Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Robert Frost / Puerto Rico’s enduring agony / A Mediterranean megaflood / Men and mental health / Repealing the Second Amendment

This week: Robert Frost / Puerto Rico’s enduring agony / A Mediterranean megaflood / Men and mental health / Repealing the Second Amendment

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. A Bittersweet Journey Back to Puerto Rico After Maria
By By Luis Ferré-Sadurní | The New York Times | March 2018
“The Times joined a family on their return to Puerto Rico months after fleeing Hurricane Maria’s fury. The homecoming was not what they expected.”

2. Why Dictators Write
By Colin Dickey | The New Republic | March 2018
“What Saddam Hussein’s romance novels and Kim Jong-il’s film criticism reveal about authoritarianism.”

3. In Her Orbit
By Helen MacDonald | The New York Times Magazine | March 2018
“Nathalie Cabrol searches the Earth for the secrets of life on Mars”

4. America’s Most Widely Misread Literary Work
The Atlantic | March 2018
“Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ is often interpreted as an anthem of individualism and nonconformity, seemingly encouraging readers to take the road less traveled.”

5. A Megaflood-Powered Mile-High Waterfall Refilled the Mediterranean
By Katherine Kornei | Scientific American | March 2018
“Buried sediments near Sicily suggest water rushed into the sea’s partially dried-out eastern basin at speeds reaching 100 miles per hour”

6. A Brief History of Trump Insulting Women Who Call Him Out
By Lisa Ryan | The Cut :: New York Magazine | March 2018
“Here, a look back at Trump’s habit of degrading women who accuse him sexual misconduct or impropriety — or who simply dare to stand up to him.”

7. How Trump favored Texas over Puerto Rico
By Danny Vinik | Politico | March 2018
“A POLITICO investigation shows a persistent double standard in the president’s handling of relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria.”

8. Repeal the Second Amendment
By John Paul Stevens | The New York Times | March 2018
“Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. These demonstrations demand our respect. … But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.”

9. We Asked People Why They Got Sober
By Graham Isador | Vice | March 2017
“In my life, most stories of sobriety had been fed to me through after-school specials or sensationalized retellings on the evening news. The following are stories from real conversations I had with friends about why they stopped drinking and drugs. At times, the stories felt both much bigger and much smaller than I had expected them to.”

10. Men don’t talk about mental health. They should.
By Jordan Rubio | Houston Chronicle | March 2018
“Going through such emotional lows has been deeply shameful to me. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just tough it out and get over it. I disparaged myself, thought myself weak and worthless and pathetic. The guilt of going through something like this haunted me as though it were a great sin.”

Loreta’s Civil War: This kind of life

Velazquez, now a mother to a baby boy, moves on to Colorado and New Mexico Territory, and the natural beauty takes her breath away.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 69: Velazquez, now a mother to a baby boy, moves on to Colorado and New Mexico Territory, and the natural beauty takes her breath away.

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With my little baby boy — born during my sojourn in Salt Lake City — in my arms, I started on a long journey through Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, hoping but scarcely expecting to find the opportunities which I had failed to find in Utah, Nevada, and California for advancing my pecuniary interests. Apart, however, from profits that might result from it, the journey would be worth making for its own sake, for, from what I had heard of this section of the Western country, great things were to be expected of it in the near future, and the satisfaction of seeing and judging of the nature and extent of its resources would amply repay me for the trouble of making a trip through it.

After leaving Salt Lake City, the first place of importance reached was Denver, Colo., on the Platte River. This I found to be a well built and very thriving town of about eight or ten thousand inhabitants. Among its public institutions were a branch of the United States Mint and several hotels, churches, and banks. Denver was, until the completion of the Pacific Railroad, the chief trading center in this region. Since the completion of the railroad, however, its importance in comparison with other places has in some degree diminished but as the country becomes settled, it may be expected to increase in wealth and population, and it will probably, ere a great many years, be one of the finest cities in the whole West.

Among the new towns which have recently sprung up in Colorado is Pueblo, nearly two hundred miles south of Denver and the terminus of the narrow-gauge railroad which taps the Pacific Railroad at Cheyenne. This town takes its name from the Pueblo Indians, who are much farther advanced in civilization than most of the aborigines and who deserve much credit for their industrious habits and their efforts to prosper.

Trinidad, still farther to the south, is an old Mexican town and is the center of an extensive cattle and sheep raising country. There is a constant war going on in this region on the subject of stock between Americans, Mexicans, and Indians. Cattle thieves, who steal stock from Texas and Mexico, rendezvous near Trinidad, and, as they are not particular whom they plunder so long as they are able to do it with impunity, their presence is anything but agreeable to people who desire to live reasonably peaceable lives and to get along by minding their own business.

Some distance from Trinidad is Stockton’s Ranch, in the midst of a wild, unsettled country, and the only house within a circuit of many miles’ ride. This is a noted headquarters of the desperadoes who infest New Mexico and Lower Colorado. The building is two stories in height, is quite large, and contains a store and drinking saloon. On a mound above the house is a graveyard, in which twenty-one people have been buried. Only three out of this number had died natural deaths, the others having been shot down like dogs for some real or fancied offenses. Stockton has killed several men himself, while many more have fallen by the hands of his confederates.

Stockton was a small man, restless in his movements and with a fierce black eye. He had a wife and a very interesting family for whom I felt much sympathy when I learned what a desperate character he was. His wife, who seemed to be a very nice, clever woman, was much troubled with regard to him. She told me that she was always uneasy about him when he was away from home, and that, at times, even when he was sleeping in his bed, she was harassed with fears lest someone should come and take him for the purpose of shooting him.

While I was at the Ranch, Stockton sent out some of his men to get some cattle at Maxwell’s Ranch, which he claimed as his. His instructions were to take the cattle at all hazards and to capture the men who were supposed to have stolen them, dead or alive. The herders were generally selected for their utter recklessness, and as a rule they cared neither for God nor man but would shoot down anyone who offended them, without pity or remorse. Most of these herders are very young men and are generally athletic and handsome. Some of them, from their appearance and conversation, appear to have been well-reared, and if asked why they have come to the frontiers to lead such a wild life as this, they will frankly say that they are trying to make their fortunes, and that they expect to do it in a couple of years. They are usually disappointed in these expectations, and those who do not give up in disgust and return to civilization fall into the habits of the country and soon become as finished desperadoes as those who have been born and brought up there. Some of them, however, engaged in this kind of life because they really like it and because they feel a certain freedom and unrestraint in roaming about in the open air.

Whenever a freight train, either American or Mexican, passed, Stockton would buckle on his belt of six-shooters, and, with a big negro armed in a similar manner as his bodyguard, step out into the road with a roll of brands in one hand and a pistol in the other and inspect the brands on each head of cattle. Should the brands compare with his, he would take them from the train and let the freighters make out the best way they could. He has many times stopped and broken up freight trains bound for Sante Fe and the interior, to the infinite injury of the merchants who depend upon the freighters for their goods. The traders, however, appear to be powerless before this and other desperadoes, and the government which takes their taxes under the plea of affording them protection ought certainly to do something to prevent them from being at the mercy of men who recognize no laws but their own fierce wills.

On one occasion Stockton, through some of his employees, duped two men from Maxwell’s Ranch, who, he asserted, had stolen cattle from him. When he had them in his power he started off, leaving the impression on the minds of their friends that he intended to take them to Trinidad for the purpose of delivering them up to the sheriff. Instead of doing this, however, he carried them into a side road and there shot them, leaving their bodies to be devoured by the coyotes, or, perhaps, buried by some casual passer-by. For this deed he was arrested and lodged in jail. He was liberated, however, almost immediately, without even the form of a trial, the officers being too much afraid of him and of his confederates to detain him.

The occurrences which I have related will illustrate the kind of life that is led in the cattle-raising country of Colorado, New Mexico, southwestern Kansas, and Texas. I named this place Bandit House and the ford in the stream nearby Dead Man’s Crossing — which are expressive and appropriate, if not poetical.

Beyond Stockton’s is General Maxwell’s Ranch. Maxwell is the wealthiest American in southern Colorado. I believe he got his start in life by marrying a Mexican woman who inherited an extensive Spanish grant. Maxwell has quite a large family, and he bears a better reputation than do most of the old settlers. He is a great gambler and is much interested in horse-racing but is disposed to be kind and hospitable to strangers.

Crossing quite an extensive piece of country, the Dry Cimmaron is reached. Here some enterprising Englishmen, headed by a Mr. Read, have taken up a large tract of land and have established a colony. They have built a very neat little town, and when I passed through there, their affairs seemed to be in a thriving condition. The town is located on a rather high and dry elevation, which takes its name from the scarcity of water in the branch of the Cimmaron River, which runs by it.

Dry Cimmaron was for a time a stopping-place for the stages from the Elizabethtown mines, which connected with the Southern lines. It is on a more direct route for the cattlemen and freighters but, although it has plenty of wood, it is open to objection as a cattle and freight station on account of the insufficiency of the water supply.

The next point of interest is Fort Union, in New Mexico, about sixty miles south of Dry Cimmaron. This fort, which, at a distance, looks like a small city, is built of adobe, or white bricks, and is plastered inside and out with gypsum, which gives it a rather dazzling-white appearance. The garrison consists of five companies of infantry and one of cavalry. Fort Union is the central supply depot for the frontiers and is a very important position. Some distance off, in the mountain, is a steam saw-mill, which supplies all the lumber used in and about the fort. This saw-mill is protected by an armed guard of soldiers. There is also a blacksmith shop, a wagon shop, a carpenter shop, and a post office. Each company has a garden and several cows, and the men seem to take a great deal of pride in keeping everything in the best possible order. This fort and its surroundings do much credit to the officers who planned them and who have succeeded in making such a nice-looking place out of a frontier military post.

From Fort Union to Santa Fe the traveler passes over some rough country. Santa Fe is the oldest city in New Mexico and one of the oldest in the country. It has been, and undoubtedly for a long time will be, an important center of trade between the United States and Mexico. The ground in and about the city is all owned by Mexicans or people of Mexican descent, who refuse to sell on any terms, but who will lease to Americans. The houses are chiefly one- and two-story structures, built of adobe, and covered with tile or thatch. They are cool, pleasant, and comfortable in summer. The hotel, which is kept by an American, but which is owned by a Mexican, who has refused to permit any alterations or improvements to be made, stands on the corner of the plaza, or great public square, which was laid out by the founders of the city. During the war, the Union soldiers insisted on erecting a monument on the plaza to the memory of their fallen comrades. This gave great offense to the old residents, who regarded the structure as an injury to the appearance of their public square but as they were powerless to prevent its erection, they were compelled to submit with the best grace they could. As the monument is not a very elegant-looking affair, it is not surprising that those who were not interested in it could not bring themselves to admire it.

So old a city as Santa Fe, of course, has an interesting history, but a recital of the events which have made it famous is scarcely called for in such a narrative as this. It is, in its peculiar way, a handsome place and has a venerable appearance, which is quite imposing. Santa Fe contains about twenty thousand inhabitants.

It was in the month of November that our little party started down the fertile valley of the Rio Grande from Santa Fe, but the weather was warm and pleasant, the great elevation giving this region a deliciously dry and healthful climate. There were seven of us in all, and for the sake of companionship and mutual protection we engaged a large wagon drawn by six mules.

It was about ten o’clock in the morning when we rolled out of Santa Fe, and our first camping-place was an Indian village, where we found a neat little adobe house, of which we took possession while resting ourselves and preparing our supper. One of the gentlemen made the coffee, while the others employed themselves in cooking the provisions, or in roaming about, looking at, and trying to converse with the Indians, or viewing the scenery. My traveling companions were all pleasant people, and we enjoyed ourselves hugely. Mr. McKnight, the owner of the wagon and mules, was an exceedingly gentlemanly man, and I shall always bear him in kindly remembrance for his attentions to me and to my little boy during this journey.

Longreads: Robert B. Silvers, 1929-2017

“I believe in the writer—the writer, above all.”

via Robert B. Silvers, Editor of The New York Review of Books: 1929-2017 — Longreads

Book gems of 2016, Part 4

This week … a brief look at some of the best works on Latin America.

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Summer is upon us, and the season of leisure is the perfect time for new stories, characters, ideas, and adventures. Throughout the next few weeks, Stillness of Heart continues its occasional series of critical recommendations, from Civil War battle histories to memoirs, and from intellectual histories to photobooks almost as beautiful as the natural world they celebrate.

Read Part 1 of this 2016 series here and subsequent essays in this series here.

This week … a brief look at some of the best works on Latin America.

Emily Berquist Soule’s The Bishop’s Utopia: Envisioning Improvement in Colonial Peru (University of Pennsylvania Press, 320 pp., $36) tells the story of an incredible intellectual and scientific endeavor: the Spanish and Indian study of the cultures, botany, agricultural, and topography of northern Peru. Directing the project was Baltasar Jaime Martinez Companon, a Spanish bishop who also added to the collection of specimens a nine-volume series of books filled with images from throughout the region and painted by the Indians themselves. He intended to use the shipment of artwork and specimens to reassure Spanish officials that his part of Peru would be prosperous and peaceful. But for modern scholars, his efforts entrusted to us a snapshot of the era’s scientific understandings, Spanish cultural biases, and Indian artistic talents.

Karoline P. Cook’s Forbidden Passages: Muslims and Moriscos in Colonial Spanish America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 288 pp., $36) is a groundbreaking examination of the symbolic and religious significance of Moriscos — Muslims who converted to Christianity — in imperial Spain and in the Spanish New World. Spain would allow only Christians with long, verifiable Christian lineages to settle in the Spanish territories, but many moriscos secretly made the journey despite the mortal danger. Cook explores how these men and women, some still practicing Islam, introduced their faith to a new world, resisted Spanish persecution, and fought for their religious and political identities in hostile Spanish courtrooms. Cook’s work reminds today’s readers that personal struggles in this land over immigration, one’s place in society, religious freedom, and identity are nothing new, and neither are the moral determinations made to protect and defend those inherent human rights.

David F. Slade’s and Jerry W. Williams’s Lima fundada by Pedro de Peralta Barnuevo (University of North Carolina Press, 648 pp., $85) promises to be a magnificent achievement. In 1732, Peralta, a poet in Spanish Peru, wrote an epic poem that championed the notion that Peru belonged to the Peruvian descendants of Spanish conquerors. It criticized an imperial power structure that advanced the Spanish-born over the Peruvian-born. He considered it one of his greatest works. Since 1732, only fragments of his masterpiece have been republished, but the entire poem was never re-issued … until now, almost three centuries later.

Rafael Rojas’s Fighting over Fidel: The New York Intellectuals and the Cuban Revolution (Princeton University Press, 312 pp., $35, translated by Carl Good) is an incredible analysis of the searing currents of political thought coursing throughout New York City’s intellectual world and of the debate over the Cuban Revolution intensified that thinking. Rojas creates a vibrant swirling galaxy populated by brilliant writers, volatile artists, ambitious politicians, and fevered revolutionaries, all fighting over the ideals and consequences of Cold War ideologies, nationalist dreams, and personal affinities and hatreds.

Jonathan Colman’s The Cuban Missile Crisis: Origins, Course and Aftermath (Oxford University Press, 256 pp., $31.96) promises a definitive history of the Crisis, based on new primary sources and wide-ranging historical research and analysis. In the light of recent developments in U.S.-Cuban relations, Colman’s work arrives at the ideal time for readers and students seeking to understand the tumultuous Cold War and post-Cold War history that casts a long shadow over that relationship and still threatens the hope of so many Americans and Cubans for a brighter future.

Cruz Miguel Ortiz Cuadra’s Eating Puerto Rico: A History of Food, Culture, and Identity (University of North Carolina Press, 408 pp., $27.95) is a classic of Puerto Rican culinary literature. It’s a virtual tour of Puerto Rican history that jumps from one essential food item to another, essentially combining them like ingredients into a complete and savory cultural meal. The framework also enables him to anchor his larger analysis of change over time, specifically how U.S. control of the island transformed how Puerto Ricans gathered, processed, and related to those foods, and what that means to Puerto Rican identity, citizenry, racial status, and economics.

For May 2017
Paulo Drinot’s and Carlos Aguirre’s The Peculiar Revolution: Rethinking the Peruvian Experiment Under Military Rule (University of Texas Press, no other information available) should be an extraordinary analysis of an extraordinary time in Cold War-era Peru. More information to come.

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Book gems of 2016
An occasional series
Jan. 3: Antiquity, Civil War, World War II, and space
June 22: Presidents and the political world
June 29: Texas and Texas history
July 6: Latin America
July 13: Slavery and the Civil War era
July 20: World War I and II, science, culture, and literature

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The entire special series

Read Kate Stone’s amazing stories as she defiantly faces Union soldiers, escapes across a Louisiana swamp, falls in love with Texas, and watches the Civil War rip her country and her family apart.

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From May 2012 to November 2015, a special series from Stillness of Heart shared excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

She defiantly faced Union soldiers, escaped across a Louisiana swamp, fell in love with Texas, and watched the Civil War rip her country and her family apart.

The entire series of excerpts is collected here.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

From 1861
May 15: Death in defense of the South
June 5: The stir and mob of angry life
June 18: Whipped unmercifully
July 1: They thought me so ugly
July 4: The blood of her children
July 26: Gallantly fought and won
Aug 24: The fevers
Sept. 27: The war inches closer
Oct. 19: Gladden our hearts
Nov. 27: The noble, gentle heart
Dec. 22: Rainy days

From 1862
Jan. 6: Sad Christmas
Jan. 8: Happy birthday
Jan. 16: They close in and kill
Feb. 1: The little creature
Feb. 20: Victory will be ours
March 1: A perfect love of a lieutenant
May 9: Burn our cities
May 22: Fashion is an obsolete word
May 23: The sleep that knows no waking
June 6: Trembling hearts
June 20-30: Capable of any horror
July 5: The fire of battle
Aug. 5: Beyond my strength
Sept. 23: Tragedy after tragedy
Oct. 1: His sins against the South
Nov. 7: A lady’s favors
Dec. 3: She was heartbroken

From 1863
Jan. 1: Preparing to run
March 2: Hoodoo woman
March 11: It made us tremble
March 22: The pistol pointed at my head
April 10: Tears on my cheek
April 15: A horrid flight
April 21: The greatest villian
April 26: Flaming cheeks and flashing eyes
April 27: The glory of the family
May 2: His father’s sins
May 3: Baffled beasts of prey
May 22: Useless to resist
May 23: Southern hearts
June 3: Like mad demons
June 15: On the road for Texas
July 7: The dark corner
July 12: The dirtiest people
July 16: Scowling, revengeful faces
July 26: Despondent and chicken-hearted
July 29: Makes us tremble for Texas
Aug. 3: Lose our scalps
Aug. 10: Conquer or die
Aug. 16: My pen is powerless
Aug. 30: They call us all renegades
Sept. 1: It makes us shiver
Sept. 14: Years of grinding toil
Sept. 20: Destroyed by the Yankees
Oct. 2: Two distressed damsels
Oct. 8: This is too disgraceful
Oct. 29: The heart of a boy
Nov. 1: Credulous mortals
Nov. 7: A fear of bad news
Nov. 13: Pride must have a fall
Nov. 15: So little to eat
Dec. 10: Nobly and fearlessly
Dec. 12: Alone in a strange land
Dec. 19: A charming little woman
Dec. 24: A sad 1863 ends

From 1864
Jan. 4: A noted flirt
Jan. 7: Trouble and distress
Jan. 13: The first desideratum
March 8: The mournful whistle
March 20: The petted darling
April 15: A besom of destruction
May 5: The easy conquest of Texas
May 7: To every young lady
May 18: To kill and destroy
May 25: Our best fancy yellow organdies
May 29: That land of desolation
June 1: The breath of flowers
June 14: Strangers in a strange land
June 19: Those terrible battles
June 26: Callous to suffering and death
Aug. 23: We enjoy our ease
Sept. 2: Lazy and languid
Sept. 5: One grand holocaust
Sept. 10: Too disgraceful if true
Sept. 27: The flower-wreathed scepter
Oct. 15: Fairy castles in the air

From 1865
Jan. 29: Kindly bestow them
Feb. 1: Our soldiers were powerless
Feb. 12: One of life’s greatest trials
Feb. 13: Peace blessed peace
Feb. 15: My escorts were disgusted
Feb. 21: Our only hope for peace
March 3: The most enjoyable life
March 9: Full of life and fun
March 24: Eager for a fight
March 30: Its spring decoration
April 1: Out of time
April 7: A blow on my heart
April 16: He would do anything
April 23: God spare us
May 7: Lounged and gossiped
May 9: We fear it cannot last
May 15: We will be slaves
May 17: Restless and wretched
May 20: A fever of apprehension
May 21: A piece of amusement
May 27: Only sadness and tears
May 31: The grand crash
June 12: Words are powerless
June 25: Civilization commences again
July 2: He deserves killing
July 13: It is unavoidable
July 18: A man-flirt is detestable
Aug. 14: No disorder
Aug. 26: Astonish the natives
Sept. 3: Our pleasant Tyler life
Sept. 11: The very poorest people
Sept. 21: A state of insubordination
Oct. 10: The bitterness of defeat
Nov. 16: At home again
Nov. 17: How many idle hours

Epilogue, from 1867 and 1868
I was young again

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The very poorest people

A reluctant Stone leaves Tyler to return to Louisiana, but one minor disaster after another make it a bitter journey.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

A reluctant Stone leaves Tyler to return to Louisiana, but one minor disaster after another make it a bitter journey.

 

Sept. 11, 1865

Hopkins County, Texas

Here we are … wearing away the time as best we may for two days and nights in a real prairie hut awaiting relief from our place, thirty miles away. The carriage stands in the yard with a crushed wheel, and we are mired up in all sorts of dirt and discomfort in the middle of the wildest prairie with not a tree or a house in sight. We broke down two miles from here journeying on our way to Lamar County with nothing in sight but the broad sweep of the prairie and one lonely tree. We made our way to that. No gentleman with us, no money, no possible way of getting on, and in a great hurry. We were in despair. Richard mounted a mule and scoured the country to find a carriage, wagon, or wheel to take us on, while we with parasols, books, and cushions, betook ourselves to the grateful shade of the tree to await his return. I was fast asleep in the tall grass, and Mamma and Sister were dozing when Richard got back. He could not find any conveyance, but a lady two miles away would give us shelter. So there we were in for a two-mile walk under the burning sun and over the shadowiest prairie with a wind blowing hot as a sirocco of the desert. The prospect was appalling, and I foolishly burst into tears. Mamma scolded. I remonstrated. But soon we cooled down in temper., if not in person, and commenced our weary jaunt to shelter.

It is the roughest two-room affair with six or eight people living in it, and with nothing to eat this last day but bread and milk and butter. They killed their last chicken for us yesterday, an old, old hen, but the people are as kind as they can be, and as hospitable. They give us of their best and are really sorry for us. There are two women and a girl and not a scrap of ribbon or lace or any kind of adornment in the house. I never saw a woman before without a ribbon. They have not even a comb. They are the very poorest people I ever saw.

We — that is Mamma, Sister, Johnny, and I — broke up our establishment and started on short notice from Tyler on last Friday, and our entire trip has been a chapter of accidents since. A wheel crushed four miles from town, and after spending most of the day in the woods we returned very reluctantly to Tyler, We had gone the rounds the evening before making farewell calls and hated to return after so many solemn leavetakings, but go back we must.

The room is filling with the family so must close my book.

The bugs are awful, and so we three slept last night on the carriage cushions and a bolt of domestic out on the front gallery, much against the wishes of our hosts who seemed to think it inhospitable to allow it. But it is impossible to sleep in the rooms with four or five untidy folks, being bled from every pore by the voracious bugs. The natives do not even toss in their sleep from them. They do not know the bugs are there.

A glorious full moon, light enough to read by, and a pleasant breeze. We quite enjoyed our outdoor bunk, especially as we had not slept for two nights. Oh, the happy summer days of our life in Tyler. … And all this discomfort would have been spared us if My Brother had only come out when Joe did and made this trip to the farm in Mamma’s place. Poor Mamma, what a weight of responsibility and trouble she has had on her hands. …

Mollie Moore gave me a pretty copy of The Lady of the Lake as a souvenir of our happy friendship. Shall I ever see her cheerful face again? …

 

Illustrating the heart in a million different ways

Some friends have told me how much they love the photos I include with most of my posts.

Some friends have told me how much they love the photos that accompany most of my posts. Their compliments honor me.

I don’t consider myself a photographer, just someone who loves interesting patterns — the more abstract and colorful and contrasted the better. I tend to find beauty in everything I see.

My simple Tumblr blog collects and displays the best of the art I’ve used on Stillness of Heart, along with a variety of other odd photos, gifs, and videos.

Follow me on Tumblr, and enjoy.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Torrents of blood

Stone learns of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and she is happy he is dead. Her grim satisfaction is little comfort as all around her are convinced that Lee has surrendered.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone learns of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and she is happy he is dead. Her grim satisfaction is little comfort as all around her are convinced that Lee has surrendered.

Note that she heard that John Surratt, one of Booth’s co-conspirators, attacked Secretary of State William Seward. Lewis Powell, another member of the Booth group, actually carried out the attack. He failed to kill Seward but badly injured him.

 

April 28, 1865

Tyler, Texas

We hear that Lincoln is dead. There can be no doubt, I suppose, that he has been killed by J. W. Booth. “Sic semper tyrannis” as his brave destroyer shouted as he sprang on his horse. All honor to J. Wilkes Booth, who has rid the world of a tyrant and made himself famous for generations. Surratt has also won the love and applause of all Southerners by his daring attack on Seward, whose life is trembling in the balance. How earnestly we hope our two avengers may escape to the South where they will meet with a warm welcome. It is a terrible tragedy, but what is war but one long tragedy? What torrents of blood Lincoln has caused to flow, and how Seward has aided him in his bloody work. I cannot be sorry for their fate. They deserve it. They have reaped their just reward.

There is great gloom over the town. All think that Lee and his army have surrendered. No one will take the Confederate money today, and as there is no gold in circulation there is no medium of exchange. Rumors, rumors, but nothing definite. Lee is certainly captured. Our strong arm of victory, the chief hope of our Country, is a prisoner with an army variously estimated at from 6,000 to 43,000 men captured on their retreat from Richmond. Dr. Kunckers told us as a secret that [Joseph E.] Johnston with his entire army has surrendered, but that news is suppressed through motives of policy. Our papers say Johnston’s army has been reinforced by the flower of Lee’s army, that he has a band of tried veterans and will make a determined stand. We know not what to believe. All are fearfully depressed. Lee’s defeat is a crushing blow hard to recover from. Maybe after a few days we can rally for another stand. Now, most seem to think it useless to struggle longer, now that we are subjugated. I say, “Never, never, though we perish in the track of their endeavor!” Words, idle words. What can poor weak women do?

I cannot bear to hear them talk of defeat. It seems a reproach to our gallant dead. If nothing else can force us to battle on for freedom, the thousands of grass-grown mounds heaped on mountainside and in every valley of our country should teach us to emulate the heroes who lie beneath and make us clasp closer to our hearts the determination to be free or die. “When the South is trampled from the earth / Her women can die and be free.”

I say with my whole soul:

Shame to the traitor-heart that springs
To the faint, soft arms of Peace,
Though the Roman eagle shook his wings
At the very gates of Greece.

Monday it was distressing to see the gloom on every face. We had an impromptu dining that day, and all seemed in the depths of despair, could think and talk of nothing but defeat and disaster. … The war was discussed in all its bearings. Seldom has there been a gloomier feast. Yesterday took dinner with Mrs. Prentice and returned in time to receive Mollie Sandford, Lt. Holmes, Lt. Martin, and Dr. Winn, a nice Texan and a friend of Dr. Buckner’s, whom he saw about six weeks ago. …

If My Brother and Uncle Bo are among the prisoners, it is probable they will soon be paroled and at home. But we know not what has been their fate.

When Johnny first heard the ill news, he was wild with excitement and insisted on joining the army at once. We were wretched about him, but today he has quieted down and is willing to await further developments.

We expected to move to our new house on Monday, and Mamma is worried about paying the rent. If the Negroes are freed, we will have no income whatever, and what will we do? As things have turned out, we wish we could stay here until we know what is to be our fate.

 

Kate Stone’s Civil War: He would do anything

Stone’s entries refer to Lt. Holmes more often, and for good reason. Holmes would eventually become her husband.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone’s entries refer to Lt. Holmes more often, and for good reason. Holmes would eventually become her husband.

April 16, 1865

Tyler, Texas

All walked to church and were well repaid by an excellent sermon from Mr. Moore. … The tableaux with all their pleasant chat and laughter are a thing of the past. The gay rehearsals and frequent meetings are over, and we cleared about $900. The weather was wretched both evenings and of course kept many away, but we feel repaid for the trouble. The tableaux went off beautifully, not a hitch. Lt. Holmes — the Prince Charming as Mollie Moore and I dubbed him — was invaluable. He would do anything or adopt any suggestion we made. He was in attendance on Mollie and me all the time.

Dr. Weir came up to say good-bye as he is off for good. … He was much pleased with Mollie Moore, whom he met for the first time.

I tell Miss Mollie she always gets ahead of me when she tries the “poetry dodge” on our mutual friends. She is a charming girl. It is such a pleasure to have a friend to chatter nonsense to who enjoys it as much as I and does her full share. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Full of life and fun

The party that bonded the Stones to the Tyler community was a success. But Stone herself enjoys an even greater success: a new beau, Lt. Holmes.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

The party that bonded the Stones to the Tyler community was a success. But Stone herself enjoys an even greater success: a new beau, Lt. Holmes.

March 9, 1865

Tyler, Texas

The tableaux passed off as a grand success and made quite a nice sum of money. It is quiet now. Most of our soldier friends have left, one new acquaintance remaining, Lt. Holmes, a Louisianian. He took part in the entertainment and we saw him frequently. Before he came, Lt. Dupre told us he was so “fast ” that he would not bring him to the house, but he came with someone, and as far as we can tell is behaving all right. He seems full of life and fun. …

Mamma received today her application for My Brother’s transfer. It was disapproved, and so that ends our last hope of seeing him until this cruel war is over. We hear all the troops on this side are to be ordered across the river to reinforce the Army of [Northern] Virginia. When we hear from Jimmy again, their command may be marching over. It is a dark hour for us now. Only bad news, but the darkest hour is just before the dawning.

Miss Mollie Moore, “the Texas song bird,” has been very kind, lending us books, among others new novels. … They promise to be quite interesting. I am hoarse from reading aloud so long tonight. Mamma was tired and lying down. It has been too cold today to do anything but hover over the fire and read. …