THIS IS SURRATTSVILLE FOUNDATION E-NOTICE 2005-10 OF OCTOBER 4, 2005
Here are some items that might be of interest:
1. FOUNDATION'S MEMORY FUND MAKES GRANT. Because of an unanticipated and unpreventable family financial difficulty, a current Surratts student found herself unable to enroll in a night school class necessary for her to graduate with her classmates. Last month, the Foundation's Principals/Faculty/Staff Memory Fund B which was established to help current Surratts students deal with unanticipated financial challenges standing in the way of their success at Surratts B gave her a grant equal to the tuition necessary to enroll in this class. (For a more complete description of this great fund, or to make a contribution to the fund, see the information about it on the Foundation's web site at www.surrattsville.org.)
2. 2005 ANNUAL CAMPAIGN CONTINUES. The Foundation's informal annual campaign continues this month. As in the past, we expect to use the funds raised during the annual campaign to replenish the Foundation's scholarship funds and to be used for other Foundation projects. Please consider making a contribution to this most worthy of causes. Remember: no contribution is too small (or too large) to be of assistance, and since the Foundation has no overhead, every dollar contributed directly supports a Foundation activity. (A donor form is reprinted below and is available on the web site at www.surrattsville.org.)
3. CAPTIONS WANTED FOR WEB SITE. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Foundation's web master, Mike Gifford (84), some great photos from the June 2005 events are now on the web site at www.surrattsville.org. Please help out if you can by sending names that are missing from the captions of some of the photos. Also, you'll note that certain Classes are very well-represented in the photos (owing to the graduation years of the photographers who submitted photos!), while others are not, so we'd love to have additional photos for addition to the web site if you have any.
4. HORNETS SURVIVE WRATH OF KATRINA AND RITA. We received two reports about experiences of Hornets in the hurricane zone. While both of them came through the storms without personal injury, one was not so lucky with respect to property damage.
Here's an email that Leslie St. Clair (70) received from Glenda Gillan Schornick (70) and passed along to us with Glenda's permission: "Hi Leslie: Oh my gosh. I just got your phone message today since it is my first day back at the office and we are scrambling, believe me. I can't believe you saw me on Fox News. We knew they were there but I had no clue where it might be broadcast. Thank God for my church. Well, we are doing well camping out at the business. We just mainly need power and a camper trailer to live in but we are good temporarily in our antique shop. I will need clothes of course, but it's going to be jeans at work for a while until I get air conditioning. We have all the basics we need. Don't think I'll be wanting to go camping for quite some time, ha ha. Our spirits are up and we are optimistic and hopeful. The worst thing is not the total loss of my house, but my beautiful Gulf Coast just wiped clean; it's so sad. My dad and brothers are all fine too. Much kindness and generosity have come to us and we are very thankful. Gotta go now. Love, Glenda"
When I followed-up with Glenda, she sent me this upbeat note: "Hi Henry: It is in a way like being on another planet B quite an experience. It will be a slow recovery, but all spirits are in good shape. I'll have pics to send eventually. Please thank all for us. Their prayers are much appreciated. Love to all, Glenda"
I then received this email, with a happier ending, from Surrattstock I and II performer Ray Gibb (72):
"Hello Everyone: Well, Becca and I have said adios to Rita, and it's certainly good riddance! Thanks to everyone for your prayers, emails, and phone calls. It's nice to know you have so many wonderful friends in the world, and I'm a strong believer in the power of group prayer.
We live only about a half mile from Galveston Bay, so if Rita had made a direct hit on Galveston, the projected 20 22' storm surge would have put about 12 15' of water into our first floor. So, evacuation was the only safe course of action for us. I had to work until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday night, so we spent many hours when I got home deciding what we could cram into our two vehicles and moving as many as possible of our valuables we couldn't take to the upstairs bedroom and bath. After only getting a couple of hours of sleep, we woke up on Thursday morning and moved most everything from the yard and deck into the house so they wouldn't end up being projectiles if the storm brought 100+ mph winds with it. After stopping by our storage room and picking up some sleeping bags and our tent, we hit the road at around noon with full tanks of gas. Becca's Explorer was stuffed to the gills with family pictures, art work, and one of the cats, and my SUV carried our two old dogs, the other cat, two suitcases and five guitars (my amps and recording equipment were left upstairs).
The trip started pretty smoothly, with the first 30 miles or so to Sugar Land moving at normal speeds. When we hit Sugar Land, however, it was instant gridlock. I won't bore you with the grueling details, but to sum it up, we only traveled a total of 100 miles or so by 4:30 a.m. the next morning. For the mathematically challenged, that is averaging only slightly above 6 mph. Thousands of cars that had run out of gas or broken down lined the I 10 interstate all along the way. To compound the problems, Houston had record temperatures that day (102 degrees), so it was difficult to run your A/C for countless hours sitting in traffic without overheating.
[After the storm], we had a smooth, easy trip back to our house and everything was fine. The community where we live, Clear Lake (also home to NASA), had some wind damage and felled trees, but did not experience any storm surge. Quite a few homes are without power, but our house never had even an interruption. We've spent the day unpacking and Becca is now taking a nap. Needless to say, we have a lot to be thankful for. You can bet that we've already said many, many private thank yous to Him already. God bless all of you, and stay in touch! Ray & Becca"
I know we all send out our best wishes for a speedy return to normalcy to all the members of the Surratts family B and all the others B who were impacted by these two horrific storms.
5. CLASS OF 65 WEB SITE UPDATED. The Class of 65 has posted some great photos of their participation in the June 2005 events at www.surrattsville65.org (at the photo album button and then the 40th reunion button). You might want to check-out these great photos of this extraordinary Class.
6. CLASS OF 85 REUNION. I received this email from 85 ORCs Mary Beth Klick and Cyndi Baker Fraley: "Dear Class of 85: Our 20th Year Reunion has been officially rescheduled for Friday, November 11, 2005, 8:00 pm midnight, Holiday Inn of Waldorf (Damon's). Invitations were mailed this week - look for the green envelope. A few things: an 85 Missing Alumni List is available. If you can help us search or already know where to find any of these people, please send us their addresses. Web Development Assistance we are looking for someone with web development experience to help create our exclusive Class of 1985 web page. Holler if you can help. Mail $ Sooner Rather Than Later members of the reunion committee have already put out some of their personal money to pay for some reunion expenses. Your early payment will help us do the rest. Bring Surrattsville Memorabilia there will be two tables set up at the reunion ballroom for photo albums, pictures, trophies, and other items we all may still have from the high school years. The 10th Reunion Panaramic photo is being mounted for display purposes. (Put your name on your stuff.) We are looking forward to having a great time. Mary Beth Klick, email@example.com and Cyndi Baker Fraley, firstname.lastname@example.org"
7. HORNET GRIDIRON STAR SCORES IN COLLEGE. I received this email from Steve Profilet (71): "Henry: Jerod Void (01) is a member of Purdue's football team. So far in his career (prior to this season), he has over 1700 yards rushing, and 26 touchdowns. Not bad for a passing team. So far this season, he has two 100 yard rushing yards. Steve" Go Jerod!
8. REACTIONS TO THE "RE-NAMING" CONTROVERSY. I received these interesting emails in response to the item in the last e-Notice about a citizen's suggestion that Surrattsville be re-named.
Deb Bastek (71) wrote: "Hi Henry: Since my folks were among the early members of the Surratt Society (as well as the Lincoln Group) and contributed time and furnishings to the renovation of the Surratt Tavern I suggest people wanting to change the name of Surrattsville purely because of its association with Mary Surratt engage in a little self education. The latter is easily accomplished by availing themselves of the myriad resources at the Surratt House, which has a library visited by scholars from around the globe. While Mary's son John was indeed a part of the Booth conspiracy, Mary's participation appears to be nil and her hanging, after imprisonment under horrific conditions, more the result of a feeding frenzy than justice. We cannot change history and should not try to bury it because of misconceptions on the part of otherwise well intentioned residents of the area. The school is NOT "Mary Surratt High" it's Surrattsville, named as pointed out previously for the area. Deb"
Billie Barr Gwynn Winstead (37) wrote: "Hi Henry: I feel compelled to respond to Mr.Charles Robinson who advocates changing the name of our school! As a docent at the Surratt House for some years, I learned a bit of the history of Surrattsville which may bear repeating. Although the trial and conviction of Mary Surratt took place in the 1800's, it was not until the early 1900's that the federal government changed the name of the town to Clinton. The student body at Surrattsville School (elementary through high school) was polled and it was voted to retain the name. It seems that, in the early days, a town would be named for the present Postmaster once, Clinton was named Robeystown after the then Postmaster, a Mr. Robey. There are over 30 towns in the United States bearing the name "Clinton" and we are not aware of the Clinton for whom our town was named. No, Mr. Robinson, you are not "doing the right thing". Billie"
Steve Profilet (71) wrote: "Hi Henry: In regards to Mary Surratts, in 1866 the U.S. Supreme Count found Mrs. Surratts' arrest, trail and execution illegal. She was arrested, tried and executed by the military. The Court found that since she wasn't in the military they didn't have any jurisdiction to try her on her. Steve"
Dana Shifflett (70) wrote: "Hello, Henry: I did more than just look out the window at the Surratt house. I skipped class one day to go check it out. A back door was open and the place was empty, obviously unoccupied. I remember hand hewn beams, perhaps in a cellar but not only there. I saw very old, wavy glass in the windows, and I think I recall old hardware on the doors. There may've been a stone and brick fireplace, but I could be confusing this with St James Hill in Piscataway, an 18th century house with which I also assumed a bit much when it was empty and apparently abandoned. Judy and I visited the Surratt House in the early '90s. During the tour, I told the guide about my previous visit, and I was made to confess everything to all staff present. They had questions about what I'd seen and the location of the weapons stash, but I doubt my answers were of any help. If I knew anything then, I can't remember what it might've been now. My knowledge of Surratt family involvement in the Lincoln conspiracies (there were two, first for a kidnapping and later for the assassination) is far from thorough and most likely less than accurate, but as I recall: John Surratt was in on the kidnapping plot. He was apparantly not part of the assasination plot, and when he was finally captured (at the Vatican?) and tried in Federal Court, he was not convicted. Lloyd(?), who at the time of the assasination rented the Surratt house and ran a tavern there, was part of that plot. He supplied weapons, food, and perhaps fresh horses to Booth and Herold when they stopped by on their escape south. In addition to the house in Surrattsville, Mary Surratt owned, ran, and lived in a boarding house in southeast D.C. The conspirators of both plots met and stayed there. She had southern sympathies. On that basis, she was charged and tried with actual conspirators in a closed military court convened on a ship in the middle of the Potomac. People have been challenging her trial, conviction, and execution for 140 years. Based on what little I've read, and given the conduct of Secretary of War Stanton (whose War Department conducted the trial) in this and other matters of the assassination, I suspect Mary was hung for nothing more than guilt by association. And the PostMaster General, in an awesome fit of patriotism, re named Mary's crossroads for himself. If Mary was innocent, she wasn't the only such to suffer at Stanton's hands. Dr Samuel Mudd was jailed for conspiracy, for nothing more than having set Booth's ankle. He spent years in prison in the Dry Tortugas before being pardoned. He should've been exonerated. I am not immune to Mr Robinson's sensibilities. In a different though relevant matter, I think the Stars and Bars has no place on any state flag, and it is out of place and inconsiderate to bear or display it in anything other than historical context. In regards to the Civil War, I am a northerner, and Mr Robinson and I would've had a common enemy in the Surratts, but he has no sound basis for requesting a name change for our school. If the citizens of Clinton wanted to endure the hassle of changing it, I'd say Clinton should be Surrattsville. Just bear in mind that the info is only as good as my memory, and I have velcro on my shoes so I won't have to tie them in the morning. More stuff: Mary's maiden name was Jenkins, and her family owned what is now Capitol Hill. It was formerly known as Jenkin's Hill. And at some time or other, I've read an account wherein Robert Todd Lincoln's life was saved by Edwin Booth, J.W.'s brother, decades after the assassination. Dana"
Fred Goss (70) wrote: "Dear Henry: Regarding Item 3, "The Re Name Surrattsville Controversy," my 7th grade Core teacher at SJHS, the late Ruth Brennan, was the first (in 1964 1965) to tell me and I suppose the rest of my class (though there were probably others in my class who already knew the story) about the origins of our school's name and the tragic fate of the aforementioned Mary Surratt. While we were highly titillated by the story of Mrs. Surratt's sad end, Mrs. Brennan told usCand I remember this quite vividlyBthat Mary Surratt was later exonerated. At the time of Lincoln's assassination, Secretary of War Seward went rather to the extreme in his pursuit of anyone even remotely associated with the killing (for example, Dr. Mudd, the surgeon who merely set Booth's broken leg, was also interred, and he was miles away at the time of the shooting). I believe there are many books on the subject now in which Mrs. Surratt is portrayed as an unwitting dupe. The name of our high school has tremendously historical roots, and I challenge anyone to come up with a more deeply steeped reason for changing the name of the school to the bland and unmemorable "Clinton." As stated in the third from the last paragraph of Item 3. the Civil War need not be brought back to the table in deciding this issue. The South lost and was reabsorbed into the Union. The Southern states did not have to change their names, and any part of Maryland, "the Free State," should not be subjected to an action that is clearly not of this time. I've always believed Mrs. Brennan's account that Surrattsville was named for the former postal district of the same name. The wrongful fate of Mary Surratt has no place in this argument. Regards from Los Angeles, Fred
Dave Danielson (73) wrote: "Henry: Always good to read your newsletters. Just a note on the Surrattsville naming issue. 1) I seem to recall that this issue has come up before and never goes anywhere I doubt it will this time either. 2) If you recall, the Surratt House was closed for a long time before going through renovations during our years there. Butch took me and a bunch of the band folks over to play at the "re opening" in the middle of one summer (71 or 72 I can't remember) 3) History has concluded that Mary Surratt was not actually involved in a conspiracy but simply owned the tavern (the Surratt House) where John Wilkes Booth and the conspirators met (one of those was John Surratt Son of Mary). Here's an interesting link on the Surratt house (http://www.surratt.org/index.html). Take Care, Dave"
Bob Wilson (78) wrote: "Hi Henry: Oddly enough, Congress unanimously approved a resolution proclaimg Mary Surratt innocent of all charges!! This occured in the early to mid seventies, if memory serves me correctly. Robinson the history buff is incorrect. This was also listed in Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Bob"
Bill Davis wrote: "Hi Henry: I read the bit about the request to change the school name. The guy has a rather shallow knowledge of Mary Surratts. If he were to go to Ford's Theater, he would find differing viewpoints on who was guilty or not. In fact, the Surratts' home is now a tourist trap is he going to object to that also. I do not support the change (and I am even from Illinois, the home of Lincoln!). This renaming of schools and such for political correctness has gotten out of hand. Next he will be after a change in the Hornet because it degrades the hornet bee. Bill"
Catherine Moody Hunter (55) wrote: "Hi Henry: Fact Mary Surratt was executed. Not Fact that she was guilty. For reference, read the book by Elizabeth Steger Trindal, "Mary Surratt An American Tragedy. Catherine"
Margie (Ruth Payne) Overturf (46) wrote: "Hi Henry: I am an old timer class of '46. In reading about the proposed change of name for Surrattsville I'm very opposed to the idea. There's so much history in the area In fact, when I was a child growing up in the area, all of Andrews AFB, was just farmland. My mother and her sisters graduated from Surrattsville getting there by riding with the Padgett boys, in a horse and buggy from what is now known as Temple Hill Road (Padgett's Corner). It would be such a shame to try and change the history of the area and especially the school. It will be interesting to see further letters on this. Margie"
Neal Dawson (73) wrote: "Henry: Funny, my dad, Jim Dawson wrote that response letter to the editor, and had emailed it to me a few months back. He was telling me about that book while I was up there for the June events. Mary's son, John I believe, who had far more substantial evidence against him was later acquitted. He fled to France for a few years or something like that, until the heat died down. She was hung in the immediate heat of the events, and convicted by far less circumstantial evidence. It was truly guilt by association, vice any legitimate beyond a shadow of the doubt proof she conspired with JWB to assassinate the Pres. The old encyclopedia I read suggested she would have been acquitted under less heated circumstances and timeframe, esp. in the light of her son's acquittal, a friend of JWB. Neal"
Beth Horton (70) wrote: "Henry: I can't believe it that someone wants to rename the school. They need to do a litte more research, because they would find out that Mary Surratt was later found innocent of the conspiracy charge, too bad they had already executed an innocent person. Public's passion demanded her death because she was a woman and because the assumed because the plot was formed in her home, she was party to it. Beth"
An unidentified reader wrote: "Hi Henry: To change the name of the Surrattsville Sr. High School, based solely on the fact some believe Mary Surratt was a co conspirator, could very well be another miscarriage of justice against her. While historical opinion is divided on the subject of Mary Surratt's guilt or innocence, she was convicted mostly due to the testimony of John Lloyd and Louis Wiechmann when they claimed she told them to have field glasses and guns ready for Booth the evening of the assassination. These men drew great criticism for their testimony. However, nearing age 60 and dying, on June 2, 1902, Wiechmann ostensibly called his sisters, asked them to get pen and paper, and told them to write, "This is to certify that every word I gave in evidence at the assassination trial was absolutely true" (there is no objective evidence of this). However, in jail, Lewis Paine, a true co conspirator in Lincoln=s assassination, maintained Mrs. Surratt was 100% innocent. Although no one knows for certain, it seems at least possible that Mary knew about the plot to kidnap the President, but may not have known about the plan to assassinate him. Mary Surratts proclaimed her innocence at every opportunity. Elizabeth Steger Trindal makes several good arguments for Mary=s innocence in her article entitled The Two Men Who Held The Noose in the July, 2003, edition of the Surratt Courier (a monthly newsletter published by the Surratt Society). All things considered, I believe a vengeful country rushed to judgment (the trial proceedings began on May 9th less than one month from the assassination) with respect to Mary Surratt in her trail on Lincoln=s assassination. Dr. Samuel Mudd was given a life sentence, but his sentence was commuted once cooler heads prevailed. Ironically, at the time of her execution, a case was pending before the Supreme Court, questioning the jurisdiction of military courts in cases involving civilians. In 1866, less than a year after Mary Surratt was hanged, the Supreme Court ruled that a military court had no jurisdiction in civilian cases, if the civil courts were open. When the military court conducted the assassination conspiracy trial in 1865, the civil courts in the District of Columbia were open! Had the Supreme Court ruling come a year earlier, Mary Surratt might never have been executed. It is significant that, with virtually the same witnesses and for essentially the same crime, a civil court of the District of Columbia was unable to convict Mary's son, John, when he was returned for trial in 1867. Other arguments: The school is not named Mary Surratt High School; it is named after the original name of the village that was named after the family that settled the area: Surrattsville, MD after the Surratt's family. Let=s not condemn a whole family based on the perceived actions of one. Finally, if one were to use Mr. Eddie T. Robinson=s III philosophy, one could make an argument to change ALee@ highway since Robert E. Lee is view by some as a traitor to his country and the principle architect of the death of hundreds of thousands. Where does the insanity end? I would be against any effort to rename Surrattsville Senior High School! I, for one, would advocate changing the town's name BACK to Surrattsville!
Helen Bovbjerg Niedung (54) wrote: "Hi Henry: Concerning the "Re-Name Surrattsville Controversy", nothing is ever mentioned about the fact that Mary Surratt's name was cleared in later years. As I remember, after that, is when the Surratt House was fixed up and made into a museum with an added gift shop. I certainly hope that our school will retain the name of Surrattsville. Best wishes, Helen"
As we learned as history students at Surratts, our School and its name are blessed with a rich historical story indeed!
9. MORE SURRATTS RECOLLECTIONS. Many of you enjoyed the recollections of John Curry (60) in a prior e-Notice. John has kindly sent these additional recollections of his days in Clinton for us to enjoy:
"Disclaimer: These are my recollections of events while living in Clinton. The time span is from 1952 until my graduation from Surrattsville in 1960. During this period I lived with the Romjue family who graciously took me in and gave me a warm, comfortable home. Agnes Romjue, our mom, had a heart as big as Maryland. The events here described may contain persons by name if I remember them but only to add emphases or flow of the story. Some of my actions seemed like a good idea at the time but later proved to be something of a mess. I imagine that there is some merit to experiencing a few good, bad examples. These stories are not in any particular order and I hope that they cause the reader to recall their youth and a simpler time and place.
Surrattsville Bus No. 85. Mr. Goddard was our school bus driver. He was a quiet, stern person and discipline was the order of the day on Bus No. 85. One day two young ladies near the font of the bus were having a heated and quite animated discussion. This discussion went on for some time and was getting louder and more intense. Without saying a word, Mr. Goddard pulled the bus over off the road, stopped it and turned to look at the two young ladies. We just sat there on the side of the road waiting. Finally they realized that something was wrong and looked around. They realized that everything had stopped and that we were waiting for them. Immediately they sat straight in the seat, quietly looking ahead. With that, Mr. Goddard put the bus in gear and we all rode peacefully off to our destination. Many thanks to him for years of safe transportation to and from school.
Surrattsville Bus No. 18. I related one event from Mr. Goddard=s bus, which carried us safely to and from the Aold@ Surrattsville School. While Mr. Goddard=s bus assured its riders a quiet, peaceful trip, Mr. Gwynn=s bus provided us entertainment. It was well known among the students that Bus No. 18 had great pipes, which means Aloud@. On several occasions I rode No. 18 just to hear the pipes. There is a slight down grade or hollow on Old Branch Avenue just before the School, which was enclosed by large trees. I believe that the process was to downshift the bus, let it coast down hill a bit, the while the exhaust was creating a rumbling noise which echoed through the hollow and was occasionally followed by a back fire. I recall loud cheers from the appreciative riders as we announced our arrival. I mentioned my recollections to Mr. Paul Gwynn (49) during the AAll Class Reunion@. He thanked me, and stated that someone had taken exception to the Anoise@ and he had to replace the bus exhaust system. What a travesty! That one joy of riding his bus down through the hollow and making some noise made the whole day seem worthwhile. Thanks Mr. Gwynn!
Check Your Six O=clock. I suppose that coincidences are a part of life's experiences, but observing one unfolding before your eyes is interesting. I was walking down the hall of the Aold@ Surrattsville School going between classes. Several feet in front of me was a group of upper classmen and one in particular was a very attractive young lady. Just behind her and slightly to her right was a young man who exhibited an uncontrollable admiration for her because he patted her on the behind. She jumped and turned around to see what was going on. Now, immediately in front of me was her older brother who observed the entire event. Without any hesitation her brother grabbed the patter, spun him around and planted several well directed punches to his head. These were the hard, from the shoulder-type punches that daze and confuse the recipient. Everyone momentarily stopped to watch the patter go flying backwards and strike his head against the dial of a combination lock. He slowly sank down to a sitting position on the floor bleeding all over the place. Big brother then pulled his shirt neatly into place, took his sister by the arm and escorted her to class. Normal hall traffic resumed leaving the patter to find his own way to class. This incident was forgotten until several years later while serving in the Navy. A cardinal rule of Naval Aviators is before engaging in any aggressive action always check your "six o=clock" position or look to see who is behind you. You may be surprised!"
I imagine those tales bring back similar memories in many of our readers!
I hope this e-Notice finds you well and enjoying a lovely Fall!
Henry Smith (71), email@example.com
LOU WADDELL (formerly Wanda Shackelford) (72) died suddenly on August 31 of complications from breast cancer. Last year, Lou's brother, Brian Windsor (63), arranged through the e-Notices for a very nice member of the Surratts community to donate a 72 yearbook to Lou for her to enjoy. She had lost hers, and Brian wanted to pass along his thanks once again for the generosity of this kind stranger which meant so much to Lou.
MANY THANKS TO THESE EARLY 2005 ANNUAL CAMPAIGN DONORS!