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The Old Odd Elm Tree

The Harpers Ferry Camp Hill Elm Tree was probably over 140 years old.

Photo possibly showing the Elm Tree (or parent tree) during the Civil War.

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Brian King and the Old Odd Fellow Elm Tree Stump

The story of the Old Odd Fellow Elm Tree is a long one, as we have historic photographic evidence it may have been over 140 years old. I will try to condense both the life of the tree and the man called Brian, into a short essay as a tribute to both. The story of the old Elm Tree is that it spent many years dominating the block on top of Harpers Ferry hill (camp hill) with its siblings on the Kaplon-Stowell front lawn (cut in the 1970s), and the one on the border of the Brady-Stowell property (cut in the 1990s). The Kaplon Elm died of Dutch Elm disease, as many others in the area did; and for many years the front lawn had sunken areas from the decaying roots, that moles loved to make tunnels in. The Brady Elm was cut by Tony Catanese and his father, who took turn whacking away at the stump. Elm’s are notoriously hard woods, very hard to cut; which brings me back to the story of Brian and the Odd Fellow Elm. The Old Elm may have been around during the Civil War (1860s), as it spent many years growing wide and tall. It grew into 2 main branches, stemming from the main trunk several feet above ground level; which may have been a result of it being decapitated at a young age, and regrowing while a pocket of rain-water formed in the V, no doubt contributing to its’ hollowing. Most of the Old IOOF Elm’s history is unknown to this author, but when I was a young teen I did make efforts to study it. That area of the block was always mysterious, as it was half wild, and sometimes partially gardened. There was a storage yellow garage-shed, and a plain but historic out-house, below the Elm’s massive boughs. In 1994 lightning struck the tree filled with water, it split in two; one half fell on the garage-shed, filling the lawn, but the other half remained standing!! The remaining half of the Elm stayed up and alive, until it eventually fell over a decade later in 2011, partially smashing the out-house and other nearby trees. Phil Folk and others cut and removed the body of the tree. However the stump remained. Brian spent about a year obsessively removing the stump, working hard on it every day. When I heard the regular chopping on hot sunny days, I brought him some glasses of water, and checked in with him. Brian would be sweating in the humid heat, and he broke a few mattocks and shovels; he took out his frustrations on it, and it caused him frustrations; but did it all by hand!!! Brian’s focus and dedication to task reminded me of an epic tall-tale, or folk-tale legend; as when he was asked why he was so intent on removing every last root of the stump, he would say “I am doing it for the sake of doing it. The more time I put into it, the more I want to do the job to finish it; but as the work exercises my body and mind, the more the end .” Then Brian would make a self-deprecating joke about the heat affecting him. His frequent humility aside, the end was clearly no more the point for Brian, as it was for the Old Odd Elm Tree.

Photos of when it first split, and half of it fell in 1994:

treedown-OF

treegar-OF

Photos of when the second half fell in 2011:

Odd Elm 2011

 

 

RIP Old Odd Elm Tree

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Obituary-Eulogy:  Brian King of Harpers Ferry, WV

My friend and Odd Fellow brother Brian King died surprisingly of congested heart failure (CHF) on June 17, 2017 at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, WV. Brian was only 47; born February 27, 1970 in Wilmington, DE, he was the son of Mark and Mary King of Glenmoore, PA. Brian was a graduate of New Milford High School in New Milford, CT, class of 1989 and a graduate of Albright College in Redding, PA, class of 1993.

Brian cared about helping others by his service in the Odd Fellows, and he studied and wrote about history. He had a great love for historic Harpers Ferry, and spent many years helping and talking with his blind NPS Ranger friend Chuck, who worked down-town. I also spent many hours talking with both he and Chuck, on hot summer days in the cool shelter of our historic buildings. Brian and I spent years volunteering together at the Odd Fellows Lodge, and talking about old-tyme radio and comedy tv shows (like Red Dwarf). Even after I was no longer active with the Lodge, as I was working on my family property next door, I would see and wave to Brian almost every week. Brian spent many hours, for many years, in ‘working meditation’ on the Lodge property maintenance and most memorably, removing the stump of the old Elm Tree.

Brian King and the Old Odd Fellow Elm Tree Stump

The story of the Old Odd Fellow Elm Tree is a long one, as we have historic photographic evidence it may have been over 140 years old. I will try to condense both the life of the tree and the man called Brian, into a short essay as a tribute to both. The story of the old Elm Tree is that it spent many years dominating the block on top of Harpers Ferry hill (camp hill) with its siblings on the Kaplon-Stowell front lawn (cut in the 1970s), and the one on the border of the Brady-Stowell property (cut in the 1990s). The Kaplon Elm died of Dutch Elm disease, as many others in the area did; and for many years the front lawn had sunken areas from the decaying roots, that moles loved to make tunnels in. The Brady Elm was cut by Tony Catanese and his father, who took turn whacking away at the stump. Elm’s are notoriously hard woods, very hard to cut; which brings me back to the story of Brian and the Odd Fellow Elm. The Old Elm may have been around during the Civil War (1860s), as it spent many years growing wide and tall. It grew into 2 main branches, stemming from the main trunk several feet above ground level; which may have been a result of it being decapitated at a young age, and regrowing while a pocket of rain-water formed in the V, no doubt contributing to its’ hollowing. Most of the Old IOOF Elm’s history is unknown to this author, but when I was a young teen I did make efforts to study it. That area of the block was always mysterious, as it was half wild, and sometimes partially gardened. There was a storage yellow garage-shed, and a plain but historic out-house, below the Elm’s massive boughs. In 1994 lightning struck the tree filled with water, it split in two; one half fell on the garage-shed, filling the lawn, but the other half remained standing!! The remaining half of the Elm stayed up and alive, until it eventually fell over a decade later, partially smashing the out-house and other nearby trees. Phil Folk and others cut and removed the body of the tree. However the stump remained. Brian spent about a year obsessively removing the stump, working hard on it every day. When I heard the regular chopping on hot sunny days, I brought him some glasses of water, and checked in with him. Brian would be sweating in the humid heat, and he broke a few mattocks and shovels; he took out his frustrations on the stump, and it caused him frustrations; but he did it all by hand!!! Brian’s focus and dedication to task reminded me of an epic tall-tale, or folk-tale legend; as when he was asked why he was so intent on removing every last root of the stump, he would say “I am doing it for the sake of doing it. The more time I put into it, the more I want to do the job to finish it; but as the work exercises my body and mind, the more the end does not matter.” Then Brian would make a self-deprecating joke about the heat affecting him. His frequent humility aside, the end was clearly no more the point for Brian’s life, as for the Old Odd Elm Tree.

Brian focused on Harper Cemetery, the Civil War, and Odd Fellow history. Brian allowed me to read some of his Civil War book he was writing, and I offered to publish it for him. He was a member of the Civil War Round Table, and a valuable and dedicated member of Virginia Lodge No. 1, IOOF in Harpers Ferry, where he was Past Noble Grand and held many other offices as well. He currently held the office of Grand Herald in the Grand Lodge of WV, IOOF. Brian was Past Captain of Poolsville Canton and was a member of Gilead Encampment in Hagerstown, MD. Brian King was unique and special, yet despite any disabilities or personal problems, he achieved much as a private intellectual and humble helper to the community. This memorial requiem is written to honor Brian’s dedication to researching, learning, and sharing the history of the deceased. Brian was always there to lend a helping hand, and will be greatly missed by all. In addition to his parents, he is survived by one brother, Brent King and wife, Elizabeth Notturna of Newark, DE. Thank you to Eackles-Spencer & Norton Funeral Home, 256 Halltown Road, Harpers Ferry, WV for services. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Brian’s memory to Virginia Lodge No. 1, P.O. Box 896, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.

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~ Rest In Peace, Brian King, FLT ~

 

 

My Genealogy

Walton Davis Danforth Masters Manucy Stowell 

Most of my Celtic Bloodline is Scandinavian (as much as half). Those “Germanic” tribes were more Norse; not just the Viking raids and Danish conquests, but all the way back to the Jutes and Angles who seem much more Scandinavian than German by location and bloodline. Including the later Normans, again more Norse than French. My dominant family trees of Scotch-Irish and English all were mainly Scandinavian after 6th Century. And yet i am only 5′ 2″ with naturally curly dark hair (ok some stray red and blonde and lots of grey and white now). England’s gene pool got flooded by immigrant invasions big time after 6th Century. The oldest English blood is Welsh, which i most resemble physically, so 35% from Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland accounts for all my dominant traits (including my blood which has Mediterranean Anemia). Wacky races; no wonder Beowulf and Hamlet (Denmark) are so popular in England.

The fact remains according to ancestral historic documents, 50% of my recent ancestors lived in England and then New England for hundreds of years, and 50% of my recent ancestors lived in Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Spanish Florida for hundreds of years. Before the 6th Century AD they were from Scandinavia (mostly), Spain, Italy, and Greece. Both race and culture mix and change with every generation, and many of the female family lines are unknown since they usually took the man’s last name. I am an Atlantean Celtic tiny Viking, that is fiscally conservative (one percent Jew).

Scandinavia 37-64% 51%  Celtic (after 600 AD)

Ireland-Wales 3-25% 14%  Celtic

Italy-Greece 1-23% 11%  Mediterranean

Spain 1-22% 10%  Mediterranean

Britain (England) 0-18 5%  Celtic-Germanic

France-Germany 0-19 5%  Celtic-Germanic

Jewish-European 0-3 1%  Near-East

Middle-Eastern 0-7 3%  Middle-East

(African may not have shown up because my prehistoric ancestors over 1,000,000-200,000 years ago may have left Africa a hundred-thousand years before many of the Cro-magnons did, which would account for my Neanderthal brow, and thousands of years mingling in Europe. )

 

 

 

 

My Earliest American Relatives

Earliest dates of relatives in America

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My mother’s family Florida last names:

Davis (Scotch-Irish, NY, PA) Loren – 1800s

Maestre / Masters (Spanish Minorcan) Pedro – 1750s

Manucy (Italian-Spanish Minorcan) Marcos Manusi – 1750s

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My father’s family New England last names:

Walton (English) William – 1650s

Danforth (English) Thomas – 1650s

Stowell (English) Samuel Herrick – 1650s

US Passport Info

2 page application / call US Post Office for appointment to take photo and make book.

Father: Walton Danforth Stowell (Kip) born 01 / 30 / 1936 , Massachusetts

Mother: Mary Evalina Manucy born 07 / 26 / 1946

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Artist, Architect, and Mayor of Harpers Ferry

Trip-Kip cover

Kip was born ‘Walton Danforth Stowell’ in Massachusetts. He lived a long life as an artist, architect, and politician; settling in Harpers Ferry, WV. This biography spans 73 years of Kip’s life, from 1936-2009; and is a summary of people, places, and art related to him. As an architect he worked for the National Park Service, but also maintained private practice. Kip loved entertaining people, and was loved for his enthusiasm for design. Among his most famous designs are the Charles Town War Memorial, Turf Race Track Hotel, Bolivar Community Center, and Harpers Ferry Town Hall. His greatest contributions to Historic Preservation may have been to protect the Town of Harpers Ferry and the Peter Burr House for all time and for all people. Kip saw Architecture as Art you live in; Sculpture that provides shelter.

Please purchase Kip’s Biography as sales help to preserve his legacy:

Paperback book on Amazon

Kindle Ebook on Amazon

My Ideal Day

wake up, wash face, sit and meditate

Breakfast:cereal, eggs, toast or oatmeal, donut, sausage; and Coffee and OJ

Listen to NPR, read and study by taking notes on Fantasy, Science, and Religion books

Listen to my own Music, play a computer game

Exercise: 40+ situps (or crunches), 20+ pushups (or pullups) average

Lunch: Tomato or Cucumber Sandwich, potatoes, cheese, smoothie, juice

walk, hike, jog; sport; garden work

write books, articles, poems

communicate with several people

take care of business

Dinner: pizza or pasta, stir fry, chocolate, alcohol

Medication

watch some Red Dwarf, Robin Hood, Dr Who, Super Hero Cartoons, Heman, Thundercats, GI Joe

Memoir – December 2013

Thanksgiving – Christmas Dog Bite

Week 3 of dog bite still hurts bad. Bruise is far worse than the teeth marks in this case, because it bit through my pants and pulled the skin and tendons away from my bone. Now i know for sure when a dog is acting mean or nervous, always take it seriously because all dogs can bite, and it should not be taken lightly. It also does not matter if you are trying to be nice to the dog, if it is mentally messed up. Otherwise all else is well.

9/11 Apocalyptic Furvor

Regarding 9/11 – On Sept. 11, 2001 i was in Montana with a friend when we saw on the news the towers fall. I remember thinking it could be the end of America as we knew it, in a matter of days. It took me 4 years before i was able to live without feeling that way as much. The last time i really felt it was at 2006 military Basic Training, when we were excluded from outside news under martial law.

People were duct-taping their windows, thinking about bomb shelters, and basically feeling helpless under the threat announced by the government and media concerning ‘new world order’ terrorism. The week after 9/11 my only advice to my parents back in WV was “head for the hills”.

Reenactor Brian Woole

Spent an afternoon volunteering with Brian Woole, who spends his free time doing various creative community activities like playing music in a public park group, to reenacting as a newspaper journalist during the Civil War. He agreed to collaborate on a video, so we met downtown in Harpers Ferry.

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1.  Downtown at Point  (video 1)

2.  Downtown on Street  (video 2)

3.  Street Highlights   (video 3)

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