Friday, May 29, 2015

Traveling Along the Historic National Road

The 824 mile long Historic National Road begins in Cumberland, Maryland and ends in Vandalia, Illinois encompassing the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

Over time, the road took on several names: Cumberland Road, National Pike,The Road That Built the Nation,” but in many communities it has simply been called Main Street, eventually earning the appropriate nickname "The Main Street of America." 

The National Road was the first federally funded road in U.S. history, and in many states is known today as Route 40. The road was built between 1811 and 1834 so that pioneers would have a good trail to follow through the Appalachians in order to reach the western settlements.

In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson authorized the building of a national byway that would connect Cumberland, Maryland to the Ohio River. It took five years before the first 10 miles of roadway were built, but by 1818 the road reached to Wheeling, West Virginia.
Settlers weren’t the only ones using the road, mail coaches, drovers and stagecoaches found it to be an easy way to connect with the frontier towns out west.

By 1825, the road had become famous and was being lauded in song, stories and legend. Small settlements began to pop up along the route, then communities and small towns were established as many pioneers decided to settle down at some spot along the way.

Inns, taverns, and stores selling staples and supplies were built, and these “pike town” began to thrive. Conestoga wagons traveled the National Road loaded with coffee and sugar for "out west," returning with produce and grain grown on the newly settled frontier. Life was prosperous along the National Road for many years - until the 1860s.

It was during that time that the railroads began to change the way people traveled the country, and enthusiasm for traveling on the National Road began to wane.

Building The Road
But, in 1885, the first automobile and the first bicycle were invented, and interest in road travel was renewed again.

The National Road became US 40 in 1926 when a national road system went into effect, but by the 1960s construction was completed on Interstate 70, and Route 40, with its meandering roadways, was left in the dust.

Today you can still travel the National Road and explore over 200 years of history. Old motels, classic diners, and century-old inns still line the byway. Each state highlights special sections along the route, but be sure to keep an eye out for cemeteries, too. Here are just a few to check out along the Historical National Road:

Key Monument 1898 and Today
Maryland is home to 170 miles of the National Road, traveling through urban Baltimore and across acres of rolling countryside. Mount Olivet Cemetery, located in Fredrick, has been called Maryland’s “Cemetery Beautiful” and is home to the burial monument for Francis Scott Key, author of the Star Spangled Banner.

Braddock's Grave
The Keystone State offers two great stops for tombstone tourists as soon as you cross the state line. Fort Necessity near Farmington is the site where the opening battle of the French and Indian War was fought. Check out the interpretive center here and get a feel for what life was like in the 18th century. Then it’s on to Braddock’s grave, a lone monument placed at the site of his demise "In remembrance of Major General Edward Braddock", who led the campaign to oust the French from American soil.

West Virginia
Mount Wood Cemetery
Overlooking the Ohio River is Mount Wood Cemetery, a Hebrew and Jewish Orthodox cemetery in Wheeling. Funerary art abounds on this rolling hill, from stones and monuments of the Victorian-era, to those more modern mid-twentieth century markers.

Camp Chase
The Buckeye State has numerous stops along the old National Road; for cemetery buffs, take time to visit Columbus, the state's capital, and tour the Old Governor’s Mansion and the Ohio Statehouse before heading to an old neighborhood known as “The Hilltop” for a poignant visit to Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery.

The Hoosier State boasts a beautiful lawn-style cemetery on this route: Crown Hill Cemetery, in Indianapolis, is a “Who’s Who” of famous and infamous residents: Indiana governors, senators, congressmen, and military officers are buried here along with U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, poet James Whitcomb Riley, and notorious bank robber, John Dillinger.

Franciscan Monastery Museum
The Land of Lincoln is the ending point of the National Road. Visit the Franciscan Monastery Museum in Teutopolis, the only one of its kind in the Midwest, and roam through over 30 rooms of artifacts relating to the Franciscans and early Illinois pioneers. St. Francis of Assisi Parish is home to the cemetery and mausoleum where the first Franciscan pastor is buried.

If you take to the road this summer, try a back route and see what adventures await …

~ Joy

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend and a Hearse Cruise

It is Memorial Day weekend – a time when we remember those who died fighting for our country. Maybe you have a trip planned to a local cemetery for a Memorial Day service, or to, as my grandmother called it, “decorate the graves.”

Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous
Of course this is the “first weekend of summer” giving us a chance to get out and go to a festival, a wine tasting, or a battle. But here is an option that I’d love to see, if only it were closer …

If you are of “a certain age,” you will remember those Friday and Saturday nights during your high school years when you cruised the local hot-spots in town. For those of us in the cemetery world, cruising is still popular, only this time it’s in a hearse!

This Memorial Day weekend, the Second Annual Northern Michigan Hearse Cruise will take place. Starting off from Gaylord, Michigan around 9 a.m., the cruise will travel to Mancelona and stop for two hours to visit with locals and allow folks to see the cars, then it’s on to Kalkaska for another two hour visit before ending at Traverse City Saturday evening.

Those taking part in this cruise include funeral directors, cemetery personnel and those who just love the vehicle. Drivers come from across the U.S. to spend some time with like-minded people who appreciate the hearse and its history. What another cool way to spend the weekend.

Whatever you do, have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!

~ Joy

Friday, May 15, 2015

Putting Lyme Disease in the Limelight

We are well into the spring and in my region of the country the ticks seem to be more numerous this year. While most people consider those creepy crawly blood-suckers to be a nuisance, they can actually be devastatingly worse – spreading Lyme disease, a complex, chronic illness that many times is not properly diagnosed.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month; the perfect time to share information about this under-reported and poorly recognized disease that can disable causing arthritis, Bell’s palsy, radiculoneuropathy, meningitis, encephalitis, and in rare cases, cardiac arrest.

Deer Tick
Lyme disease was first noticed in the U.S. in 1975 when children in Lyme, Connecticut started showing signs of what doctors’ thought was rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers identified the spiral-shaped bacteria in 1982 and realized that it was spread by the bite of the blacklegged deer tick. (Lyme disease is not transmitted from person to person.)

Bulls-eye Rash
Symptoms flare up about a month after the initial bite and include inflammation around the tick bite that may itch, or not; the telltale bulls-eye rash is not always present. In fact, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, only three out of 10 people will exhibit the bulls-eye pattern. Flu-like symptoms are usually reported – headache, low-grade fever, muscle aches and fatigue.

Unfortunately, Lyme disease can mimic several other illnesses like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, so misdiagnosis often occurs. Lyme disease affects the heart, joints, nervous system and skin. If not treated, the symptoms will flair up again within the next six months. One in 10 people develop abnormalities of the heart but the majority do recover. About 10% of patients experience neurological problems.

The third stage of Lyme disease can occur from five months to five years after the bite and usually affects large joints like the knees and hips. Death can occur from Lyme disease. This chart from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows the number of deaths that have occurred in the U.S. from Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), another tick-borne disease, from 2002 through 2007.

Lyme disease has been recorded in all 50 states in the U.S., but is most prevalent in the northeastern part of the country. This map indicates the number of reported cases from 1990 to 2013. 

The worst areas affected include New York with over 100,000 cases reported within the past 23 years; Pennsylvania has had almost 77,000 cases; Connecticut reported almost 62,0000 cases, and New Jersey has had over 59,000 cases. The Midwest is also being affected, especially in Wisconsin with almost 29,000 cases, and Minnesota with just over 19,000 cases reported.

The top 15 states battling Lyme disease are shown on this 2013 diagram. Lyme disease is not just a rural problem, anywhere there is tall grass or woodsy areas; think your local park, walking trails or nature preserves, ticks can reside. Urban areas are not “safe” zones.

Lyme disease is on the rise in Canada, largely because public awareness, diagnosis and treatment have not been adequate. The first Canadian case of Lyme disease was recorded in 1977 when a southwestern Ontario girl was diagnosed with the disease, but Canadian officials have been slow to release the actual numbers of those suffering from the disease.

Lyme disease has been reported in over 80 other countries including Europe, Japan, China and Australia.

The best way to avoid getting Lyme disease is prevention.

• Wear light colored clothing so that you can see ticks
• Use an insect repellent that contains DEET
• Do a full body check after coming in from outside on yourself, your children and your pets

If you’ve been outside all day, head to the shower within two hours of coming inside and check for ticks. Something to keep in mind when you wander the cemeteries this summer.

Next Saturday night, May 23, at 10 p.m. Eastern time,  Niagara Falls will turn green for 15 minutes as a way to put Lyme Disease in the ”limelight” and help raise awareness about this illness.
~ Joy

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

6 Drinking Phrases and What They Mean

Wine has been with us for centuries so it stands to reason that sayings or phrases involving wine would crop up in our vocabulary. Here are six well known drinking phrases, how they came about, and what they mean.

1) Boozing It Up
The word booze (bouse) has been around since medieval times. The term means to drink a lot of alcohol, especially whiskey or other high alcohol spirits. Some one who is said to be “boozing it up” is drinking in excess. In Australia, a drinking binge is known as a boozeroo.

Pope Clement VI

2) Drunk as a Pope
This phrase is based on the conduct of Pope Clement VI who was selected to serve as Pope at the conclave of 1342. The Pope quickly became well known for his lavish lifestyle, and his inability to curb his drinking. When he died in 1352, the Pope’s reputation was of "a fine gentleman, a prince munificent to profusion, a patron of the arts and learning, but no saint."

3) Off the Wagon

To fall "off the wagon" means to resume drinking after having stopped. The origins of the word actually do relate to wagons – water wagons. At the turn of the 20th century, abstinence was sweeping the country and many men had “taken the pledge” (not to drink.) Instead, they said they were on the water wagon, or water cart; meaning they were drinking water not liquor. If someone began drinking again it was said that he had fallen “off the wagon.

4) The Bitter End
Bottle Sediment
This phrase usually describes reaching the limit of a person’s abilities or efforts, but it also can reference wine. For thousands of years, vino was stored in clay vessels where the sour lees (a sediment made up of dead yeast and other particles) would eventually fall from the wine to the bottom of the container. When emptying the vat, these dregs could end up being poured into a cup, and someone could find themselves drinking “the bitter end.”

5) Three Sheets to the Wind

This is actually a sailing phrase referring to the chains or ropes that control the angle of a boat’s sails. If the sheets, or ropes were loose, the boat would become unsteady or tipsy. (The actual phrase was three sheets in the wind.) To be "three sheets to the wind" indicates someone who is extremely drunk and unsteady on their feet.

6) To Your Health
The custom of offering a toast before drinking can be traced back to ancient religious rites involving the Greeks and Romans who offered wine to their gods at feasting events. These customs evolved into today’s ritual of wishing your drinking partners a long life, or raising a glass “to your health.

So “Here’s mud in your eye,” “Here’s to you,” and “Cheers!”

~ Joy

Friday, May 1, 2015

Lincoln's Funeral - 150 Years Later

One hundred fifty years ago this week, President Lincoln’s funeral train was making stops across the country as it bore the slain president’s body back to the city he loved: Springfield Illinois.

The “Lincoln Special” traveled 1,654 miles across the country from April 21, 1865 when the President’s body left Washington D.C. until its final arrival in Springfield, Illinois on May 4th.

Original Route
The original train stopped in 180 cities and towns throughout seven states in order to give the country a chance to mourn Lincoln’s passing. At each stop, his coffin was removed from the train and lay in state for public viewing. The train traveled the reverse route Lincoln had taken when he left Springfield to take his place as President of the United States in 1861.

A Nation Mourns
Lincoln’s train pulled in to the Springfield depot on Wednesday, May 3rd. The next day, Lincoln, along with the remains of his son Willie, who had died of typhoid fever in 1862, were interred in Oak Ridge Cemetery.

To commemorate this historic event, this week, a replica of the funeral train has recreated the journey from Washington D.C. to stops in 15 cities and town before arriving in Springfield today, May 1st.

Original Hearse Procession
This weekend, several events are planned. Tomorrow, May 2nd, a re-enactment of the hearse procession will travel from the depot to the old Illinois State House for the opening ceremonies. The day will conclude with civil war-era band concerts and a candlelight vigil to be held throughout the night at the State House grounds.

The historic procession to the cemetery will be held on Sunday, May 3rd accompanied by re-enactors from around the country. The same eulogy, speeches and salutes will be given once again in Oak Ridge Cemetery, along with the original music played at the ceremony in 1865.
What fitting tributes for a President whose death had the effect of pulling the nation back together after a bitter war that had ripped the nation apart.

~ Joy