Sunday, May 07, 2023

The Most Accurate Representation: “Custer’s Last Stand”


In 1877 a twenty-five year old Edgar S. Paxson arrived in Montana.  Nearly twenty-five years later the frontier artist completed what many regard as “the best pictoral representation of the battle,” a 6 by 9 foot painting he called “Custer’s Last Stand”.

The artist spent twenty years researching, and eight years painting the monumental work, interviewing nearly one hundred men on both sides including the Sioux chief Gall and the Cheyenne warrior Two Moon.

From these interviews Paxson, in his effort to achieve historical accuracy, made detailed journals about the equipment, attire, and physical location of each man on the battlefield.

Upon completion the painting went on a tour around America, with an admission price of twenty-five cents.

The painting now resides at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Custer’s Last Stand Re-examined

Friday, April 28, 2023

Custer’s Last Fight and Anheuser-Busch


In 1884 the artists Cassilly Adams completed a painting he named Custer’s Last Fight.  The painting was sold to John Ferber the owner of a saloon in St. Louis, Missouri, where the picture was prominently displayed.  The brewer Adolphus Busch acquired the painting and the saloon in 1892 when Ferber went broke.

Busch commissioned Otto F. Becker, to produce lithographs based on the painting to be used as advertising.  The first advertising prints appeared in 1896 with a run of fifteen thousand prints.  There have been eighteen subsequent editions with over one million copies having been produced. The original Adams painting was destroyed by fire on June 13, 1946.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

George Washington’s Dogs

 George Washington loved dogs and had some fifty dogs of many different breeds during his lifetime.  Breeds at Mount Vernon included Briards, Dalmatians, English foxhounds, French hounds, Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, mastiffs, Newfoundlands, pointers, spaniels and terriers.

Records show that Washington owned French hounds named Tipsy, Mopsey, Truelove, and Ragman.  He began to crossbreed the big French hounds with his own smaller native hounds to create a new breed of hound. The American Kennel Club recognizes Washington as the founder of the American foxhound.

Terriers were useful on the farm because they hunted and killed rats.  Washington used spaniels both to flush out land birds from their hiding places and to retrieve birds after they had been shot.

In 1786 Washington paid 12 shillings for a “coach dog” (a Dalmatian) named Madame Moose. In August 1787, he purchased a male coach dog to breed with her. He noted in his diary: “A new coach dog [arrived] for the benefit of Madame Moose; her amorous fits should therefore be attended to.”

Virginia Legends and Lore

Friday, April 07, 2023

Elves in Iceland


Elves, or "hidden people" as they are commonly referred to in Iceland, are a part of Icelandic folklore and mythology. According to Icelandic folklore, they are supernatural beings that live in rocks, mountains, and hills, and are said to possess magical powers.  There are said to be 13 varieties of elves in Iceland, ranging in size from a few inches tall to almost human height.

Some Icelanders believe that the presence of elves can affect construction and development projects, and it is not uncommon for builders and architects to consult with "elf communicators" or "elf experts" to determine if there are any elves living in the area that may be disturbed by the construction.

One famous story of elf sightings in Iceland is the case of the Elf Rock in the town of Hafnarfjörður. The rock, which is believed to be an elf habitat, was threatened by construction in the 1970s. The story goes that a group of Icelanders protested the construction, claiming that it would anger the elves and bring bad luck to the town. Eventually, the construction was redirected to avoid disturbing the Elf Rock, and it remains a popular tourist attraction to this day.

Some Icelanders believe that elves can be found in urban areas as well, and there have been reports of sightings in gardens, parks, and even on city streets.

It is worth noting that the belief in elves is deeply ingrained in Icelandic culture and is taken very seriously by some Icelanders. While outsiders may view it as a superstition or an oddity, for many Icelanders, it is an important part of their cultural heritage and identity.

Secrets of Mysterious Islands

Legends of Lost Treasure

Friday, March 31, 2023

Marcus Reno’s Account of His Charge at the Little Bighorn


From the New York Herald August 8, 1876

After crossing the ford I sent word to Custer that the Indians were in front and very strong, but charged on down, supposing that I was being followed by him. As I neared the village, I saw Indians passing from the hill behind my left flank. I knew no support could be coming, so I dismounted and took possession of a point of woods about a half mile upstream from the village, sheltered my horses and advanced to the attack, reaching within 200 yards of the village. The Indians then came out in overwhelming numbers, and it was plain to me that the salvation of my command depended on reaching a defensive position, which was accomplished by charging through the Indians to the bluffs, where I was joined by the other companies commanded by Colonel Benteen and Captain McDougall. The ford we crossed in getting to the bluff was not the same we had passed in going to attack the village. It was in front of the bluff, and it was partially by accident that we found it. When I went into action I had only 112 men and officers of the Seventh with me and some twenty-five scouts. If I had not made the charge for the bluffs my command would undoubtedly have been annihilated as Custer's was. The great mistake in the beginning was that we underestimated the Indian strength. The lowest computation puts the Indian strength at about 2,500, and some think there were 5,000 warriors present.

Custer's Last Stand: Reno's Charge ( Battle of the Little Bighorn) - YouTube

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Charles Byrne: The Irish Giant

Charles Byrne, also known as "The Irish Giant," was born in 1761 in County Londonderry, Ireland. He was a man of extraordinary height, reaching a height of over 7 feet 7 inches, making him one of the tallest men in history. Byrne's height made him a curiosity during his lifetime, and his body became the subject of scientific study and public fascination after his death.

Byrne's early life is shrouded in mystery, but he is believed to have grown up in rural Ireland. He first came to public attention in the 1780s, when he began exhibiting himself as a curiosity in London's streets and taverns. Byrne quickly became a sensation, attracting large crowds of people who were eager to see the "tallest man in the world." He also gained the attention of several prominent figures, including King George III and the artist Joshua Reynolds.

Despite his fame, Byrne's life was not an easy one. He struggled to make a living as a curiosity, and his height made him the subject of ridicule and discrimination. Byrne was also plagued by health problems, including respiratory issues and joint pain, which were likely caused by his size.

In 1783, Byrne was introduced to John Hunter, a prominent surgeon and anatomist who was fascinated by the human body. Hunter convinced Byrne to allow him to study his body after his death, promising to bury him at sea to prevent his remains from being used for scientific research. Byrne agreed to the arrangement, and Hunter paid him a significant sum of money in exchange.

In 1783, Byrne died suddenly at the age of 22, likely from complications related to his size. Hunter quickly seized the opportunity to study Byrne's body and he had it embalmed and put on display in his anatomy museum in London. Byrne's body remained on display for several decades, and it became one of the most famous attractions in London.

Despite Hunter's promise to bury Byrne at sea, his body was eventually acquired by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, where it remained on display until January 11, 2023, when it was announced that Byrne’s skeleton was being retired from public display.


Paititi (The Treasure of the Lost City)

Monday, March 27, 2023

Is Custer’s Battlefield Haunted?


Over the years, the Little Bighorn Battlefield has become the subject of numerous supernatural stories and legends. Visitors to the site have reported experiencing a range of strange phenomena, including ghostly apparitions, disembodied voices, and unexplained sounds.

One of the most famous ghost stories associated with the Little Bighorn Battlefield is that of the "ghost rider." According to legend, a spectral figure on horseback can be seen riding through the battlefield at night. Some have speculated that the rider is the ghost of General Custer himself, while others believe it may be one of the Lakota Sioux warriors who fought in the battle.

Another well-known supernatural occurrence at the Little Bighorn Battlefield is the mysterious sound of drums. Visitors have reported hearing the sound of drums beating in the distance, even when there is no one playing them. Some have speculated that the drumming is the sound of the Lakota Sioux performing a traditional ceremony, while others believe it may be the ghostly echo of the battle itself.

Other visitors to the Little Bighorn Battlefield have reported seeing ghostly apparitions, including the figures of soldiers and Native American warriors. Some have claimed to see the ghosts of soldiers walking across the battlefield, or to feel the presence of unseen entities watching them. Others have reported hearing the sound of battle cries and gunfire, even though there is no one else around.

Despite the numerous reports of supernatural occurrences at the Little Bighorn Battlefield, skeptics remain unconvinced. Some believe that the stories are simply the result of overactive imaginations or the power of suggestion.  Whether or not the supernatural occurrences at the Little Bighorn Battlefield are real, they serve as a reminder of the power of place and the enduring legacy of history.