Friday, November 29, 2013

A Grave in the Middle of the Road

Tractor Crossing
Deer Crossing
It isn’t unusual when traveling country back roads to come across road signs warning drivers of deer or other unseen hazards. But this sign was a first for me… It’s meaning?

Grave in the Middle of the Road
There is a grave in the middle of the road.

But the grave was not always in the flow of traffic. 

Settler's Cabin
Nancy Kerlin married William Barnett in 1808 and they settled near what would become Amity, Indiana. They raised several children before Nancy died on December 1, 1831.

Indiana Wilderness
Her family buried her on top of a small hill that overlooked Sugar Creek, one of her favorite spots. Soon others were also buried in the makeshift graveyard, and over the years a small county cemetery developed.

Local Longhorn
But then progress reared its head and decided that a road needed to be built to connect Amity with other thoroughfares in the state.

Around the turn of the century, Johnson County decided to take the road directly through the cemetery, which meant that the graves would need to be relocated.

Johnson County Courthouse
But Nancy Barnett’s grandson, Daniel G. Doty had a problem with that. He did not want his grandmother’s grave disturbed. Doty went to the county and voiced his opposition to the plan but nothing changed. So, Doty decided to take matters into his own hands.

When the county work crews arrived to begin moving the graves that morning, they discovered Doty, sitting on his grandmother’s grave – with a loaded shotgun.
Road Crew

Again, Doty told the county that his grandmother would stay where she was. If they insisted on trying to move her grave, they would have to deal with him…

Graves That Were Moved
Nancy Barnett's Grave
The county concurred and left Doty and his grandmother’s grave alone. All that remained after the other graves had been moved was Doty, sitting on Nancy Barnett’s grave – still holding his gun.

Historical Marker
In 1912, a concrete slab was placed over the grave to protect it. A historical marker was added in 1982 by Barnett’s great, great grandson Kenneth Blackwell and his son, Richard Blackwell.

Nancy's Grave ON CR 400S
If you’d like to make the journey to see “the grave in the middle of the road,” travel south out of Indianapolis on U.S. 31 about 25 miles. You’ll travel through the town of Franklin, Indiana and continue south on 31 before turning east on County Road 400S about 1.5 miles.

Divided Roadway
It’s a part of unique American history; the result of the perseverance and determination of those who call themselves  "Hoosiers." 


Friday, November 22, 2013

50 Details About Kennedy’s Assassination on the 50th Anniversary

President John F. Kennedy
November 22, 1963
It was 50 years ago today, November 22 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Although Kennedy’s legacy was short, the man inspired hope in a new generation that eventually brought about long sought after changes in this country. Kennedy urged U.S. citizens to take up the challenge when he said “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Here are 50 details you may not know about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The President, First Lady & Governor Connally
1) In 1963, it was still not a federal crime to
assassinate a president.
2) The Presidential Limo had been flown into Dallas for the occasion.
3) The presidential motorcade route was decided on November 18 and released to the public shortly after.
4) November 22nd, 1963 was a sunny Friday in Dallas.
5) Over a quarter of a million people lined the parade route that day.
6) Kennedy was in Dallas less than an hour before being shot. His plane landed at Love Field at 11:37 a.m. He was shot at 12:30 p.m.
7) Kennedy took a bullet to the upper back and one to the head. Texas Governor John B. Connally Jr. received one bullet to the body.
8) The bullet that hit Connally had already passed through the president’s body.
9) Mrs. Kennedy had just turned toward the president when he was shot: she saw his face as he was hit.
10) Both men were rushed to Parkland Hospital in the presidential limo.

At Parkland Hospital after the President's Arrival
11) Mrs. Kennedy realized just how severely her husband had been wounded. She tried to hold his skull together until they arrived at the hospital.
12) She gave doctors part of Kennedy’s brain-matter that she had been holding in her cupped hands and remained in the operating room with her husband.
13) The President never revived after being shot.
14) John F. Kennedy was the first president to have the last rites administered by a Catholic priest.
15) President Kennedy died at 1:00 p.m. central time. He was 46 years old: the youngest man ever elected to be President

Walter Cronkite Announcing the Death of JFK
17) At 12:40 p.m. Walter Cronkite of CBS Television News broke into the popular soap opera As the World Turns with a bulletin stating, President Kennedy has been seriously wounded…”
18) Dan Rather of CBS News was the first to send the report that Kennedy was dead. CBS Radio went with it – before official word had been given.
19) CBS, ABC and NBC covered the assassination for four days – from 10 minutes after the gunshots were fired until the body had been laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery.
20) This was the longest uninterrupted television coverage of a news event until the attacks in 2001 on September 11th.
21) From this weekend forward, America would turn to television for their news.

Mrs. Kennedy Leaving Parkland Hosptial
19) Lyndon Johnson, acting as president, told White House officials not to release the news of Kennedy’s death until after he had left the hospital, saying he feared a conspiracy.
20) Kennedy’s body was removed from Parkland Hospital before the Dallas coroner could conduct the forensic exam required by Texas law.
21) Mrs. Kennedy refused to change out of her pink Chanel suit, which was covered in the president’s blood.
22) Most Americans did not immediately know the color of her suit because television broadcasts were in black and white at that time.
23) The blood-soaked Chanel suit is preserved at the National Achieves and will not be displayed until at least 2103, and then only at the discretion of the Kennedy family.
24) At 2 p.m. Mrs. Kennedy was taken back to Air Force One with her husband’s body, which had been placed in a bronze casket.

Lyndon Johnson Being Sworn In As President
25) Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president at 2:39 p.m. aboard Air Force One as it sat on the runway of Love Field in Dallas.
26) The only woman to administer the oath of office to a president was Federal Judge Sarah Hughes aboard Air Force One.
27) Johnson became president 99 minutes after Kennedy died.
28) Besides the new president, the new first lady and the former first lady, Air Force One was also carrying the slain president’s body back to Washington.

The President's Body Going to the Capitol
29) Upon arrival, the president’s body was taken to Bethesda Naval Hospital for an autopsy.
30) The embalming and cosmetic restoration was also done at Bethesda.
31) The President’s body was then placed in the East Room for 24 hours as he lay in repose.
32) Two Catholic priests stayed with the body during this time at the request of Mrs. Kennedy.
31) On Sunday, the flag-draped coffin was taken on a horse-drawn caisson to the U.S. Capitol to lie in state.
32) Over 250,000 people passed through the Capitol to show their respects.
33) Hundreds of thousands lined the streets in mourning.

Texas School Book Depository
34) The gunfire that killed Kennedy reportedly came from the Texas School Book Depository on the sixth floor.
35) Lee Harvey Oswald had begun working at the Book Depository one month before.
36) Oswald was arrested at 2:00 p.m. in a movie theatre.
37) He was not arrested for killing the President. He was arrested for killing police officer J.D. Tippit.

Ruby Shooting Oswald
38) As Oswald was being transferred from the Dallas City Jail to the Dallas County Jail, he was shot and killed by nightclub owner, Jack Ruby.
39) This was the first homicide broadcast live on television.
40) Lee Harvey Oswald died at 1:07 p.m. at Parkland Hospital – exactly two days and seven minutes after President John F. Kennedy, the man he had killed.
41) Conspiracy theories quickly developed. Today almost 60% of Americans still believe the president’s murder was part of a plot or cover-up.
42) Jack Ruby was convicted of “murder with malice” for killing Oswald and sentenced to death. His conviction was overturned. He was awaiting a new trial when he died of lung cancer in 1967.

First Page of the Warren Commission's Report
43) The House Select Committee on Assassinations later concluded that President Kennedy had not been given satisfactory protection while in Dallas.
44) The Secret Service agents had not followed correct procedure to protect the President from a sniper.
45) In 1963, the Warren Commission released an 888-page final report on its investigation into the assassination of the president.

Mrs. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy After Lighting the Eternal Flame
46) Businesses around the country, along with the U.S. Stock Exchange, closed their doors immediately after the President’s death and did not reopen until November 26th.
47) President Johnson declared Sunday, November 25th a day of national mourning.
48) On November 25th President Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
49) Mrs. Kennedy requested that an eternal flame be placed on the President’s grave.

50) President Kennedy is the most recent president to have been killed in office. In all, four U.S. presidents have been assassinated while in office: Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy.

~ Joy

For an amazing Then and Now series of photo montages on the event and locations, visit the UK’s Daily Mail online @

Friday, November 15, 2013

The History of the U.S. National Cemetery System

President Lincoln
Arlington National Cemetery
The National Cemetery System was developed as a way to provide a respectable and honored burial location for Civil War soldiers killed defending the Union.  In the Act of July 17, 1862, Congress authorized President Abraham Lincoln "to purchase cemetery grounds ... to be used as a national cemetery for soldiers who shall have died in the service of the country."  This was the first U.S. legislation to set in motion the concept of a national cemetery.

Civil War Graves
Burying the Dead
Before the national cemeteries were developed, soldiers were buried where they fell, at military posts, or the body was sent back to the family for a private burial.  A headboard was usually placed at the grave with the soldier’s name and information either painted or written on in chalk.  Since the wooden markers could not withstand the elements, the boards deteriorated rapidly and burial sites were lost.

Gettysburg National Cemetery
Civil War Battlefields
In July of 1862, the Army’s Quartermaster Department was assigned the task of establishing and maintaining the national cemeteries. After the end of the Civil War in 1865, the program began in earnest – to search for, locate, recover, and identify the remains of all Union soldiers, before re-interment in a national cemetery.  By June 1866, over 1 million dollars had been spent re-interring the war dead.  The Quartermaster General estimated that over $2.6 million would be the ''total cost of national cemeteries, and collection, transfer and re-interment of remains of loyal soldiers.'' The average cost of re-interment for each body was $9.75.

National Cemetery Act
The first National Cemetery Act was passed on February 22, 1867.  It provided funding in the amount of $750-thousand for the construction of national cemeteries, including the purchase of land, fencing and head stones.  The act also set some rules into place regarding conduct in a national cemetery stating, “Any person who shall willfully destroy, mutilate, deface, injure, or remove any monument, gravestone . . . or shrub within the limits of any said national cemetery” would be arrested and found guilty of a misdemeanor.

Headstones with Shield Design
U.S. Colored Troops
The headstone design was subject to several years ofdebates.  Many materials were suggested for use, including cast iron.  Final approval and the appropriation of 1-million dollars was given by Congress, in March 1873 for the erection of a marble or granite headstone, measuring 12 inches high by 10 inches wide by 4 inches thick, with a slightly rounded top.  Name, rank or affiliation was placed in a federal shield carved into the stone.  Headstones for the regular Army soldiers were marked as “USA.”  Stones for the U.S. Colored Troops were marked as “USCT.”  Stones for ‘contrabands’ and civilians were not allowed.

Marble or granite headstones for those whose remains were unidentified measured 6 inches high by 6 inches wide and 30 inches deep.  They were marked only with a number and/or by the words “Unknown U.S. Soldier.” Forty-two percent of the bodies and remains recovered were never identified.

Gen. Meigs
It took eight years for the interment of nearly almost 300,000 Union remains into designated national cemetery grounds.  Of those, over one hundred thousand were not identifiable. In 1870, General Montgomery Meigs declared the reburial project to be completed with a total of seventy-three national cemeteries created.  However, more would need to be started in the West where fallen soldiers had been abandoned at their frontier posts.

During the 1870’s several amendments were added to the National Cemetery Act of 1867 to allow the burial of Union veterans in national cemeteries.  In 1872, an amendment was passed to allow “all soldiers and sailors honorably discharged from the service of the United States who may die in a destitute condition, shall be allowed burial in the national cemeteries of the United States.”

Mexico's U.S. National Cemetery
Danville, KY National Cemetery
As a result of the amendments, many national cemeteries were located throughout the country – not just at the site of Civil War battles.   National cemeteries were set up in New Mexico, Nevada, California, and Mexico City, Mexico for those slain in the Mexican War.

Fredrick Olmsted
Landscape architect, Fredrick Law Olmsted was called in to offer his opinion on the appearance of the national cemeteries.  Olmsted advised, The main object should be to establish permanent dignity and tranquility ... sacredness being expressed in the enclosing wall and in the perfect tranquility of the trees within.”   

Oak Hill Cemetery - Evansville, IN
As a result, trees and shrubs were added to the national cemeteries, flowers were planted, and stone, brick or iron fences enclosed the grounds.  Many times cannons and other artillery were added as cemetery monuments.

Tomb of the Unknown
Arlington National Cemetery
In June of 1881, General Meigs issued a recommendation that “Arlington Cemetery, … be declared and constituted by law the official national cemetery of the government, and that its space, not needed for the interment of soldiers, be used for the burial of officers of the United States legislative, judicial, civil, and military, who may die at the seat of government or whose friends may desire their interment in a public national cemetery.”

Confederate Monument
Unknown Confederate Soldier
In 1906, over forty years after the war, legislation passed that allowed the re-interment of Confederate soldiers in national cemeteries.

Cave Hill National Cemetery
There are now 146 national cemeteries located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico which bear the title of National Cemetery.  Many are on or near Civil War battlefields, or troop concentration points such as military hospitals and campsites. 

The original fourteen national cemeteries, created in 1862 are –
Alexandria National Cemetery, Alexandria, Virginia
Annapolis National Cemetery, Annapolis, Maryland
Antietam National Cemetery, Sharpsburg, Maryland
Camp Butler National Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois
Cypress Hills National Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York
Danville National Cemetery, Danville, Kentucky
Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas
Fort Scott National Cemetery, Fort Scott, Kansas
Keokuk National Cemetery, Keokuk, Iowa
Loudon Park National Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland
Mill Springs National Cemetery, Nancy, Kentucky
New Albany National Cemetery, New Albany, Indiana
Philadelphia National Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Soldier’s Home National Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Since 1862, more than 3-million burials have occurred in national cemeteries.  The purpose of the National Cemetery System remains the same as it did 151 years ago; to provide a proper burial service, headstone, and interment in hallowed ground for veterans, those on active duty, reservists and National Guard members who have, or continue to, serve and defend our country.

~ Joy