Happy Birthday, Chuck D.
Archive for the Illustrious Lancastrians Category
Lancaster’s own Reg Kehoe and his Marimba Queens were fixtures on the East Coast and Midwest dancehall circuit from 1938 to 1955. When not on tour, they rehearsed in the dancehall above the J.H. Troup Music House at 38 West King. Their 1940 performance of “A Study in Brown” was recorded for the Panoram, a film jukebox common in bars, cafes, and train stations before World War II. I first encountered this clip during an unrelated search on the always-engrossing Internet Archive. A commenter there says it all, I think:
“As you hear you see. I watch this and see what I hear. You view the beautiful ladies gently swaying to the sound, while during the piece the bassist comes out and goes nuts! All for joy. Marimbas and the bass thrombing along from that sound, are one of the most touching tones the human psyche can know. Along with being a man who views these all smiling girls with joy, enticed by it all.
It is a mixed knowing of sound and vision. As with the bassist and the speed of the the music, versus the gentle sways synchronized slower than the changes of speeds of overtones, to the changes in chording of the number of changes to the sounds of the music.It is one of the most uplifting pieces I know here in and on the Internet. Like one person posted, if you feel down sort of spirits, listen and watch this and you’ll feel upbeat. Not beaten up. This original “soundie” cuts to the core all through a persons being, from you inside the space connected all the way to the soul of oneself. It’s what I know in awareness, even negative spirits will “feel” the presence and jive right along with myself dancing to this tune of sound most joyful. All the consciousness and unconsciousness join and rift right along to these vibrations. Truly a most unique thing.”
An orphan of the Civil War, Abe Buzzard was born on Christmas Day, 1852 in Lancaster County and died on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1935, in Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia. He lived 50 of his 86 years in jail, mostly for horse and chicken thievery (but never, it should be noted, for murder). His exploits, and those of his infamous Buzzard Gang, were headline fodder from Lancaster to New York City. He often appeared at tent revivals around the state preaching a sermon he called “Ruin and Redemption” while his brothers disappeared with the town’s poultry. He once escaped Lancaster County Prison with a vial of acid and a pet canary.
More engravings from John Wise’s Through the Air: A Narrative of Forty Years’ Experience as an Aeronaut, Comprising a History of the Various Attempts in the Art of Flying by Artificial Means from the Earliest Period Down to the Present Time. See original post here.
Henry Eichholtz Leman was born in Lancaster in 1812, son of a Huguenot farmer-cum Revolutionary War private-cum brewmaster. A preternatural metalsmith, Henry established a gunworks in the rear of his dad’s Lancaster brewery after a brief apprenticeship with a prominent Philadelphia gunmaker. He supplied arms to the U.S. Government from 1837 to 1860, but turned down a lucrative Union contract in 1861 to focus on the Western market, where his guns were wildly popular among the manifestly destined set. If you see a herd of ghost buffalo stampeding down Duke Street, he’s probably the reason why. His rifles were favored by settlers who decimated the country’s bison population in the 1870s and 1880s. These
genocidal marauders happy customers would often send hides back to his Lancaster factory, but is unknown whether Henry himself ever saw a Great Plains buffalo alive. He died in Lancaster in 1887.
Click images for sources
One of the first American botanists and an early champion of Linnaeus’s sexual system of plant description, Henry collected over one thousand species of plants within a three-mile radius of Lancaster, where he served as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church (he commissioned the steeple which stands today, with its apostolic statuary). He lived in the stone house still standing at 33 North Duke Street, and played host to numerous preeminent scientists of the day, including Alexander von Humboldt, who passed through Lancaster in 1807. He was the first President of Franklin College (now F&M), which he helped found in an abandoned brew house. Henry often walked to Philadelphia to visit with John and William Bartam. He discovered countless new species of flora, but had a particular interest in grasses. He often consumed strange plants to discover medicinal qualities, also experimenting on friends, of which he had many. While exploring the marshlands and meadows which once surrounded a pre-agricultural Lancaster County, he also discovered the rare and threatened bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii).
Pages from the Muhlenberg Herbarium, now at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia. Click for citation.
Wise was born in Lancaster on February 24, 1808. As a youth, he was tutored by noted Episcopalian Augustus Muhlenberg, but claimed to have been dissuaded by the Lord Himself from pursuing continued theological study. Instead, he turned his attention to the lower skies, devising ways to attach kittens to kites for the purposes of meteorological experimentation. A language barrier prevented the collection of much useful observation. Undaunted, Wise instead devised a method of stitching cloth into a enormous sack, shellacking it, filling it with homebrewed hydrogen, and tying himself to it. As a consequence, the ballooning pioneer survived multiple explosions, and also discovered the jet stream.
Wise wrote two books: A System of Aeronautics (1850), and Through the Air (1873). Vernian in spirit and Melvillian in ambition, these were among the first works ever to grasp the inevitability of modern air travel. He is sometimes credited with carrying the first piece of air mail, and also of firing the first airborne weapon in a theater of war. Both claims are tenuous.
Dismissing the westward lust of his contemporaries, Wise devoted his mature years to the (unrequited) dream of an eastward Trans-Atlantic balloon crossing. He died aged 71, disappearing over Lake Michigan after alighting from East St. Louis, Missouri.
The illustrations in both books are a steampunk’s wet dream. Continue reading