Category: history (Page 1 of 4)

3 Quick Thoughts on Sunday, September 17, 2017

1. I’m beginning to think we should just take up residence at Lowe’s. I’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve been there this month. Today we went back, again, to get more pieces and parts in the effort to remove tree roots from the water feature of the pool AND to scope out prices and selections for a new project, closing in the bonus room. The door will need to be special ordered, so we got that sort out, just not quite ordered yet. The goal is to get the room closed in so it can be used as a bedroom for guests who are expected in November. It may not get finished as far as paint and such, but the wall up and a door to close would be great.

2. Yesterday we drove to Wichita Falls and tour the Museum of North Texas History and also the Jenny to Jet Exhibit at the Wichita Falls Municipal Airport. Interesting places to visit and a nice 2-hour drive each way.

3. Have I mentioned how much I love my zinnias lately? They are providing food to several different butterflies: Gulf fritillary, American Lady, and this morning a female Black Swallowtail. There have been others that I haven’t taken the time to identify.

Book Review of Push Not The River, by James Conroyd Martin

I read this book as part of the 2017 European Reading Challenge.

Push Not The River*, by James Conroyd Martin

(The Polish Trilogy, Book 1)

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Push Not The River is the first book in The Poland Trilogy.  This novel is based upon a real diary of a Polish countess, Anna Berezowska, who lived through the turbulent rise and fall of the Third of May Constitution, 1791 – 1794.  In addition of first hand accounts of the political changes attempted in Poland during that time, Anna’s story is also a love story.

The ruling classes of Poland are divided in how to respond to the libertarian ideas the French Revolution has unleashed.  Many want to give more freedoms to the lower classes through the Third of May Constitution, and many more believe that tighter restrictions are in order.  Combine those opposing forces with a weak King and the Empress Catherine of Russia as an acquisitive neighbor, and war is inevitable.

I enjoyed learning about the customs of the Polish people, both the aristocracy and the lower classes, through Anna’s eyes, and I look forward to reading the rest of her story in Against A Crimson Sky and The Warsaw Conspiracy.

The Immortal Irishman by Timothy Egan Book Review

I read this book as part of the 2017 European Reading Challenge.


The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became An American Hero*

by Timothy Egan

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Ireland Years

Thomas Francis Meagher (pronounced “Mar”) was born in 1823 into a wealthy merchant family in Waterford, Ireland. His father was a member of the British parliament and Thomas was well-educated, a graduate of Stonyhurst College, a Jesuit institution in Lancashire, England. Thomas could have lived the life of a wealthy heir; instead he became involved in the fight for a free Ireland. He witnessed the Great Hunger of the 1840s, when millions died from starvation and millions more emigrated. Known as “Meagher of the Sword,” Thomas put his enormous oratorical skills to work on behalf of the Young Irelanders, working for the repeal of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. It was this work that led Meagher to be a member of the core group behind the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848, during which he was arrested, tried, and convicted for sedition. His original sentence of “hanging, drawing, and quartering” was commuted to transportation for life to Tasmania, a penal colony of Great Britain at the time.

Escape From Tasmania

Meagher’s stay on Tasmania was short, about a year and a half, and then he was able to arrange an escape to America in 1852. Within a few short years upon his arrival in New York City, Thomas studied law and journalist and made his living as a lecturer, traveling around the United States, drawing large paying crowds eager to hear him speak on Ireland, the Great Hunger, and his experiences. Meagher took a stand against the anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party during the 1850s, which created some financial hardships for him. Thomas also married the daughter of a wealthy, old-blood New York family, Elizabeth Townsend, whose family disowned her due to their marriage.

The Civil War

When the Civil War began, Meagher helped enlist Irish immigrants to fight on the Union side, eventually forming Company K of the 69th Regiment, which became known as the “Fighting 69th” of the New York State Militia. Brigadier General Meagher commanded this brigade, which fought in some of the fiercest battles of the Civil War – Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg – with distinction and suffered great losses.


After the ending of the Civil War, Meagher was appointed territorial governor of Montana, where he became embroiled in a dispute with a group of vigilantes. He died in 1867 under mysterious circumstances, falling overboard from a steamboat in the Missouri river. There was much speculation at the time whether he was murdered or simply fell over as a result of drunkenness, but nothing was ever proven one way or another and his body was never found. Thomas Meagher is honored by statues in numerous locations – the Montana State Capitol in Helena; Waterford, Ireland; the Antietam battlefield – and also has received numerous honors in the years since his death.


I consider myself a bit of an Irish history buff, so I was a bit dismayed to realize the scope of Meagher’s accomplishments and realize that I had never previously heard of him. Obviously I need to do more reading! I’m very glad I saw this book on the “new arrivals” bookshelf at my local public library and picked it up simply because it dealt with an Irish personage. This was a really interesting read; Meagher lived a varied and exciting life, witnessing great events across several continents, and yet felt that he never really found a place he could call home. His home was Ireland, where he could never return due to his conviction of treason, and while the United States eventually became his home, he always yearned for one last glimpse of the old country.

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