Hudson River Valley in Summer

The Hudson River flows 315 miles from the Adirondack Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean at New York Harbor. It’s named after Henry Hudson, a seventeenth century English navigator, and its beauty inspired an entire school of landscape painting. The Hudson Highlands are particularly picturesque in the vicinity of Bear Mountain, Peekskill, and Fort Montgomery, where I took these photos.

What Happened to My Movie Reviews?

You may have noticed it’s been quite some time since I last wrote a movie review, a consistent feature on my website for roughly the past two years. If you enjoyed them, don’t worry, they haven’t gone away. My lack of updates has a little to do with the lack of quality movies being released lately, and a lot to do with wanting to make the most of summer.

It’s easy to spend time in the theater when it’s cold and miserable and snowing/raining, but since May I’ve had a strong desire to get out and take advantage of the nicer weather to go exploring. I’ve basically put aside writing reviews to focus more on my travel writing and photography.

I’ve also been considering focusing my reviews on historical or based-on-a-true-story films, as opposed to whatever I happened to watch that week. Most of my reviews focused on period pieces anyway, and I thought my readers would appreciate a narrower approach (although I’ll miss reviewing bad horror films).

There are a couple movies I’ve watched but haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet: The Death of Stalin and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, to name two. Look for these in the future. I also want to go back and review older films as well.

Fort Carillon Battlefield

Visitors to Fort Ticonderoga are likely to overlook this site about three-quarters of a mile west of the citadel, but for seven hours on July 8, 1758, it was the scene of the bloodiest battle in the French and Indian War. The battle also inspired a Scottish legend.

Fort Carillon (the original French name for Fort Ticonderoga) was key to French defenses on the shore of Lake Champlain. The French and Indian War, part of the larger Seven Years’ War between France and Great Britain, had been raging for four years. In 1758, the British launched an invasion of what was then the French colony of Canada.

General James Abercrombie took a force of 6,000 British regulars and 12,000 colonial volunteers, rangers, and American Indians to lay siege to Fort Carillon. The French, under General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and the Chevalier de Levis, numbering about 3,600, dug entrenchments and erected breastworks on a rise west of the fort.

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Genealogy Coming Soon

What to do when you start with a pile of old documents and photos? I’ve been exploring my family history lately and been frustrated by lack of online sources, so I decided to start posting information in the hopes of being contacted by someone who can fill in the blanks. I’ve already learned so much on my own.

My paternal family history is something of a mystery. My grandma’s birth parents died in Germany after World War 1 when she was a toddler. She was adopted and brought to America in the 1930s. I know a bit about her adopted family, but very little about her birth parents. It’s even more difficult because all their records are in Germany.

My grandpa saved very little in the way of family photos. Thankfully, my grandma saved basically everything. We have six or seven different photos of my great grandmother’s headstone. Unfortunately, I learned this morning that it’s likely the cemetery she’s buried in was abandoned.

Maybe someday I can go to Germany and search for records of my distant relatives, but for now I’ll focus on what I can find in old photo albums. I hope you’ll find it as interesting as I do!

Bishop-Zion Cemetery’s Ghostly Guardian

Nearly a half-century ago, the smoldering embers of a rural church gave birth to a legend—a legend that has since been passed down among the residents of Mason County, Illinois. The church’s former preacher, it is said, was buried in the nearby cemetery under a tree, where he could forever tend his flock. Anyone brave enough to walk to the back of the cemetery and knock on the tree would be treated to the sound of the preacher’s voice calling out from the grave.

Mason County was carved out of Tazewell County and established on January 20, 1841. According to Pioneers of Menard and Mason County (1902) by T.G. Onstott, the land around Bishop-Zion Cemetery was not settled until 1840, when a man named A. Winthrow built a cabin there. Peter Himmel, A. File, Henry Bishop, and Stephen Hedge followed.

There are at least two dozen descendants of Peter Himmel buried in Bishop-Zion Cemetery. Ultimately, however, the cemetery and nearby village came to be named after the Bishop family.

Henry Bishop, we are told by the Portrait & Biographical Record of Tazewell & Mason Counties, Illinois (1894), was brought by his parents from Hanover, Germany to St. Louis, before ultimately settling on pristine land in the heart of Mason County. According to the Portrait & Biographical Record, “He was a member of the Evangelical Association… and aided in building Zion Church.”

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