This blog is a reprint of my internet journal from 2001 to 2002 in which I documented my "vagabond" solo journey in a Chevy Conversion Van tracing my roots. I not only traced their paths and found their homes and final resting places, but I did extensive genealogical research in court houses, libraries, historical societies, genealogical societies, cemeteries, and talked to the local people. I traveled with a laptop to upload my notes and photos, and use e-mail. It was a fantastic journey which lasted two years. I had no other home except my van to sleep in...just a bed and video player. My household goods were put into storage for two years. My mail was delivered to me at general delivery when I phoned "MailBox, etc." and told them where to send it. At night I stayed in campgrounds, motels, friends' backyards, friends' homes, and those of the few living relations I've tracked down. As I traveled I collected so much genealogy information, that I had to get rid of items that I had originally thought essential to my travels (like a microwave oven). Between ancestral sites, I visited any tourist sites I could find and got to know alot about the USA. This was a trip of a lifetime and I'm still sorting through all the wonderful memories, photos and invaluable genealogical data I found. I will post to this blog as I can - one or a few days at a time of that journey from 2001 to 2002

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ancestor Tracking 30 May 2001

30 May 2001            New Market, VA   to   Gettysburg, PA via  WV and  MD

After a sleep that made me glad I was in a warm sleeping bag in New Market, VA, I got up at 6:30 am and made hot water using the electrical supply from the camp site.  I remembered the first morning I was walking around in Harper’s Ferry and I saw a big RV leaving his site to depart.  Behind him was 25 ft of electrical cord.  He had forgotten to disconnect his power cord from the box.  I flagged him down and he was a bit embarrassed.   I was thinking when I plugged in today, that I don’t want to do that!  I used the next two hours to replace batteries and look for the elusive tire air pressure gauge.  Hmmmm it’s here somewhere.
Electrical cord through the window of my van

Sheep at the New Market campground

Leaving the nearly empty campground I drove back through the interesting little town of New Market.  I had meant to look in the “Old Books Store” but it wasn’t open when I passed.  I wanted to get to the New Market Historic Battlefield from the Civil War and Hall of Valor run by the Virginia Military Institute (VMI).  It was just west of the town.  A few of us early birds asked them to show the film at 9am as they opened, so they did.  It was a stirring and poignant film about the VMI Cadets and their brave participation in the battle against the Union General Sheridan, and his men. They marched from their boarding school in Lexington VA to New Market VA and about 10 boys were killed. 

New Market Battlefield from Hall of Valor site

Cannon at the New Market VA Battlefield
VMI owns many acres of the battlefield and a farmhouse that was on the site.  It was a beautiful crisp morning to walk the path of the cadets into the battle lines.  Victory that day on May 15, 1864, was to the Confederates, but it wasn’t long before the Union took the Shenandoah Valley.  There is an excellent exhibit in the modern Hall of Valor which describes the Civil War, and it is the first time I have been able to begin to put all the little battles, in place in my mind, so as to understand how each played a part in the saga of the entire war from 1861 to 1865.
View of Shenandoah River
I finally left Virginia.  After criss-crossing it a couple times, I’ve really enjoyed the best aspects of the state, but time to move north.  Back up I-81 Shenandoah Valley through a bit of West Virginia, then a bit of Maryland, then into Pennsylvania.  I can actually see the difference in the houses.  There are so many old houses in these Eastern states.  My goodness, in California they would probably all get on a historic register.  Of course my cousins in Britain would think a hundred year old house was quite modern.

I talked to the people at the PA Visitors’ Center at the border and got a bunch more pamphlets and maps.  Within the hour I was checking into the KOA at Gettysburg, PA.  Again this campground was not full.  I decided on a campground because all the motels seem to cost $75/night minimum.  Anyway, I got to use my coupon for a free night.  After 5 nights, at KOA, you get one free until 3 July, so I might as well take advantage of that.  But I did get a site with electricity.  Might as well, it doesn’t cost that much more.

Then off to the National Park Service Visitor’s Center at Gettysburg.  Overwhelmed might be a good term to describe the feeling of all the people, and all the choices of what to do to see everything at this battlefield.  I decided to see an orientation film, then see the “Electrical Map” that depicts the different battle lines from 1 to 3 July 1863.  Lee thought he had a good chance of gaining ground in the North, after their big win in Chancellorsville, VA.  But the three days of fighting and ending with the classic frontal assault “Pickett’s Charge” left thousands dead and forced Lee to retreat back to the South.  Four months later Abraham Lincoln came to dedicate the cemetery as a National Cemetery, and he delivered the two-minute speech which every school child should know – The Gettysburg Address. 

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

At Gettysburg Peace Monument
View of the famous Gettysburg "Stone Wall"

The KOA campground here at Gettysburg was cozy and the shower hot, so all is well.  The family next to me offered the hot grill for me to use, but I’d already eaten, and nothing to cook anyway.
Tomorrow I'll see more of the Gettysburg Battlefield.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please add a comment, I look forward to hearing from any readers.