Thursday, May 25, 2023

A Magical Trip to the Outer Banks

After a 42-minute flight to Raleigh and a two-and-a-half-hour drive, my daughter and I found ourselves on the Atlantic shores in the historic town of Southport, NC. The water in the nearby Cape Fear River was placid, brackish, and brown. A large cannonball jellyfish was floating dangerously close to the shore for its own good. A few fishermen were trying their luck on the pier. A teenager caught a flying fish and a juvenile shark which he had to return to the water as the dimensions were not big enough to keep it.

Overlooking Cape Fear River from a bluff was Fort Johnston, the house that used to be until 2005 the fort commanders’ residence throughout its existence. A small museum describes in detail its former glory. This fort was built at the mouth of Cape Fear River in 1745-1754 to “protect the upriver settlements, dispatch river pilots, and provide quarantine. A small community of pilots, fishermen, and tradesmen grew up around the fort.”

Cannonball jelly fish

Southport pier sunset

Fort Johnston

Across the street from the former fort and the maritime museum is the beautiful Robert Ruark Inn, celebrating Robert Ruark, a prolific writer and famous native son of Wilmington and Southport. Sadly, he died quite young from liver cirrhosis, a significant loss to the literary world, but not before he gave us The Old Man and the Boy, among many other significant books.

Robert Ruark Inn

By the look of the expensive homes lining the shores, the population has changed drastically since the inception of Southport, although the influx of wealthy retirees from New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., have been encouraged to renovate older homes to keep up the historic charm of the old fishing village.

The town of Smithville was established in 1792, named after one of North Carolina commissioners, Benjamin Smith, who served under General Washington in the Revolutionary War. The patriotic roots of what was to become later Southport, run deep. Smithville was a fishing village and military town because Fort Johnston was involved in every U.S. war.

Southport before sunset

In 1808 Smithville became the county seat of Brunswick County but the seat was relocated to the town of Bolivia in 1978. In summertime Smithville became a popular resort – the climate was mild, and the sea breeze was pleasant. We experienced mild winds every day and sat on the benches lining the shore around the fishing pier, watching the river, the boats, and breathing in the salty air.

The effort in the 1880s by northern businesses to transform Smithville into a southern port did not materialize, except for the name. The little fishing village became known as Southport in 1887.

Because the town has celebrated Independence Day since 1795, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and hosts the official North Carolina 4th of July, Independence Day festivities.

Southport serviced river steamers until 1925, a railroad from 1911 until World War II, and was connected by ferry to Fort Fisher since 1966. The ride is quite inexpensive, $7, and beats driving to Fort Fisher. I would not know what the ferry ride is like as my daughter gets seasick and insisted on driving.

Cape Fear River

Southport’s river pilots spotted ships approaching the Cape Fear River entrance for over 250 years. Since 1751 when legislation regulated Cape Fear pilots, they have met ships in small crafts, guided them past treacherous shoals, then safely to port. Pilots knew a ship needed their help when it fired a cannon or a gun. An 80-foot tower served as a lookout. After climbing a ship’s Jacob’s ladder, the pilot took control of the ship until it reached port. Not only were river pilots’ services important to the Confederacy during the Civil War, but also during the Vietnam War. In one year, 1,200 ships were guided to the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point, “the largest site for ammunitions transfer on the East Coast.”

Cape Fear River pier and boardwalk

Cape Fear River pier at sunset

Today Cape Fear River pilots still climb the Jacob’s ladder to guide ships through 21 turns on their way to Wilmington. Pilots say that the most difficult turn in the river is right off the Southport shoreline.

At the mouth of Cape Fear River are Bald Head Island and Oak Island. “Beyond the Cape for twenty miles are the Frying Pan Shoals, an underwater area named for the skillet-like shape of the shoals on older charts.”

Fort Johnston's Museum replica of the Frying-Pan ship

Less than nine miles northeast along the coast is Fort Fisher, a Confederate fort during the American Civil War, protecting vital trading routes of the port in Wilmington, NC, from 1861 until its capture by the Union in 1865. Fort Fisher is located on one of Cape Fear River’s two outlets to the furious Atlantic Ocean on Federal/Confederate Point, known today as Pleasure Island.

Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher

“Fort Fisher was an engineering marvel during the Civil War. Unlike previously built forts of masonry (Fort Sumter and Fort Macon), Fort Fisher was an earthen fortification, the largest ever built by the Confederacy, spanning more than a mile and a half, and shaped like the number seven.” Approximately one thousand men (soldiers stationed at the fort and impressed enslaved laborers) worked for two and a half years under the direction of Col. William Lamb to complete the project.

The construction was accomplished with sand-filled wheelbarrows pushed and pulled along gangways. "It was more labor than the pyramids," Sgt. T. A. McNeill wrote to Mary Margaret McNeill on March 28, 1863. “We are building a mountain seventy-two feet high, I don’t think we will ever get it done,” he lamented.

Apparently, the battle of Fort Fisher was the most decisive battle of the Civil War fought in North Carolina. According to museum archives, Lt. Joseph J. Scoggs, of the Fifth United States Colored Troops wrote, “After taking Fort Fisher, I think our troops could storm Hell itself.”

Because Fort Fisher was the largest fort protecting Cape Fear River, the Union Navy focused a massive attack on December 23-27, 1864, and Fort Fisher fell on January 15, 1865, following a second battle.

Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Maverik the bald eagle with broken wing

Not far from Fort Fisher is a beautiful beach and the aquarium with its unusual residents, the albino gator, Maverik, the golden eagle, rescued with a damaged wing, turtles, gators, sharks, and other aquatic creatures.

Caswell Beach

Oak Island shares the barrier island with Caswell Beach. It is located about 8.2 miles from Southport. Oak Island operates a greenhouse for sea oats and other native beach vegetation. Its Maritime Forest and sand dunes, especially along Caswell Beach Road, protect the town from wind and salt erosion, and the fauna and flora that lives within – the American toad, the Eastern Painted Bunting, reptiles such as copperhead, coral snake, pygmy rattlesnake, cottonmouth, green snake, corn snake, Eastern garter, black racer, deer, and small mammals. Loggerhead turtles use Caswell Beach as resting and nesting sanctuaries. Sea gulls and brown pelicans can be seen fishing in the surf.

Sand Dune flora on Oak Island

The roots of the Maritime Forest, the beach grass, yucca, prickly pear cactus, Indian blanket, sea oats, and other wildflowers hold somewhat the ever-shifting dunes.

Prickly pear cactus

The entrance to the Cape Fear River was guarded by four lighthouses:

1.      Prices Creek

2.      Old Baldy – the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina, 90 feet high, is an octagonal tower made of brick and plaster; the original one was demolished in 1813 due to severe erosion.

3.      Cape Fear Lighthouse – built of iron in 1901, the 150-foot-tall tower was abandoned in 1958 when the automated light on Oak Island was finished.

4.      Oak Island Lighthouse – currently standing 153 feet tall, built of reinforced concrete, with no spiral staircase; a series of metal ship ladders with 131 steps (rungs) lead to the gallery level; 70,000 candle power made this lighthouse the brightest in the U.S. and the second brightest in the world, which can be seen for 16 nautical miles; today a 1,000 Watt halogen bulb generates 2.5 million candle power; the warning is composed of 4 one-second flashes of light, followed by 6 seconds of blank.

Oak Island Lighthouse

Lighthouse on Oak Island with the U.S. Coast Guard

Climbing into the Oak Island Lighthouse was out of the question for us but not much of a challenge for sailors, young adults, and teenagers. Next to the lighthouse is the U.S. Coast Guard Station. In 1874, the United States Life Saving Service was formed, the precursor of the U.S. Coast Guard which was established in 1915.

The original cork life-saving belt

The first keeper was T. M. Savage of Smithville (Southport). A crew of nine, including six surf-men, manned the station from September through April. Rescues were attempted with a surfboat or a line-throwing gun, depending on oceanic conditions. Local fishermen were the surf-men and used a Lyle gun mounted on a carriage. From the edge of the surf, it fired a projectile attached to line if the wreck was within 500 yards of the beach. The line was secured to the wreck and each sailor was brought on this line to the shore, dangling over the ocean.

On the Eastern end of Oak Island, on a site visited by the Fifth President of the United States, James Monroe on April 18, 1819, Fort Caswell was built in the 1830s. He visited both Oak Island and Bald Head Island, calling the area, “the Atlantic frontier” because “the site commands the mouth of the Cape Fear River.”

Named after the first U.S. Governor of North Carolina, Richard Caswell, the fort’s construction started in 1827 and was completed in 1838 on 2,800 acres purchased on Oak Island, at the time a “desolate island.” Adjusted for inflation, the fort’s construction cost almost $12 million in 2021 dollars.

After the Civil War, the fort fell to disuse, but was used again during the Spanish-American War and World War I when it was a post of the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps. Sold in 1925, the land was operated as a summer resort. During World War II, the U.S. Navy purchased the 248.8 acres inside the sea wall for $75,000 from the Caswell-Carolina Corporation.

In 1949 the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina bought the property and is using it currently for Baptist Youth camps and church retreats. I was utterly disappointed that we were not allowed on the property or to see what remains of Fort Caswell; the entrance was guarded by a young man.

Underwater archeologists have found an estimated 5,000 shipwrecks in North Carolina's waters of which fewer than 1,000 have been exactly located and identified, among them the Agnes Fry and its bell.

Agnes E. Fry was a blockade runner. During the Civil War, blockade runners were steam ships used to get through the Union blockade extending 3,500 miles along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines. The Confederate states, which had no industrial capability, had to rely on imports from Scotland and England to provide the arms and supplies needed to fight the Union.

Agnes E. Fry, initially called the Fox by its builder in Scotland, renamed after Joseph Fry’s wife, tried to enter the river steaming eastward along Oak Island but it ran aground on the Frying Pan Shoals the evening of December 26, 1864. The surf and the sand eventually buried it.

Another vessel, the Virginius, also commanded by Joseph Fry, sank in 1873, 11 miles from the wreck of the Fry and nine years to the day that the Fry sank.

One of the stops took us to beautiful Kure beach with its serious and thriving population of fishermen who call themselves the Misfits.

Kure Beach high pier

For me, the tranquil Caswell Beach with its dunes and maritime forest was a remarkable point in our visit. The best and most fascinating was the Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, a place where I could lose myself in the verdant and magical splendor.

The Misfits on Kure Beach pier

Butterfly garden

500 year old Live Oak

Airlie Gardens represent “more than a century of gardens by the sea,” a place of reflection and solitude, surrounded by 67-acres of formal gardens, huge live oaks, sculptures, a church, wildlife, historic structures, views of Bradley Creek, the shade of ancient oaks, and a butterfly garden.

Airlie Lake

Airlie pergola and steps into the lake

The Airlie Oak, a North Carolina state champion Live Oak, dates to the 1500s. The spring garden was designed in the early 1900s, with a tranquil fountain, a stone pergola structure, and a natural walkway covered in summer’s wildflowers. It leads to the original site of the Airlie home.

Glass bottle gazebo

The Camellia Garden contains a vast collection of antique camellias and a 150-foot rose trellis.

The Lebanon Chapel was built in 1835 and was deeded to St. James Episcopal Church in Wilmington.

A mystery grave of an 18th century man named “John Hill” is found in the shaded gardens. According to legend, he was a marshal of Napoleon and a tutor.

The Pergola Garden, designed in the 1900s is built of tabby and covered in jasmine. A tiered fountain has steps leading into the lake.

The Butterfly House is a peaceful place of reflection, reading a good book, a protected habitat with metal sculptures, native butterflies, and plants.

The Bottle Chapel is constructed from 2,800 colored bottles, “celebrating the spirit of Minnie Evans.” Sculptures and mosaics created by local artists complete the garden. A truly magical place, the Airlie Gardens transported us to a place of beauty and tranquility despite the warmer day.

Smoke Tree

The last jewel in the crown of our Atlantic side Outer Banks was Myrtle Beach, SC. It was a beautiful beach, but the Atlantic Ocean was very agitated, cold, and the waters were brown.

Myrtle Beach, SC
Photo: Ileana Johnson, May 2023

Fort Fisher Beach on a windy day

NOTE: All photos are by Ileana Johnson except the black and white photo of the archive surfer with cork belt

Friday, May 19, 2023

Communist Regimes of Lies and Terror Failed Spectacularly at Everything

One of the lynchpins of the communist philosophy is the dictatorship of the proletariat. This ruthless approach involves snitching on the entire population, terror, brute force, and unimaginable violence. Lenin used these methods amply to force the dictatorship of the proletariat on the Soviet subjects.

The hapless citizens did not understand in the beginning that the dictatorship of the proletariat was actually the dictatorship of the Communist party and eventually of the dictatorship of the one person who was the most influential and ruthless, and was able to kill most of his enemies in order to claim a clear victory. He eliminated all domestic opposition and any threat from within.

Stalin and other dictators relied entirely on oppression, fear, and terror, and developed the infamous cult of personality – the forced worshipping of the dear leader.

Nikita S. Khrushchev waited three years after Stalin’s death to charge him in 1956 as “a murderer and a pathological liar who dealt in mass terror” during his 20 years of dictatorship.

“Terror and lies are the trademarks of communist tyranny,” but why did Khrushchev wait three years to reveal the abuses of power and the lies used to cover up the brutality, violence, contempt for human life, lack of freedom, and absolute intolerance? He knew about all of the atrocities committed but he remained silent because he was heavily implicated himself.

Many people in all Soviet satellite countries starved to death because the regimes used the Soviet model to industrialize their respective countries quickly by massive grain exports, leaving the population to starve. Communists did not care that people died as long as they were able to finance the importation of technology and machinery in order to develop the heavy industry.

Attacking the sources of food, Stalin ordered in 1929 “the liquidation of the kulaks as a class.” It was not just a war against them, but a war against all peasants, the very people who produced grains and raised cattle.

Who were the kulaks? They represented one tenth of the peasant population. Kulaks had eight acres of land, four cows., two horses, and were considered by Marxist-Leninists class enemies of the poorer peasants. The kulaks were to be deported. If they refused, brute force was used.

Marxist activists (apparatchiks) were ordered to confiscate privately owned farms which were then lumped together to make collective farms (kolkhoz). Within a five months period, half of the peasants were forcibly collectivized. Many peasants resisted by slaughtering their animals – cattle and horses by the tens of thousands were killed.

The opposition resulted in famine in 1932 and 1933. The remaining food was confiscated from the rural population and distributed to the workers in cities. Millions died as a result of this man-made famine. The Soviet Union did not even acknowledge the existence of this famine.

Peasants in other Soviet satellite countries were forced into collectivization by communists who confiscated their private arable land. They left the peasants just enough land for a home foundation and space for a small garden and a narrow yard between neighbors. Collective farms were formed by brute force and the former farmers were pressed into working for meager pay and a share of the eventual crop profits after the communists took their lion’s share from these profits. The field work was back breaking, the labor quotas of the Five Year Plans impossible to achieve, and the rewards minimal. It was the same slogan as in factories, “we pretend to work, and they [the communists] pretend to pay us.”

It was not just the peasants who were oppressed. The urban workers were forced to work for inadequate pay, in harsh conditions, no OSHA-type protections, many died in industrial accidents, and were forced to work night shifts with unrealistic production quotas, a technique that was used for many decades in Communist countries. Workers could find themselves unemployable and unable to find a place to live even if they had as little as “one day’s unjustified absence from work.” You were not allowed to be sick or miss work for any reason.

In a move to control the proletariat even more, workers were forced since 1932 to carry an identity card issued by the police which listed his/her employment date and place, a way to control their every movement and keeping them on the job and in the respective area. They needed permission to be absent and a doctor’s written excuse if they were sick.

Slave-labor camps (gulags), filled with political dissidents and other innocents, helped build the communist empire for free. Under communism, the accused were guilty until proven innocent. They were never paid for their work.  Not only were people imprisoned for their political views, but their families were punished as well, evicted from their meager apartments, dilapidated homes, and even schools.

Next time the young Americans who responded in surveys that they prefer socialism over capitalism, should read more about the actual economic and social conditions under all of the socialist republics of the Communist Party that failed spectacularly.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

My Musings Today

I was extremely lucky to emigrate legally in 1978 to the land of opportunity and freedom, the United States of America, and I thank William for that. I left behind everything I knew, held dear, and loved. I left my parents behind, hoping that I would be able to bring them with me later.  I did not want to spend the rest of my life under the oppressive boot of the Romanian Communist Party.

I was sick and tired of the daily indoctrination in school, on television, on radio, in the state-controlled media, tired of marches to praise the communist dictator and his wife, tired of being hungry, cold, of living in the darkness, of being cut-off from the rest of the world, tired of being spied upon by our neighbors, relatives, who received extra rations of food, tired of being snitched on by the state-paid informants, having our mail opened, our phones tapped, and deprived of any human rights. My husband helped give me freedom and, I would have kissed the ground at JFK airport upon my arrival, but the ground was frozen.

I wanted to be free of fear, free to travel, free to move about more than a radius of 30 miles. I wanted to have enough food, good shelter, heat, electricity, good medical care, to become a young doctor without having to sell my soul and allegiance to the Communist Party, to not be afraid and suspicious of everybody, to have children who were not told in schools that the dictator and his wife were their parents. Hillary’s “village” did not own our children, the Communist Party did.

The communist agitator at my Dad’s factory lived in our apartment complex. His family was well-fed, had medicines, good medical care, clothes, and other amenities that we could only dream of - all because he spied on his co-workers and filled their heads with lies about the virtues of communism, while they starved or stole things from work and traded with others in a theft-based bartering system. Nobody thought they were stealing because the proletariat was supposed to own everything. In reality, they owned nothing and were pretty unhappy about it.

I was lucky to escape legally and so was my mom, who defected two years later. My dad, unfortunately, was not so lucky. Even though we tried to bring him, he was constantly denied a passport, a visa, and was put under arrest at work every time the president happened to be in town. My Dad died eventually in a hospital at the hands of the communists, where he received no medical care, food, or IV fluids for three weeks. His sister kept him alive one spoon full of water at a time. He died on May 12, 1989, down to half of his original weight.

I never would have believed you if you had told me in 1978 that America would turn communist in my lifetime. I would have laughed. But here we are – every day I have communism PTSD, something is happening that the rest of you are ignoring, lulled into a false sense of freedom and security. You do not realize that the communists within are destroying our country. I shall list a couple of the latest examples.

1.    New York City will begin tracking the carbon footprint of household food consumption and putting caps on how much red meat can be served in public institutions in order to achieve a 33% reduction in carbon emissions from food by 2030.

I beg you to wake up! This is what communism dictated to us - how much food we could consume per day, how many calories a day one could ingest according to how strenuous individual jobs were. We seldom found meat, medicine, and necessities for sale - the shelves and stores were empty! We survived with so little, and everybody was gaunt. There were no obese people around. We were all thin on Ceausescu’s diet, but we were malnourished.

Everywhere I turn today, there are more news of technocratic fascism, government globalism, and neo communism. Academia never let communism die – commies hid underground and emerged slowly first from universities, accelerating their coup since Obama’s regime. Academics reject capitalism and conservatism but promote communism.

2.    Universities pay radicals to speak to student bodies while rejecting conservative Americans altogether. Angela Davis, a racial activist and VP nominee for the Communist Party USA in 1980, who was previously on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, was the keynote speaker at the University of Texas, Austin, on April 4, 2023. She was paid $25,000 to bash capitalism as exploitative. Oh, the irony!

Let me tell you what exploitative was under communism: working for low salaries regardless of education, skill, and training, living in terrible conditions, without water, without hot water, without heat, in 450 square feet apartments without electricity most of the time, being forced to do free labor in the fields to plant and harvest crops, being equally poor, equally paid, and equally miserable, dying in dirty hospitals because the medical care was subpar and low-skilled doctors were experimenting on their patients, nobody was held accountable, there was no justice, and nobody to sue or complain about. The state was the ruler, the judge, and executioner. People had no rights at all. If we asked questions, we were told, democracy had gone to your heads and we were disappeared, never to be seen again. That is exploitation!

Do you want communism? It is already here in daily smaller installments. Wait until they come to confiscate your guns, your homes, and your bank accounts. When they are done with each of you, as Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, said, “You will own nothing and be happy about it.”


Friday, April 28, 2023

Liberia House in Manassas, Virginia

Liberia House stands in the middle of a beautiful green pasture, a flower garden, a cemetery, a walking trail with a brook surrounded by woods and an apiary, with buzzing busy bees covered in pollen. The locust trees are just blooming and greening.

The Weir cemetery at the bottom of the hill is shaded by a lugubrious tree in the corner, leaning at a 45-degree angle and exposing its roots like a trailing mantle, delivering the nutrients of plant life. Not even sunshine can make this tree look inviting in this symphony of early spring colors.

If Liberia House could talk, it would enumerate an endless list of famous and ordinary Americans who have walked through its doors: Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Gen. Irvin McDowell, and countless unknown soldiers who were wounded in the Civil War and sought refuge and care in Liberia.

The house was built in 1925 by W. J. Weir on land formerly owned by “King” Carter. It was Gen. Beauregard’s headquarters from May 1861 until after the First Battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861.

According to archives, Jefferson Davis “watched the First Battle of Manassas on July 21, 1861, and then came here to Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard’s headquarters to meet with him and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston before returning to Richmond on July 23. Lincoln came here with his Secretary of War on June 19, 1862, to visit Gen. Irvin McDowell, who was recovering after his horse fell on him.”

During restoration of Liberia, numerous signatures were found on the walls on the second floor, written by Union soldiers stationed here. They wanted to be remembered; that they were alive in that moment in time. A graffiti from March or August 1862, written by Pvt. Adam McKelvey, Co. G. 12th Pennsylvania Infantry Reserve Regiment, can be found among others who signed their names for posterity, knowing that death was stalking them.

Liberia was the place where the Weir family raised their children and grandchildren. The plantation was so vast, it encompassed most of the land of Manassas today. There were slaves in bondage here, and “a beer baron from Alexandria operated a dairy farm on the property.”

An archive photograph from 1862 shows Liberia with an intact kitchen wing on the right. The museum curators believe that it was probably destroyed during the war and never rebuilt.

Liberia’s owners, William James Weir, and Harriet had planted daffodils alongside the front walk of the house. A photograph from March 1862 shows the yellow blooms when the house was occupied by Union troops. The daffodils somehow survived the encampment of two armies amid the Civil War.

The Turberville Memorial Garden today is planted with common plants in Virginia that are supporting pollinators of the current apiary.

William J. Weir complained to Confederate soldiers early in the war about the loss of his fruit trees. In 1863, an edition of Harpers New Monthly Magazine reported that Weir was said to have been ‘shut up in the guardhouse for saying, as he witnessed his fruit trees being made into firewood, that he didn’t know as he would be used any worse by the Yankees than he had been by those who professed to be his friends’.

Private George Bagby of Virginia’s 11th Infantry wrote in 1861 during his time in Liberia: “At night I would walk out in the garden and brood over the possible result of this slow way of making war. The garden looked toward the battlefield. At times I thought I detected the odor of the carcasses, lightly buried there; at others I fancied I heard weird and doleful cries borne on the night wind.” (Museum Archives)

The Weir family owned 2,000 acres of farmland and forest so far from settled areas that it required barns, a dairy, a gristmill, a laundry, a kitchen, slave quarters, a school, a general store, and a post office. The labor to maintain such a vast plantation was provided by “enslaved and white laborers and skilled craftsmen, alongside members of the Weir family.” They lived here for thirty-six years.

During the Civil War, the family was divided. William did not want secession, but his three sons served in the Confederate Army. The family moved to Fluvanna County. Walter inherited the property after his father’s death in 1867 but the farm never returned to its pre-war wealth.

Before the City of Manassas acquired the property in 1986, records show that:

1.      The property owned by William Weir encompassed most of modern-day Manassas (1825-1888) – Library of Congress

2.      Liberia was a dairy farm when owned by Alexandria businessman Robert Portner (1888-1947); the Portners never lived on the property  – Manassas Museum Collection

3.      Liberia was owned by the Breeden family (1947-1986) – Manassas Museum Collection

There is evidence from an ad placed in 1847 in the Alexandria Gazette that William Weir operated the Liberia Mathematical and Classical School on the premises.  A donation to the museum of a math exam with the words at the top of the page, ‘Liberia School,’ became further evidence of the school’s existence.

Walter Weir 

The Weir Cemetery appears too close to the house; that is because it was moved here in 1989 from its original site, Point of Woods East/Lakeside. With the family’s permission, 24 graves and headstones were moved by specialists at the Smithsonian Institution according to the original burial plans and plots. The exhumation revealed that only Walter’s remains were well preserved because he was buried in a cast iron coffin with a glass viewing pane. Walter’s body was so well preserved that forensic analysis revealed that “he died from an infection, likely caused by an abscessed tooth.”

Note:  Museum archive photos are black and white, color photographs: Ileana Johnson April 2023