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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Kipling in Vermont

Rudyard Kipling, lived in Vermont during the years 1892-1896. He built his estate known as *Naulakha in Dummerston, Vermont.  It is the only house built by Kipling.  His 19th Century estate today is virtually as it was when he vacated it, although some slight modifications have occurred.  

The name of the estate was derived from a book that was co-authored by a friend that he met while attending school in England.  His name was Wolcott Belestier, an American writer,  and jointly they wrote Naulahka, A Novel of East and West, the story of a priceless Indian jewel. Wolcott died of typhoid near completion of the book, while Rudyard was traveling abroad.  Upon hearing the news, he rushed back to England.   It may be said that Rudyard was not entirely broken-hearted, as he had secretly telegraphed Wolcott's sister, Caroline Balestier, and asked him to marry her.  For Kipling, it was a bittersweet return to England.

"On 18 January 1892, Carrie Balestier (aged 29) and Rudyard Kipling (aged 26) were married in London, in the "thick of an influenza epidemic, when the undertakers had run out of black horses and the dead had to be content with brown ones." The wedding was held at All Souls Church, Langham Place. Henry James gave the bride away." -wiki

Their honeymoon began with a trip to Brattleboro, Vermont; where they visited Caroline's family, composed of her mother who was a widow,  her grandmother and her brother, Beatty.  They spent three days in the Brattleboro area, before departing to travel the world. While visiting, the Kiplings had found the peace and tranquility of the area very charming.  After being abroad for some time, their funds "failed" while in Japan, they returned to Dummerston. Here, they purchased 11 acres of property and began to build Naulakha.  During the time the homestead was being built they resided in a rented cottage, dubbed "The Bliss Cottage," near the property.

Rudyard began to write his first Jungle Book at "Bliss Cottage", and at this time their first child, Josephine, was born.  During the autumn of 1893, after hiring Henry Rutgers Marshall to design the house which resulted in a resemblance of an Indian bungalow, they moved into Naulakha. 

Kipling w/ daughter, Josephine
Born: 1892,
Died 1899: Contracted pneumonia, age 7
Kipling w/ his son, John
 After moving into Naulakha, the Kiplings' second child was born. Kipling then wrote the second of the Jungle Books, Captains Courageous, The Seven Seas, and The Day's Work.  He also completed numerous short stories and poems, such as Gunga Din and Mandalay.

Josephine, John and Elsie Kipling
In 1896, the peace was tragically shattered after an argument pertaining to his wife's desire for a formal garden where a pasture resided became the source of a very public and nasty disagreement. 

Beatty's and Kipling's land abutted one another.  Caroline wanted to plant a formal garden in the place that Beatty was using as a pasture.  In defense of his wife, Kipling made public his disdain for his wife's brother.  And, also publicly, Beatty was known as a rough and tumble drunkard, who was frequently in-debt and a tightwad.

Beatty brazenly went to see his brother-in-law about the rumors he heard that Kipling was spreading.  Kipling replied that Beatty should consult his attorney.   Beatty, angered by this response, told Kipling, "By Jesus, this is no case for lawyers. You've got to retract the Goddamned lies you've been telling about me. You've got to retract them in a week or by Christ I'll punch the Goddamned soul out of you."

Caroline never approved of her brother's raucous ways, and pressured Kipling to put an end to it. Browbeat by his wife, Kipling went to his lawyer and in two days, Beatty was arrested. 

"Kipling soon realized his mistake but it was too late; Beatty had contacted all the newspapers which Kipling had spurned. The trial, held in the Brattleboro Opera House, was blown out of proportion, shattered Kipling's privacy, and made a spectacle for the reporters, the metropolitan newspapers, and readers. Although Kipling won the trial, on a personal level he had lost." -wikipedia 

Young Rudyard Kipling
Kipling was born in Bombay, India, and it was forever endearing to him, but he could not remain there because of poor health.  When he discovered the isolation and peace of Vermont, he felt as if he had found the perfect spot for to write. 

By 1903, after the very public trial, the Kiplings had removed their personal belongings from Naulakha, and returned to England.  At that time, Kipling was quoted by friends to say, 

"There are only two places in the world where I want to live - Bombay and Brattleboro. And I can't live at either." 

15 years later, Kipling's son, John, was serving as a Second Lieutenant after being mustered into the Irish Guards.  He shipped out of  Southampton, England on August 16, 1815 to fight the Great War in Loos France.   If it were not for Rudyard pressuring the Irish Guard to allow his sons entry, the boy would have never been accepted, as he had extremely poor eyesight, which would normally excuse one from being mustered into service.  

John died the second day of battle, which involved heavy artillery use by the Germans.  It was brutal trench war. John Kipling never returned and his corpse could never be authenticated or truly identified.  It has been said that Kipling never recovered from this tragic loss.

John Kipling, center, wearing glasses

Lt. II John Kipling

His surviving daughter, Elsie, went on to marry Captain George Bambridge, in October, 1924.  Captain Bambridge had survived the Irish Guard. 

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And—which is more—you'll be a Man my son!

*Naulahka - was the correct spelling as it originally appeared in the book by the same name.  It was incorrectly spelled Naulakha, and this is how it remains, hereafter.  Kipling never corrected the spelling.

More on Kipling's life - a very interesting read - can be found by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Haunted Myrtles Plantation, Louisiana

Northwest of New Orleans, and just east of the Mississippi River lies a sleepy plantation that is a grand example of antebellum style architecture found in the deep South, known simply as the Myrtles Plantation.  

As you approach the facade of the clapboard mansion in St. Francisville, you cannot help but be impressed to see an intricate grill-work design of grape vine made of cast iron, that has been painted in a soothing pale green color, and outlines this long (120 foot) veranda.  Lovely pink myrtle trees fill the southern air with their sweet scent.  

However impressive this southern beauty may be, it has been long suggested that this mansion was originally built atop of an ancient Tunican Indian burial ground.  The Tunica were Native Americans who lived in the Mississippi Valley.  While researching this article, I learned that the Tunicans used a language now referred to as "isolate" which simply means that the tongue in which they spoke had no relationship to other languages known. Their language was their own: unique and isolated.

This southern beauty plantation was originally dubbed "Laurel Grove" and it was built by General David Bradford (somewhere between 1794 to 1796).  Bradford lived by himself there for a few years until he was pardoned by President John Adams because of his activity during the Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion.

After things died down a bit, he brought his wife and 5 children from Pennsylvania.  Bradford did not remain long on this earth after this, and died in 1808.  

Almost a decade later, his daughter Sara Mathilda married a law student by the name of Clark Woodruff.  This couple eventually inherited the plantation and produced 3 children by the names of Cornelia Gale, James, and Mary Octavia. 
During the unfortunate era in time, Clark obtained a lovely slave named Chloe.  

Now, Chloe was naturally interested in her surroundings and took to listening to the family's conversations, and reportedly spying through a keyhole.  She was discovered by Clark, who promptly cut off her ear to teach her a lesson about eavesdropping and spying.  It has been documented that after this terrifying incident, Chloe donned a green turban to cover her disfigurement.  

[Other versions of the story declare that Clark forced Chloe into being his mistress against her will, and that he repeatedly forced himself upon her.]

To put it mildly, Chloe was not impressed by this infraction  and devised a twisted plan to earn back the trust of Clark and the family.  Luck was on her side, as the oldest daughter's birthday was just around the corner, and Chloe was responsible for making the birthday cake.  

And so, Chloe set about mixing the cake with the basic ingredients: flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla bean and just a touch of boiled orleander leaves.  The orleander would add just the right amount of poison to make the family sick and then she would aid in their rescue by returning them all to perfect health.  This would certainly earn back the lost trust of her master!

When the occasion came, the family sat around the table to celebrate the day and to devour the scrumptious cake.  After a few bites, the festivities waned ,as forks were dropped and coughing and choking ensued.  Chloe rushed to their aid by bringing each to their respective beds, but alas! it was too late.  Every one who ate the cake died, including Sara Mathilda who was carrying a baby.  (Mary Octavia survived and lived well into adulthood; and, Cornelia, who did not eat the cake, later died of yellow fever.)

Chloe was very frightened and returned to the homes of her kin and friends, where she confessed that she had poisoned the cake in an effort to make amends.  She was mortified and literally feared for her life.  She returned to the mansion and fell into a deep sleep.  

Her confession did not bode well with the other slaves, for now their own lives may be endangered.  They wanted to keep their homes and their lives so they devised their own plan to show their loyalty to their master. 

In the darkest hour of the night, some of them crept into the room where she slept and silently stole her.  Once they had her outside, she was hung by the neck in a nearby tree, and then her body was brought to the Mississippi River, weighed by rocks, and tossed in.  Her body was never to be seen again.

Today, and is known as one of "America's Most Haunted Homes".

The mansion changed hands, on several occasions through the years and along the way, many strange reports have been told.  

Subsequent owners and their family members suffered hardship and many met their fate by tragedy or disease.

Whether or not the site is build over an old burial ground, has not been fully substantiated, but one must ask - haven't you seen the movie, Poltergeist?  Apparently this is not a smart move!

During the Civil War, the Myrtle Plantation was looted and many personal belongings were annihilated. 

Some say that during this loot, three Union soldiers were killed after they gained entry and were shot to death in the gentlemen's parlor.  Today it is told that bloodstains are left on the floor of that spot, and cannot be washed away: 

"...William Drew Winter was lured out of the house by a rider, who shot him to death on the side porch. It is here where the stories take a turn for the worse. In the legend, Winter was shot and then mortally wounded, staggered back into the house, passed through the gentlemen's parlor and the ladies parlor and onto the staircase that rises from the central hallway. He then managed to climb just high enough to die in his beloved's arms on exactly the 17th step. It has since been claimed that ghostly footsteps have been heard coming into the house, walking to the stairs and then climbing to the 17th step where they, of course, come to an end."  
- prairieghosts.com

Today, some claim steps can be heard on the stairs, during the middle of the night.  People have counted the steps, as they occur and state that the footstep sounds stop on the 17th step.

At the end of the Civil War, one owner went bankrupt (but the family was able to regain their fortune).  This same owner,  William Winter - who was actually a caretaker, not an owner - was shot on the front porch and died.

His wife, Sara, died at the young age of 44.

A child died of typhoid.

Another owner's son went to round up cattle during a storm and drowned upon falling into the Mississippi River.

In one of the upstairs bedrooms, a young lass died of yellow fever. Distraught, her parents called upon a Priestess of VooDoo to work her magic because conventional medicine did not work.  But alas! the little girl died.  The enraged parents hung the witch doctor from the bedroom chandelier.  

An elder son of another owner was stabbed to death in the mansion over a gambling debt.

A tale is told that a caretaker was murdered during a robbery that allegedly occurred in 1927.  One with a sharp eye may witness him at the plantation gate, advising people to leave.

A soldier from the Civil War died at the interior entry (near the front door) after suffering from battle wounds. 

He was known to be a heavy cigar smoker, and he had stayed at the house before before he died. 

Today, the Myrtles Inn is non-smoking but those who have stayed in his room can sometimes smell the smoke of his cigar.

The ghostly mirror of Myrtle's Plantation
One of the most enduring tales is that of a mirror which has actually been in the house since it's construction.  Some say that the mirror has ensnared the souls of some of the former occupants, that died there. 

When ghostly images of hand prints began to appear, the mirror was exhaustively cleaned...but they hand prints returned.  Perhaps it is the glass in the mirror, they thought, and the glass was replaced.  With the original frame intact, a new glass was installed but eerily, the hand prints continued to return.  This was repeated once again (replacing the glass) but the hand prints continue to appear.

"Those who have seen the mirror up close describe it as “unsettling.” A faint residue of “drips” running from top to bottom mar the glass."  -eldoradofurniture.blogspot

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Snake Oil For Sale

Miracle Cures and more....

Photo: archives.gov
Picture yourself in the Wild West of America, a family traveling across the dusty prairies to discover Frontier towns, or to perhaps settle your own farmland.  While riding in your covered wagon, you greet another wagon toting medicines and cures for sale.  This wagon is made of wood and advertising is painted on it that promotes products that promised renewed health, miracle cures, herbal concoctions, and various remedies.  

In my mind's eye -the Snake Oil Salesman
Meet the Medicine Man.  He is most certainly impeccably dressed in a dark suit, albeit wearing a dusty, but tidy white shirt, his bow-tie is neatly knotted, and on his head is a black top hat.  Perhaps he dons a Dali-esque curling mustache with a smile that you immediately distrust, but are drawn to listen to his sales pitch, for he is charismatic and sales are his business. He is a one-man circus, a snake oil salesman, a traveling apothecary and a charlatan.

This man was a master of promoting "patent medicines" which were actually the gateway to the advertising industry.  Successful salesman carried a variety of so-called medicines from the basic to the exotic.  They were also crafty, knowing some of their cure-alls were addictive because many of the remedies of that time were not only opium based, but they contained alcohol, or morphine or cocaine, which made their return trips to town not only frequent, but profitable.  They knowingly preyed upon addiction, and probably hypochondriacs. 

"Patent Medicine" is mostly associated with drug compounds which were produced and sold during the 18th and 19th centuries.  Another word for patent medicines was nostrum remedium - which means "our remedy" in Latin.  Originating from England, and later shipped to America, they were given trademarks, but never really patented!  

Nostrums were mostly like called such because they were manufactured at home, and if the remedy was successful, then it would be bottled and sold in fancier packaging.  Herbs and/or roots were boiled, or infused into vegetable oils, sugar was frequently added and most frequently,  copious amounts of alcohol.   Family recipes were kept secret and the contents of their concoctions were often kept secret. Remember during this time,the FDA did not exist, so whatever was manufactured there was often little or no regard for their toxicity.  Sometimes the remedy was lethal.  

Laudanum would be one example of this, as no prescription was necessary, and this did not change until the early 20th century. This russet colored, bitter drink first sold as a remedy to help a cough and sooth a sore throat. After which, it was commonly prescribed by well-meaning physicians, to calm nerves.  The reason for it's addiction and abuse (whether concealed or openly used) was that it's base contained a high content of morphine, and also contained codeine - all infused in alcohol.  I am not sure where I read or heard this, but I think this particular drug was one commonly used discretely by wealthier women.

Lacking affordable mass transportation and often being geographically challenged, homesteaders and families were often cared for by the mother of families.  Without having access to a town or market, many Moms had no choice but to care for illnesses at home, using their own family cures or even cookbook recipes to aid the sick.

To the delight of the new found traveling salesman, and the success of some remedies, the quack would load his wagon with medicines to prey upon those who now lived with the fear of major diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, and cholera.   Mom's lack of skill to counter such terrible illnesses, were a direct success of the traveling salesman.  They fed upon the family's fear of disease to sell their products, and it worked.  

As patented medicines became more profitable, it was only natural that clever advertising began to appear everywhere.  Shrewd business owners bought advertisements in printed newspapers, which helped vastly with the success of sales.  Glass bottles were manufactured with the company or doctors name imprinted in the glass, or labels were affixed to them.  

Photo: liveauction.com
This introduced trademarks that sold their product under comforting, colorful titles and names. The more profitable the company, the more colorful the label. Some remedies also came in boxes which matched the inner label on the bottles. Later, remedies appeared in tins.  The manufacturing of patent medicines was born.   

Any ailment under the sun was fair game for treatment.  And anything that you can think of was used in the manufacturing of cures - and the claims of cures and remedies that were made were astonishing.  

"Chlorodyne was the name for one of the most famous patent medicines sold in the British Isles. It was invented in the 19th century by a Dr. John Collis Browne, a doctor in the British Indian Army; its original purpose was in the treatment of cholera. Browne sold his formula to the pharmacist John Thistlewood Davenport, who advertised it widely, as a treatment for cholera, diarrhea, insomnia, neuralgia, migraines, etc. As its principal ingredients were a mixture of laudanum (an alcoholic solution of opium), tincture of cannabis, and chloroform, it readily lived up to its claims of relieving pain, as a sedative, and for the treatment of diarrhea." - Source: wikipedia

"Dr. Kilmer's Swamp Root Kidney, Liver & Bladder Cure was aimed at people suffering from Bright's disease, bloating limbs,
lame back, rheumatism, diabetes, dropsy, malaria, dyspepsia, gall stone, fever, ague, gout, pimples, ulcers, syphilis, poor

appetite, bad breath, and a previously unknown disease - "internal slime fever." " ~ Source: pilgrimhallmuseum.org

For the discrete cheater....
Not much left to the imagination on this remedy (above)...

There is an old tale that a shepard was out in his field, tending his flock when his staff stuck to a black stone, (and because the end of his staff was made of iron, to which the rock was attracted) it was then believed that the rock possessed magic.  Time passed and scientific studies became the basis on which recoveries and cures were manufactured.  


In addition to bottled water treated with electro-magnetism, a magnitude of other products were developed such as machines that used belts; as well as producing balms, liniments, ointments, oils and so on, all claiming to have healing powers infused with electro-magnetic cures.  Of the use of electro-magnetic water, one doctor wrote, 

"Water is valuable as a medical agent, but its efficiency consists, not in the element itself, but in its subservience as a handmaid of electricity. Electricity is the queen of medicine: water merely a pool in which she bathes her feet." - Unknown

Here is a whole boat load of bizarre remedies, cures and other strange medical inventions... along with my comments....who couldn't resist? 

"Never Known to Fail"

Oh, what a delightful secret, indeed as "Rich, red blood will be sent coursing through your veins..."

Chocolate coated STRYCHNINE?

"During the turn of the century, consuming small amounts of strychnine was believed to be a good way to enhance the senses, promote saliva flow, and built a good apatite."  -poisonbottlecollecting.wordpress.com 

I love the last line - "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" - This is a warning for anyone attempting to copy Samuel Thompson's patent medicine. 

In other words, a generous, christian doctor will sell you drugs. 

From Our Toilet, to yours!  

Hey, a little booze never hurt anyone, right?  Quickly heal after having the flu - even his Holiness was brought into the racket. 


Hell, if you've got it, we'll fix it.

Men!  Like they needed any help...Just sayin'...

A little infused weed for your female woes.

This supposedly cured your heart, and make it pump better. 


I'm thinking there must have been a lot of infidelity or many trips to the local Saloon....

"and one day his woman ran off with another guy, hit young Rocky in the eye.  Rocky didn't like that 'said I'm gonna get that boy..." -The Beatles

I guess this would beat being stretched out on some mechanical Medieval devise.

Purify your blood - with Chloroform

Add caption
Aunt Martha: "For a gallon of elderberry wine, I take one teaspoon full of arsenic, then add half a teaspoon full of strychnine, and then just a pinch of cyanide.'

Mortimer Brewster: "Hmm. Should have quite a kick."
-From the movie, "Arsenic and Old Lace", 1944

"The Star of Hope"

Cocaine induced tonic.... not sure what it did other than the obvious.

Here's something for those poor, small busted gals....

One for Old Rusty....

Just "Pull the cords"!  Though this may have worked, it would only be temporary.

I think the American Lung Association would disagree with this advertising.

Hell, ya!

I think the word they were looking for was anemic, or albino... it's a coin toss.

"Cure?"  I researched this product, and though I learned a lot about why it was touted as a cure (it's instructions stated to avoid sugar, and eventually tested urine showed that there was a lack of glucose.  Well, that was easy.)  Also, I could not find a single ingredient for this product, but I believe some type of diuretic herb was used in the making of this product.  It's ingredients are still unknown - to my knowledge.   If you have an answer, I'd love to know!  Unfortunately, we all are aware that even up to today there has been no cure for diabetes.  This product contained:

Oh, Baby....

This was not only made w/ infused electricity - "but it causes no sores like certain OTHER plasters".... Hmmm... a little competition, I suspect.

A little turpentine straight from your paint brush and on to your skin!  No wonder Van Gogh cut off his ear.
"As a FLESH PRODUCER... there can be no question that Scott's Emulsion of Pure Cod Liver Oil and Hypophosphites [of lime and soda] is without a rival.  Many have gained a pound a day by the use of it....."   Good Lord!

"Syrup of Hypophosphites was widely marketed to physicians, not consumers, as a remedy for many illnesses.  It was a commercial success, even though it contained strychnine, a potent poison, and likely made its customers sicker." -old marinartifacts.wordpress.com

WHAT did they put in the coffee?  

Sounds kind of yummy, eh?  The word Senna popped out at me - so I could figure this out pretty quickly.  Better keep the door to the outhouse opened. 

Early drugs for diet aids. 

Autumn Leaf Extract?  WHAT Autumn leaf?  Sure to cure any menstrual cramps, AND purify your blood!  I think I'd rather eat spinach, thank you.

"George Goodwin and Company"  ....Looks like my husband's family was in on the racket.  hee hee....

I don' know about you, but if the label says "JACKASS" I don't think I'd try it.   Kind of an oxymoron, all around. 

Send those tapeworms back to the ground! 

Glad?  Of course they were glad, they've shut the baby up with an opiate. 

Easy choice - smoke cigarettes or take this Oil of Tar! 

Say Aaahhh... and don't worry - the ambulance is on it's way.

Even animals were treated with manufactured home remedies!