their eyes watching this project which they were so passionate about light up the sky. At that moment, the tears came for me as well. I watched the walls crumble as fire crews fought the blaze, and was told I had just missed the sound of the heavy balcony falling.

In that moment, it was easy to think that all of the past year’s work was lost. What I learned, however, is that you should never count out the determination of teenagers with a passion. Students came up to us saying that the project was bigger than one building. One student had tracked down the town mayor and asked him what other vacant building in downtown they could restore for use as a performing arts space. And another student added that “we’ll come back even bigger and better than before.”

The community of Erwin lost a venue rich with history, where music performances, countless dramas, and graduations were held. They lost a physical representation of a community rallying for a cause. But my hope is that what was gained, defiance and a resolve to move forward, will far outweigh that loss.

Justin D. Sanders is the Preservation Field Services Representative for Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia

News reports on the fire:

www.johnsoncitypress.com/09/News/article.php?ID=68175
www.erwinrecord.net/Detail.php?Cat=HOMEPAGE&ID=58780

Learn more about our Statewide & Local Partners program.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Teaching Preservation: Where Is Potters Field?

Posted on: April 9th, 2009 by Guest Writer 2 Comments

 

Time for a little guessing game. Here are your clues...

This can't be it...

This can't be it...

It's two words. When you were in high school, it was something you liked more than movie day and substitute teacher day combined. And, regardless of how old you are or what you're doing today, it will always be the ultimate solution for when you will do absolutely anything (“Hmm, we haven’t had a fire drill in a while…”) to get outside in the sunshine.

It’s a beautiful little thing known as a mid-day (or if you're really lucky, all-day) field trip.

The other day in Research History began like any other, but ended in an exciting scavenger hunt through Good Hope Cemetery for a place called Potters Field. All of this started because Kelli M. discovered the names of 25 “paupers” in her research of the 1882-1897 deed records, which were given to us by one of the Good Hope trustees at the outset of our class project.

Potters Field is located at the rear of the cemetery, or so we thought. When we got to the location, all we found was dirt, grass and a little too much mud. We paced back and forth (not particularly cool given the conditions) and found absolutely nothing.

We didn't find Potters Field, but we did find some enthusiastic hand puppets who really love their state.

And then, out of thin air (or so it seemed), a red SUV pulled up and out came Mickey Mouse. Okay, not really, but the woman who emerged was wearing a sweatshirt decorated with those signature ears. Come to find out, she was the caretaker of Good Hope.

Mr. LaRue told her what we were doing and what we were looking for, and her answer surprised up. She said that Potters Field is located along the side of the cemetery, and the area we were canvassing wasn’t actually owned by the graveyard. Not convinced, Mr. LaRue showed her our map. This was by far the best part of the afternoon, especially when he said, “I know what I’m talking about, but I know that you also know what you're talking about.”

Needless to say, an agreement wasn’t reached, so we piled back into our cars and headed back to campus.

So, where is Potters Field and what’s the story behind it? Beats us, but stay tuned as we get to the bottom of this interesting mystery.

- Tyler K., Kelli M., Alyssa S. & Lynne M.

Tyler, Kelli, Alyssa and Lynne are seniors at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. For the remainder of this semester, they'll be working with their Research History classmates on a variety of preservation projects, including documenting and preserving local cemeteries like Good Hope. Stay tuned as they share their experiences here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Teaching Preservation: Tracing My Family Roots

Posted on: April 7th, 2009 by Guest Writer 1 Comment

 

This week, my period of Research History took a field trip to the nearby Mark Cemetery. When we got there, we were greeted by a special guest speaker – my dad.

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Research History in action (and finally in short sleeves) in Mark Cemetery.

That’s right; he’s a retired township trustee, and he met up with us to discuss the unique history of the cemetery and the people who are buried there, including members of my family.

Coincidence or what?

Come to find out, Mark Cemetery is where many of Fayette County’s first settlers are buried, and it is located right in the middle of where members of my family made their first homes here. In fact, they established their farms on what is now Staunton-Jasper Road and a housing development called Lake Wood Hills.

Our project that day started with taking measurements of the cemetery. We also sorted through the broken headstones located in the back corner of the property, which we pieced together and took pictures of so we could record the names and birth/death dates in our new cemetery record. In doing this, we actually discovered several broken headstones that had not been recorded in any previous databases.

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Piecing together history.

Back at school, I created three separate spreadsheets for the headstones: one for graves that were accounted for on previous lists as well as my own; one for the new graves we found; and one for the graves included on previous lists that we could not locate. I also uploaded all of our headstone photos and organized them by where they were found and what condition they were in.

One of my projects for the remainder of this semester will be to make a scale map of the cemetery that brings all of this research together, including data and photos for each headstone.

This research obviously means a lot to me because of my family roots in the area, so I hope that you’ll stay tuned to our blog as my work progresses.

- Marci M.

Marci M. is a senior at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. For the remainder of this semester, she’ll be working with her Research History classmates on a variety of preservation projects, including documenting and preserving local cemeteries. Stay tuned as they share their experiences here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Teaching Preservation: Past, Present & Future

Posted on: April 2nd, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

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Notes from the Teacher's Desk

One of the coolest and most gratifying perks of being a teacher is, by far, hearing back from former students.

The other day, in the midst of our big move (which is still going on), I received a call from one of my former Research History kids who graduated some three years ago. As always, the conversation was totally out of the blue, yet totally heartwarming.

She is now a junior in college (geez, is time now moving at the speed of light?!?), and she was calling to discuss, of all things, her Spring Break plans. Now, if you’re connecting “college” and “Spring Break” and suddenly have dizzying mental images of underage mayhem, wipe that slate all the way clean and think again.

“Hey Lash! My family is headed to Washington, D.C. to visit President Lincoln’s Cottage over my Spring Break. Can you give me Erin’s phone number?”

Major brownie points.

By Erin, she was referring to the one and only Erin Carlson Mast, the curator and site administrator of President Lincoln’s Cottage who worked with my class back in the day on a project to develop a database of Civil War burials in the Soldier’s Home National Cemetery. This particular student spent her time with me studying individual soldiers and their regiments to figure out how each wound up in this particular cemetery. I will always remember her because she was one of those industrious students who completely digs their heels down into a project.

Needless to say, she did amazing work, and it meant a lot to me that she finally got to see and experience her contribution to President Lincoln’s Cottage.

Of course, Erin agrees: "It was such a pleasant surprise to hear from and finally meet one of Paul's students. While she is pursuing a career in medicine, she still has an obvious passion for history and preservation."

Looking around at the empty desks in my new classroom (which I know will be home to so many more extraordinary minds), I can’t help but be proud.

And, speaking of those desks in our new classroom, our Spring Break is over and we officially reported to our new digs this past Tuesday. All I have to say is, if you think it’s hectic to move between houses, imagine moving an entire building of high schoolers. Anyway, please stay tuned next week as my students resume their duties in the blogosphere.

- Paul LaRue

Paul LaRue teaches Research History at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. The ultimate “hands-on” classroom experience, his course takes students into the field to learn about preservation and community service. Stay tuned for what's left of this academic semester as Paul and his students document their project at Good Hope Cemetery here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream. Also, keep an eye out for future “Notes from the Teacher’s Desk” columns from Paul himself.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.