1755 Bellin Map of the Great Lakes

Art on Sunday #23

A rare and extremely influential 1755 map of the Great Lakes drawn by Jacques Nicholas Bellin.

Partie Occidentale de la Nouvelle France ou du Canada.

After many years, I have recently been dabbling in genealogy.  My current focus is New France, where, in April 1657, a French soldier turned farmer, Pierre Couc dit Lafleur de Cognac,  married an Algonquin woman, Marie Mitéouamegoukoué, who had lost her first husband and two small children when a band of Iroquois warriors attacked her village several years before. While I don’t know that this couple are my ancestors for certain, there is a connection.  Now, if I can just find it.

The Art of Cartography – Until science claimed cartography, mapmaking and landscape painting were kindred activities, often performed by the same hand. …making a map invariably was an occasion for displaying artistry.1

A rare and extremely influential 1755 map of the Great Lakes drawn by Jacques Nicholas Bellin. This map, which appeared in the 1755 issue of the Homann Heirs Atlas Major, covers all five of the Great Lakes as well as the adjacent Indian lands and the English colonies of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. 2

This map enjoys lasting significance due to John Mitchell’s use of it in compiling his important wall map, A Map of the British & French Dominions in North America . Mitchell’s monumental cartographic masterpiece was used in 1783 to define the boundaries between Canada and the post-Revolutionary United States, forming the basis for national borders that are still in effect today.2


  1. Rees, Ronald, “Historical Links between Cartography and Art,” Geographical Review, Vol. 70, No. 1 (Jan., 1980), pp. 60-78
  2. Wikimedia Commons
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art on sunday, canada, genealogy, history, maps

Eyes of the Great Depression 143

Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Mennonite farmer, formerly wheat farmer in Kansas, now developing stump ranch in Boundary County, Idaho. Oct, 1939.

Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Mennonite farmer, formerly wheat farmer in Kansas, now developing stump ranch in Boundary County, Idaho. Oct, 1939.

Mennonite farmer, formerly wheat farmer in Kansas, now developing stump ranch in Boundary County, Idaho.1


  1. Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Oct, 1939. Image retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000005323/PP/. (Accessed October 25, 2016.)
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america, american history, eyes of the great depression, great depression, history, idaho, photography, vintage image

Eyes of the Great Depression 142

Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Cotton worker in Sunday clothes. Near Blytheville, Arkansas. June, 1937.

Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Cotton worker in Sunday clothes. Near Blytheville, Arkansas. June, 1937.

Cotton worker in Sunday clothes. Near Blytheville, Arkansas.1


  1. Lange, Dorothea, photographer. June, 1937. Image retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000001369/PP/. (Accessed October 25, 2016.)
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america, american history, arkansas, eyes of the great depression, great depression, history, photography, vintage images

Farmhouse in Winter

Art on Sunday #23

Wikimedia info:
Artist: Otto Barth
Description: Altenbergertal on the Rax, Styrian part of Preinergscheid).
Date 1910
Original Medium: oil
Dimensions 70 × 90 cm (27.6 × 35.4 in)

 

This image is from a chromolithograph at the US Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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art, art on sunday, winter

Eyes of the Great Depression 141

Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Child of sharecropper family near Cleveland, Mississippi. June, 1937.

Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Child of sharecropper family near Cleveland, Mississippi. June, 1937.

Child of sharecropper family near Cleveland, Mississippi.1


  1. Lange, Dorothea, photographer. June, 1937. Image retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000001327/PP/. (Accessed October 25, 2016.)
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american history, eyes of the great depression, great depression, history, mississippi, photography, vintage images

Eyes of the Great Depression 140

Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Man who worked in Fullerton, Louisiana lumber mill for fifteen years. He is now left stranded in the cut-over area. July, 1937.

Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Man who worked in Fullerton, Louisiana lumber mill for fifteen years. He is now left stranded in the cut-over area. July, 1937.

Man who worked in Fullerton, Louisiana lumber mill for fifteen years. He is now left stranded in the cut-over area.1

In just a few decades about 4.3 acres of Louisiana virgin timber had been clear cut – an area roughly the size of New Jersey.  Most timber companies had a policy of “cut out and get out,” transforming large sections of the state into vast “stumpscapes” of barren cutover land as mill operators moved on to other virgin timber elsewhere in the country.  Priceless timber resources were lost by the millions of acres.2

“No wonder the hotel was empty, the bank closed, the stores out of business; for on the other side of the railroad, down by the wide pond that once had held beautiful, fine-grained logs of Louisiana longleaf pine, the big sawmill that for twenty years had been the pulsing heart of what was now Nameless Town was already sagging on its foundations, its boilers dead, the deck stripped of all removable machinery. A few ragged piles of graying lumber were huddled here and there along the dolly-ways in the yard where for years lumber had been stacked by the million feet, waiting to be sent into thirty states and half the countries of the world. The mill had sawed-out.”3

With the closing of the Fullerton mill over a decade earlier, the subject of this photo apparently stayed behind when most of the rest of the mill community moved on.  Perhaps he tried farming on the marginal cutover land left behind.  Unfortunately, Dorothea Lange recorded little but the terse words of the picture’s caption. “Hearing of an abandoned lumber town in Louisiana, she made a long side trip to photograph the crumbling remains of buildings at Fullerton and the lone inhabitant, a man who had worked in the lumber mill for fifteen years and now was left stranded in the bleak, cut-over land.”4

 


  1. Lange, Dorothea, photographer. July, 1937. Image retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000001454/PP/. (Accessed October 25, 2016.)
  2. The Louisiana Lumber Boom, c.1880-1925 – Historic Contexts, Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism; Office of Cultural Development, Division of Historic Preservation
  3. Forbes, Reginald D., “The Passing of the Piney Woods,” 1923, American Forestry, 29, p. 134.
  4. Meltzer, Milton; “Dorothea Lange: A Photographer’s Life;” p. 178; Syracuse University Press, 1978
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american history, eyes of the great depression, history, louisiana, people, photography, vintage images

Houston – 51 years ago and now (part 2)

Downtown Houston, Texas mid 1960s

The photo above is from some time around 1965, the summer that I spent in Houston, Texas, with my mom and her new husband, Harry.  We lived in a second floor apartment in an old dilapidated apartment building about 10 blocks from where this photo was taken on Main Street looking to the northeast.  When I stumbled across this photo online several months ago, it was amazing how familiar it looked.  The view down Main Street (below) is almost unrecognizable from what I remember from 51 years ago.

The tall building on the left is the 44 story, 606 ft (185 m) Exxon-Mobil building.  I knew it as the Exxon building. I didn’t know at the time, but, apparently, it had been completed just 2 years before my visit. It was the tallest building west of the Mississippi when it was completed, but was surpassed in 1965 by a building in Dallas. One of the neat features of the building was the observation area at the top.  I went up several times that summer.  The “high speed” elevator made quite an impression on a youngster from a Nebraska  town that had few buildings large enough to need an elevator.

The skyscraper on the right side of Main Street is the 410 ft (125 m) One City Centre, originally called First City National Bank Building. Completed in 1960, it was the first modern office building constructed in downtown Houston.

The image below is from Google Street View (2015 image), taken from a similar vantage point as the top photo.  Main Street now has tracks for light rail. It hardly looks like the same city.  The Exxon-Mobil building and One City Centre can both be seen. The top photo is from a camera using a telephoto lens, which results in some perspective distortion. One City Centre is five blocks further away than the Exxon-Mobil building.  The bottom photo has less perspective distortion (magnification)  so that One City Centre seems even further away.Main Street, Houston, Texas, Google Street View, 11/16/2016

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america, american history, commentary, perception, photography, texas, vintage images

On the Electoral College

 Some rights reserved by DonkeyHoteyWhen the electoral college and the popular vote don’t pick the same candidates for President and Vice President, many on the losing side are going to be upset.  It only seems right that the candidate with the most votes should be the victor – and for most elective offices in the U.S., it is. It would be for the presidential election, as well, if the country was a pure democracy.

However, if the country isn’t a pure democracy.  If it were, the campaigns would have been run much differently.

Presidential campaign strategies are not based on the popular vote and candidates don’t focus on the popular vote.  They focus on the states they believe can turn the election results, chasing the vital 270 electoral votes for a win.  Other states are essentially ignored.

If the presidential election was based on the one-person one-vote principle, voters in two-thirds of the country, or more, would be virtually disenfranchised. The largest portion of candidates’ effort, money, and time would spent in the highly populated states and regions, bypassing the concerns, problems, and desires of the voters in the rest of this vast nation.

The United States is a republic with a federalist form of government “where the power is supposed to be divided between the states and the central government and neither is subservient to the other. Both are supposed to get their powers directly from the people.1

Under the United States Constitution, each state selects as many electors as the combined total the number of its U.S. senators and representatives.  In addition, the District of Columbia “gets at most the number of electors it would have if it were a state but not more than the number of electors of the least-populous state (currently 3).2

In the U.S. House of Representatives, each state is represented “in proportion to its population as measured in the census, but every state is entitled to at least one representative. The most populous state, California, currently has 53 representatives. On the other end of the spectrum, there are seven states with only one representative each (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming). The total number of voting representatives is fixed by law at 435.3” The term of office for each representative is two years.  Those states that have more than one representative are divided into districts where each district elects one representative.

The United States Senate is comprised of 100 senators, two from each state who represent the whole state.  The senators for each state serve staggered six-year terms.

Changing the system used for election of the President and Vice President requires an Amendment to the Constitution (Wikipedia).


  1. Darrell Huckaby – Newton Citizen, Newton County, Georgia
  2. Electoral College (United States) – Wikipedia
  3. United States House of Representatives – Wikipedia

Images:

License:  Some rights reserved by DonkeyHotey (Billionaires image)
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Dear Jane

Art on Sunday #22

Original Civil War Quilt by Jane Stickle

Original Civil War Quilt by Jane Stickle

Jane Stickle’s 1863 sampler quilt – sampler quilts are comprised of different block patterns that are generally non-repeating – is an inspiration for quilters all over the world.  Located at the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont, the quilt is displayed for only a limited time each year due the fragility of the fabric. Each of the 169 five-inch blocks is in a different pattern as are the outward pointing triangle pieces in the border and the corner pieces, for a total of 225 patterns and a total of 5,602 pieces of fabric.

Karen's first "Dear Jane" quilt "Insanity"

Karen’s first “Dear Jane” quilt “Insanity”

Jane Blakely Stickle was born in Shaftsbury, Vermont in 1817 and by 1850 had married Walter Stickle.  With no children of their own, they took responsibility for at least three other area children.  In the 1860 census, Jane is listed as a farmer living alone, but eventually reunited with Walter. During the early 1860s, Jane created what is now known as the Jane Stickle Quilt, embroidering into it “In War Time. 1863. Pieces. 5602. Jane A. Stickle.”

Karen's second "Dear Jane" quilt, "Insanity Revisited"

Karen’s second “Dear Jane” quilt, “Insanity Revisited”

If she had not signed her name, Jane and her quilt might both have been lost to history.  The quilt was passed down through descendants of relatives – since Jane and Walter had no children – and was “rediscovered” during the depression years by a relative in St. Louis, Missouri.  Knowing that Jane was from Vermont, it was sent to the Bennington Museum.

In the early 1990s, Brenda Papadakis saw the quilt in Richard L. Cleveland & Donna Bister’s book Plain and Fancy: Vermont’s People and their Quilts as a Reflection of America, published in 1991.

The geometry of the block designs quickly captured Brenda’s attention. She spent the next five years researching Jane Stickle’s life and times. She drafted the patterns of the 169 four and a half inch blocks, the 52 triangle border blocks, and the 4 kite-shaped corner blocks and then published those in the book Dear Jane, The Two Hundred Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt. Later she made the Dear Jane®; CD Rom available making it possible to customize one’s own version of the quilt from a computer.1

Thanks to remarkable serendipity, the book by Brenda Papadakis, and the internet, Jane Stickle’s quilt and it’s patterns are known by a multitude of quilters worldwide – and many have subsequently created their own interpretation of the quilt using Papadakis’s book and its patterns.

Recently, we took a trip to Texas to see go to the Houston International Quilt Festival where we discovered that they had a special exhibit, “Twenty years of Dear Jane ®.” Below is a few different interpretations of the Jane Sickle 1863 quilt, popularized as Dear Jane ®.


  1. The Dear Jane® History – Blue Cat Creations
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american history, art on sunday, photography, quilting, serendipity

Houston – 51 years ago and now (part 1)

In 1965, my sister and I had been living for several years with our grandparents in Nebraska.  In late May or early June that year, I traveled by bus to spend the summer with my mom and her new husband, Harry, in Houston, Texas.

Downtown Houston, then, looked much as it does in the photo below.  The bus terminal was somewhere near the foreground of the photo on the left side of the picture.  They didn’t have a car so we walked back to where they lived.  It wasn’t far, just a few blocks past the tallest building on the left, a second floor apartment in a dilapidated old building on Haley Street.

Houston Texas downtown skyline (abt 1963)

Last weekend, Karen and I visited Houston for the first time in 30 years.  We were there for the Houston International Quilt Festival, held at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The photo below was taken from a second floor convention center balcony.

The downtown area sure has changed since I first saw it as a 13 year-old.  The bottom picture was taken from a vantage point a few blocks to the left, but not too far from that of the top one.  (See the bottom comparison, which points out one building that is in both photos.)

Other than going from and back to the parking lot where we left the car to go to the quilt show, we didn’t walk around the downtown area at all.

As an introverted 13 year-old living in Midtown, I roamed these streets quite a bit.  I could get to just about anywhere downtown with a couple of short walks and a 15¢ bus ride.  The current convention center is about 1.5 miles from where we lived, less than a half hour walk for the youngster I was back then.

Mom worked as a waitress in a hotel coffee shop not far from where these pictures were taken.  There aren’t many images online from that period of time and I haven’t been able to identify if that building even exists.

That area of Houston, as I recall, was slated for some kind of urban renewal, which, from what we saw has long been done.  From Google streetview , the old apartment building is long gone, replaced by newer, nicer buildings.  The whole area has changed.

Two years after the 1965  summer visit, I returned to Houston to live with my mom, sister, and step-dad.  I left at the very end of 1971 when I joined the Navy.

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