Southern Plantation Mansions in the U.S.

The era of plantation mansion construction in the U.S. South ran roughly from the 1770’s until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1860. The rich plantation owners (farmers that had more than 50 slaves) grew a variety of crops which were for the most part exported to Europe. The main crop however was cotton. The plantation owners built big houses, many of which fall into the category of mansions.

It must always be remembered much of the wealth acquired by these plantation owners came on the backs of Black slaves.

The Cotton Belt

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In colonial Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, the earliest plantation houses tended to follow British-derived folk forms such as the hall and parlor house-type and central-passage house-type.

Grander structures during the later colonial period usually conformed to the neoclassically-influenced Georgian and Palladian styles, although some very early and rare Jacobean structures survive in Virginia. Following the Revolutionary War, Federal and Jeffersonian-type neoclassicism became dominant in formal plantation architecture.

When the cotton boom years began in the 1830s, the United States was entering its second neoclassical phase, with Greek Revival architecture being the dominant style. By this point trained architects were also becoming more common, and several introduced the style to the South. Whereas the earlier Federal and Jeffersonian neoclassicism displayed an almost feminine lightness, academic Greek Revival was very masculine, with a heaviness not seen in the earlier styles.

Greek Revival would remain a favorite architectural style in the agrarian South until well after the Civil War, but other styles had appeared in the nation about the same time as Greek Revival or soon afterward. These were primarily the Italianate and Gothic Revival. They were slower to be adopted in whole for domestic plantation architecture, but they can be seen in a fusion of stylistic influences. Houses that were basically Greek Revival in character sprouted Italianate towers, bracketed eaves, or adopted the asymmetrical massing characteristic of that style.

plant2 Millford Plantation in South Carolina

Millford Plantation, South Carolina

plant Destrehan, Louisiana

Destrehan, Louisiana

plant Oriental Villa mansion, Longwood, in Natchez, Mississippi.

Longwood, in Natchez, Mississippi

plant3 Gaineswood in Demopolis, Alabama

Gaineswood, in Demopolis, Alabama

plant1 Bowie, Maryland

Bowie, Maryland

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Amazing Historical Photos

(Source: Reddit)   Elvis Presley and His mother Gladys, 1956.

(Source: Reddit)  Young Brigitte Bardot visits Pablo Picasso at his studio near Cannes, 1956.

(Source: Reddit)   Major Charles Young in 1916. He was the third African-American to graduate from West Point, the first black U.S. National Park superintendent, and the first black man to become a Colonel.

(Source: Reddit)   Australian nurses ready to battle the influenza pandemic in Surrey Hills, Sydney in April 1919.

(Source: Reddit)  Charlie Chaplin & Walt Disney at the Santa Anita Race Track – Arcadia, California, U.S. – 1939.

(Source: Reddit)   Tuskegee airmen at Ramitelli, Italy, March 1945.

(Source: Reddit) The United States Capitol in 1846. In 1793, the cornerstone of the building was laid by President Washington

(Source: Reddit)   Billie Holiday and her Boxer named Mister at Downbeat club in New York, 1947.

(Source: Reddit) Union soldiers posing with a cannon – circa 1862.

The Statue of Liberty (an artist’s rendering) – Paris, France, 1886, before it was transported to America.

Street car conductor in Seattle not allowing passengers aboard without a mask, during Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918.

(Source: Reddit)  General Francisco “Pancho” Villa in 1914, during the Mexican Revolution.

Schoolgirls design posters with women’s equality themes as they compete for a prize in a suffrage poster contest at the Fine Arts Club, October 14, 1915.

Charlie Chaplin selling war bonds on Wall Street, 1918.

(Source: Reddit)   Children in front of moving picture theater, Easter Sunday matinee, Black Belt, Chicago, Illinois. 1941.

(Source: Reddit)  “Watering cattle at Mount Kosciuszko,” at Blue Lake, New South Wales, Australia, circa 1900.

Chaplain Kenny Lynch conducts services north of Hwacheon, Korea, for men of the 31st Regiment. 1951, Korean War.

(Source: Reddit)   A busy market day at Jacques Cartier Square, Montreal, Canada in 1900.

(Source: Reddit)   Listen to what she has to say — British Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst addressing crowd on Wall Street, New York in 1911.

Rural mailman transfers letters and packages to another postman’s saddlebags — he will ride further up the side road and creek beds where no wagon or car can go. In the mountain section near Morehead, Kentucky, 1940.

(Source: Reddit)   The Schienenzeppelin in Berlin, June 1931. A train on the way to Hamburg passes the newly arrived rail zeppelin at Spandau main station.

“Boner Billy’s” Famous Hot Dogs and Risque Ads

Risque ads at bottom.

Although the birth of Boner Billy was unexpected, hence the name “Boner”, a Vaudeville term for a “silly mistake.” As you will soon learn, Boner “Bronco” Billy, a true American hero was anything but a silly mistake.
 Documenting the life and times of American hero Boner Billy is a bit of a challenge due to the fact that Boner Billy’s son, grandson, and great grandson have the same name without a name suffix, Junior, Senior, or Roman numerals, etc. Due to this lack of a suffix in their name, si it can be a little tricky documenting the rich history of this American hero.
 Here is how the story goes; in the early summer of 1845 a young Boner Billy, along with John Frémont, Kit Carson and 54 other men left St. Louis on an expedition. The stated goal was to “map the source of the Arkansas River on the east side of the Rocky Mountains.” Upon reaching the Arkansas, expedition leader, John Frémont suddenly made a hasty trail straight to California, without explanation arriving in the Sacramento Valley in early winter of 1846. 

Records suggest shortly after arriving in the Sacramento Valley, Boner Billy owned and operated a popular trading post on a road leading from San Francisco to Sacramento. It is now believed America’s first hot dog, then called a tube steak was created and sold at Boner Billy’s trading post.  This popular food consisted of a specially spiced and seasoned tube steak on a fresh bread roll, and was called the “Big Boner” due to its size, and named after Boner himself.
 In January of 1847, Boner Billy, his wife, Frannie and young daughter, Bella were traveling to San Francisco on business when they had to make an emergency stop at Sutter’s mill in Coloma, California to give birth to the Billy’s first son, known as, “little Boner.”  Folklore has it that a local man, James Marshall, and Boner Billy stepped outside to smoke a cigar to celebrate the birth of the child. James Marshall then spotted a sparkly object in the American River, which ended up being a small gold nugget that launched the great California Gold Rush.  That nugget of gold was named after Boner Billy’s new born son and was thereon known as, “little Boner.”

Folklore has it that in the spring of 1858, Boner Billy and ranch hands, Bill “Dirty” Smith and James Finney, nicknamed “Old Virginy” were rounding up stray cattle in the foothills just NE of what is now known as Carson City, Nevada. At this point, ranch hand Finney located and later was credited with discovering the Comstock Lode, one of the largest silver ore deposits in the world.  Over the next several years Boner Billy successful partnered in investments in the mining boomtown, Virginia City, Nevada. He also opened, a series of eating establishments serving tube steaks letter known as hot dogs in Nevada and throughout California.

America’s first Hot Dog cart, – Sacramento, CA 1855
Billboard in Flagstaff Arizona mid – 1950’s

Around 1928 a Boner Billy cousin, Betty Bonnie Billy owned a string of Boner Billy’s Hot Dogs stands throughout California. Sadly without the secret recipe that made Boner Billy’s tube steak such a hit the food was run of the mill. A short lived television show, the Boner Billy Play House did drive up sales for a bit but in 1962 the last Boner Billy’s Hot Dog stand closed.

The Big Boner airplane with full bar and glass bottom dance floor was a hit with the Hollywood elite 1950-64

It has recently been announced that Boner “JR” Billy the great, great, great grandson of Boner “Bronco” Billy has stepped forward with support and involvement in the launch of Boner Billy’s new Viva Las Vegas restaurant. In a recent interview, JR stated; “My great grandpapa who from a little trading post on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains served-up America’s first hot dog to hungry forty-niners heading to the goldfields. “I cannot tell you how proud I am to now help bring the Boner Billy name and the greatest hot dogs in the world to Las Vegas”  –Boner “JR” Billy 

The risque and suggestive hot dog ads from the 1940’s and 1950’s.

1995 San Diego Tank Rampage

Crazy news story from the past revisited.

Shawn Timothy Nelson (August 21, 1959 – May 17, 1995) was an American plumber and U.S. Army veteran who stole an M60A3 Patton tank from a U.S. National Guard armory in San Diego, California and went on a rampage on May 17, 1995; he destroyed numerous cars, fire hydrants and an RV before being shot and killed by a policeman.

According to San Diego police, in the week before his tank rampage, Nelson told a friend that he was thinking of committing suicide, and the following weekend, told a friend that “Oklahoma was good stuff,” in apparent reference to the Oklahoma City bombing which happened about a month before. Whether Nelson condoned the attack or simply meant that he enjoyed the drama was not clear. Police did not believe that Nelson had any connection with the bombing or with a terrorist group.

At dusk, approximately 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17, 1995, Nelson drove his Chevrolet van to the California Army National Guard Armory on Mesa College Boulevard in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood of San Diego. Employees at the armory were working late and the gate to the vehicle yard, which was completely deserted, was left open.

The tanks at the armory started with a push button and did not require an ignition key. The first two tanks Nelson broke into would not start. As he lowered himself into the third tank, a 57-ton M60A3 Patton, he was finally noticed by a guardsman, who approached the tank. Nelson started the vehicle, and with little chance of stopping him, the guardsman rushed to a phone and called the police. As ammunition was kept in another building, none of the vehicle’s weapons could be loaded or used by Nelson.

Nelson led police on a 23-minute, televised chase through the streets of Clairemont. Police agencies involved in the chase included the San Diego police, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the California Highway Patrol, and due to the tank being stolen from the armory, possibly military police as well. The tank had a top speed of 30 miles per hour (48 km/h), making the chase slow compared to police chases involving automobiles. The 57-ton tank easily plowed through road signs, traffic lights, utility poles, and fire hydrants, and crushed approximately forty parked vehicles, including an RV. The damage to utility poles knocked out power to at least 5,100 San Diego Gas & Electric customers in the Linda Vista neighborhood.

From the armory, Nelson traveled along neighborhood streets, eventually turning north on Convoy Street, west on to Balboa Avenue (then signed as State Route 274), and entered Interstate 805 heading south. While on I-805, he attempted to knock down a pedestrian bridge by running into the pillars, but failed after a few hits, and decided to continue onto the freeway. Nelson then drove the tank onto the State Route 163 freeway heading southbound, resulting in the freeway being closed and thousands of motorists being stuck. At least one news article speculated that he may have been headed to Sharp Memorial Hospital, which he had unsuccessfully sued in 1990 and partially blamed for his mother’s death. After Nelson attempted to cross into the northbound lanes of State Route 163, the tank became caught on the concrete median barrier and lost one track.

After the tank was immobilized, four policemen climbed onto the tank. San Diego Police officer Paul Paxton, a gunnery sergeant at the time with the Marine Corps Reserve, opened the hatch using bolt cutters. They ordered Nelson to surrender, but he said nothing and began rocking the tank back and forth in an attempt to free it from the median. Paxton’s partner, Officer Richard Piner, leaned in and shot Nelson. The bullet entered through Nelson’s neck.

Nelson later died at the Sharp Memorial Hospital. Despite the widespread property destruction, he was the only fatality reported during the rampage.

Old Car City: The World’s Largest Classic Car Junkyard

If you drive 50 miles north of Atlanta, in the U.S. state of Georgia, along Interstate-75 and then turn right for U.S. Route 411 towards Chatsworth White, you will arrive at a patch of forest with acres upon acres of old rusting cars. A sign in the front reads “The world’s oldest junkyard jungle, here 80 years.”

Old Car City contains over 4,000 classic cars from the mid century — most of them from year 1972 or older — strewn over 34 acres of forested property. There are old Fords, big-finned Cadillacs and even the rare 1941 Mack milk truck. Visiting all of them will take you over six miles of walking.

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The roots of Old Car City goes back to 1931 when the Lewis family opened a general store in a small town called White, formed only a few years earlier. They sold various items ranging from clothing to car parts, tires, and gasoline. When the United States entered World War II, and resources such as steel and tires became scarce, the Lewis family smartly added a scrapyard business. They bought junk cars, scrapped them and sold the parts. By the late 1940s, the general store had turned into a full fledged auto salvage yard. It was in this environment that Dean Lewis, the current owner of Old Car City, was born.

Dean spent his entire childhood playing with the cars. One day he is on the racetrack, the next day he is a school bus driver. “I drove ’em a million miles. Never moved an inch!,” he told CBS News. Cars and trucks was all he knew. So when Dean finally acquired the business from his parents, in 1970, he had an entirely different plan. Dean decided that he would preserve the cars rather than scrap it.

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For the next several decades, Dean spent thousands of dollars acquiring various junked and wrecked vehicles from auctions, private parties and recycling yards. One of Lewis’ more popular vehicles is a 1946 Ford truck used in “Murder in Coweta County,” a 1983 film starring Johnny Cash and Andy Griffith.

In the following years, Old Car City grew so much that he had to buy more land to keep everything on. Initially, Dean sold some scraps, but it wasn’t the place where collectors could score a bargain. Every car had a nostalgic value and Dean refused to let go until he felt the money was worth it. Many visitors looking for parts left the place grumbling and dissatisfied. But if you asked him, he would say “Everything is for sale.”

Dean doesn’t say that any more. He realized that he could make more money charging visitors for admission and for taking photographs than selling off the displays.

Today Old Car City is visited by hundreds of visitors each year who pay $15 to stroll around, or $25 if they want to take photographs. Dean no longer sells parts. They are now part of this fantastic museum.

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Old West

The series of conflicts in the western United States between Indians, American settlers, and the United States Army are generally known as the Indian Wars. Many of these conflicts occurred during and after the Civil War until the closing of the frontier in about 1890. However, regions of the West that were settled before the Civil War saw significant conflicts prior to 1860, such as Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Oregon, California, and Washington state.

 Arizona ranked highest, with 310 known battles fought within the state’s boundaries between Americans and Indians. Also, Arizona ranked highest of the states in deaths from the wars. At least 4,340 people were killed, including both the settlers and the Indians, over twice as many as occurred in Texas, the second highest-ranking state. Most of the deaths in Arizona were caused by the Apaches. 51 percent of the battles took place in Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico between 1850 and 1890, as well as 37 percent of the casualties in the country west of the Mississippi River.

Canadian Mounties. The Mounties were never involved in a battle with Indians.

Dazzle Camouflage: Hiding in Plain Sight

Unlike a submarine that can lurk beneath the waves, or an artillery tank that can camouflage itself among trees and the surrounding terrain, there is no hiding for a smoke-belching ship in the open waters of an ocean. So how does one go about camouflaging a ship during wartime?

That was the question that troubled Britain during World War 1. Germany’s U-boats were creating havoc in the Atlantic sinking merchant ships in alarming numbers. Ideas that were proposed included covering them with mirrors, disguising them as giant whales, draping them in canvas to make them look like clouds, or making them appear like islands. But Norman Wilkinson, a Royal Navy volunteer reserve lieutenant came up with an ingenious solution—instead of trying to hide ships, make them conspicuous; paint them with odd shapes and violent contrasts of colors so as to “dazzle” the enemy.

Dazzle Camouflage

Dazzle camouflage on a World War 2-era ship.

“Since it was impossible to paint a ship so that she could not be seen by a submarine, the extreme opposite was the answer – in other words, to paint her, not for low visibility, but in such a way as to break up her form and thus confuse a submarine officer as the course on which she was heading,” Wilkinson, who was a painter, graphic designer and newspaper illustrator before the war, later told about his invention.

Dazzle camouflage, as Wilkinson’s concept came to be called, comprised of a variety of geometric shapes and curves—stripes, swirls and irregular abstract—in contrasting colors such as black and white, green and mauve, orange and blue. These shapes and colors can befuddle the captain of a U-boat peering through a periscope making it hard for him to determine the ship’s actual shape, size and direction. Bold shapes at the bow and stern can make it difficult to tell apart one from the other. Patterns disrupting the form of the ship made it hard to tell which was the front or the back, and even whether it was one vessel or two. The illusion is furthered by angled lines that make the smokestacks seem to be leaning in another direction. The curves on the hull could be mistaken for the shape of the ‘bow wave’ – created by water at the front of a fast-moving ship.

Dazzle Camouflage

These two images demonstrate how dazzle camouflage can throw off a submarine commander’s senses. The camouflaged ship (Left) appears to be heading straight towards the observer, whereas in reality (Right) it is going off to the right.

For a U-boat gunner, looking to hit a moving target hundreds of meters away, the ship’s speed, distance and direction is essential knowledge. Accurately predicting the ships’ path is of utmost importance for a successful hit, as explained by Roy Behrens, a professor at the University of Northern Iowa: “If you’re a submarine aiming at a ship, you have to calculate how fast a ship is going, where is it going, and aim the torpedo so that they both get to the same spot at the same time.”

The gunner had typically less than 30 seconds to sight the target ship through the periscope, or risk the periscope from seen and giving away the submarine’s location. A typical U-boat also carried very limited number of very expensive slow-moving torpedoes, so getting the calculations right was important. Wilkinson’s idea was to “dazzle” the gunner so that he would either be unable to take the shot with any confidence or spoil it if he did.

Dazzle Camouflage

Original WW1 ship models painted to test dazzle camouflage schemes. Photo: Imperial War Museum

Wilkinson developed hundreds of camouflage schemes. To determine the effectiveness of each, the Royal Academy of Arts created scale model of ships and painted them with the test patterns. They were then placed on a rotating turntable and viewed through a periscope, using screens, lights and backgrounds to see how the dazzle paint schemes would look at various times of day and night. Wilkinson even impressed King George V using one of these models. Looking through a telescope, the King announced that the ship was moving “South by west,” only to be surprised to discover that it was moving east-by-southeast.

“I have been a professional sailor for many years,” the King reportedly said, “and I would not have believed I could have been so deceived in my estimate.”

Dazzle Camouflage

Artists of the Royal Academy of Arts applying paint on model warships. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration

Dazzle Camouflage

An artist testing a model vessel covered with dazzle camouflage.

In less than a year after the the Royal Navy started dazzling ships, some 2,300 British ships were painted with the camouflage, and by the end of the war, that number would swell to more than 4,000. The Americans also adopted dazzle patterns for camouflage, painting some 1,200 merchant vessels with Wilkinson’s design.

Statistically, it is hard to say whether dazzle camouflage worked. In the first quarter of 1918, for example, 72 percent of dazzled ships that were attacked were sunk or damaged versus 62 percent of non-dazzled, implying that dazzle did not minimize torpedo damage. But in the second quarter, 60 percent of attacks on dazzled ships ended in sinking or damage, compared to 68 percent of non-dazzled.

Dazzle camouflage was used again during World War II, by the US on their ships, and as an experiment, on a small number of aircrafts. But camouflage on aircraft was found to be less effective. Today, with electronic surveillance technology, dazzling a ship no longer offers any protection, but camouflage in general remains a vital part of land warfare.

Dazzle Camouflage

A merchant ship sporting dazzle camouflage, in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Imperial War Museum

Dazzle Camouflage

Vintage Postcard of the U.S.S. Leviathan Painted With A World War I “Dazzle” Camouflage 

Dazzle Camouflage

USS West Mahomet in port, circa November 1918. Photo: Naval History & Heritage Command