Remembering September 16, 1920

Authored by Sean S. Murray

Portong Family Gravestone, Maple Grove Cemetery (Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery, 2020)

In the northwest corner of Maple Grove Cemetery, there is a family plot with a gravestone bearing the name Portong. Last among the names inscribed on its front facing side is Ludolf F. Portong, a bank teller from Jamaica, New York who died at age 28 on September 16, 1920 (Bellows 2018, 42:14; Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery, 2020). This date likely bears little significance in the minds of most people today. However, the date corresponds with what was, at the time, the single deadliest terrorist attack in American history, and Ludolf F. Portong was among the many now mostly forgotten victims (Gage 2009, 1).

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Nostalgia From The Civil War: How Bravery Led to Weeping Hearts

This letter was written by Silas Auchmoedy and was sent to his family home in Rosendale, NY. Within this letter, he depicts his experience during the battle of Gettysburg. Auchmoedy was a union soldier during the Civil War.

Authored by Megan Fritche

In 1862, eighteen-year-old Silas S. Auchmoedy was mustered into the 120th New York Volunteers as a private  (Lyon 1904). In October of 1862, just three months later, he was promoted as corporal officer (Lyon 1904). During Auchmoedy’s deployment, he wrote a series of letters home depicting the time he spent in battle. On July 20th, 1863, he wrote a letter describing the events he saw at the Battle of Gettysburg (Auchmoedy 1863), also known as the bloodiest single battle of conflict (American Battlefield Trust, n.d.). Within this letter are horrific descriptions of his experience on the battlefield. He writes about his experience running through a field as he underwent heavy fire, his gun so packed with filth that he had to bang it on a stone to get the bullet in. Most tragically, he depicts the screams from A.D. Stokes, “a first-rate fellow,” as a bullet ripped through his thigh. He had screamed to Auchmoedy, “O God, don’t leave me!” (Auchmoedy 1863, para. 1.20). Auchmoedy had not left him and carried Stokes to safety before rejoining his regiment (Auchmoedy 1863). War was not a time of peace, and though these men were regarded as heroes, they were also boys covered in the blood of their friends. 

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The George L. Windmill: A Sketch of the Reconstructed Historical Landmark

Authored by Tiffany Sheppard

This drawing, sketched by Peggy Wroten in the summer of 1974, depicts the George L. Windmill located in Cambridge, Maryland. The windmill was reconstructed in the year 1972, after the original windmill was destroyed in a blizzard in March of 1888. The windmill was reconstructed at the original location on Gary’s Creek.

Artist Peggy Wroten, born in the year 1944, spent a majority of her life in the Neck District of Cambridge, Maryland. (Wroten 2022). Peggy enjoyed drawing for fun in primary school, and knew she had something special when children in school would ask her to draw pictures for them (Wroten 2022). Wroten credits God for her artistic abilities, stating that her “talent is a God given gift” (Wroten 2022). Peggy Wroten would go on to create many works of art including award winning duck carvings, and paintings of waterfowl and other historical landmarks such as Old Trinity Church and Blackwater Refuge, both located near Church Creek, Maryland. Mrs. Wroten also illustrated two children’s books titled The Parable of the Birds, written by Peggy Mayers Litschert and published in 2004, and We’re All Special, written by Joyce Taylor Dennis and published in 2009.

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Alabama Assistant Commissioner: A Freed man’s Dilemma

Authored by Lanisha LeBlanc

Written report of the assistant commissioner of Alabama written in October of 1866.

In the Year 1865, the amorphousness of America following the emancipation of enslaved people left those in power to determine what to do with the individuals whom it was no longer legal to exploit for free labor. Within this decision, the freedmen’s bureau was formed, which entailed providing necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing, for the Southerns displaced ensuing the new law of prohibiting the ownership of African people (United States Senate, n.d.).

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Setting a Precedent for American Aid; The Freedmen’s Bureau

Authored by Marion Ward

Registers and Letters Received by the Commissioner, Indexes and Registers, Register 14, Jan. 1–July 31, 1869.

On March 3, 1865, the War Department of the United States established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands; it has since come to be known as the Freedmen’s Bureau (National Archives 2021). Facing the aftermath of the Civil War and the havoc it wreaked on the American economic system, President Andrew Johnson worked alongside Congress to create the Freedmen’s Bureau, which was a federal agency that was established for the purpose of promoting the social welfare of the recently freed population of enslaved African Americans (Hatfield 2020).

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The St. Francis Orphanage: A Light in the Darkness of Orphanages

Authored by Sorcha M. Smith

An account of previous resident, Josephine Snyder Krawczyk, of the former St. Francis Orphanage of Reading Pennsylvania visiting the premises now known as Francis Hall. Francis Hall now serves as the administration building for Alvernia University.

Birgitte Soland said it best about what comes to mind to many at the mention of orphanages; “Mention the word ‘orphanage,’ and for most of us the story of Oliver Twist comes to mind…pleading, ‘Please, sir, I want some more,’” (2015, 34). There are many people, historians, and also scholars who view orphanages in a negative light, and in some cases, they are quite validated with these assessments. For example, a study was done to measure the differences in adolescent emotional, social, and educational adjustment and development with the results revealing that those who lived in orphanages had quite some adjustment differences from those who lived with family members (Kaur and Chawla 2016). Life for children in orphanages could be rough with minimal food, arguably cruel staff, and ostracization from the surrounding community (Smith 1995). With some recounting the conditions of orphanages as “horrific” and children being taken from their homes to be treated as servants, many of these institutions are quite a dark spot in history (Timsit 2018, 3).

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A Full Circle:1929 Round Robin Map Relevant in 2022 

Authored by Raquel Parrilla

Reproduction of: Hinrichs, E.J. ©1929. Kew Gardens Round Robin Map. This is a Watermarked image of Kew Gardens Round Robin Map, perimeter has images representing local businesses, notable residents, and attempts at humor. [Courtesy of Roger Sabo as pictured in Images of America Kew Gardens by Carl Ballenas (2014) and copyright”
[For educational purposes only, if owner transferred original ownership please contact and it will be taken down.”]

The year 1929 when this Kew Gardens Round Robin map is copyrighted, ushered in not only the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., but also the Great Depression, and the Stock Market Crash. While the specifics of the origin of this map are obscure, its preservation and examination have importance to both Kew Gardens and U.S. history in general. Everard Jean Hinrichs was born 1905 in New York City and began his career as a sign painter and letterer before advancing to his well-known rural landscapes and paintings of clouds and sky (Smith 2010). He sought to preserve Americana, a way of life he felt had disappeared (McGill 1985). This ideal agrarian society was giving way to urbanization thanks to President Roosevelt’s New Deal (Yarce 2021). 

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Not Forgotten: How South University Students Served Communities in Need

Authored by Sarah Shiplet

Summer 2018. A healthcare student from South University Virginia Beach provides a vision test for homeless and uninsured children at the mobile medical clinic run by the Promethean Group. Courtesy of South University.

Homeless and uninsured populations are common in every urban area, and Virginia Beach is no exception. Virginia Beach is one of several cities in Coastal Virginia, also known as Hampton Roads (Virginia Tourism Corporation 2022). In 2018, 243 people in Virginia Beach were reported as homeless (Hammond 2022). Eight percent of the total Hampton Roads’ population were uninsured (Carballo 2018). These populations could be easily overlooked. As a result, they would not have received healthcare. However, there were some groups who did not disregard their needs.

South University is a school that promotes volunteer services for student to participation. In 2018, students from South University Virginia Beach volunteered in medical clinics to service local underprivileged populations.

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Finding Freedom during the Reconstruction Era

Authored by Sarah Sporko

Ch. Rausenberg to Brvt. Capt. M. Frank Gallagher, September 30, 1868. Freedmen’s Bureau: Georgia Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received, Entered in Register 6, 2-672, Sept. 1868=Apr.1869, Part 1. Smithsonian Institution Transcription Center, Freedmen’s Bureau: Washington D.C.

In 1868, Ch. Raushenberg, an agent of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedman, and Abandoned Lands, also known as Freedmen’s Bureau, wrote a letter to the bureau reporting that two men, Lucius Lamar and Albert Jones, were questioned about a death of another man named Walker in Georgia. Both Lamar and Jones stated that Walker died from gunshot wounds in his chest after being harassed and threatened by a group of white men. Ch. Raushenberg forwarded this information to the Freedmen’s Bureau so the matter can be fully investigated and justice for Walker can be served. Letters such as the one written from Ch. Raushenberg, show how integral the Freedmen’s Bureau was during the transition from slavery to freedom during the Reconstruction Era of the United States (Mildred 1915, 67).

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First Lieutenant and General Superintendent F. R. Chase’s Letter to Captain William H. Sterling: An Insight into the Operations of the Freedmen’s Bureau’s Educational Department

Authored by Victoria Santamorena

1st Lieutenant & General Superintendent F. R. Chase to Captain William H. Sterling, 22 February 1867. Freedmen’s Bureau: Registers and Letters Received by the Commissioner, Letters Received, Entered in Register 9, W, Jan.- May 1867, Part 1. Smithsonian Institution Transcription Center, Freedmen’s Bureau, Washington, D.C.

On February 22, 1867, First Lieutenant and General Superintendent of Education in New Orleans, F. R. Chase, wrote to Captain William H. Sterling, the acting Adjunct General, reporting on difficulties in the Educational Department, which was overseen by the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen’s Bureau). Chase’s letter complains of one of the department’s agents, A. D. McCoy, who had a tendency to overstep the bounds of his position. McCoy claimed authority over the district’s schools and the teachers appointed to them. However, the Superintendent or the Assistant Commissioner were responsible for these duties (Trudeau 1978, 2-3). Complicating matters, McCoy was a former Confederate and seemed to value religious preaching above his obligations as an educator.

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