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Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Edward Fay Claypool

Mausoleum for Edward Fay Claypool (1832-1911) and family at Crown Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery, 700 38th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. Edward Fay Claypool was a banker and investor who helped finance the opulent Claypool Hotel and the Herron-Morton Place neighborhood in Indianapolis. He married Mary Catherine Morrow in 1855.

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Historic America Photography

Fife and Drums

Reenactors dressed as a French fife and drum corps at Fort Ticonderoga, 102 Fort Ti Rd, in Ticonderoga, New York. French engineer Michel Chartier de Lotbinière, Marquis de Lotbinière constructed the fort between 1755 and 1757 during the French and Indian War. It was originally called Fort Carillon.

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Historic America

A Dog Named Napoleon

The following is an excerpt from my book Tales of Coles County, a collection of history, folklore, and true crime from one of the most interesting counties in Illinois. Order it in paperback or Kindle today.

Officially, Eastern Illinois University’s mascot is a black panther nicknamed Billy, but in the 1950s, a golden retriever named Napoleon came close to claiming the title. An etching of the nappy brown and tan dog even graced the cover of the 1959 yearbook. Though thousands of students stroll past his grave marker in the north quad behind Old Main each semester, few know his story.

In 1946, a large golden retriever wandered onto campus. He was a young male, approximately two-to-three years of age, and quickly captured the attention of students at what was then Eastern Illinois State College. They called him Napoleon, or “Nap” for short.

As campus evolved with growing enrollment and a new library and dorms, this wandering dog was a reassuring and constant companion for Post-War students, many of whom were veterans attending college thanks to the GI Bill.

For fourteen years, Napoleon reigned over campus and was given free range by students and faculty. He strolled into classrooms, on stage at plays, and was said to attend football games. Napoleon even ran on and off the field with every substitution.

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Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: John A. Green

Mausoleum for the Green family in Oakwood Cemetery, 940 Comstock Avenue, next to Syracuse University, in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York. At least three generations of Greens are interred here, most prominently John A. Green, Jr. (1828-1872) and his wife Jane (1800-1889). John Green was a wholesale grocer and a brigadier general in the New York National Guard during the Civil War, tasked with defending the northern portion of the state (though he butted heads with Maj. Gen. John A. Dix, commander of the Department of the East). General Benjamin Butler mentioned him in his memoirs as a “confidential friend of the governor.” He was a founding member of the Onondaga Historical Association.

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Historic America Photography

Turner Rifles at Antietam

Relief sculpture on the 12th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry monument at Antietam National Battlefield. The 12th NY ‘Turner Rifles’ was part of the Union Army of the Potomac, Third Brigade, Second Division, Sixth Army Corps. The regiment was involved in repelling the final Confederate counterattack near Dunker Church during the Battle of Antietam.

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Historic America

Prohibition and the Birth of the National Security State

For most of American history, the Federal government had little policing power. America’s experiment with Prohibition would fundamentally change that.

The Netflix miniseries Waco (2018) highlighted what many perceived as out of control Federal policing in the 1990s, an issue that has certainly not gone away. These concerns are just the latest in a long line of criticism that Federal law enforcement agencies have too much power. How did we get here?

The birth of the National Security State can be directly traced back to the Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol, which was adopted in 1919. If not for the nationwide law enforcement necessities of Prohibition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would be nothing more than a few dozen agents in the Justice Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) would not exist.

For the first 100 years of United States history, the Federal government had very little internal policing power. Instead, it relied on private agencies like the Pinkerton Detective Agency, or left criminal investigation up to local authorities and individual states. In 1886, however, the Supreme Court ruled that states had no power to regulate interstate commerce. It was not until 1908 that U.S. Attorney General Charles Bonaparte organized the Bureau of Investigation and hired 12 agents for interstate policing.

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Historic America Photography

What a Wonderful World

Statue of Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) by artist Ivan Schwartz on American Way in National Harbor, Maryland. Louis Armstrong was an accomplished jazz trumpeter from New Orleans.