Seemingly forever

Dear Reader,

Permanence separates the world in the subtlest, yet most pervasive of ways. Roaring it’s head in everything we do, wealth and those with it are naturally divided with one concept—permanence. Think of the differences: owning a home versus moving apartments, quality clothing versus cheap threads, retirement plans versus making it to pay day and particular to this discussion: engraved monuments versus wooden grave markers. Not only is there a difference in the typical patterns of daily thought, it extends to the immortal dead. Marble pillars and stone sculptures exude an everlasting façade to the occasional cemetery passerby. But what if that permanence that the lucky few seek their whole lives, really isn’t real at all. Maybe it’s just delayed disappearance?

Centennial Movement of a Gas Mask Bag

Dear Reader,

Two thousand miles away from me a son received an intimate gift from his late father’s possessions from his time stationed in France during WWI. A couple of years ago John Cleaveland, artist extraordinaire, came across a gas mask bag held by a friend and collector of artifacts in France. This bag would have been used to hold the mask at the soldier’s chest for quick access in the event of gassing. When John showed me the name and number written on the bag, I was on the chase. Within 24 hours we were able to call the 94-year-old son, Mr. Smith in Boise, Idaho and alert him to John’s holdings. Mr. Smith was overcome with reminiscent emotion, as was I in the act of finding a living him. By now the bag has reached its rightful home in Boise. Reuniting this son with a piece of his father’s history brings a sense of humanity to an otherwise horrific experience that is war and its aftermath.

 

Until next time,

Nell

Elizabeth: Tip of the Crescent City

Dear Reader,

October 2017: Once I decided to pursue Elizabeth for my project, I knew I needed to consult with the leading expert on Oconee Hill Cemetery and my friend, Charlotte Thomas Marshall. Charlotte hosted a lunch at the Holiday Inn inviting her longtime friend Ron Bogue, who she knew had been researching Elizabeth for quite some time. Ron became the impetus for my entire project when he alerted us to the Historic New Orleans Collection that holds James Robb’s papers. As you’re probably guessing by the surname, Robb is Elizabeth’s second husband. With a collection of 3000+ items and a scanning limit of 30 pages, there was only one thing left to do. Charlotte and I packed up the car and hit the road for a two-day adventure. Of course the research ended promptly at 4:30pm each day when the building closed, so when in New Orleans….

Elizabeth: Where it all began

Dear Reader,

September 2017: I became acquainted with Elizabeth Church Robb. This striking monument in Oconee Hill Cemetery belongs to her. Over the last couple of years, I have spent numerous hours on these beautiful grounds. But the story of Elizabeth isn’t purely one of happenstance. Finishing my coursework for a minor in history at UGA, I decided to honor’s option my U.S. Civil War class. The assigned task was to complete a project on a subject related to the Civil War with the flexibility to focus on any such topic. Like most accountants, the idea of writing anything beyond the standard one-page business letter was terrifying, yet a new challenge beckoned. 

Welcome to Midnight Knell!

Dear Reader,

Thank you for visiting Midnight Knell! This site is designed to share my adventures in the world of historic research as I rediscover the lives of the once living. On this journey I have learned so much about meeting people, trying new things, and recognizing who I want to be. Switching from a meticulously planned career track in accounting to the history path where the future holds a million different possibilities, I find myself more open-minded and curious than ever. I hope this blog will serve as a source of inspiration, thought provoking questions, and personal reflection.

 

Until next time,

Nell