Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Exchange Hotel and Civil War Medical Museum, Gordonsville, Virginia

The Exchange Hotel: Gordonsville, Virginia

Gordonsville Virginia’s Exchange Hotel opened in 1860 and provided an elegant stopping place for passengers on the Virginia Central Railway.  In March, 1862 the Confederate army transformed the hotel into the Gordonsville Receiving Hospital.  Dr. B.M Lebby of South Carolina was the director of the hospital and its operations continued under his leadership until October 1865.

The wounded and dying from nearby battlefields such as Cedar Mountain, Chancellorsville, Brandy Station, and the Wilderness were brought to Gordonsville by the trainloads. Although this was primarily a Confederate facility, the hospital treated the wounded from both sides. By the end of the war, more than 70,000 men had been treated at the Gordonsville Receiving Hospital and over 700 were buried on its surrounding grounds and later interred at Maplewood Cemetery in Gordonsville.

By the end of the Civil War, Virginia had fifty three Receiving Hospitals similar to this one.  All were burned to the ground by the Union army except the Gordonsville Receiving hospital.

A brief look at love, sex, and marriage in the Civil War. The book covers courtship, marriage, birth control and pregnancy, divorce, slavery and the impact of the war on social customs.

A quick look at women doctors and medicine in the Civil War for the general reader. Technologically, the American Civil War was the first “modern” war, but medically it still had its roots in the Middle Ages. In both the North and the South, thousands of women served as nurses to help wounded and suffering soldiers and civilians. A few women served as doctors, a remarkable feat in an era when sex discrimination prevented women from pursuing medical education, and those few who did were often obstructed by their male colleagues at every turn.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Jesuit Gold in the Superstition Mountains

                                                                                  Arizona Gold

Although the story of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine is the best known of the treasure legends in the Superstitions, there are others.  One of these legends involves the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), a Roman Catholic order of priests founded by St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and others in 1534, to do missionary work (and to act as the “shock troops” of the Pope during the Counter-Reformation). 

When the Spanish arrived in Arizona they set about building missions.  Most of these missions were built near highly mineralized regions.  When gold and silver were discovered, the priests set converted Indians, both Pima and Papago, to working the rich deposits.  The precious metals were stored in the missions in the form of gold and silver ingots (so the legend says).  The great Pima Revolt of 1751 temporarily drove the Jesuits out of the area.  Missions were burned, and priests were killed.  Fleeing priests decided to hide their gold and silver in mines located deep in the surrounding mountains.  The mines were then carefully concealed.  Other treasures hoards were deposited in caves. It is said that Jesuit missionaries led two hundred and forty gold-laden mules across southern Arizona into the barren mountains, stashing their riches somewhere among the bluffs, caves and canyons of the Superstition Mountains.

A variation of this story says that the Jesuits did not hide their treasure because of Indian revolts but because of the expulsion of the Jesuits by the Spanish crown in 1767.  The Jesuits were a rich order, accumulating wealth not only by mining but by raising enormous herds of cattle, horses, mules, burros, sheep and by raising crops.  These commodities were sold to the miners and settlers.  The wealth of the Jesuits was used for display to overawe Indian converts.  Churches, so the thinking went, needed the allure and shining examples of gold and silver to give testament to the magnificence and power of God.

The Jesuits were often as concerned with power and politics as they were with piety, which lead to their expulsion in country after county in Europe. Due to Jesuit involvement in rebellions in Portugal, they were expelled from all of Portugal's lands around the world on July 6, 1758.  Due to their political intriguing, the Jesuits were expelled from France and its holding in November 1763.  The Jesuits had reason to think that they were likely to be expelled from Spain and the Spanish empire, so the legend says, and took steps to hide their wealth.  The Jesuit treasures were safely tucked away somewhere near Weaver’s Needle in the Superstitions just in the nick of time.  The Jesuits were expelled from Spain in 1767, and all of their property seized. Unfortunately, no one seems to know exactly where the Jesuit treasures were tucked away.  


Arizona’s Superstition Mountains are mysterious, forbidding, and dangerous.  The Superstitions are said to have claimed over five hundred lives.  What were these people looking for?  Is it possible that these mountains hide a vast treasure?  Is it possible that UFOs land here?  Is it possible that in these mountains there is a door leading to the great underground city of the Lizard Men?  Join Josh, a skeptical journalist, as he explores the mysteries of the Superstition Mountains in our new fiction book Death and Delusion in the Superstition Mountains.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

A History of the Ukulele

The ukulele is one of the world's most popular instruments.  The ukulele evolved from several small guitar-like instruments of Portuguese origin.  In the early 1880s, Portuguese immigrants began making small guitar like instruments in Hawaii.  The instruments became locally popular and were given the Hawaiian name "ukulele", which means "jumping flea".  

The standard size ukulele is known as "soprano", but the larger "concert" and "tenor" sizes are also popular.  Today the ukulele is a respected solo instrument and is popular for playing many styles of music.