Author Archive | Carla Rabinowitz

Acknowledging Northern Slavery: How We Did It in Royalston

Isaac Royall Jr. was the largest slaveholder in Massachusetts.  At least 60 slaves served on his three estates in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and hundreds more on the sugar plantation in Antigua that was the source of his family’s fortune. Before the American Revolution, he was a member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council.  A bequest […]

Share
Continue Reading 0

Preserving Southern History: How They Did It in Pocahontas

Last October I wrote a blog post about how Pocahontas, Arkansas, a small town in the rural northeast area of the state, celebrated its 150th anniversary.  The celebration covered three weekends, the first of which was devoted to the town’s early history up to and including the Civil War. Because of the current discussion about […]

Share
Continue Reading 1

Uncle Billy: The Evolution of a Legend, Part Two

Another Billy Rubottom story has a third version, less romanticized, a product of the change in sensibilities in our own era.  This one concerns the death of  Hilliard Dorsey, who was married to Billy’s daughter Civility. Dorsey was a former Confederate officer, like Billy a prominent Mason and community leader. Horace Bell’s portrait is not […]

Share
Continue Reading 0

Uncle Billy: The Evolution of a Legend, Part One

William Wiley Rubottom, a California innkeeper and entrepreneur known to everyone as “Uncle Billy,” provided the inspiration for some serious storytelling.  Conflicting versions of two of these stories, set down twenty years apart,  offer a glimpse of the way in which stories can be used to reinforce the values of a place and time, and […]

Share
Continue Reading 0

A “Hardboiled Hellhole:” Panamint City, California

For the past 20 months, this blog has been following the journeys of the Drew and Bettis families and their descendants across the continent, paying less attention to the characters themselves than to the unexplored corners of American history through which they traveled.  We’re now getting to California, the farthest point of their journeys.  From […]

Share
Continue Reading 0

The Rise and Fall of Nicodemus

In 1878, a newly arrived settler in western Kansas looked over a small rise in the prairie, expecting to see the new, all-black town of Nicodemus rising before her like a beacon of hope. What she saw was a collection of “anthills”—small mounds of sod, some of them with chimneys poking up.  She burst into […]

Share
Continue Reading 1

The End of Reconstruction and the Arrival of the Exodusters

For African-Americans in the former slave states, the promise of the 15th Amendment quickly proved hollow. As the searing experience of the Civil War receded, white America began to focus on reconciliation. This slow and difficult process required a shared narrative of the heroism—white heroism—that had strengthened the bonds of the Union.  The newly freed […]

Share
Continue Reading 0

Citizens at Last: Winning the Fifteenth Amendment

Nobody “gave” African-Americans the right to vote.  They won it for themselves, largely through the tireless advocacy of the black veterans who had helped to win the Civil War for the Union. This is the central argument of Christian Samito’s book, Becoming Americans Under Fire.  Samito traces their slow progress towards full citizenship, and the […]

Share
Continue Reading 0

A Community Out of Chaos

Martha Bettis Cooper was a survivor.  In spite of the chaos and destruction around it, the city of Leavenworth prospered during the Civil War, and Martha and her family prospered along with it. By November of 1860, about a year after she and her son Drew arrived, she had bought a house lot worth $120. […]

Share
Continue Reading 0

Life at the Edge of the War

On the Missouri-Kansas border, the official outbreak of the Civil War merely resurrected the savage conflict over “Bleeding Kansas”  that had paused only briefly a year or two before.  As in other parts of the West, the two regular armies had few troops to spare for remote border struggles.  The inhabitants were left to settle […]

Share
Continue Reading 0