Excavation at Fort Laurens

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in History - 18th Century

Workers have uncovered many 18th-century relics from the Revolutionary War at Fort Laurens in the last few weeks, including a knife blade, buttons, balls and “stellar” handmade nails.
“They’re awesome,” explained Jarrod Burks, Ph.D., project manager for the Fort Laurens project and director of archaeological geophysics at Ohio Valley Archaeology of Columbus.
OVA has been excavating the north wall leading east to the northeast bastion, where the Fort Laurens grounds ends at the trench of the former Ohio and Erie Canal, the canal running north and south at that spot between the fort and Interstate 77. And it’s that canal trench that defeats attempts at making a firm pronouncement on the exact site and dimensions of the fort.
Burks said the northeast bastion starts to the east, in the canal bed. “The implication is the canal workers removed the two east bastions,” he said. It may also be a bit off the site marked by the 1970s dig, which uncovered the outer ditch. Read the rest of this entry »


In the footsteps of David McKinley

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in History - 18th Century

The trench at Fort Laurens revealed dark places in the dirt marking the placement of wooden posts that formed the northern wall of the stockade, and as I studied those darker sections of earth I wondered if my ancestor helped cut the wood, dig the trench and place those posts. Later I looked at a hand-forged nail and wondered if he hammered that nail into the wood that would soon protect Pennsylvania militiamen from besieging British soldiers, Loyalists and Indian allies.
That ancestor is David McKinley, and I am related to Pres. William McKinley through him. David McKinley is my fifth great-grandfather through my maternal grandmother. My fourth great-grandmother Rachel McKinley, daughter of David, was a sister to the president’s grandfather James Stevenson McKinley; Rachel’s granddaughter Rachel Badger, my great-great-grandmother, was second cousin to the president; and Pres. McKinley and I are thus second cousins four times removed. Read the rest of this entry »


Krugs with lids

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Beer

IMG_0982 Decorated, tapered steins with lids are the more common German lidded vessel, but these two mugs are examples of stoneware Krugs with lids. Their capacity is a half liter each. I saw a photo in the 1954 Encyclopedia Britannica article on Germany of men drinking beer from lidded Krugs around the time of World War I.

IMG_0984 IMG_0983 IMG_0985 IMG_0986 IMG_0980 IMG_0987 IMG_0989 IMG_0990 Read the rest of this entry »


Reforming a stall potato

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Eutzly

IMG_0680My goat started a fitness program on June 27, and he has his own personal trainer — me. Eutzly has been too heavy for many years. I estimate that if I calculated his RMI (Ruminant Mass Index) he would rank in the low end of the obese category, and he has arthritis in a back leg, likely caused by his extra weight.
Part of the problem is his pasture is too small to permit running, and I suspect that Eutzly stays in his stall to relieve pressure on his arthritic knee. He worries about the neighbors’ big lummox of a dog, and he has no other goats with which to caper. Goats are social animals — the term “gregarious” derives from the Latin word for “herd” — and Eutzly’s isolation keeps him inside. He’s a stall potato. Read the rest of this entry »


The weight of the city

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Commentary

Our nation is in grave danger, and it comes from within. It’s neither a terrorist group nor a drug gang that assaults us, but this menace portends ill tidings for our future unless we can reverse its hold on our culture.
The 2012 HBO series “The Weight of the Nation” predicted that the mounting health costs of obesity-induced illnesses threaten to undermine our economy and our national well-being as a growing number of us are growing in size as processed foods and excessive electronic entertainment threaten to turn us into the cart-riding obese characters in the movie “Wall-E.” We must act now, and we can’t wait for the federal government to fix it for us. Such major change in thought, behavior and culture requires a dedicated effort coordinated by individuals, local government, schools, health organizations and grassroots groups. Here are some of my ideas for Alliance, and I understand that they are not necessarily practical or possible in full, but I want to initiate discussions on theses subjects. Read the rest of this entry »


Learning to eat beans

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Commentary

Somewhere I read this long ago, and I forget the author’s name, but I find it absolutely true: a colorful piece of fruit, a yellow pineapple for example, or an apple hanging on a tree, sets your mouth to watering. Just reading about it can trigger the Pavlov response. Does an animal elicit such a reaction? Do you see a furry rabbit and want to chomp into it? Your instinct is to eat the fruit and pet the rabbit.
I admit that cooked meat can be mouth-watering, but in its natural form, alive and breathing, I see nothing about an animal that makes me want to eat it. Last week, for example, my cat caught a chipmunk and launched into it behind the garage, and I had no compulsion to join him, and the more I learn about nutrition, the more I believe that instinct is correct. That belief is leading me to a vegetarian diet. Read the rest of this entry »


Monday Rain

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Science and Nature


Alpine Park, Plain Township, Stark County, June 16, 2014.


You can see the height of the water on the back door of our laundry room.

I arrived home Monday evening to find a bucket by the outside stairwell, and I knew what that meant. We had had a short but torrential rain that afternoon, the stairwell flooded, and water flowed in around the door. My wife’s first action — I was impressed — was to take the instruments that were sitting on the carpet in the lower level of our split-level house to the kitchen. Next she bailed water from the stairwell. Read the rest of this entry »


July events at Fort Laurens

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in History - 18th Century

DSCN3104Fort Laurens will hold an Independence Day ceremony at 1 p.m. July 4 to honor those who have served and are serving in the military. The event will be held on the Fort Laurens grounds near the Tomb of the Unknown Patriot of the American Revolution.
Larry Bell, the mayor of the village of Zoar, will be the guest speaker. Local
reenactors from the Brigade of the American Revolution will perform a gun salute with the Fort Laurens American Legion Post acting as the color guard. A laying of a wreath will take place at the Tomb of the Unknown Patriot of the American Revolution in honor of the 21 men who died at Fort Laurens.
The ceremony is free.
The Brigade of the American Revolution reenactors will appear at Fort Laurens on July 12 and 13 as part of the 235th anniversary of the evacuation of Fort Laurens with an encampment and battle re-enactments. Cost is $7 for adults and $3 for children.
Fort Laurens is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 31, when fall hours start. For questions or more information contact Fort Laurens at 330-874-2059 or email fortlaurens@gmail.com, or visit www.fortlaurens.org on twitter @FortLaurensMuse or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fortlaurens.


He’s not Mary Poppins

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Animals

Our family owned a dog long ago named Simon, a black poodle, half miniature and half toy, and he should have been named Mary Poppins because he was “practically perfect in every way.” Such were his charm, intelligence and strength of personality, I’ve never desired another dog, but last week I tested that notion when a dog stayed as our house guest.
Caleb was my late mother’s poodle, a scrap of a thing, light brown curly hair and legs too long for his skinny frame. My mother bought him from a Carroll County breeder a few years back after her second Labrador retriever died. I convinced her that, if she were to buy another dog, it should be small and incapable of pulling her down in her driveway as did the Lab, so she settled on a poodle but felt some reservations about buying a dog late in life. I argued for getting a dog and letting the future handle itself, and a niece’s assurance that she would take the dog were my mother to die settled the matter. Read the rest of this entry »


Learning journalism on the fly

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Commentary

My Alliance Review column for June 6:

Today’s notable anniversary falls exactly a week after a date that is notable for me on a personal level — May 30 was the date 12 years ago I started at The Review. I began as a part-time reporter, my official hire being the date I went full time sometime in July, but I consider May 30 my anniversary.
It was a challenging spring and summer for me in 2002. I had never worked for a newspaper or even as a writer of any sort — “You understand that I have no journalism experience?” I asked during the interview on May 29 — my writing education limited to high school English classes and the college of autodidactia, and most of my writing since high school was limited to my daily journal and a brief stint as a monthly writer for a folk music newsletter in the 1990s. Read the rest of this entry »