Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pioneering in Pennsylvania

George Croghan - an 18th century pioneer land speculator and Indian negotiator in Pennsylvania and New York states - died 230 years ago today. It is claimed that a history of his life is ‘an epitome of Indian relations with the whites’. He kept journals on various of his exploratory and border dispute tours, and these are considered to be one of the most important sources for the history of the frontier in the period before the War of Independence.

Croghan was born in Dublin around 1718, but in his early 20s emigrated to colonial America, where he became a fur trader in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. By the mid-1740s, having mastered the customs and language of the local Indians, he was appointed Indian agent for Pennsylvania. He successfully wrested the allegiance of the area’s Indians from the French and negotiated important treaties of friendship. (He is mentioned, it is worth noting, in the diary of Conrad Weiser - see Weiser goes to Ohio - a German immigrant who was an Indian interpreter.)

As a result of the French and Indian War, which started in 1754, Croghan’s trading business collapsed, and he accepted an appointment as chief deputy to Sir William Johnson, British superintendent of northern Indian affairs. For more than a decade, he conducted extensive negotiations with the Indians, was instrumental in negotiating a settlement of Pontiac’s War (during which several tribes rebelled against British authority), and opened up Illinois to the British. All the while, he was again amassing his own land, often through complex speculations with business partners. He negotiated, for example, a 2.5 million acre grant from a consortium of tribes as restitution for his own losses during the Anglo-Indian War.

Croghan resigned as Indian agent in 1771 intent on establishing a new British colony called Vandalia (including parts of present day West Virginia and Kentucky) but his efforts got bogged down, especially after a land dispute with George Washington, and an accusation of treason. That and the outbreak of the war with Britain in 1775 left Croghan an impoverished man on his death in 1782. His estate went to his daughter Susannah, and when she died a few years later, in 1790, several of her children continued to pursue Croghan’s claims in the courts for decades but all to no avail. Further biographical information is available from Wikipedia or an article in The Quarterly Journal of the New York State Historical Association.

Croghan’s journals and correspondence, considered one of the most important sources for the history of the frontier in the mid-1700s, can be read online at Internet Archive or Indiana University. An introductory note starts as follows: ‘Next to Sir William Johnson, George Croghan was the most prominent figure among British Indian agents during the period of the later French wars, and the conspiracy of Pontiac. A history of his life is therefore an epitome of Indian relations with the whites, especially on the borders of Virginia and Pennsylvania and in the Ohio Valley. A pioneer trader and traveller, and a government agent, no other man of his time better knew the West and the counter currents that went to make up its history.’ Here are a few extracts from the journals themselves. [NB: See the Weiser article, as mentioned above, for a note on Wampum.]

1 March 1765
‘Six Senecas Indians came here, from one of the Shawanese Towns & inform’d me, as follows - That the deputation from the Shawanese & Delawares, which were sent last Summer, to the Ilinois to Councel with the French & Indians in that Country, were returned, that they had been well recd by the French, who, on their arrival, clothed them & told them, they would supply them, with every necessary they wanted, to carry on the War agst the English; & would send Traders with them, to their Towns, when they shou’d set out. That they had held a Council with nine Indian Nations, settled on the Ouabache & in the Ilinois Country, who all Engaged to support them, with their whole Force, should they continue the War against the English. That on those Deputys return to the plains of Siota & being informed of the Terms, of accommodation agreed on by their Nations (during their absence) with Colonel Boquet, they then in Council with the Sandusky & Seneca Indians, agreed to abide by their People’s Engagements, & perform the whole in their part, provided the English wou’d open a free Trade & intercourse with them, & supply them with Ammunition, Goods, & Rum, as usual & not prohibit the Sale of Powder & Liquors, as they had done before the late difference happened. These Indians farther said, the Shawanese had sent a Message to the French Traders, who were then following them to their Towns, to return home - (I much doubted the Truth of this) & that they had sent a Message, likewise, to the Nine Nations in that Country acquainting them, that they were about accommodating matters with the English, & desiring them to sit still, ‘till they heard farther from them in the Spring.’

2 March 1765
‘I dispatched a Messenger to the Shawanese & Senecas, & another to the Delaware & Sandusky Indians, to acquaint them of my arrival here, in Company with Lieutenant Frazer, with Messages from the Kings Commander in Chief, & Sir Wm Johnson, to their Nations, & desired their several Chiefs, would immediately come here to meet me. I likewise sent a Message to Pondiac who I heard was among the Twightwees, to meet me at the mouth of Siota, on my way down the River.’

4 March 1765
‘Two Senecas came here from Venango (where a hundred of their people were hunting) to know, if a Trade was opened here, for the Indians, as they had heard from the Seneca Country, all differences being settled between their Nation & the English, last fall, by Sir Wm Johnson. Deliver’d a string of Wampum.’

5 March 1765
‘Major Murray & I acquainted them there was no Trade opened yet, nor could there be any, till the Shawanese & Delawares had come in, to perform their Engagements with Colonel Bouquet. That we did send for them & Expected them here, before the last of this month. Gave them a Belt of Wampum, desiring them to rest satisfy’d, till that time, & likewise desired some of their Chiefs, to come down and hear, what should pass between us & those Nations.’

8 June 1765
‘At Day Break we were attacked by a Party of Indians consisting of Eighty Warriors of the Kacapers and Musquatimes who Killed two of my men & three Indians wounded myselfe and all the rest of my party Except two White Men and one Indian then made myselfe and all the White men Prisoners plundering us of every Thing we had. A Deputy of the Shawnesse who was Shot thro the Thigh having concealed himself in the Woods for a few Minuets after he was Wounded not then Knowing but they were Southern Indians who are always at war with the Northward Indians: after discovering what Nation they were he came up to them and made a very bold speech telling them that the Whole Northward Indians would join in taking Revenge for the Insult and murder of their People this alarmed these Indians very much they began excusing themselves saying their Fathers the French had spirited them up telling them the Inglish were coming with a body of Southern Indians to take their Country from them and inslave them. that it was this that induced them to commit this Outrage after having divided the plunder they left great Part of the heaviest Effects Behind not being able to carry them they sett of with us to their Village at Cautonan in a great Hurry being in dread of a Pursuit from a large Party of Indians they suspected were coming after me; Our Course was thro a thick Woody Country crossing a great many Swamps Morasses and Beaver Ponds. we traveled this Day about 42 Miles.’

Monday, August 20, 2012

I got the truth out

William Booth, the inspiration and founder of The Salvation Army, died a century ago today. His impassioned faith, great energy and enormous appetite for saving souls, led to his extending the Army’s reach into over 50 countries during the latter years of his life. Though he kept diaries, all but a few were lost during the Blitz, However, early biographies - now freely available online - include many (largely undated) extracts.

William Booth was born in Nottingham, England, in 1829, one of five children of Samuel Booth, a builder, and his second wife Mary Moss. His father died when he was 13, and William was taken out of school to become an apprentice pawnbroker. At 15, he became a Christian, and two years later a local preacher. He was influenced by visiting revivalists, including Isaac Marsden and the American evangelist, James Caughey.

In 1849. Booth moved to London, working as a pawnbroker until 1852, when he became a preacher at a Methodist Reform Chapel in Clapham. Later that year, though, he was appointed to Spalding, Lincolnshire, but returned to London, to the Methodist New Connexion, serving as an assistant minister, and then as an evangelist. He married Catherine Mumford in 1855, and they had nine children.

In 1857, Booth was appointed to Brighouse, Yorkshire, and then served in Gateshead for several years. Subsequently, in the mid-1860s, he conducted mission meetings as an independent evangelist, leading revivals in various parts of England and Wales. A series of tent meetings in East London in summer 1865 led to the development of the East London Christian Mission, which became the Christian Mission in 1869 and The Salvation Army in 1878.

By the early 1880s, Booth was extending The Salvation Army cause into the US, and other European and Commonwealth countries. It is said that during his lifetime he established Army work in 58 countries, travelling extensively and holding ‘salvation meetings’ everywhere he went. He wrote several books, including In Darkest England and the Way Out (1890) which set the foundation for the Army’s modern social welfare schemes.

In his later years, Booth became much revered, a favourite of national rulers and the media. In 1902, he was invited to attend the coronation of King Edward VII, and in 1906 he was made a Freeman of the City of London. After his death on 20 August 1912, 150,000 people filed passed his casket during a three day lying in state at Clapton Congress Hall; and 40,000 people (including Queen Mary) attended his funeral service at London’s Olympia. Further information is available from Wikipedia, The Salvation Army website and the BBC.

Although William Booth did keep diaries, there is no evidence that they have ever been published. According to The Salvation Army’s listing of its William Booth archive (a doc file), most volumes of his diaries were lost in the bombing of the Army’s International Headquarters in May 1941. However, three volumes - between September 1910 and May 1912 - were found ‘among the rubble and slush’. These pages were repaired and rebound in 1982.

A good feel for Booth’s diaries, though, can be found in early biographies which drew on them extensively. Life of William Booth, Founder and First General of the Salvation Army by Harold Begbie, published by Hodder & Stoughton in two volumes in 1920 contains many extracts (mostly undated). Here is one which is dated, from 10 days after the death of his wife Catherine. Her body had lain in state, and large crowds had flocked to pay their last tribute. There was then a procession through the City of London to the cemetery with Booth following alone in an open carriage, standing and bowing his acknowledgments to the crowds.

14 October 1890
‘I was weary myself. I had stood, balancing myself with the jerking of the carriage in its stops and starts, 4 hours. I couldn’t see the people craning their necks trying to see me without endeavouring to gratify them. Some may find fault with me, and say I made an exhibition of myself. That is what I have been doing with myself for my Master’s sake all my life, and what I shall continue to do as long as it lasts, and what I shall do through eternity for my Master’s sake and the people’s sake. And now I am restarted on the same path, the same work. A large part of my company has gone before, and I must travel the journey, in a sense that only those can understand who have been through it, alone.’

The following extracts - all written during a trip to the Netherlands in 1908 - are taken from The Authoritative Life of General William Booth by George Scott Railton (Hodder & Stoughton, 1912) - available at Internet Archive. The same book was also published under the simpler title General Booth.

14 March 1908
‘Soldiers’ and ex-Soldiers’ Meeting fine - three-fourths men. A great improvement on anything I have seen in the way of Soldiers’ Meetings in this place. I got the truth out, and thirty-seven of them fell at the Penitent-Form [the bench at which salvation seekers kneel] to seek power to walk in its light.’

15 March 1908
‘The Doelen Hall (one of the largest auditoriums in the city) full in the morning, and crowds shut out afternoon and night. People hard at first; but twenty-two came to the Penitent-Form in the morning, and fifty-eight at night. Never saw men weep more freely.’

17 March 1908
‘A tired, restless night for some reason or other. Sleep flew. Occupied with many matters, but not very anxious. Still, did not get much refreshment or invigoration for the day’s work, and felt accordingly. On the whole, the three Meetings were interesting, and, I think, useful to the Officers present, although nothing remarkable.’

18 March 1908
‘What I said of the Councils yesterday may be repeated to-day. I had a great deal more material than I could possibly introduce into two days, and on leaving out some topics, on the spur of the moment, some were left out that might have been of great benefit. However, everybody was pleased, and, I think, profited. The only question in my mind, similar to the one that haunts me in every Officers’ Council, is whether I am making the most of the opportunity.

There is no doubt that we have here a powerful body of men and women, good, devoted, and loyal to the principles of The Army, proud to be connected with it, and ready to receive instructions, and to carry them out. The great lack appears to be a want of energy, enterprise, and daring, the being content with a little success instead of reaching out to all that is possible and promising. However, they are wonderfully improved, and I hope the present Commissioner’s health will allow of his carrying them a long way farther in the direction of enthusiasm than they have reached before.’

19 March 1908
‘Fair night’s sleep, but feeling rather tired, which must be expected. We are away to Den Helder at 9.42 a.m., so must be stirring. Den Helder is a naval port, the headquarters of the Dutch navy. We were billetted with Rear-Admiral van den Bosch, who is in command of the port, fleet, dockyards, and many other things. We were received at the station in a formal but hearty manner by the leading people of the town, in the large waiting-room (decorated for the occasion), by the minister of the State Church, who made a really eloquent address. The great point of his speech was the work of the Holy Spirit - God working through us to the benefit of mankind. As he stood there talking in that circle of sixty or seventy of the leading inhabitants of the place, including naval officers of rank, professionals of various classes, and prominent people, I could not help feeling, as I often feel now, what a change has come over the people, not only with respect to The Army, but towards myself.

I answered in a few words that I trust were useful and beneficial to all present. The whole thing, from the moment of my being received at the door of my railway carriage, until I left next morning, had been prearranged through the instrumentality of one of our Local Officers, to his great credit, to the credit of his town, and to the satisfaction of his General.

The mail brought me a request to take over a certain county council’s lodging-house for poor men, on which they are losing a large sum, also another to take over an inebriates’ home, which cost £40,000 and is an utter failure. In such exploits people will not have The Salvation Army at the onset, otherwise they might save a good deal of expense, etc.’

20 March 1908
‘Arriving at Amsterdam, the mail brought confirmation of my agreement of yesterday to postpone my South African visit to September, and to begin my Motor Tour at Dundee, and finish at the Crystal Palace. In all these things the maxim is ever present to my mind, ‘Man proposes, but God disposes.’ Closed the night at the desk, which is becoming more and more a difficult task from the failure of my eyes.’

21 March 1908
‘Good night’s sleep. That is for me, anyway, a great improvement on recent nights. So now for a good day’s work, of which there is plenty lying before me.

7.30 p.m., Soldiers’ Meeting. We have always been crowded out before, so this time the Palace Theatre was taken, as an experiment, and it justified my reckonings for several years gone by, namely, that we could fill any reasonable place on Saturday night here, and yet keep the Meeting select; that is, confine it to Soldiers and ex-Soldiers, adherents, and those concerned about religion. We were more than full, and the place holds 1,500. I had much liberty in speaking, the After Meeting went with a swing seldom known on the Continent or elsewhere, and we had eighty-four at the Penitent-Form, some of them remarkable cases.’

22 March 1908
‘The theatre again in the morning at ten. An excellent plan. Oh, that it could be adopted the world over! The senseless system of beginning at eleven makes you feel it is time to close almost before you have had time to get well started. We were crowded, large numbers outside clamouring for admission, so much so that the police called out their reserves, and fifty men guarded the entrance. We had an excellent service inside, and forty at the Mercy-Seat. It was a beautiful Meeting, and made a mark for ever on my heart, and on the hearts of many more.

Afternoon. The large Hall of the People’s Palace had been arranged for this as well as the Night Meeting. We were full, and many were turned away. I lectured on ‘The Duty of the Community.’ Great satisfaction among my own people, and a good impression made upon the minds of a good many of the leading people of the city.

Night, 7.30. Again full. It is a building erected for an Exhibition, and made suitable for a Meeting only by putting up a great screen across the centre. I suppose we could have filled the entire space; but whether my interpreter could then have been heard, I am not sure. I preached with point and power - more breathless attention I never had in my life. I reckoned on an easy conquest, but we had one of the hardest fights I ever remember before we got a soul out. I left at 10.30, completely played out. A wall of policemen on either side kept the people back while I got into the carriage, the crowd having waited a long time to catch a glimpse of me. Had long, restless, and sleepless spells during the night; but still I have not done amiss on the whole. I must now prepare myself for the coming Berlin Staff Congress.’

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

La Foce is liberated

Today marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of the celebrated English biographer, Iris Origo. She spent most of her life in Italy; there she married, and there, with her husband, she developed a ramshackle farming estate at La Foce, in Tuscany. Famously, during the Second World War, the estate took in refugee children and sheltered escaping prisoners. Her diary of that time has become a classic of war literature.

Iris Margaret Cutting was born on 15 August 1902 in England, the child of an Anglo-Irish mother and a rich American father. She was educated privately in Florence, Italy, and, with inherited wealth, spent much time in her youth travelling. She married an Italian nobleman, Antonio Origo, and together they developed a rundown farming estate, La Foce, some 150km north of Rome. They had one son who died young of meningitis, and two daughters.

In the 1930s, Origo turned to writing, publishing biographies of the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi and Cola di Rienzo, a fourteenth century Roman politician. During the war, the family stayed at La Foce where they secretly took in refugee children and helped escaping Allied prisoners. After the war, the Origos lived in both Rome and La Foce, and Iris continued writing biographies and autobiographical books. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1976, and died in 1988.

Further biographical information is available from Wikipedia, The Florentine, and articles in The Guardian and The New York Times (which calls Origo ‘a true cosmopolite of vast energy and stunning intelligence’).

Origo’s first published autobiographical work was a diary she kept during the war - War in Val d’Orcia (Jonathan Cape, 1947, but reissued in 1999 by Allison & Busby). The book’s publicity material says that even with German troops occupying her manor house, Origo wrote, burying the journal in the garden and writing in secret at night: ‘the result is a book which is an affirmation in itself of courage and resist­ance, an unsentimental and compelling story of civilian life in wartime’.

9 June 1943
‘At four am in the Clinica Quisisana, my second daughter, Donata, is born. During the long night before her birth I heard from the room, through my own pain, the groans for morphia of a young airman whose leg had been amputated.’

10 June 1943
‘The third anniversary of Italy’s entry into the war. No celebrations. A rumour had spread that there were to be air-raids all over Italy, and all day many mothers have kept their children at home. Nothing, however, occurred until six pm, when a few enemy planes flew over the town - and a few more during the night. The air-raid warnings in the hospital (even though nothing happens) are rather uncomfortable, owing to one’s enforced immobility and the jumpiness of some of the patients.’

24 January 1944
‘The German officer turns up: a parachutist, covered with medals of both this war and the last, in which he served as a volunteer at the age of sixteen. He inspects the Castellucio, is unfortunately delighted with it, and a notice, stating that the castle has been requisitioned, is placed on the door. Mercifully, our own house is not required - as yet. In the afternoon we walk up to Pietraporciana - a lonely farm on the hill-top at the top of our property - to see if we could take all the children there, if we are turned out. There would be thirty-six of us.’

26 January 1944
‘Spend the day sorting furniture and books to be hidden in outlying farms. Schwester Marie, the babies’ charming Swiss nurse, who was to have returned home at this time, decides to stay on with us and see us through, in view of the possibility of our being arrested and the children left alone. Our relief is very great, but she may soon be completely cut off from her home.’

29 June 1944
[. . .] The Germans have gone. [Later] Not only have they gone, but the Allies are here! The first good news came to Antonio, who (while standing beside one of the Germans who are still left in town) was hurriedly summoned by a partisan: some English soldiers, he said, were looking for him. He accordingly hurried down into a wheatfield, and there found a small patrol, headed by a subaltern in the Scots Guards, who had actually come from La Foce. He wanted information as to the number of Germans who are still in town, the lie of the land, the bridges that had been blown up, and so on, all of which Antonio gave him, and in return, he gave us fairly good news of La Foce. The house has only been hit in two or three places, and though the damage inside is considerable, it is not irremediable. All this conversation took place hurriedly, hidden in the wheat, with sentries posted, and just as it was over, a pretty peasant-girl came up with a basket on her head, on her way to town. What next? She said she would hold her tongue, but it seemed safer for the soldiers to take her off with them for a few hours, to which indeed she agreed very willingly. The plan is for the regiment to occupy the town this afternoon. Meanwhile, we are having some German shelling for a change, and Palazzo Ricci and some other buildings have been hit. La Foce has had the honour of being mentioned in the midday bulletin as ‘liberated’ - together with Pienza and Montalcino. But we can hardly listen to the news now: we want to see with our own eyes. Every minute, now, the Allies may arrive!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Diary briefs

How diaries proved crucial in proving Shafilea Ahmed murder - Liverpool Echo, Manchester Evening News

Occupation Diaries by Raja Shehadeh - Profile Books, Amazon, The Guardian

WWI gunner’s diary given to New South Wales library - The Australian

The Burden of Power by Alastair Campbell - The Guardian, The Independent, Financial Times

Mother convicted of killing infant after diary confession - Toronto Globe and Mail

Diary clues to grandfather’s last days - BBC

Police release convicted voyeur’s diaries - Deseret News, Fox News