Friday, September 30, 2011

Grandma's Diary, Parts 36 and 37

(To read prior entries from my maternal grandmother's 1933 diary, please click on the tab "Posts by Topic" and then go to the topic "California." All posts are listed there.)


The writer is Ethel Ranney Tapley.
Alice is her sister.
Kenneth is her brother.
Her parents.
H = her boyfriend, Hazel Avery Plumlee
Delma = Hazel's little sister
Earl = Hazel's brother
Verda = Earl's wife
Dorothy Lee = Hazel's niece (Earl's child)
Otho is Otho Hesser, her father's cousin.
Viella is Otho's wife.
Ruth & Kathryn are Otho and Viella's daughters.
Uncle Jont is Jonathan Hesser, Otho's father and her father's uncle.
Aunt Kate is Sarah Katherine Hall Hesser, Jonathan's wife and Otho's mother
Herman (Williams) is Alice's boyfriend.

Sunday, September 10: "H. & I went to S.S. Herman went home about 4 pm. H. went to L.A. on a truck with Joe. I stayed all night at Luciles."

Monday, September 11: "I waited for mama at Wilsons from 11 am till 5 pm. Wilsons moved out & we moved in. Alice & I stayed all night at Trowbridges. H. was there for supper. He feels pretty bad."

Tuesday, September 12: "I stopped by for H. on way to Redlands. Mama & Alice went with Livengoods to Berdo. H. & I went to Berdo."

Wednesday, September 13: "Mama worked on her dress at Hessers. H. & I stayed in Redlands & painted beds & did odd jobs. In the eve. rode to Yucaipa with Clara & Barney."

Thursday, September 14: "We worked hard to clean up the house. H. sure is fixing up the house. Laura was over to see Alices presents. We went to Berdo."

Friday, September 15: "Alice got her hair marceled. Clara waved mama's & mine. Herman came in late afternoon. Norah came up to see the presents. Got new windows in the car."

Saturday, September 16: "Hesser's here to dinner. Clara fixed Alice up for the wedding. Wedding was at 2:30 pm. H. was best man, I was bridesmaid. They went to San Diego. Went over to see Uncle Jont at hospital."

Sunday, September 17: "Hessers were here to dinner. Clara & Barney too. We made ice cream. Clara, Barney, H. & I went Marchfield & saw a baseball game. Mrs. Vogt called. We came to Yucaipa in eve."

Monday, September 18: "I started back to school. H. left for L. A. about 2 o'clock. Went up & got dad to see some prospective renters. I went to the show in the eve. by myself."

Tuesday, September 19: "Went to school. Herman & Alice stopped to get their wedding presents. Clara came up & I went home to supper with her. Laura came over for a little while."

Wednesday, September 20: "I went to school. We made trip morning, noon, & night to Yucaipa with things. We rented it for $25."

Thursday, September 21: "I went to school. Mama went to town with me. Went to San Berdo during lunch hour. Bot hat & pair of shoes. Got a letter from H."

Friday, September 22: "I missed the bus so took the car to school. Bought material for my blouse. Saw Lucile a few min. Went to Yucaipa for groceries."

Saturday, September 23: "We sure had a big washing today. I sewed on my blouse in the afternoon. Went to Yucaipa in the eve. to get sombody to pick peaches."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Day 8

The last day of our trip. It was actually yesterday, but I was both too exhausted and happy to be home to write this blog post last night.

Mom and I started the last day of our trip in Culpeper, Virginia like we did every other morning on this trip: finding breakfast! As soon as we did, we hit the road south to Appomattox Court House.

As most everyone knows, this is where Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865. There is a common misconception that "Appomattox Court House" is just that... a courthouse where the Generals met and signed the terms of surrender. However, Appomattox Court House was the name of a village and the Generals met at a private home, the McLean House, in that village.

Today, Appomattox Court House is a reconstructed village that is part of the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park and is located right outside the town of Appomattox, Virginia. (When the residents of Appomattox Court House moved closer to the railroad, the town followed suit and shortened its name to simply Appomattox.) Inside the park are six original structures still standing from 1865, along with other reconstructed buildings, including the courthouse and the McLean House.

This stop was personally important to me because my great-grandfather, Jim Tapley, was with the 48th Georgia Infantry at Appomattox when the surrender took place. He then walked home to Georgia. At the book store in the park, I found his name listed in a book of parolees.

Mom and I watched a couple of informative films in the visitor's center and went through the displays they had there. We then walked down to the McLean House, and the National Park Guide who was working there was great. He answered our questions in addition to sharing so many tidbits of information with us about the Generals and Mr. McLean.

(Mr. Wilmer McLean's story is very interesting. He and his family were from Manassas, Virginia, and the initial fighting of what would become the First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run was fought on McLean's farm. Shortly thereafter, he moved his family to Appomattox Court House, partly to get away from the fighting and partly to help his business by being closer to the railroad. There, the war found him again when he was approached by Grant's messenger who was scouting for a suitable location for the surrender. McLean offered his home, and the rest is history. Mr. McLean supposedly said, "The war started in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.")

The helpful guide at the McLean House told us where the Confederate Army would have been camped during the surrender, so Mom and I walked in that direction to take more pictures.

We returned to the visitor's center and joined a tour led by a National Park Guide. Last, but not least, we visited the gift shop for more magnets and postcards!

In the early afternoon, we left Appomattox and continued heading south to Durham. I probably drove like a bat out of you-know-where because I was tired and ready to get home!

This was an amazing journey. I learned so much. I got to see beautiful country... especially the state of Virginia. Best of all, I was able to feel the presence of my ancestors at Gettysburg and Appomattox Court House.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Day 7

Today was almost a day of rest after the past 6 days. Mom and I got ready this morning, and after yet another fast food breakfast, left Gettysburg headed south. We drove to Thurmont, Maryland to visit the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo. We love animals, and we thought we'd have a little bit of fun after all of the history lessons we've had in the past week. Well, let's just say... it was a disappointment. There were animals... and many of them were very cute or majestic or whatever the proper term would be for a particular species, but the zoo was run down, not laid out well, and way over-priced for what they offer. In addition, because it is now the Fall/Winter season, they were not running the Safari ride nor offering some of their other "extras," yet the price was the same. We were out of there in an hour and a half. We did take some pictures, though.

This was a baby tiger. He was so cute. He came running
when we walked up to his enclosure. He just wanted
someone to play with him!

Tonight we are back in Virginia and will make the trip home (for me!) to Durham tomorrow. We will make one stop along the way, at Appomattox Courthouse, to see where my great-grandfather Jim Tapley was at the end of the Civil War and get a feel for just how far he had to walk home to Georgia afterwards.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Day 6

Awoke in Gettysburg this morning with a lot on our agenda to do today. So we quickly got ready, grabbed a quick fast food breakfast and off we went.

We decided to check out the train station where Abraham Lincoln arrived in November 1863, the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address.


and now.

Then we headed out to Gettysburg National Military Park. First thing we did was go to the ticket counter and request a personal guide for the two hour tour. The guide drives you around the battlefield (and basically, the town) in your car for a personal tour. A friend of mine visited here a few months ago and told me that was the way to go so Mom and I had planned on this from the beginning. We were fortunate that they were not booked up, and we got one for 10 am - a mere 10 minute wait.

Bob was our tour guide - a senior citizen with a wealth of knowledge about the battle, the units that fought here, and the battlefield itself. By the end of the tour, my head was spinning from all the information he shared with us. However, I was also very excited because Bob was able to take us right to a monument and an informational plaque that were very personal to us.

My great-great-grandfather (and my mother's great-grandfather), Comfort Ranney, was in the 61st Ohio Infantry Unit during the Civil War. His unit fought at Gettysburg, and Bob took us right to their monument.

This monument is located on the Barlow Knoll Loop. It is even inscribed with a description of what the unit did while engaged in battle at Gettysburg:

Then toward the end of the tour, Bob was able to show us a plaque describing the movements of the 48th Georgia Infantry. My great-grandfather, James (Jim) Tapley, was in that unit! It doesn't appear that Comfort and Jim fought directly against each other, but they were both at Gettysburg at the same time.

This plaque is located on Seminary Ridge, almost directly across the street from the Virginia Memorial (the large one with General Robert E. Lee on top).

These finds were very exciting for me, and I could have left the tour and battlefield right then a happy woman. However, Bob did show us some other very interesting sites along the way.

This Civil War-era home, located on Seminary Ridge (across
from the current day Lutheran Seminary) has a cannon "ball"
still lodged in it! See the cylinder-shaped object sticking
out of the house to the left of the upper window?!

Georgia's monument (my home state)

North Carolina's monuments (my new, adopted state)

along with many other sights we just didn't get pictures of and many stories.

After the tour, we grabbed some lunch in the cafe at the visitor's center and then watched a film and viewed the Cyclorama. For those of you who are not familiar with what a Cyclorama is:

"The Battle of Gettysburg, also known as the Gettysburg Cyclorama, is a cyclorama painting by the French artist Paul Philippoteaux depicting "Pickett's Charge", the climactic Confederate attack on the Union forces during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863." Gettysburg Cyclorama. (2011, August 6). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:14, September 26, 2011, from

There is also a Cyclorama in Atlanta of the Battle of Atlanta. I had visited it a couple of times while I lived there, so I was very excited to see this one at Gettysburg, especially since this one had undergone a several million dollar restoration a few years ago.

This painting is 27 feet high and 359 feet in circumference. It is amazing. The only thing that would have made it better is if it had the revolving seating that Atlanta has that allows visitors to sit in one place and see the entire painting. Here at Gettysburg, you have to walk around to view the entire painting, and of course, other visitors go to the railings and will not move along to allow others a chance to look more closely.

After exiting the Cyclorama, Mom and I continued on to the museum. This museum is quite large and is chock full of information. As a matter of fact, it was information overload for me. I did not make it all the way through. I had to give up at the end of the war. I do not even know how much further the museum went on. There is only so much information I can absorb before I am completely overwhelmed. I will have to visit several more times to get the most out of the experience.

Mom and I left the park about 3 p.m. and went to the local scrapbook store. This was the only scrapbook store I could find along our entire route. If you want to find embellishments for the local attractions, you must visit the local scrapbook store. Here, I loaded up on Gettysburg embellishments, along with a couple of Abraham Lincoln items that I can also use for our recent trip to Springfield, Illinois. Hopefully, in the next 2-3 months, I can get the scrapbook room unpacked and set up and use some of these items I purchased today!

Thus ended our full day in Gettysburg. We did not even scratch the surface. Tomorrow we turn back toward the South. We will take the day off from history lessons and visit a zoo in Maryland to just have some vacation fun.

Hanging out with Abe at the Gettsyburg Visitor's Center.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Day 5

We have been in three states today.

We started out the morning in West Virginia. After gassing up and getting a quick breakfast, we headed to... well, to shop. But then we went to the Harper's Ferry National Park. Personally, I only knew the bare basics about what happened at Harper's Ferry and how it was significant to the Civil War. This visit was great for filling in the blanks. Inserting personal opinion here: John Brown was crazy - a fanatic - but he ended up doing something significant. Look it up.

Today was National Public Lands Day and admission was free at all national parks. So we were able to visit two for free today! I did not notice that the parks were extra busy because of this, however.

At Harper's Ferry, you catch a shuttle bus from the visitor's center to two areas of the park... the Boliver Heights Battlefield and the town of Harper's Ferry, which is where we were last night for the ghost tour.

Boliver Heights Battlefied, Harper's Ferry, WV

The town of Harper's Ferry, WV

Since it was daylight, we could see much more of the town and see where John Brown led his raid of the U.S. arsenal. We could also see the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and where they come together there in Harper's Ferry. (Because of this, the town has flooded several times.)

John Brown's Fort

Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers converge

We walked through exactly one store (Since when does a General Store only carry clothes and bike parts?!) and walked back to catch a shuttle bus. We left Harper's Ferry around lunch time.

We needed to have lunch so I did a quick search of restaurants along our route between Harper's Ferry and our next stop at Antietam. One that popped up was the Yellow Brick Bank in Shepardstown. Well, that was a place my cousin had recommended. So we headed over there. Well, it appears that Shepardstown is very busy on the weekend. Especially when their local college, Shepard University, has a football game. The Yellow Brick Bank is situated on a downtown corner with no parking available. It took us quite awhile to find a parking space and then it was a couple of blocks away. The restaurant had a great atmosphere; however, their lack of choices (for me) made it difficult. The only side items they offered were coleslaw or pasta salad... both of which were heavily doused in mayonnaise. I do not like mayonnaise except when it is in tarter sauce. I ordered a Po'Boy and Mom ordered a BBQ sandwich. She ate her coleslaw; I didn't touch my pasta salad. The server felt bad for me and had the kitchen mix up tarter sauce just for me for my sandwich. How's that for excellent service? Then we had a Steve's Brownie (brownie, hot fudge, and vanilla ice cream) for dessert - YUM!! However, here's the kicker. That lunch was $40. No kidding.

Moving on, we drove to Sharpsburg, Maryland (2nd state of the day) to visit the Antietam National Battlefield. I really knew nothing about this Confederate attempt to invade the North. We attended a film about the battle and an orientation talk by a ranger. The talk really made things clear so we felt ready to do the driving tour on our own. The tour had 10 stops, which we visited, only getting out of the car maybe three times.

Mom at Dunker's Church

Sunken Road or "Bloody Lane" - site of thousands of casualties

Mom near Burnside's Bridge

Everywhere we went today, the bugs were terrible. I don't know what they were, but they were tiny and flew right in front of your face. They reminded me of the gnats I grew up with in south Georgia. It was hard to even stand still for a picture with those pests flying all around your head! (Notice my squint and waving left hand.)

We left Antietam about 5 p.m. and drove to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (our 3rd state of the day). Gettysburg is definitely a tourist town with all the traffic that goes along with that distinction. We finally got across town to our motel and got settled in. Tomorrow we visit the Gettysburg National Battlefield and the Soldier's Cemetery where Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address.