Internet Detritus – History Edition

I have been building out a timeline for US History to 18761 and so have been wandering around the LOC site and other historical places quite a bit. As a result, I have found many things that interest me and may, just may, interest you.

Here Be Pirates!

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by bionicteaching
via LOC where you can see the whole document.

For as much as there coasts have been and still are infected with divers piratical sea rovers and other enemies; whereby sundry depredations, robberies and damages have been done to and committed upon many of the KING and QUEENS majesties liege subjects, and ?, goods and estates to the great impoverishing and hurt of the same.

Pirates are always a good thing to work into history and it sure looks like these are essentially taxes to pay for defense from said piratical sea rovers. It makes for a good counterpoint to the Boston Tea Party.

Remember that f looking s is not just for decoration- learn about the long s at Wikipedia.

Castaway Dental Tips

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by bionicteaching
There was just something about the fact that the stranded sailors came back with shining white teeth that amused me. I was also surprised no one sold an extract of this plant on late night TV.

This passage is from Island of the Lost by Joan Druett.

In 1864 two ships were wrecked on remote and uninhabited Auckland Island, some 385 miles from New Zealand. Five seamen in the far south survive, astonishingly, for nearly two years before building a vessel and setting off in what would become one of the most courageous voyages of the sea.

It’s a decent book with a few issues but it did lead me down some interesting roads exploring megaherbs and sub-antarctic plant life. Turns out the plant is very hard to grow and the consistency is like hairy celery. I read many other pages but that should be enough to get you started if you want to go down a strange path.

Passive Aggressive Wills from Plymouth

I give to my twoe Overseers Mr John Carver and Mr Williamson, twentye shillinges apeece to see this my will performed desiringe them that he would have an eye over my wife and children to be as fathers and freindes to them ; Allsoe to have a speciall eye to my man Robert wch hathe not so approved himselfe as I would he should have done.

In the spirit of Passive Aggressive Notes the not so recently deceased William Mullins (1620) lets his man Robert know he needs to step up his game. Lots more wills (and other primary source material) where that came from over at The Plymouth Colony Archive Project.


To those used to the smell of servants just from a ship, they will be easily discovered, unless they have procured new clothes. – full notice

I cannot imagine that smell.

FREDERICKSBURG, October 9, 1770. RUN away from the subscriber last Saturday night, an indented servant man named JOHN FLETCHER; he is an Englishman, by trade a tanner, about 25 years of age, 6 feet high, short brown hair, his left leg has a very large sore on it, which may be easily discovered by the stain through his trowsers, and has a very bad smell when nigh him; his apparel is a light coloured frize coat, with broad white metal buttons, a blue frize jacket, a check shirt, oznabrig trowsers, with buckskin breeches under them, a felt hat, and country made shoes almost new, with pewter buckles in them; he is fond of liquor, and playing cards. Whoever apprehends the said servant, and brings him to me in Fredericksburg, shall have THREE POUNDS reward, and reasonable charges; if taken and secured in any gaol so as I get him again, shall have FORTY SHILLINGS reward, paid by WILLIAM HOUSTON. – original post

Another smell related notice. I’m amazed someone wants this guy back.

. . . he carried with him a Book or two: He lately came from New-York, in the Sloop Henry, and talks good English; and pretends to talk Spanish, and to be a Frenchman. – full notice

This is one of those pieces of information that gives rise to so many questions. Could he read? Which books? Why? Can he really speak Spanish/French? If not, why pretend? It begs for some historical fiction.

Probably enough for now. It does amaze me how much interesting primary source material is sitting out there waiting for people to use it.

1 I’m using Timeline JS and the Google spreadsheet option. It’s pretty slick and easy but writing anything beyond a sentence in a spreadsheet has some serious drawbacks.

Comments on this post

  1. Jeff Layman said on March 3, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Beautiful timeline! Are you coding it by yourself or did you use some sort of web-based tool to make it?

    • Tom Woodward said on March 3, 2013 at 8:18 am

      It’s using Timeline JS. I’m putting the information into a Google Spreadsheet to feed it. I’m a fan so far. *****Edit- it does top out at around 20-30 items according to the FAQs.