The Falling Ghosts of Carlyle House Historic Park

From colonial aristocratic manor to dilapidated squatter’s nest to historic landmark, Carlyle House has survived centuries, but eyewitnesses claim something otherworldly has survived with it.

A Colonial Era ruin uncovered after decades hidden behind an antebellum hotel should be enough to ignite storytellers’ imaginations, but it’s reports of numerous apparitions that make Carlyle House in Alexandria, Virginia a mandatory stop on any local ghost tour. Built by Scottish merchant John Carlyle on premier lots along the Potomac River from 1751 to 1753, this mid-Georgian stone manor is older than our country. History was made in its parlor.

John Carlyle (1720-1780) began his career as an apprentice to an English merchant, but soon made his own fortune in the British colonies. He married Sarah Fairfax, daughter of William Fairfax, who was a cousin to the largest land owner in Virginia. Carlyle himself became quite wealthy, with three plantations, dozens of slaves, and several business interests.

In the French and Indian War, British General Edward Braddock used Carlyle House as his headquarters before he embarked on his ill-fated campaign into western Pennsylvania. During a conference with colonial governors at the house, Braddock and the governors clashed over British demands for the colonies to fund his campaign, an early source of tension that later led to the Revolutionary War.

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Even in Defeat, the Specter of Trump Haunts his Critics

With his presidency coming down to a matter of weeks, Trump’s refusal to admit defeat has unleashed vitriol the likes of which I’ve never seen before. His critics should be careful not to become the very thing they hate.

I don’t know what it is about President Donald Trump, but even in defeat, he retains the ability to drive his opponents insane. Over the past few years, I have heard a constant barrage of abuse heaped on Trump from just about everyone, and he’s given a healthy dose of it himself. You’d think, after all that time, after it became clear that he was only going to be president for another couple of months, his opponents would breathe a sigh of relief and take a break.

But if you thought that, you’d be wrong.

Consider the case of Richard L. Eldredge and Damon Linker, two adult, college-educated men (I assume) who can form coherent arguments from complete sentences. In other words, they’re not banging out epithet-laden rants in all caps. However, when it comes to President Trump, these writers jettison all logic, rationality, and self-awareness.

Writing for The Week, Damon Linker argues that Trump is a “demonic force” literally equivalent to Satan (not literally, he says, but seriously). “Donald Trump is the demon in American democracy.” Why? Because this man who has come to define everything debauched and twisted in Linker’s mind didn’t just vanish from the White House when news outlets proclaimed Joe Biden the winner. It turned out Trump would still be president for two more months, and he continued to act like Trump has for the past four years.

Linker’s description of President Trump reaches Lovecraftian heights of hyperbole, calling him dangerous, narcissistic, satanic, chaotic, and even “a maestro conducting a cacophony of animosities.”

I have no idea what it’s like to be that obsessed with someone.

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The Following Illinois Counties Voted in Favor of Forming Their Own State

Earlier this week, I wrote about several counties in Illinois that approved by large margins a referendum to discuss the possibility of forming a new state excluding Cook County. I contacted New Illinois, the organization which I believed spearheaded this effort, and found out the referendum was actually the brainchild of a group called Illinois Separation.

Still, New Illinois Chairman G. H. Merritt graciously provided me with a list of Illinois counties that have voted on the referendum and the percentage and number of votes in favor and against (which I fact-checked). The issue has appeared on ballots for just two elections: the Illinois primary election in March 2020 and the general election that just took place on November 3rd.

In nearly every instance, the percentage in favor met or exceeded 70% (with one exception, Christian County, which voted 69% in favor). 80% of voters in Jasper County voted in favor of the referendum. Here is the list (percentages have been rounded up):

November 2020

County% Yes% NoYes VotesNo Votes
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Her Solemn Hour

This monument to industrialist George J. (1834-1910) and Adelia M. Hopkins (1840-1899) Roberts in Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, 118 Woodland Avenue in Dayton, Ohio, depicts a woman in mourning holding a wreath. The statue was carved from lovely white marble, and is unblemished by visitors. The epitaph reads: “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” George J. Roberts & Company, at the corner of Second and Mill Streets in Dayton, manufactured steam pumps and hydraulic machinery.

George J. Hopkins (1834-1910)

Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park in Pocahontas County, West Virginia

Visit the scene of West Virginia’s largest Civil War battle, with breathtaking mountain views.

Click to expand photos

The Battle of Droop Mountain was fought on November 6, 1863 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. William W. Averell and Confederate forces commanded by Brig. Gen. John Echols in Pocahontas County, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a complete Union victory, resulting in 394 total casualties. It effectively ended Confederate resistance in western Virginia.

In October 1863, Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Kelley, commander of the Department of West Virginia, ordered Brig. Gen. W.W. Averell to clean out Confederate troops from the newly formed Union state of West Virginia. On November 5, 1863, Averell attacked Confederate forces under Col. William L. Jackson (approximately 600 men) at their supply depot at Mill Point. The outnumbered Confederates withdrew to Droop Mountain, where they were reinforced by Brig. Gen. John Echols’ brigade from Lewisburg, a 28-mile march. His exhausted men arrived just in time.

When Averell commenced his attack at 10am on November 6th, Echols and Jackson’s combined command totaled no more than 1,700 men (including 1,110 under Echols), while Averell brought approximately 5,000 to the fight. The fiercest fighting occurred in dense woods and steep terrain on the Confederate’s left flank. Union forces pushed their foes back into their mountaintop trenches, where a final assault by Averell’s combined force sent them fleeing for the rear. Brothers Frank and Harrison Dye fought on opposite sides of the battle, embodying why the Civil War was truly considered a war of “brother against brother.”

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Oriskany's Spectral Battlefield

Some visitors insist the sights, sounds, and smells of this bloody Revolutionary War ambush still linger after dark.

The Battle of Oriskany was fought on August 6, 1777 in Oneida County, New York during the siege of Fort Stanwix. It was an attempt by Tories and British Iroquois allies to ambush a Patriot relief column headed for the fort. Heavy rain and dogged defense by the colonists and their Oneida allies saved them from destruction. While Fort Stanwix is widely believed to be haunted, the Oriskany battlefield has its own reputation for the macabre.

As British forces lay siege to Fort Stanwix, 800 Tryon County militia and Oneida warriors under General Nicholas Herkimer rushed to its defense. The British were alerted to their approach and a force of approximately 1,200 British troops and Iroquois braves under Sir. John Johnson and Joseph Brant planned an ambush. Just six miles from their objective, in a marshy ravine, Seneca warriors waited for the column of Colonial militia.

Impatient, the Seneca warriors opened fire before completely entrapping the Colonial militia. General Herkimer was shot in the leg, but refused to be carried from the field. “I will face the enemy,” he said. The battle raged over several hundred yards. A thunderstorm interrupted the fighting, giving the colonists time to establish a last line of defense on a hill while British reinforcements left their camps outside Fort Stanwix to join the battle.

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Multiple Illinois Counties Pass Advisory Referendum to Create a New State

Among the more interesting outcomes in the 2020 election was what took place in my home state of Illinois, where multiple counties voted overwhelmingly to explore seceding and forming a new state.

Several news outlets have inaccurately reported this as an effort to eject Chicago and Cook County from the State of Illinois. I’m not sure there’s even a legal mechanism to do so. However, there is a legal mechanism for several counties to vote form their own state, which must be approved by both the state legislature and the U.S. Congress.

If you read the text of the referendum, its intention is clear:

This text on the ballot in Shelby County, Illinois reads:

“Shall Shelby County collaborate in discussions with the remaining 101 Counties of the State of Illinois, with the exception of Cook County, about the possibility of forming a new state and ultimately seeking admission to the Federal Union as the 51st State, pursuant to the provisions of the United States Constitution?”

The text asks whether voters want to discuss with the remaining counties “the possibility of forming a new state…” and entering as the 51st State. It says nothing about removing Cook County from Illinois.

The proposition passed in Shelby County with 72.6% of the vote: 8,470 to 3,189, with over 80% voter turnout. Voters in Christian, Clay, Crawford, and Moultrie counties also voted overwhelmingly in favor.

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