Sepia Saturday: Silver Pennies

Both I and my wife still have our childhood copies of this collection of poems for children. I know my folks read to me from it. The minimalist art deco illustrations haunt me still; they evoke not only my childhood of half a century back but a simple, romantic, dreamworld, just past the age of empire, unreachably distant and yet strangely outside of time.
This is perhaps my favorite poem from it, also haunting in its bare and mysterious bones.

Silver Pennies clearly resonates for many people, as is proved by its presence on the following sites.

The Marlowe Bookshelf

Daoine Sidhe

VLS Photo: The Art and Culture of Inspiration

Arthur’s Classic Novels

Told Tales

Check out more illustrations from old children’s books here:

Kat in the Cupboard (flickr)



Spent Presidents' Day weekend (combining Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays) rambling the central western bits of the state. The economy in these tiny towns has been bad here for quite awhile...

Exterior, derelict garage, Chehalis WA

Interior, derelict garage, Chehalis WA

Interior, abandoned garage, Oakville WA

Defunct "Big Department Store," Centralia WA


Sepia Saturday: Mysterious Foremother

[Original post Feb 18, 2011, revised June 2015]

 Another relative I've been researching is my father's paternal great-grandmother, Elizabeth Blindberry (born in 1813 in New York State, died 1873 in Livonia, Michigan). Alas, I have no photograph of her or her husband.

Tombstone of Elizabeth and husband George Nelson Bentley
Family apocrypha has it that "her family owned the land that the Book-Cadillac Hotel now stands on," in Detroit. If this is true, here's an example of the genealogist's bugbear -- nonstandard spelling. For the owner of that land spelled his name Blindbury -- John Blindbury.

Assuming that this is the proper connection, my guess is that Elizabeth was John's sister. In those days, the census typically named only the head of the family, particularly ignoring the names of women of all ages. John apparently did have a younger sister who would have been born around the right time. In an attempt to find out about Elizabeth, I dug up what I could about her brother, my great-great granduncle.

Here's an excerpt of a biography published in the succinctly titled History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan - A Chronological Cyclopedia Past and Present by Silas Farmer (1890).

John Blindbury, of Detroit, was born February 22, 1806, in the town of Lyon [sic], Wayne County, New York, and was the eldest son of Joseph and Mary Blindbury. His father served in the war of 1812. At the age of twelve, Mr. Blindbury lost his mother, who died of consumption, leaving a family of seven children. This loss was a severe blow, and felt the more keenly because the family was, at this time, in straitened circumstances, and the children required a mother's care and experience. At their mother's death, the younger members of the family became the charge of an elder sister. John Blindbury was early trained to hard work. His education was limited; he had only a few months in the year to devote himself to study, and the district schools were far inferior to those of the present day. 

At the age of nineteen, in the year 1825, he emigrated to Michigan. ...Mr. Blindbury purchased eighty acres of land in the town of Southfield, Oakland County; he erected a log house on his purchase, and then sent for his father's family. After seeing them settled, he began chopping [lumber], in the forests of Michigan, at four dollars and a half per acre. Unlike most young men of this day, he considered his time as his father's until he came of age. 

I gather that his father -- I wish the article gave his name to nail it for me -- came along with the children. Joseph Blindbury had remarried by this time and there were several more children from this union. He was to die in Southfield in 1851.

Blindbury's homestead is described in the autobiography of one William S. Balls thusly:
"This was the autumn of 1857 in which we bought a farm in Greenfield on Grand River Avenue not quite six miles from the Detroit City Hall. This property included a two story brick house and one small barn. The front portion (about two acres) was planted to a large variety of fruit including a fine orchard, two grape arbors, pears, cherries, crabapples, a large quantity of currants, etc., all these in bearing. It was a place that Mr. Blindbury, the hotel man, had built and prepared for his own residence as he wished to retire. The rest of the land was mostly uncultivated, about 20 acres of it woods.

Nine months before that time, he gave his father a note to cover the value of his labor during the remaining months. After this, he went to what was then known as the Black River country [in St. Clair County], and entered into the lumbering business, in the employment of A. M. Wadhams. Here he remained about four years, at the end of which time he returned to Southfield, purchased one hundred acres of wild land, erected a log house, and began to clear the land for cultivation. 

He married, December 2, 1831, Maria Rogers, daughter of Moses and Mary "Polly" Rogers, residents of Southfield, and granddaughter of John Rogers, who served throughout the Revolutionary War.

John Rogers
They had three children, none of whom are living [as of 1890]. [Blindbury] remained on the farm for six years; when, owing to poor health, he was compelled to leave it. In 1837 he removed to the Grand River road, eight miles out of Detroit, and opened a small hotel. This proved a very profitable undertaking, as many immigrants were then entering the State. He remained in this place nine years, and then opened another inn, two miles nearer the city, remaining eight years and doing a profitable business. 

In 1844 [Blindbury] was elected Representative of Wayne County in the State Legislature. In 1850 sold the hotel, and erected a dwelling-house near by. About this time he was appointed Marshal of Wayne County. In 1852 he removed to Detroit, and erected what was known for many years as the Blindbury Hotel, on the corner of Washington and Michigan avenues, [later] known as the Antisdel House.

Location of the property

Here are stills from a 1923 Detroit newsreel (check it out!) showing the Antisdel House.

Landmarks of Wayne county and Detroit, by Robert Budd Ross and George Byron Catlin, offers this about the hotel property:
"In 1836, Nathaniel Champ built a house on the northeast corner of Washington and Michigan avenues [in Detroit], and he lived there until 1851. On this property he build the first temperance hotel in Detroit, and was its landlord for several years. Several managers of the hotel succeeded [him] and in 1843, his son, William Champ, became landlord and managed until 1851. The property was then sold to John Blindbury. In 1852, Mr. Blindbury built a hotel on the same site and named it the Blindbury Hotel. J.F. and W.W. Antisdel were afterwards landlords, and in 1870 W.W. Antisdel was in charge. W.A. Scripps afterward became a partner. The house was demolished in 1890."

John Antisdel
Here's an interesting document:  census taker William H. Pattes recorded the employees and residents of the Hotel on June 1, 1860.

Mr. Blindbury was brought up a Methodist, but never united with any church. He held very liberal views on religious subjects. His life was exceedingly upright. In politics, he was always allied with the Democratic party. Mr. Blindbury died on the 1st of March, 1867, leaving a comfortable estate to his widow, whom he made his sole executrix. His life was eventful, and was marked by hard work, energy, and perseverance. His labors were finally crowned with success; and he stands before us in his works, as a representative pioneer of Michigan.

The Antisdel was lauded as "The most home-like hotel in Detroit; well kept, strictly temperance, and worthy of the large patronage it receives."

Eventually it made way for the famous Book-Cadillac Hotel at the heart of Detroit. There are some great old photos of it here.

 All this is well and good, but I still don't know anything about Blindbury's sister Elizabeth, my great-great grandmother, other than she married George Bentley, of nearby Livonia, probably in 1836 at the age of 23. They proceeded to have children: Mary (b. 1837), , Margaret (1843), Susanna (1846), Charlotte (1848), , Charles (1853), and William (1865) when Elizabeth was 52! She only lasted eight years after that.

...Be sure to check out
Sepia Saturday at Blogspot!


Happy Valentines from King County

'Tis the season for warm emotions and kindly gestures, except perhaps in dour Washington State.

Posted in the driveway of our neighbor.

Two blocks from Microsoft Headquarters.

A token of downright neighborliness.


A Pair of Puddles

Just beyond these humble and ephemeral pools lies the vast, eternal Pacific. Go figure.

San Diego CA

Westport WA


Sepia Saturday: Gettysburg

Yet another relative of mine was named George Nelson Bentley. The brother of my great-grandfather John Bentley, he was named for his father who had come west from New York in 1835. Born in 1838 in Livonia Michigan, George Jr. "enlisted in Company I, 24th Michigan Infantry, on August 4, 1862 at Detroit." The Civil War was in full swing. He was 24. Most of the following is excerpted from the resources I list at the end.

The descriptive roster indicates that George was 5'1" tall with a brown complexion, gray eyes, and brown hair. History of the Twenty-Fourth Michigan of the Iron Brigade, known as the Detroit and Wayne County Regiment (O. B. Curtis, 1891 [1988 Reprint, Old Soldier Books, Gaithersburg MD]) indicates that George was working as farmer in Redford at the time of his enlistment, while the State Adjutant General has him in Livonia. ...Although detail of his service are scant, George was promoted to Corporal, an indication of good service.

Company I was a late addition to the famous “Iron Brigade,” which was part of The Army of the Potomac -- in turn one of the three units of First Corp of the Union Army. The Iron Brigade, also known as the Black Hat Brigade, fought entirely in the Eastern Theater, although composed of regiments from Western states (states that are today considered Midwestern). "Noted for its strong discipline, its unique uniform appearance, and its tenacious fighting ability, the Iron Brigade suffered the highest percentage of casualties [almost 80%] tof any brigade in the war." (Italics mine.)

In I Corps’ last major battle, the Battle of Gettysburg, General John F. Reynolds [“arguably the best Union corps commander in the Eastern Theater”] was killed just as the first troops arrived on the field, and command was inherited by Major General Abner Doubleday. Although putting up a ferocious fight, the I Corps was overwhelmed by the Confederate Third Corps and a division of Second Corps. It was forced to retreat through the town of Gettysburg, taking up defensive positions on Cemetery Hill.

Abner Doubleday

The First Day of the Battle of Gettysburg took place on July 1, 1863, and began as an engagement between isolated units of the Army of Northern Virginia under Confederate General Robert E. Lee and the Army of the Potomac under Union Maj. Gen. George G. Meade.

In the morning, two brigades of Confederate Maj. Gen. Henry Heth's division of Third Corps were delayed by dismounted Union cavalrymen under Brig. Gen. John Buford. As infantry reinforcements [including George Bentley] arrived under Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds of the Union I Corps, the Confederate assaults down the Chambersburg Pike were repulsed, although Gen. Reynolds was killed. By early afternoon, the Union XI Corps had arrived, and the Union position was in a semicircle from west to north of the town.

The Confederate Second Corps began a massive assault from the north, with one division attacking from Oak Hill and another attacking across the open fields north of town. The Union lines generally held under extremely heavy pressure, although the salient at Barlow's Knoll was overrun.

With a renewed assault from the north, Heth contributed with his entire division from the west, accompanied by the division of Maj. Gen. W. Dorsey Pender. Heavy fighting in Herbst's Woods and on Oak Ridge finally caused the Union line to collapse. Some of the Federals conducted a fighting withdrawal through the town, suffering heavy casualties and losing many prisoners; others simply retreated. They took up good defensive positions on Cemetery Hill and waited for additional attacks.

Sometime during that long day, George Nelson Bentley, Jr. was killed.

Union dead, Gettysburg

His gravesite is not currently known. When the Union Dead were moved to the National Cemetery, he was not among those identified. He may rest there in a grave marked "UNKNOWN". It is possible that his temporary gravesite was noted and the body exhumed and returned to Michigan, as were many. ...The Company I descriptive book indicates "Final statement sent September 9, 1863. He was a noble soldier."

George Gordon

According to a letter written by Capt. George Gordon, a month prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, Bentley narrowly missed being wounded at Fitzhugh Crossing. A bullet apparently passed through the seat of his pants.

Here is the letter, which gives a good picture of the situation.

Camp on battlefield of Fredericksburg No. 2 May 1st, 1863
My dear Carrie

Once more after the strife of battle I am spared, by the blessing of God, to write a few lines to you. I am writing this upon my knee, and so I do not write very well, but I guess you can make out to read it.

I wrote you before about the Port Royal afair. On Tuesday the 28th ult. we left camp at Belle Plain about noon, and to near our old crossing place, and lay there until about 11 oclock at night, when we commenced moving down to the river. We moved so slow that we did not get down to the bank of the river until nearly daylight, and we had got about half the pontoons in the water when it began to get light and the rebels opened a sharp fire upon us from their intrenchments on the oposite side of the river. Your Pa will know what kind of things they were. He will know the spot where we finally crossed. It was below the old crossing place a mile or so, just above the woods that we charged on in the other battle.

Well as I was saying, they opened fire upon our engineers laying the pontoons and sent them flying to the rear. Our regiment of course had to be one of those sent forward to try and drive them back but we could not displace them from our side of the river. Our reg't in this lost one, Co. F. and some wounded.

We could not get the pontoons across at that rate and so there was a forlorn hope ordered our to the river, take the pontoon back, cross over and drive the rebels out of their intrenchments - and if successful we could then lay the bridges. The 24th Mich. [including George Bentley] and 6th Wis. were the ones ordered to do this. So we formed battalion front, came down to the river with yells like demons or something else, rushed into the boats and went over, bullets flying like hail stones. The 7th Wis. and 14th Brooklyn were to cover us with their fire, but after we got across and were going up the bank, their bullets flew into and around us about as fast as the rebels. But the most of us got up the hill and made the rebs skeddadle out of that double quick. We all then did the tallest kind of running after them.

We took in all about 250 prisoners. Co. I took 36 in all. Your humble servant had, with the squad with him the honor of having 22 surrender in a body to him, one Lieut., Lieut. Hutton and Corp. Haskell and Henry Viley five. Sergt. Murray shot one through the head, dead, he wouldn't stop. John Dubois shot another. These two we know who shot, there was some 25 or 30 killed in all. The Reg't have lost in all so far as near as we can tell 5 killed and about 20 wounded. Co. I only had one seriously wounded. Stringham shot in the head, and followed the scalp around, but he is doing well. Murray had the blood drawn from his upper lip, came near shortening his nose. A. Johnson had a shot through his coat sleeve. Earnshaw and G. N. Bentley through the pants. [Italics mine] Myself an extra buttonhole in my coat just back of the lower button, no damage, only to clothing. We have had it both ways now in the other better by shot and shell, and this time shot and shell and the natural way, bullets as they would say by smallpox.

They gave us a pretty good shelling yesterday, but we held our ground, and gave them as good as they sent. Last night we worked pretty much all night tearing down log houses, and building fortifications, and now I think we are all right and will hold this as that is all that is now wanted of us, as Gen. Hooker has corps above and is now with 3 or 4 corps on their left flank. I think they will have to fight or run this time. Our company all stood up like men, except Lieut. Wheeler. He failed to cross the river and I have not seen him since the morning we crossed over.

They are waiting for this letter and I will have to bring this to a close, so good bye

Yours affectionately
Best regards to all
Write often

Thanks to these resources:




24th_michigan: letters

24th_michigan: G. Gordon

Civil War Photos

And thanks to the Sepia Saturday meme for the excuse to post this stuff.



I'd been thinking of posting a series of photos of Italian frescoes to illustrate this week's Theme Thursday, but decided I'd go more contemporary.

Wineshop, Eugene, Oregon

History, The Dalles, Oregon

Alley, Pasadena, California

Housing Estate, Belfast, Northern Ireland