Friday, August 26, 2016

Heading West in 19C America

From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America & on to the Pacific coast during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West.

Thomas Hill  (1829-1908) Driving of the Last Spike

Thomas Hill's" The Last Spike" was for many years in the rotunda of the California State Capitol, but now is on display at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.  Thomas Hill's work is an amazing collection of portraits on one canvas.  The Key to the Portraits (middle) is taken from Thomas Hill's self-published pamphlet, The Last Spike, A Painting by Thomas Hill:  Illustrating the Last Scene in the Building of the Overland Railroad.  With a History of the Enterprise.  San Francisco, January, 1881:
"Kneeling at the feet of Governor Stanford is F. L. Vandenburg, the chief electrician of the occasion, who is adjusting the wire which leads off through the crowd to the telegraph pole on the right.  At his left is J. H. Strowbridge, general superintendent of the work of construction.  The chief men of the Central Pacific railroad, C. P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, E. B. Crocker, Charles Crocker, T. D. Judah, are all represented in characteristic attitudes. and with features accurately portrayed.  Near Governor Stanford are the President and Directors of the Union Pacific, Oakes Ames, Sidney Dillon, Dr. Durant, and John Duff, Hon. A. A. Sargent, who played so important and honorable a part in the legislation that made the building of the road possible, is shown by an admirable portrait at the right. Behind him is Hon. T. G. Phelps, his colleague in Congress while the Pacific Railroad legislation was taking shape, and its friend throughout.  In the same part of the canvas are S. S. Montague, Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific; Colonel George E. Gray, Consulting Engineer; the two assistant engineers, L. M. Clement and Charles Cadwalader; Judge S. W. Sanderson, at present chief legal adviser of the road; B. B. Redding of the Land Department; A. K. P. Safford, then Governor of Arizona; and Hon. Milton S. Latham, United States Senator from California when the road was begun, and at all times its warm friend.  Elsewhere can be found William Sherman, James W. Haynes and F. A. Tritle, United States Pacific Railroad Commissioners ; John Corning, Division Superintendent, afterwards Assistant General Superintendent, and E. H. Miller, Jr., Secretary of the Central Pacific Railroad Company; Robert Robinson, Counsel for the Company; Arthur Brown, Superintendent of Bridges and Buildings; E. Black Ryan, Private Secretary of Governor Stanford; Charles Marsh, one of the original incorporators; Edgar Mills, Master of Ceremonies; Dr. H. W. Harkness, of Sacramento; Dr. J. D. B. Stillman, of San Francisco; A. P. Stanford, brother of Governor Stanford; J. R. Watson, Conductor of the first passenger train on the Central Pacific; Benjamin Welch, Master Builder of the Sacramento Car Works; Stephen T. Gage, of the Chief Executive Department of the Central Pacific; John Casement, Contractor of the Central Pacific, and David Hewes.  The ladies are Mrs. Strowbridge, Mrs. Ryan, and the wives of officers commanding troops in the vicinity…"

Protecting the Newcomers - Fort Scammel & Fort Georges, Maine by Seth Eastman 1808-1875

During the late 18C & through much of the 19C, army forts were constructed throughout the United States to defend the growing nation from a variety of threats, both perceived & real, both external & internal. Internal threats included those from the Native Americans who had been on the land for enons. 

Seth Eastman (American artist, 1808-1875) Fort Scammel and Fort Gorges, Maine

Fort Scammel and Fort Georges, Maine

Following the War of 1812, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed that a fort be built on Hog Island Ledge, in Casco Bay at the entrance to the harbor at Portland, Maine. Named for the colonial proprietor of Maine, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, it was constructed to support existing forts, including Fort Scammel built on nearby House Island in 1808. Congress, however, did not fund construction of Fort Gorges until 1857. The walls of the fort were begun the next year, and when the Civil War broke out in 1861, work quickly advanced. It was completed in 1865 as the war ended, a granite reminder of what might have been. A modernization plan was begun in 1869, but funding was cut off in 1876, with the third level of the fort still unfinished. Seth Eastman painted his canvas during this final phase.

Eastman gave Fort Scammel and Fort Gorges equal emphasis in his sweeping view. On the distant waters of the bay, the viewer glimpses the activity of sailboats and a steamboat, as well as construction cranes behind both forts. This painting is unusually complex among the works in the series, in both design elements and narrative implications. For example, the large pier at the lower right, its pilings, and the rock and piling at the center are strongly drawn and tightly composed. The pier is animated by 11 figures, standing or seated, who have gathered there. Eastman conveys the specifics of place with attention to the dress and posture of the figures and the structure and age of the pier. The lounging atmosphere, the casual note of the ladder leaning against the small shed at the right, and the motionless boat with inactive occupants at the left all suggest a backwater where time stands still. Again, Eastman seems to compare the foreground idleness with the idleness of the forts and with dreams of battles never fought. The mood is greatly enhanced by the large sky, with a variety of cloud formations tranquilly painted in pale gray tints.

From the office of the United States curatorwe learn that in 1870, the House Committee on Military Affairs commissioned artist Seth Eastman 17 to paint images of important fortifications in the United States. He completed the works between 1870 & amp; 1875. 

Born in 1808 in Brunswick, Maine, Eastman found expression for his artistic skills in a military career. After graduating from the US Military Academy at West Point, where officers-in-training were taught basic drawing & amp; drafting techniques, Eastman was posted to forts in Wisconsin & amp; Minnesota before returning to West Point as assistant teacher of drawing. 

While at Fort Snelling, Eastman married Wakaninajinwin (Stands Sacred), the 15-year-old daughter of Cloud Man, Dakota chief. Eastman left in 1832 for another military assignment soon after the birth of Their baby girl, Winona, & declared His marriage ended When He left. Winona was also known as Mary Nancy Eastman & was the mother of Charles Alexander Eastman, author of Indian Boyhood.

From 1833 to 1840, Eastman taught drawing at West Point. In 1835, he married his 2nd wife & was reassigned to Fort Snelling as a military commander & remained there with Mary & their 5 children for the next 7 years. During this time Eastman began recording the everyday way of life of the Dakota & the Ojibwa people. Eastman established himself as an accomplished landscape painter. Between 1836 & amp; 1840, 17 of his oils were exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York City. 

Transferred to posts in Florida, & amp; Texas in the 1840s, Eastman became interesed in the Native Americans & made sketches of the people. This experience prepared him for the next 5 yeas in Washington, DC, where he was assigned to the commissioner of Indian Affairs & illustrated Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's important 6-volume Historical & amp; Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, & Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. 

In 1867 Eastman returned to the Capitol, this time to paint a series of scenes of Native American life for the House Committee on Indian Affairs. Of his 17 paintings of forts, 8 are located in the Senate, while the others are displayed on the House side of the Capitol. Eastman was working on the painting West Point when he died in 1875.

Dog Days of Summer - Mostly 19C Photos of pets

Helena, Montana

Photographer Beales, Fulton, New York.


Photographers King Brothers, Santa Paula, Calfornia

Perhaps it's the child, perhaps it's the dog. Hard to tell.

Photographer Drake, Loudonville, Ohio.

Photographer Knight, New Britain, Connecticut.

Photographer L. H. Cook, Chico, California.

Itinerant Tent Photographer Mitchell. Both a bunny & a dog.

Woods & Wrigley, Kearney, Nebraska

Scottdale, PA

Georgetown, Colorado


New Hampshire


Photo by C. Volkers of 117 Smith Street, Brooklyn New York - 1870’s


Dog Days of Summer is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was determined to extend from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) & the sun.  The Greek poets Hesiod (ca. 750-650 BCE) & Aratus (ca. 310–240 BCE) refer, in their writings, to "the heat of late summer that the Greeks believed was actually brought on by the appearance of Sirius," a star in the constellation, that the later Romans, & we today refer to as Canis Major, literally the "greater dog" constellation. Homer, in the Iliad, references the association of "Orion's dog" (Sirius) with oncoming heat, fevers, & evil, in describing the approach of Achilles toward Troy:
Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion's Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.

The term "dog days" was used by the Greeks in Aristotle's Physics.  Astronomer Geminus, around 70 B.C., wrote: "It is generally believed that Sirius produces the heat of the 'dog days,' but this is an error, for the star merely marks a season of the year when the sun"s heat is the greatest." The lectionary of 1559 edition of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer indicates: "Naonae. Dog days begin" with the readings for July 7 & end August 18. But the readings for September 5 indicate: "Naonae. Dog days end."  This corresponds very closely to the lectionary of the 1611 edition of the King James Bible which indicates the Dog Days beginning on July 6 & ending on September 5.