Feed aggregator

Tournament in Support of Philippe Provost

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2014-04-23 16:56

Ken and Mali How (Baron Ceawlin Alreding and Baroness Molly Blythe of Smoking Rocks) are hosting a fencing tournament fundraiser and silent auction on Sunday, April 27, from 1 – 5 p.m. at the Police Athletic League of Fall River, 31 Franklin Street, Fall River to benefit the family of the late Phil Packard (known in the SCA as Philippe Provost). The tournament will be open to SCA and Living History Association fencers and will follow LHA rules. There will be a $10 fee to enter the tournament. The tournament prize is a rapier donated by Master Llewlyn Gododdin or a $140 gift certificate towards a blade made by him. Please use this e-mail for more information about the event.  A webpage has also bet set up to receive donations.

Please note that this is not an SCA event.  The funds raised will be used to pay for outstanding bills as a result of Philippe’s cancer treatment and funeral expenses. In compliance with state and federal laws for fundraising for specific individuals, the sponsors inform everyone that donations made to the Phil Packard Memorial Fund are NOT tax-deductible and that donations in excess of $13,000 may be subject to taxation.


Filed under: Tidings

Candelabra might be key to medieval Spanish navigation

SCAtoday.net - Wed, 2014-04-23 16:51

In 1970, a diver off the coast of Spain found a rare 10th century bronze candelabra. Since then, experts have studied the artifact as verification of a trade routes between Spanish cities and southern France, a topic about which little is known.

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Second oldest church "a big surprise"

SCAtoday.net - Wed, 2014-04-23 12:15

Archaeologists in Mainz, Germany have discovered the second oldest church and the only surviving Carolingian cathedral in Germany. Within the walls of the city's Church of St John lie the remains of a 9th century structure whose walls "stretch from the basement to the roof."

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Ludus on the Danube

SCAtoday.net - Wed, 2014-04-23 07:37

For over 100 years, archaeologists have been stydying Roman Carnuntum, on the Danube River near Vienna, but only recently were they aware of the existence of a ludus, or gladiator school, covering 30,138 square feet (2,800 square meters). The new research has been used to construct a 3D model of the site. (photos)

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Happy 100th birthday, Wrigley Field!

History Blog - Tue, 2014-04-22 23:18


Chicago’s iconic ballpark Wrigley Field turns 100 years old today. It is the second oldest Major League Baseball park after Boston’s Fenway Park (opened April 20, 1912). Although it is the home field of the Chicago Cubs, they’ve never actually won a World Series there. The famously benighted club’s glory days took place at the long-defunct West Side Park where in 1906 the Cubs scored the most victories (116) and the best winning percentage (.763) in Major League history. The lost to the White Sox in the World Series that year, but won the next two. The subsequent World Series dry spell is the longest in history.

Wrigley Field has seen a championship, however, just for a team in a league that stopped existing right after they won. It wasn’t called Wrigley Field then. When it opened its doors, it was called Weeghman Park after Charles Weeghman, the “Quick Lunch King,” owner of a chain of lunchrooms. Weeghman’s diners served only cold sandwiches, and instead of tables and chairs or stools and a bar, they were packed with school-style chairs where a single arm curves around into a table. No hot food = no wait, and eating like you’re taking a test = no lingering. He was able to cram so many people into his diners and get them out the door so quickly that at its peak, the main lunchroom served a mind-boggling 35,000 people a day.

Weeghman was never one to rest on his laurels or focus narrowly on his business, a lack of focus that would ultimately lead to his downfall. One of the side-interests he pursued avidly was baseball. He founded a Chicago team of the Federal League, an upstart organization that from 1914 to 1915 challenged the National League and American League as the “third major league.” First known as the Chicago Federals or ChiFeds, the team name was changed for the 1915 season to the Chicago Wales.

To give his new team a place to play, Weeghman leased land on the corner of Clark and Addison from the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary and hired Zachary Taylor Davis, architect of Comiskey Park, to build a new concrete and steel baseball field. Work began on February 23, 1914, with an official groundbreaking on March 4th. You read those dates right. Weeghman Park was built in two months. It cost $250,000.

On April 23rd, 1914, Weeghman Park opened with a game between the Chicago ChiFeds and the Kansas City Packers. Future hall of famer Joe Tinker managed the home team, and the Chicago crowds came out to support him and the new team. In an auspicious beginning that sadly would not be bourne out in the long-term, the ChiFeds won handily. You can read the Chicago Tribune’s review of the opening game here. The ChiFeds lost in the finals of the league championship that year, but they won the title the next year, making them the Federal League’s most successful club.

That wasn’t enough to save the league. It folded shortly after the season ended, but Weeghman bounced back, acquiring the National League’s Chicago Cubs and bringing them over from the fire-prone wooden West Side Park to his two-year-old Weeghman Park. To fund the record-setting $500,000 acquisition of the team, Weeghman enlisted investors from the Chicago business community, including gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr.

Wrigley’s company was going great guns, while Weeghman’s began to stumble. His investments in film production and theater ownership were failures that sucked support from the diners that had made his fortune. With many of his demographic (ie, young working men) heading off to war, the lunchrooms began to suffer. No sooner had the boys come home than the Spanish Influenza struck. It would claim 20 million lives worldwide before it ebbed. Meanwhile, nobody was keen to lunch in established jam-packed with people coughing their potentially lethal pathogens all over each other.

Weeghman tried to shore up his bottom line by borrowing money from Wrigley with shares in the Cubs as collateral, or by selling shares outright. Wrigley took an increasingly direct interest in the club, moving their spring training grounds from Florida to Pasadena where he had a mansion and a large plot of land downtown easily converted into a ball field. By 1918, Weeghman was finished at the park he built. Wrigley owned most of his stock and finally demanded that in return for yet another loan, Weeghman retire as president of the Chicago Cubs and devote himself solely to his business.

Wrigley didn’t immediately rename Weeghman Park after himself. It kept its original name for a couple of years, then changed to Cubs Park in 1920. Six years later, in November of 1926, the park was renamed Wrigley Field. It owns many historical firsts. The Star Spangled Banner was first played there before games. Wrigley was the first field to allow fans to keep foul balls they caught (elsewhere they had to hand them over to ushers). It was the first baseball field to have an organist playing. The first televised baseball game was the Cubs versus the Dodgers on July 13th, 1946. It was the last field to host night games because it was the last to install lights in 1988, believe it or not. Babe Ruth made his famous “Called Shot” (if it actually happened) at Wrigley Field in the 1932 World Series, his last year in the game.

While almost all of the old parks have been demolished to make way for stadiums with high-tech amenities, Wrigley Field carries on with all its myriad problems and disadvantages. A half-billion dollar renovation is slated to begin in the offseason this year, although there are obstacles, mainly the owners of the rooftop bleachers whose prize locations will be endangered by the refurbishment.

Today, Wrigley Field is celebrating its birthday in grand style. The Cubs will play the Arizona Diamondbacks with both teams wearing throwback jerseys of the Chicago Federals for the Cubs and the Kansas City Packers for the Diamondbacks. The first 30,000 fans to arrive at the park will get a free replica 1914 Chicago Federals jersey (WANT!) and will be greeted by ushers wearing period costumes in 1914-style. The ground crews will also enjoy some vintage styles: 1914 Weeghman Park jackets. Even the concessions stands are get into the spirit of things, offering 1910s specials like a breaded pork sandwich with slow-cooked onions and spicy mustard on a toasted roll and a Reuben Dog, a beef hot dog topped with corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island and Swiss cheese.

Before the game begins, visitors will enjoy historic photographs and videos on a right field board. Charles Weeghman’s grand-niece Sue Quigg will throw the first pitch using a 100-year-old ball first thrown at a ChiFeds game by her grandmother Dessa Weeghman.

For a wonderful series of retrospective articles, see the Chicago Tribune’s Wrigley 100 page. The Chicago Cubs have a site dedicated to the centennial as well. You can purchase tickets there, although I don’t see where they tell you if tickets are still available for today’s game.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

John Barleycorn Brewing Competition Announced

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2014-04-22 19:10

Raisin Wine

The Canton of Northpass would like to announce that they will be holding the annual John Barleycorn Memorial Brewing Competition at their “Barleycorn” event this September 5-7. The competition, which will be run with the assistance of the East Kingdom Brewers Guild, will have five categories: Beer, Wine, Mead, “Other” (any Period-style beverage – cordials, kumiss, etc. – that doesn’t fit into the first three categories), and an “Open” category.

  For the first four categories, recipes will be required. The judges will need to know what it was you were trying to make. Documentation will be strongly recommended. For the “Open” category, recipes will not be required, nor will documentation be necessary. That bottle of mead that’s been sitting so long in your basement that the label fell off? The grapefruit melomel you tried just to see if you could do it? Enter them in the “Open” category!    Other details, such as scoring and prizes, are not available at the time of this writing.   The event, “The Funeral Games for John Barleycorn”, will be held at Mountain Lakes Camp in North Salem, NY, on the weekend of Sept. 5 – 7. The event will be based on Book V of The Aeneid, “The Funeral Games for Anchises”.    For further information, contact the autocrat, Richard the Poor of Ely (richardthepoor@hotmail.com).
Filed under: Events Tagged: Brewing

Thanks from the former Vox Regis

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2014-04-22 18:54

 

Photo by Baroness Cateline la broderesse

To all of you who came out to help herald the reign of Kenric II and
Avelina II, and most especially to Their (now) Graces, my thanks and
appreciation. You all did very good work and I’m proud of what we
accomplished.

In the last six months, we heralded 19 Royal Progresses, 2 Highness
Progresses, and 2 Baronial Progresses across the Kingdom.

We had, if my counting is accurate, 41 heralds read in court this
reign, nine of them reading for the first time. Others learned the
chancery work of setting up and coordinating court.

We had 14 heralds read in Birka Court and everything ran smoothly and quickly.

Six heralds – Conogan, Erec, Donovan, Eginhard, Rozi, and Mylisant -
ran courts for the first time; some were smaller, some larger, some
had coaching, some not, but they all took that step.

To Alesone Gray of Cranleigh, Alethea Eastriding, Alys Mackyntoich,
Amy verch Rychard, Anastasia da Monte, Andreas von Meißen, Audrye
Beneyt, Brighid MacCumhal, Brita Mairi Svensdottir, Catrin o’r Rhyd
For, Cezilia Raposa, Conogan mab Rioc, Donovan Shinnock, Aildreda de
Tamwurthe called Dreda, Eginhard d’Aix la Chapelle, Erec le Clair,
Galefridus Peregrinus, Gregory of York, Grim the Skald, Katrusha the
Skomorokh, Kay Leigh Mac Whyte, Jean de la Montagne, Judith Fitzhenry
the Uncertain, Justin du Coeur, Lucien de Pontivi, Mael Eoin mac
Echuid, Malcolm Bowman, Marguerite ingen Lachlainn, Martyn de
Halliwell, Mithgiladan the Herald, Mylisant Grey, Phillip Reed the
Facetious, Rosina von Schaffhausen, Ryan McWhyte, Sabine de Kerbriant,
Steffan ap Cenydd of Silverwing, Theodora Bryennissa called Treannah,
Ulric von der Insel, Xandra Rozina Xiberras Galea called Rozi, and
Yehuda ben Moshe, thank you all for your help


Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: heraldry

Ancient barley virus carried by Crusaders

SCAtoday.net - Tue, 2014-04-22 13:45

A team of British scientists from the University of Warwick has been able to sequence the genome of ancient RNA thanks to the study of ancient barley from Egypt. The fossilized grain contained the Barley Stripe Mosaic Virus, believed to be a modern disease, which may have been transported to Egypt by Crusaders in the Seventh Crusade.

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Murder declared in Scotland

SCAtoday.net - Tue, 2014-04-22 10:10

An unidentified 20-year-old man has been found murdered in Kirk Ness in East Lothian, Scotland, but the murderer will not likely be found. The victim, fatally stabbed four times in the back, was killed in the 12th or 13th century.

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Only extant Revolutionary War mine tunnel opened

History Blog - Mon, 2014-04-21 23:05

The only mine tunnel from the Revolutionary War known to survive has been opened and explored by a firefighter in the first stage of its preservation. The 125-foot tunnel was designed by Polish humanist, engineer and Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko during the 1781 siege of the earthen Star Fort in the town of Ninety Six, South Carolina. The plan was for the tunnel to extend underneath the Star Fort so that it could be mined from below and blown up. British reinforcements arrived before the tunnel was finished, which is why it, unlike its more successful brethren, managed to survive the war.

The earthworks of Star Fort are still in existence and the entire site is now a National Park. The Park service and experts from the University of South Florida sent Greenwood firefighter Russel Cline down into the tunnel with breathing equipment since they had no idea what kind of air quality he would encounter. He found that it was remarkably good, considering the three-and-a-half foot high tunnel is more than 230 years old. The video records that the vaulted tunnel is lined with brick and mortar which at first glance, at least, still impressively sound, a testament to Kosciuszko’s skill and attention to detail.

Now that the path has been cleared, researchers will fully map and measure the tunnel with 3D imaging, laser scanning and remote sensing technology. This will give archaeologists a detailed understanding of the tunnel’s condition, and, since the it can’t be opened to the general public for its own good and ours, it will allow researchers to create 3D models to bring the tunnel to life for park visitors.

The village of Ninety Six (the origin of the name has been lost in the mists of time) played a significant role in the Revolution. A frontier town in western South Carolina, Ninety Six was the site of several battles of the Anglo-Cherokee War (1758–1761), when the Cherokee fought against the British during the French and Indian War. Its strategic importance was undiminished 15 years later when Revolution came. In 1775, Ninety Six was the site of the first Revolutionary War battle south of New England. The year after that a casualty of another battle fought in Ninety Six claimed another first. Francis Salvador, a recent immigrant from London, prominent landowner and the first Jew to hold elected office in what would become the United States, was shot three times at the Battle of Twelve Mile Creek on August 1, 1776. Before the American militia could rescue Salvador from the battlefield, the Loyalists’ Cherokee allies scalped him. He was the only one to receive this treatment, and he died from his wounds a few hours later making Francis Salvador the first Patriot Jew to die in the Revolutionary War.

In 1780, the British army — in this case experienced Loyalist troops organized into regular army regiments rather than militias — decided to fortify Ninety Six. The Provincial regiments and their slaves built a fort in the shape of an eight-point star, with earthen walls 14 feet high. Two stockade walls would keep attackers busy to give the 550 troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Cruger the chance to defend.

On May 22nd, 1781, Patriot Major General Nathanael Greene laid siege to the Star Fort. He had almost twice the number of troops and Colonel Kosciuszko on his side, but Star Fort proved a tough nut to crack nonetheless. The siege lasted 28 days, the longest siege of the Revolutionary War. First the Patriots dug an approach trench, but te defenders attacked during the construction giving Kosciuszko the only wound he ever experienced in the seven years he fought for the Patriot side: a bayonet to the buttocks.

Next Kosciuszko built a Maham Tower, a 30-foot-high siege tower with a covered platform at the top. From that height, sharpshooters could pick off the fort’s defenders, but not for long. Cruger had sandbags stacked above the parapet, protecting his troops from the sharpshooters. When the Greene’s troops tried shooting flaming arrows into the fort to set it on fire, Cruger had all the roofs removed from the buildings inside the fort making it hard for anything to catch fire.

The mine tunnel was Kosciuszko’s last engineering attempt to win the siege. It stopped short when news that 2,000 British troops were marching to Ninety Six from Charleston. On June 18th, tried a frontal assault on the fort. They reached the sandbags before they were outflanked on both sides by Cruger’s men and retreated to the trenches. With the British reinforcements just 30 miles away and having lost 150 troops in the assault, Greene ordered a full retreat.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Vikings gather for Ragnarok

SCAtoday.net - Mon, 2014-04-21 13:39

How did you spend Ragnarok? If you are British, you might have celebrated at the JORVIK Viking Festival where warriors fought the Norse gods in an epic battle. Festival director Danielle Daglan spoke with NPR's All Thing's Considered about the event. (podcast)

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Dark ages less barbaric than Roman, says historian

SCAtoday.net - Mon, 2014-04-21 08:18

Dominic Selwood is a lawyer, writer and historian. He is also a blogger on a mission: to take the "dark" out of the Dark Ages. Selwood recently blogged on the subject for The Telegraph with Why the so-called 'Dark Ages' were just as civilised as the savage Roman Empire.

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Help catalog British Museum’s Bronze Age artifacts

History Blog - Sun, 2014-04-20 23:20

Okay, I promise I’m not actively working to ensure that none of you ever leave your homes again. After all, there are always laptops, coffee shops with free wifi and libraries. It’s just that I can’t get enough of really fiddly detail work that helps bring hoary old museum collections into the Internet era.

In this case the collection is the British Museum’s hoards of Bronze Age metal objects and thousands of index cards documenting other pre-historic metal objects. In collaboration with University College London, the museum has created a crowdsourcing platform that gives history nerds with OCD and time on their hands the chance to digitize the objects and records.

This record contains over 30,000 Bronze Age tools and weapons that were discovered during the 19th and 20th centuries, and complements the current Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) database of metal object finds.

The catalogue contains index cards detailing object find spots and types, alongside detail line drawings and a wide range of further information about the object’s context of discovery. The catalogue itself also has a long and special history. It was a major archaeological initiative first founded in 1913 and then moved to the British Museum in the 1920s. For over 70 years, it represented the highest standards of Bronze Age artefact studies.

“This information has long been known to be an extremely important untapped resource,” says curator Wilkin, “Metal finds are not only crucial forms of evidence for dating Britain’s prehistoric past, but also tell us a great deal about prehistoric society and economy. Once we have digitised the thousands of objects in this catalogue, they can be incorporated into the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) website. The result will be the largest national database of prehistoric metal finds anywhere in the world and a near-comprehensive view of what we currently know about such finds in the UK. This will allow rethinking of almost everything we currently know about the use of metal in Bronze Age Britain, giving us a far more comprehensive view of our prehistoric past.”

Here’s the crowdsourcing website where the magic happens. They’ve already done the hard work of scanning all these records, but to make them searchable and categorizable in an online database, the handwritten information needs to be entered into standard fields. Character recognition is still fairly unreliable which is why our eyeballs and fingers are necessary to make this great project come together. I’ve done a handful of cards and found them eminently readable. There are no doctor’s scribbles or chickenscratch. The only part that can be a little challenging is when the fields on the index cards don’t match the database fields, and that’s a minority of the records.

If data entry sounds a little dry an occupation for your free time, the project has a another goal of creating 3D models of Bronze Age artifacts in the British Museum. All you have to do to contribute to this goal is draw an outline around an artifact in a scanned photograph. It’s like the lasso tool in Photoshop. You click around the edge of the object every time the angle changes creating a polygonal outline. If the shape is odd and you feel the need to make multiple overlapping polygons, that works too. They don’t want any background pixels surrounding the artifact — they have dozens of pictures of each object to create the 3D model, so any slender losses along one edge will be recovered from a different view — so be sure to click along the inside edge rather than the outside.

You can register on the website if you want your work credited to a single account and if you’d like to seek help/fellowship on the community forum, but you don’t have to register to help out. Just click on an application and dive right in. A window will pop up with instructions. Once you get into a record, there are further tips in the database fields and on the photographs to help you out as you go along.

I found it meditative and genuinely enjoyable. There are some beautiful drawings of the artifacts on the index cards, and it’s amazing to see the remote areas where these artifacts have been found. Out of the five I did, three of them were from outside of the UK (two from France, one from Hungary). Every card and picture is a micro-lesson in the Bronze Age archaeological record.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Early Saxon graves unearthed in Cambridgeshire

SCAtoday.net - Sun, 2014-04-20 20:00

Archaeologists in the English village of Haddenham have uncovered nine burials dating to the Early Saxon period (6th century CE) in the car park of the Three Kings Pub. The graves, of both men and women, contained a wealth of grave goods including a spear and shield and a beaded necklace. (photos)

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

From the Laurel King of Arms: Silent Herald Deputy Applications Sought

SCAtoday.net - Sun, 2014-04-20 16:10

The Laurel Sovereign of Arms invites interested candidates to apply for the job of Silent Herald Deputy, overseeing the Heralds who translate auditory information for non-hearing attendees at Court.

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

All of British Pathé’s film archive now on YouTube

History Blog - Sat, 2014-04-19 23:54

If you thought the New York Public Library’s map release was a time sink, you’d best settle your affairs and fully stock your bomb shelter because British Pathé has released its entire archive of 85,000 newsreels, documentaries and raw footage on YouTube.

British Pathé was once a dominant feature of the British cinema experience, renowned for first-class reporting and an informative yet uniquely entertaining style. It is now considered to be the finest newsreel archive in existence. Spanning the years from 1896 to 1976, the collection includes footage – not only from Britain, but from around the globe – of major events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, sport and culture. The archive is particularly strong in its coverage of the First and Second World Wars.

This is a great, great day. I have long harbored resentment that the vast panoply of film riches on Pathé’s website were so inaccessible. They could only be viewed in low resolution 400 x 320-pixel windows on the website itself. Many of the videos were watermarked and there was no way to embed them. If you wanted to get a decent look at one, you had to buy it for £30. Even stills from the film had to be purchased to the tune of £20 apiece.

And so I was grudgingly forced to link to the films on the website instead of embedding the greatness of Cygan the robot, the 1941 bombing of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the interview with Titanic survivor Edith Rosenbaum of singing toy pig fame. Well goodbye sad links to budget videos. Hello high resolution embeds!

Cygan the Robot:

The bombing of St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1941:

Titanic Disaster Documentary with Edith Rosenbaum:

The main British Pathé YouTube channel has just over 81,000 videos uploaded, and they’re helpfully arranging them in playlists and according to topics like Pre-1910 Footage, Weird Newsreels and A Day That Shook the World which features some of the most important events in the 20th century history. They also have specialized channels for War Archives, Vintage Fashions and Sporting History, although those channels haven’t been expanded in the recent spate of uploads.

You don’t have to settle for Pathé’s categories. Just search the channel for a subject of interest. Click the magnifying glass to the right of About on the top menu and type in a keyword. Searching for Titanic, for instance, returns ten Titanic newsreels and documentaries, and then derails very entertainingly into footage of a lion eating at an outdoor table with a proper English lady and her husband in 1959, Icelandic lava fields from 1930 and a helpful 1921 instructional on how to make a bra from two handkerchiefs (warning: not for the lady who requires any kind of actual support).

It’s a playground. A beautiful, disturbing, hilarious, compelling playground of history and society on film.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Christians in Denmark by 9th century

SCAtoday.net - Sat, 2014-04-19 17:13

New studies of the Domskirke in Ribe, Denmark show that Christians may have lived in the area 100 years before Denmark officially became a Christian country. Excavations at the site have unearthed over 70 Christian burials dating to the mid-to-late 9th century.

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Illegal metal detectorist tears Roman gold from ground in Germany

SCAtoday.net - Sat, 2014-04-19 09:24

Investigators in Germany are untangling the case of a metal detectorist who illegally dug up more than EU€1 million worth of Roman gold in a forest in southern Rheinland-Pfalz. The perpetrator may already have sold some of the pieces on the Black Market. (photos)

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

The sheep of the White House

History Blog - Fri, 2014-04-18 23:23

After President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany in April of 1917, his own family undertook to set an example of home front contributions to the war effort. Following the programs of future president Herbert Hoover, then head of the Food Administration, Woodrow’s wife Edith instituted fuel and food conservation measures like gasless Sundays, meatless Mondays and wheatless Wednesdays. They suspended White House entertaining and worked assiduously to raise money for the troops by organizing liberty bond rallies hosted by the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.

In 1918, they took that commitment to a whole new level of cuteness. Wilson purchased a flock of 18 sheep led by an ornery ram named Old Ike who was famous for chewing tobacco. He gnoshed on any cigar butt he could find. He was no fan of humans — White House staff and police were favorite targets for his head-butting wrath — but he was a fine leader of ewes and produced a mighty fleece.

(Interestingly, he wasn’t the first vicious ram to roam the White House lawns. Thomas Jefferson brought a large flock with him from Monticello in 1807 to continue the breeding program he had long been obsessed with. The leader of the flock was a four-horned Shetland ram who took aim at anyone attempting to take a short cut through the property back when that sort of thing was possible. In 1808 he felled William Keough, a Revolutionary War veteran who had fallen on hard times and was in Washington, D.C. to petition the President for a pension. Others were not so lucky. The ram actually killed a child. When he returned to Monticello, he killed two other rams and one of his own offspring. Finally in 1811 Jefferson had him put down.)

Wilson’s White House sheep released groundskeeping personnel so they could enlist, saved money on maintenance and raised money through wool sales. Here’s some footage of the flock trundling around the Executive Mansion grounds while Woodrow Wilson looks out the window at them.

The White House lawns turned out to make outstanding pasture land. The sheep feasted mightily on the sweet grasses, growing thick woolen pelts and making lots of adorable lambs to increase their numbers. They kept the lawns manicured and fertilized, and much like White House pets today, were widely popular with the American public. The sheep were also fundraisers of unparalleled efficacy. The animals with the best quality fleece were sheered and their wool sold at auction. The states each received a few fleeces to be auctioned off with the imprimatur of White House Wool. The first sale in 1918 raised $30,000 for the Red Cross. The next year’s auction raised an extraordinary $52,823 for the Red Cross, an average of $1,000 a pound. To this day it remains the most expensive wool ever sold. Ike’s fleece, incidentally, sold for a mind-blowing $10,000 a pound.

The sheep outlasted the war. Newspapers reported that more than half the flock of 46 was sheered on May 24th, 1920, both to raise money for charity and to keep the sheep looking sharp so they didn’t mar the handsome prospect of the Pennsylvania Avenue-fronting North Lawn. That year 185 pounds of wool were sheered from the White House flock and donated to the Salvation Army. There were two more head in the flock by August when the White House sheep were decommissioned because the Shepherd in Chief had failed to secure the nomination of his party at the 1920 Democratic National Convention the month before.

The flock retired to the Maryland farm of Lionel C. “Dick” Probert, chief of the Washington bureau of the Associated Press, who had himself played a pivotal but virtually unknown role in the United States’ entry into World War I. It was Probert who broke the story of the Zimmermann Telegram, the coded message sent by German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann to the German Ambassador to Mexico, Heinrich von Eckhardt, instructing him to offer Mexico funding and territories in the US if it joined the war on the German side. The AP story, written without byline by Probert, went to press on March 1, 1917. It was a sensation, inciting widespread anti-German feeling all over the country. A month later, the US was at war with Germany.

The White House sheep continued to thrive at Probert’s farm. By 1927, the year Old Ike shuffled off this mortal coil, the flock had increased to 75 head.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Period or Not…Names

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2014-04-18 12:48

This is a recurring series by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich on whether certain names currently can be documented to period based on existing evidence..  There are a lot of names that people think are medieval, but actually aren’t, and others which people think are modern, but in fact are found in the SCA’s period.  If you would like to suggest a name, send an email to the Gazette.

Today’s name is Corwin or Corwyn.

Although popularly believed to be medieval, we have yet to find any evidence of a person with the given name of Corwin or Corwyn.  As a given name, it appears to be a purely 20th century invention.

In the medieval and Renaissance eras, Corwin and its variant spellings were surnames, based on either a place name in Wales or an occupational term for “shoemaker.”

So why do some people have the SCA name of Corwin or Corwyn registered?  There is a bit of a “rules hack” that allows for the registration of Corwin as a given name in certain limited circumstances.

There is a pattern of using late 16th century English surnames as given names.[1]  The most well-known example of this is Guildford Dudley, the husband of Lady Jane Grey, whose first name was based on a family surname.   Because this pattern actually existed in period, evidence of Corwin (or any variant spelling) as a 16th century English surname allows it to be registered as if it were a 16th century English given name.

(Note that the surname-as-given name pattern is limited only to 16th century English surnames right now).

[1] September 2012 Cover Letter (http://heraldry.sca.org/loar/2012/09/12-09cl.html)


Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: heraldry, names