Thank you to the 2017 annual conference of the Indiana Political Science Association for inviting me to participate as a panelist on “The American Presidency” with Dr. Thomas Kazee, Prof. Kristina Sheeler, and Prof. Nick LaRowe. I also presented a paper at the same conference titled “The Arc of Our New History: How a theory of history shapes the Bannon-Trump worldview.”
In spring 1861, five women in Sparta, Illinois — Mrs. Mary Ann McHenry, Mrs. James Ward, Mrs. Barbara Gordon, Mrs. Ann McLaughlin, and Mrs. Mary McLaughlin — gathered to hand-piece and stitch a unique American flag with 34 stars, the stars themselves in the shape of a large star. Making a flag may seem like trivial work, but soldiers placed great importance on regimental flags and sacrificed their lives defending them from enemy capture. Those flags symbolized pride and honor. Moreover, regimental flags had an important practical use: identifying a unit’s place on the battlefield.
Officers used the Sparta-made flag to recruit Union troops in Belleville, Illinois; and it traveled with various units throughout 1861. James McHenry carried the flag while recruiting for Company H of the 22nd Illinois, and it then went to Belleville, Illinois, with companies H and I in May 1861. The flag returned to Randolph County and was carried by Henry McDonald with Captain Alexander Wybus’s company to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri. The company disbanded there, some men going into the 10th Missouri and others into the 5th Illinois, but most into Company C of the 30th Illinois. Then the flag was carried by McDonald with Companies C and E of the 30th Illinois to Belleville, thence to Birds Point, Missouri. At Birds Point, flag owner James McHenry presented the flag to Charlie E. Brown of Blaire.
Charlie E. Brown used it to recruit for Company G of the 80th Illinois. Although he took it with him to Centralia as the company flag, it was so striking and effective that Col. Thomas G. Allen decided to use it for the entire 80th Illinois regiment until the unit received an official flag from the government at Louisville, Kentucky.
After the war, Mr. Brown presented the flag to the high school museum at Sparta, Illinois. The flag now belongs to the University Museum at Southern Illinois University. The museum expects to stabilize, preserve, and share the flag with the public.
Earlier this year I was excited and honored to be selected as a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention. However, due to political developments since that time, and after considerable thought, I decided not to attend. I could not in good conscience attend a coronation and celebration of Donald Trump. My statement on the subject is below along with a summary of some of the firestorm that followed.
I’m pleased to announce the publication of Born of Clay: The Story of the Claiborne · Claybourn · Clayborn Families in the United States. I regard this book as my magnum opus. Clocking in at over 500 pages with detailed biographical information on thousands of individuals, this is an unparalleled history of the Claiborne – Claybourn – Clayborn families in the United States. Beginning with Joshua Clyburn in the late 1790s, this history gets progressively more detailed as the generations progress toward modernity.
As early as 1906, Verner Marvin Claybourn began collecting data on the Claybourn Family, and on the English family from whom he believed the family descended. In about 1935 Harriette Pinnell Threlkeld became interested, did some research, and with Verner collected data on the hundreds of descendants of William Divine Claybourn, her great-grandfather. From their foundational core I published this one-of-a-kind book on thousands of individuals connected to the family. Click here to buy a copy.
Beginning October 13th, I have joined the Jackson Kelly law firm. I was drawn to Jackson Kelly in particular because it has a skilled group of attorneys locally along with the backing and support of a dynamic, national network of more than 200 attorneys. I have full faith and confidence that no matter what legal issue may arise with clients, our firm can address it with superior service and expertise.
I spent the last six years in-house with Vectren and leaving is certainly bittersweet. I am very appreciative of my experiences with the company and it is an honor and privilege to have worked alongside the Vectren team. However, I am excited about once again working with a diverse set of clients and my colleagues at Jackson Kelly representing businesses, physicians, and municipalities on a wide range of legal issues.
I have published a new book titled “A Memorandum of the 80th Illinois Infantry: Civil War Notes of Pvt. Armgstrong McGee.” It is available here through Lulu Press. This work is a regimental log of the 80th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment documenting its activities in the American Civil War from 27 October 1863 to 17 June 1865. There is no evidence that this memorandum has ever been published before, nor is there evidence that previous Civil War historians knew of its existence.
The 80th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment saw substantial action in the war. It traveled over 6,000 miles and was engaged in more than 20 pitched battles. Although the language used in this memorandum is naturally choppy and rough compared to more modern narratives, it will hopefully serve as a useful puzzle piece in the larger history of the regiment, and indeed of the war itself.
Trees can be planted too deep and the culprit is typically our over-caring urges to protect them. We want to ensure the tree is anchored solidly and is well braced so we think that planting it deeply accomplishes this. But more often than not you’d be wrong. Even professionals can make the mistake; one recent study suggests that 93% of professionally planted trees are planted too deep.
When tree roots are planted too far underground, secondary roots grow toward the surface to compensate. Rather than growing up and then out from the tree, they often encircle the trunk (called “girdling roots”) and ultimately choke it out. It can also cause bark on the trunk to start falling off and make the tree more susceptible to disease and pests.