Teaching Preservation: The People of Potters Field

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

 

I love a good mystery.

Something

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.

Something

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.

Award-Winning Restoration Focus of an Incandescent Evening

Posted on: April 16th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Ellen Buckman

Last year, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida received our Trustee Emeritus Award for Excellence in the Stewardship of Historic Sites at the National Preservation Conference in Tulsa. This winning restoration is now being showcased at a FREE community event at the Estates this Saturday, April 18.

This important restoration culminates a 5-year, $20 million effort to restore these side-by-side winter residences of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford back to the 1920’s lifestyle of their famous families and to shed light on the personal lives and friendship of two of America’s greatest inventors and industrialists. The 20-acre riverside campus provided these close friends respite, inspiration and a staging place for collaboration. Thanks to the completed restoration, visitors can now tour and see both houses, Edison’s personal laboratory where he worked on more than 1,000 inventions during his winter visits, his tropical research and botanical garden, one of the earliest above ground residential swimming pools in southwest Florida, the award winning Moonlight Garden, and a 20,000 sq. ft. museum displaying hundreds of Edison and Ford objects.

Prior to receiving the stewardship award, the Estates had a long-standing relationship with National Trust for Historic Preservation and our Save America’s Treasures (SAT) program -- in 1999 it was awarded an early seed grant from the Preservation Planning Fund, and in 2004 SAT selected it from over a thousand others to be one of 24 sites to participate in the Restore America partnership with HGTV and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. And, for the interior, our partner Valspar donated the paint used in the restoration.

If you happen to be in south Florida this weekend, do consider joining in on their special event. The Incandescent Evening, running from 5-8 p.m., will feature some of the programs members currently enjoy including botanical printmaking, Wild Wizards Lab shows, musical performances and food. There will also be opportunities to stroll along the Calooshatchee River and explore the homes and gardens of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and their families.

Hats off to the Estates!

Ellen Buckman is a marketing associate in the Corporate Partners department at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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To learn more about the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, or to obtain a ticket to the event, visit www.efwefla.org.

To learn more about National Trust historic paint colors by Valspar, visit www.preservationnation.org/valspar.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Governor's Request Endangers West Virginia's Blair Mountain

Posted on: April 16th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Nell Ziehl

Aerial view of Blair Mountain Battlefield in West Virginia.

Aerial view of Blair Mountain Battlefield in West Virginia.

Earlier this month, preservation advocates were thrilled that the National Park Service listed Blair Mountain (Logan County, West Virginia) -- the site of a massive 1921 coal miners' insurrection and the largest armed conflict on U.S. soil since the Civil War -- in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register designation has taken decades, due to opposition by coal companies who wish to strip-mine the mountain and destroy the site. This ongoing struggle led the National Trust for Historic Preservation to include Blair Mountain on our 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2006.

The thrill wore off quickly, however. Less than a week after the National Park Service made its determination, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin’s administration requested that the site be de-listed.

We -- and our local partners -- remain committed to saving Blair Mountain Battlefield. We ask that concerned citizens help us take action by signing our online petition. With the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, we are also preparing a letter to be signed by scholars and historians, asking for Governor Manchin's help in preserving this important chapter of American history. If you are a scholar or historian who would like to be included in that effort, please email us at sfo [at] nthp [dot] org. (Replace the words in brackets with the customary symbols.)

Blair Mountain in the News:

Nell Ziehl is a program officer for the Southern Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Mark your calendars: Our 2009 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places will be announced on Tuesday, April 28, 2009. Historic places around the country -- like Blair Mountain -- need your help.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Notes from New Orleans: New Charity Hospital Web Site Launched

Posted on: April 15th, 2009 by Walter Gallas

 

A new web site launched this week in New Orleans promises to enrich the conversation, broaden the debate, and grow the movement surrounding embattled Charity Hospital and lower Mid-City neighborhood. SaveCharityHospital.com combines an unapologetic point-of-view with a variety of resources, documents, tools and information. It also offers the transparency so seldom seen in the public discussions surrounding one of the—if not the—largest potential redevelopment projects in New Orleans’ history. Visit the site and share your stories, find the schedule of the latest meetings on the city’s master planning and hospital design plans, scour the documents section, send your feedback, and become a part of the campaign to turn back the old way of doing things and achieve real change in New Orleans.

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.

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.