Category Archives: Profiles

Biographical commentary on famous people – of note – and maybe not so.

Meet Joe Black ~ ‘Ambassador for the game and life’

~ Foreword ~

                        Joe Black – when I knew him. ~ J.B.

I hadn’t seen Joe for about two and a half months and wondered why. Now I know the answer as to why.

I acquired my private mail box on Shea Boulevard in 1996 and while most of the folks remained private for one reason or another, I was soon introduced to Joe Black – for the second time in my life.

The first was in 1955, when I was seven years old and was just learning about the national pastime. I spent summers in Eagle, Wisconsin – I was a Milwaukee Braves fan – County Stadium was my ‘home away from home’. Joe Black left the Brooklyn Dodgers that year and signed on with the Cincinnati Red Legs – and brought with him quite a legacy – the first black pitcher to bring his team a pennant. Joe spent the rest of his life bringing the winning pennant home to whatever endeavor he tackled.

I never broke bread with the man – but we broke the silence of two people with little in common – and I never asked him for his autograph. May you rest in peace sweet man.

Without Apology I am,

‘Ambassador for the Game and Life’

Legendary Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Joe Black died of prostate cancer Friday morning at the age of 78, passing away at an aftercare facility in Scottsdale.

“At moments like this, when we’re worrying about other things within the game, it really doesn’t mean too much,” Commissioner Bud Selig said. “I’ve known Joe Black a long time. He loved the game and was so willing to always be helpful. He was one of those rare individuals who was willing to give of himself unconditionally. You just don’t find people like that, especially in professional sports.” Continue reading

The First Legal Slave Owner in America Was a Black Man?

Here’s something you won’t read about in the US history books. The first legal slave owner in America was black and he owned white slaves.

Anthony Johnson (BC 1600 – 1670) was an Angolan who achieved freedom in the early 17th century Colony of Virginia.

Johnson was captured in his native Angola by an enemy tribe and sold to Arab (Muslim) slave traders. He was eventually sold as an indentured servant to a merchant working for the Virginia Company.

Sometime after 1635, Antonio and Mary gained their freedom from indenture. Antonio changed his name to Anthony Johnson. Continue reading

Jimmy Carter’s Last Moments With Rosalynn Carter ~ His Partner of Almost Eight Decades

In Memory of a Unique Lady and her Husband.

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter died Nov. 19 at 96 years old with husband, former President Jimmy Carter, who turned 99 last month, by her side at their home in Georgia, their son told The Washington Post.

The Carters celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary this summer, and by then had already been the longest-married presidential couple in United States history for some time. In the wake of Rosalynn Carter’s death, new details emerged this week about her final moments and the former president’s devotion throughout them. Continue reading

“The Battle Hymn of the Republic” ~ Not A Christian Hymn

John Brown of Kansas

Many year ago now, when we lived in West Virginia, the church we attended used a hymnbook that contained “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” At the time I didn’t know much about that song (I won’t call it a Christian hymn because it isn’t) but when folks got to choose what hymns they wanted to hear in the Sunday evening service that song was often chosen. At that time the pastor in that church was from Georgia, and I can imagine he cringed every time that song was chosen in a service. I remember one time, one of the congregation said to him, in jest, “We can’t sing Dixie. It’s not in the hymnbook.” If the truth be known The Battle Hymn of the Republic should not have been in a Christian hymnal either, but unfortunately it is still in many. Continue reading

Publius Rutilius Rufus: Rome’s ‘Last Honest Man

Publius Rutilius Rufus (158 B.C.-78 B.C.) attempted to reform Rome’s corrupt tax system, and soon found himself accused of corruption and extortion himself.

Banished for debasing the currency from his home city in what is now north-central Turkey, Diogenes of Sinope chose to beg in the streets of Corinth and Athens, live in a clay jar, and eschew wealth of any kind. The story is often told that he walked the streets with a lantern, looking in vain for an honest man. He often confronted people with disparaging hand gestures, including one that involved the middle finger. He is considered a founder of the ancient Greek school of philosophy known as Cynicism. In his 80s, he died in the same year as Alexander the Great (323 B.C.). Continue reading

George Washington’s Guide to Being a Gentleman

George Washington, it’s famously said, was “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Such firsts undoubtedly contributed to his other great achievements, including his election as president of both the Constitutional Convention and the United States.

In other words, Washington was not an average man. But his above-average nature didn’t happen overnight. At age 14, he copied out more than 100 maxims of good behavior in his school book, likely intending to implement them in his own life. Many of these are still applicable today. Following them can help modern men be true gentlemen who stand head and shoulders above the crowd in both character and conduct. Continue reading

The Staplehurst Rail Crash, or; How We Nearly Lost Charles Dickens Early

Any fan of Dickens will know that he died before he could finish ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’. But, if not for him surviving a train accident in Kent in 1865, his last piece of work could well have been ‘Our Mutual Friend

On the 9th June 1865, Dickens was traveling back from a holiday in France in a first class carriage at the front of the Folkestone Boat Express train. Ellen Ternan, the actress for whom he had left his wife Catherine Hogarth two years previously, and her mother were traveling with him. Also accompanying them was another important passenger; the manuscript of the latest installment of the novel he was writing at the time; ‘Our Mutual Friend’. Continue reading

Samuel Adams: The Man of the Revolution

This often overlooked Founding Father set the country on its course toward independence.

In this c. 1772 portrait of Samuel Adams by John Singleton Copley, Adams points at the Massachusetts Charter, which he viewed as a constitution that protected the peoples’ rights. / Library of Congress

Before his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson asked himself: “Is this exactly in the spirit of the patriarch of liberty, Samuel Adams?” Would he approve of it?

To understand why the new president hoped to channel Adams’s spirit is to discover not only where a daring revolutionary came from, but where a revolution did. To lose sight of him is to lose sight of a man who calculated what would be required to upend an empire, and who — radicalizing men, women, and children with boycotts and pickets, street theater, invented traditions, a news service, a bit of character assassination, and any number of innovative, extralegal institutions — led American history’s seminal campaign of civil resistance. Adams banked on the sage deliberations of a band of hard-working farmers reasoning their way toward rebellion. That was how democracy worked. Continue reading

DeWeese: What Price Liberty? A Family Answers the Call

When their ship from the Netherlands docked in the harbor of New Amsterdam (now New York City) in 1688, Garrett Hendricks DeWeese, and his wife Zytian, could not have known of the historic events that would direct the destiny of their future family. Nor could they have known how those future sons and daughters would be central figures in molding those events. Continue reading

Georgia Teacher Retires at Age 95

The kind of teacher that I used to have as a student…

Teachers often have thankless jobs — at least the teachers who aren’t trying to indoctrinate kids into everything leftist — and many of them leave their jobs out of frustration. So the story of a teacher who stuck it out until she retired at the age of 95 is impressive.

Grace Adkins, whose students affectionately call her “Ms. Grace,” retired from the Westwood School in Camilla, Ga., this month. She recently turned 95, and she taught for at least 75 years. Continue reading

Meet the Most Important Civil War Leader You’ve Never Heard Of

This NC man was one of the most important Civil War leaders…

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) – One of the most important African American leaders of the late 1800s was born in North Carolina, but his accomplishments and influence vanished from history for 100 years.

Abraham Galloway was a spy, an insurgent, a statesman, a fierce advocate of the working class and a warrior against oppression and tyranny. Continue reading

John Bozeman: The Frontier Entrepreneur Who Forged a Path to Montana

John Bozeman took two bullets to the chest and died in 1867 at age 32. One can only imagine what he would have achieved with another 32 years.

One of the most interesting exports from Georgia to Montana was the namesake for the latter state’s fourth largest city. His name was John Bozeman. His short life is a tale of risk-taking enterprise in the wilds of America’s western frontier. Continue reading

Marie Curie: We Lost This Scientist To Radioactivity In 1933…

…but her notebook still holds a serious threat!

Considered to be one of the most famous 20th-century scientists, Marie Curie is the only person to win two Nobel prizes in two different fields. Defying the expectations for what a woman should be during her time, Curie paved the way for our understanding of radioactivity. She also discovered two new elements, but not without paying a horrific price… Continue reading

The Bamboozling Bogus Baron of Arizona

An aspiring fraud put in years of hard work to become a nobleman — and still failed.

When it comes to big frauds, many names may come to mind: Charles Ponzi’s measly take of $10 million, Bernie Madoff and his $65 billion pyramid scheme, or Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay’s $74 billion accounting scam at Enron.

One other name should be included in this company: James Addison Reavis. No other fraudster worked as hard as Reavis. And none of them could match the size of his deception. Continue reading

Dangerfield Newby

Dangerfield Newby (1815 – 1859) was the oldest of John Brown’s raiders, one of five black raiders, and the first of his men to die at Harpers Ferry, Virginia.

Born into slavery in Fauquier County, Virginia, Newby married a woman also enslaved. Newby’s father was Henry Newby, a landowner in Fauquier County. His mother was Elsey Newby, who was a slave, owned not by Henry, but by a neighbor, John Fox. Elsey and Henry lived together for many years and had several children, although interracial marriage was illegal in Virginia. Dangerfield was their first child.

Dangerfield Newby, his mother and his siblings were later freed by his father when he moved them across the Ohio River into Bridgeport, Ohio. John Fox, who died in 1859, apparently did not attempt to retrieve Elsey, Dangerfield, or any of his siblings. Dangerfield’s wife and their seven children remained in bondage. A letter found on his body revealed some of his motivation for joining John Brown and the raid on Harpers Ferry. Continue reading