Who was Captain of the Andrew Harder? A Mystery Solved

Posted on
Log of the Andrew Harder
The rather unassuming cover of the diary kept in 1864 by the captain of Andrew Harder (from Logbook 192)

Last fall, we in the Archives received a request, as we often do, from the History Department of Cristopher Newport University, to provide an internship opportunity for a young man who was to graduate the following spring. Usually this is not difficult for us. This year, however, we could think of nothing to do for young Thomas Fosdick (the CNU student in question) and nearly gave up. The pandemic made it impossible for him to come on site and work on archival material. However, both Bill Barker (fellow archivist) and I knew that log book transcriptions could work. So I found a small logbook dating from the Civil War kept by the captain of the steamer Andrew Harder. But my choice of Log 192 involved an inherent mystery we had hoped Thomas might be able to solve for us. Who was this diarist?

The transport Andrew Harder

Before really tackling the problem of the diarist’s identity, we had to know basic facts about the service of this steamer. The Andrew Harder was a practically new vessel, a screw steamboat built in 1863 for service on the Hudson River between Stuyvesant, NY and New York City.   Read more

Forgotten Faces of Titanic: The Widener Family

Posted on
man with mustache
“George Dunton Widener Sr.” Find A Grave, 28 Sept. 2005, www.findagrave.com/memorial/11841844/george-dunton-widener.

It has been 109 years since the R.M.S. Titanic, at one point, deemed the “unsinkable ship,” struck an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Of the 2,205 passengers and crew members aboard, only 704 souls survived that fateful night. Passengers came to travel aboard the ship from all over the world, including approximately 300 from America. The Widener family was among this group of Americans.

George, accompanied by his wife, Eleanor, and their adult son, Harry, was returning from a business trip in Europe and had booked 1st class passage aboard Titanic. Traveling along with their two servants, the family was searching for a new chef for a new hotel, The Ritz Carlton, in Philadelphia. George was the president of several railways and streetcar companies in the Philadelphia area. Eleanor, an heiress, was also a well-known philanthropist, while Harry, a graduate of Harvard University, was an avid rare book collector. It has been noted that Harry’s collection was between 3,000 and 3,500 volumes. Some sources claimed that he had dreamed of building his own educational library or institution someday.    Read more

Hampton Roads City Nature Challenge: A How-to guide

Posted on
Participate in the city nature challenge by finding wildlife and taking a picture of it.
Participation is easy! Find wildlife, snap a picture, and share it on iNaturalist (inaturalist.org)

Welcome back to the nature corner where we’re talking more about the City Nature Challenge! (Click HERE to visit our local Hampton Roads site!)

I mentioned in the March blog that participating in the City Nature Challenge is simple. All you do is find wildlife, take a picture, and share it on the iNaturalist app.   Read more