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Historical Imaging 2



This follow-up post presents the historical imaging I’ve done focused on maps and location. Actually, I’d say that it’s most correct to say that this is imagery driven not by simply the “location”, but by the agenda of attempting to locate a thing; to impart a sense of how and where the thing in question is located–oriented–to the viewer.

To locate a thing so that it fits with the audience’s world.

Obviously this can’t always work.

It turns out (of course) that usually at least some sort of context is necessary. For images of a place (whether from a map, an aerial photograph or other rendering, crude diagram in the sand…whatever!), for it to mean a ding dang thing, your intended audience much of the time needs to have at least some basic geographical knowledge.

But that said, it’s a very interesting and multi-faceted challenge to try and make an image conveying a sense of place if you consider your audience consisting of people who don’t know…don’t really care. lol

When & Where… & when, again?

  1.  Basic “when & where” map for an individual or familyMD2MA-1
  2. Tighter focus on the “where” (central Massachusetts in this case; a father and son located)
  3. Placing the very specific in the macro
    1. Farmstead of 4x-great-grandad that served as homebase for 3 generationswashcozoom1
    2. City unfamiliar to coast-dwelling typesLOUISVILLE 1 copy2
    3. When the exact part of a foreign place is important (for some reason)Jura copy
    4. Using cool maps cooly. For this one, the only context necessary is that this is the east coast of Ireland, just south of Dublin and that north is to the right.
      Wicklow 3D2 copy
    5. Tighter focus–after you’ve given some context
      1. Tober Townland was directly referenced on the map above, so now  you can zoom in there to see detail. The inset maintains the tether to the broad knowledge base you’re attempting to access.TUBBER1 copy 2
      2. southwestern Wisconsin, a couple miles off the Mississippi River & 5 or 7 miles from Illinois, showcasing an original land grantee whose descendants carried on in the location; 4x-great-grandkids remain in 2017.T DUSTIN LAND copy
      3. Various specific spots within a larger, but still relatively small (and not commonly  nown) location, the Dordogne in southwestern France. In the upper right of this one is Jumilhac, the castle seen in the last post.
      4. one place, Haverhill, Massachusetts and vicinity…

        image2212 copy

        … variations on perspective

        HAVERHILL SALEM copy

      5.  One place in detail: Foley, Minnesota

        FOLEY copy

Foley sits nearly smack dab in the middle of the state, among the flat, flat fields 15 miles east-northeast of the mini urban hub of St. Cloud and the bend over which it presides of the still quite wide Mississippi River. The tiny hamlet FLC LHC FOLEY copyof Foley has given the world doctors, lawyers, Indy 500 participants, lumber, all-night jazz dances in barns once upon a time, and been home to retired farmers, aspiring capitalist fashionistas, former religious zealots & their kids, descendants of royalty and lots and lots of regular people who very well might’ve been born in other countries or been the kids of those who were.

Rockefeller had a gas station here (like 10s of thousands of of other places in these United States); women turned out nearly to a 100% here in 1924 the first occasion they GnG OGG FOLEY copywere permitted to help choose the President. Foley is a stand-in for whatever your little town is, or was. Our Town is the most performed play (or close to it) in America because 100s of millions of us came from our towns like this. “I didn’t, but my mom did”,–we’re all from it together.

These small towns, whose children and grandchildren have flocked and flown out to the gothams and metropolitanias  were in their way, factories of the ever-new, ever-renewing people, of us all–factories of Americans.

The sprawling and ever interconnected suburbs and ex-urbs where so many millions of us now reside and have for some time–they are built by the developers and they are inhabited by the dwellers on the model of the myriad iterations of “Small Town America” like Foley, Minnesota. It was in these places that generations of people learned and were taught how to be Americans. Despite the regional differences that might inculcate one attitude or another toward or about other people, the style of day-to-day interaction and pacing and level of attentiveness to the people around you, it’s all very similar in this small town substrate of our collective sense of ourselves and how and who we are.

It is from this America that in many critical ways we came. And it seems to me worth knowing in order to figure out into what America we are, might, or can decide to be going.

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Posted by on March 25, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Conn-axe-tions Pt. 2


Despite his loyalty and earlier leadership acumen, ole Joseph-Antoine didn’t turn out to be that good a governor for New France. There was trouble that he walked into, and his choices and the circumstances didn’t mesh well. In short, English and French colonies both brushed up toward and around the Great Lakes, 1024px-Nouvelle-France_map-en.svgand in the great American forests they’d found great numbers of American animals with fur they were just dying to sell to Europeans. Well, the animals died, that’s for sure. Both European powers worked at getting as much fur as they could to make lots of money, and had with the Iroquois attacking another nation, the Illinois, who were French allies, attacking French settlers, and doing business with the English with their newly created Henry Hudson Company trading furs, which of course hurt the business the French were trying to cultivate. LaBarre’s Jesuit missionary advisors recommended to stay out of local politics (i.e., the war with the Illinois) and to not make pretense to war with the Iroquois unless he really could defeat them. (This echoed the King’s direct orders, actually.)

A little context:

number of colonists in New France, 1685:

number of colonists in *just* New York & New England, same time:

He set off down river and toward Lake Ontario on July 30, 1684 with a few hundred soldiers, knowing there were at least 2600 braves of the Iroquois Federation of nations on the other side. Did he actually mean to make Iroquois_5_Nation_Map_c1650[1]war, or just to intimidate? No one, of course, really knows the answer to that, but we do know what he said 34 days later, on Sep 5, at a conference in what’s now upstate New York to a contingent of Indians, that a goodly portion of his troops were incredibly ill. History has also preserved the Iroquois response, spoken by an Onondega leader on behalf of the Natives.

And we know that the treaty they signed allowed the Iroquois to continue everything they were doing. In the spring of 1685 a letter arrived from King Louis relieving Joseph-Antoine of his duty. Almost three years to the day after he arrived, he departed from America, Indian attacks and doing business with the English continuing. A year later the colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut united to become “New England”. Two years after that, in 1688, the disagreements between England and France erupted Map-NE+Coloniesinto a full-blown war. The Iroquois Confederation were allied with the English, so attacked French colonists and Indian allies. The Wabanaki Confederation were the French allies, duly attacking English colonists in what’s now Maine and New Hampshire…and occasionally Massachusetts.

Like one morning in March 1697. In the intervening years Hannah had birthed 8 more babies, 7 of whom had lived, giving them 10 kids. (My ancestor, their son Nathaniel, had been born six days after Louis XIV had written his dismissal letter to LaBarre in 1685.) On March 9 she gave birth to a 12th child. By this time their oldest had gotten married and lived nearby with her own husband and baby. The oldest kid at home was a teenage daughter, followed by another girl and a couple of sons in their teens, too, then the little ones.

As dawn broke on the morning of March 15, 1697 a group of Abanaki literally hired by the government of New Thomas_Dustin_EscapeFrance attacked the Dustin home. Thomas was able to round up most of the family and get to them to safety. Except for his wife, newborn baby girl and a neighbor lady who was helping take care of Hannah and the newborn. They were captured. As they were led out into the snow walking in to the woods, one of the Abanaki grabbed the 6-day-old and slammed it into a tree, killing it.

Having studied this event from a variety of sources over the years, and having my own thoughts on what did, didn’t, may have or could have actually happened regarding the attack and the subsequent forced march north into the New Hampshire wilderness and the escape some weeks later involving the acquisition of several human scalps by Hannah, her friend and another captive, it’s the detail about the baby that stands out, that grips, that wrenches the soul.

Now that could mean that it was a planted detail because who doesn’t think that’s a wretched act. It vilifies the perpetrator and in so doing vilifies all Indians, conveniently. But at the same time, if it is to be believed that Dustin_EscapeHannah, her friend and neighbor, also a woman, and a 14-year-old boy who’d been captive for a while, if we are to believe that they used their captor’s axes to kill all 12 of them, half of whom were themselves women and kids (one of whom actually got away showing massive wounds, thus lending credibility to this version of events) and then actually *went back* after getting away in order to scalp the dead bodies so as to prove what happened, again we’re talking about wretched acts, perhaps most deservedly in this case because the kid and these two ladies were not soldiers, had not killed people before. 16511detSuch intense action usually has a precipitant, and only after being a parent do I now believe that the baby-killing did actually occur, and that it perhaps singly led Hannah to the acts she committed to get up on outa there.

Former Governor LaBarre was long gone by then. He’d died in 1688. And the war he’d unintentionally helped start actually ended during the period Hannah was in captivity. They never met, but if LaBarre hadn’t tried to trick the Iroquois it could be that the disagreements between the English and the French and their associated allies among the Native Americans would have come to a different head at a slightly different time and place. As it was, though, 170 years after the attack, Hannah Dustin became the first woman honored in the Americas with a statue.  On her return she’d reported her story to the top legal mind in the colonies, Cotton Mather (who 5 years earlier had had to step in on the judges of Salem, Mass to set to rights the hysteria there over witchcraft). That and other legal depositions from the time are extant. The story was taken up by literary minds 100 and some years later. John Greenleaf Whittier and Nathaniel Hawthorne, that chronicler of late-early New England both created popular works on the topic and led to the memory being preserved such that in 1864 the statue went up.

286 years after Joseph-Antoine le Febvre de LaBarre left America my friend’s dad came back to America, with a pregnant wife who’d been born on the Mississippi River, near its confluence with the Ohio. It was a spot that until 1805 had been deep within what once were the bounds of New France. Their son was born in Colorado, also until Jefferson bought from Napoleon the territory known as “Louisiana” in 1805 a place that was once known as the western reaches of New France. And it was five years after that, and 280 years after Hannah Dustin was captured and escaped, that Hannah’s descendants — my mom and I —were living in Colorado, and on the day after xmas the two lines reconnected when our neighbor’s grandson knocked on our door, pre-arranged by my nanny, and said to me “I’m the boy who came to play.”

This post is dedicated to Guy-Bernard and his kids.


Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Conn-axe-tions! Part 1


In looking at one friend’s family tree recently which has been particularly rich in fascinating and compelling aspects and through which I’ve learned gobs about the history of France and colonial America, a connection recently came to light between one of his ancestors and one of mine. Making this little discovery more entertaining is that the friend in question is my oldest and deepest friend; our families form a larger extended family.

The connection, though a ways back, is relatively tangible, which is to say it’s not so long ago that it just seems utterly disconnected from any current reality (like the lives of ancestors common to many people, such as Arnulf of Metz, c.581 – 640 CE, or William the Conqueror, 1027 – 1087 CE). Seeing the links to this day and time from my and my buddy’s ancestors actually possible, which makes it potentially attention grabbing to people — like this friend in question — who aren’t as interested in genealogy or history as some of us.

Both ancestors involved in this connection happen, maybe somewhat oddly, to hold just a little bit of fame; they each have their own Wikipedia page, for instance. Because indeed, they each did things with their lives that we humans pretty much across the cultural and temporal boards deem worth remembering, even honoring (in both cases, but for different reasons).

One’s remembered for two things: what he did for a career, and while engaged in that job, a particular decision and resultant statement he made. The other entered the halls of history because of doing something out of sync with their station in society that re-cast their action as bold and dramatic; cuz it was a SHE who did the thing.
The “he” in question, and my friend’s 10th great-grandfather, was Joseph-Antoine le Fèbvre de LaBarre, 1622 – 1688, Governor of New France (when that referred to practically half of North America). The “she” was my 8th great-grandmother, Hannah Emerson Dustin, 1657 – 1737, a colonist in New England who escaped capture by Indians.
Humans tend to make lists of head administrators throughout the ages, so La Barre’s name would’ve been preserved for us regardless of anything else. But for what ever reason or reasons, he gets an extra little boost into the history books because of a rather big blunder. While Governor of New France he tried to play a bluff on some dudes who knew better: representatives of the the Native American Iroquois Confederacy that his far superior military forces could and would decimate them (when he had hardly an army to speak of in reality). They didn’t buy it — and didn’t appreciate their intelligence being insulted. Their continued attacks on the Illinois, allies of the French, and other things evolved into a war. La Louis_XIV_of_FranceBarre’s boss didn’t like that, so he canned him. (His boss was the King of France, and not just any king, but King Louis XIV, the frikking Sun King, who had just got done personally leading military conquests and re-conquests of tons of land in Europe).

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…

So it was that at the end of September 1682, Monsieur LaBarre, then 60 years old, landed in Quebec after King Louis XIV had appointed him in May. He’d done extraordinarily well as a ship’s captain in the Caribbean, defending against the Dutch alongside then allies the English. Before that, as governor of French Guyana, he’d improved that colony and its agricultural promise impressively over his predecessor. And prior to that, during Louis’ minority, LaBarre had been appointed the Intendant of Paris during what was essentially a civil war, the Fronde rebellion of the 1650s, when certain nobles had tried to wrest some power from the French national rulers. I.e., he’d stood by the King and his authority at a critical time — a time which so shook young Louis that he chose to move the royal family and the seat of government out of Paris, turn the old palace, there, into a museum (the Louvre), and create Versailles as an enticement for all French nobles to live in luxury so as not to rebel anymore —and through display of administrative skill and sheer prowess in combat in the Caribbean possessions our LaBarre had some cache with the Sun King.

When he landed at the recently burned down town of Quebec, my ancestor Hannah Dustin was 260 miles due south, living in a little settlement called Haverhill, which represented pretty much the northern limit of the Massachusetts colony, two miles from the New Hampshire colony. Born there, to a dad fresh off the boat from England who’d married a daughter of other immigrants like himself, Hannah had married a fella named Thomas Duston and had by September 1682 given birth to three kids.

Click here for part two…

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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


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