This Day (A Place We Call Home Edition)

Published:December 16, 2011 by Brendan Wolfe

On this day in 1773 a group of Bostonians, some of whom dressed up for the occasion (as Mohawks), threw the original Tea Party. This event, as we all know, inspired today’s “Tea Party Patriots,” who rage not against George III but against the president of the United States. Two years ago they celebrated their founding event, but one day late. Perhaps this year they’ll read the EV blog!

In the meantime, on this day in 1819, Robert S. Garnett Jr. was born in Essex County. He grew up to design the Great Seal of the State of California (on the upside) and to be the first Confederate general to die in battle (on the downside). His handsome brother Richard also died, but two years later at Pickett’s Charge.

Speaking of handsome Confederate generals, Henry Heth was born on this day in Chesterfield County. His friends called him Harry and pronounced his last name like the candy bar. His cousin was George Pickett. At the Battle of Gettysburg, which Harry helped to start through his interest in shoes, he was, unfortunately, shot in the face head. No worries, though. It was only a flesh wound!

On this day in 1862, Big Stone Gap’s first big writer, John Fox Jr., was born. We would tell you when the mountain town’s second big writer was born, but she isn’t saying.

Finally, on this day in 1864, a fellow named John Y. Beall, a native of Charles Town and a one-time student at the University of Virginia, was captured by Union forces at Niagara Falls and charged with spying. If you read only one encyclopedia entry this week, read Beall’s. It’s got John Brown. It’s got Turner Ashby. It’s even got tiny Cascade, Iowa, a “Place We Call Home”™. Virginia’s history does not collide with Iowa’s nearly often enough, but how about this: today is also the birthday of Sara Elizabeth Wolfe Womble, sister to yours truly, a spy in her dreams only, and a proud resident of Des Moines, Iowa. Happy birthday and Go Hawks!

IMAGES: Top: Boston Tea Party; middle (left to right): Henry Heth (Library of Congress); John Fox Jr. (Library of Congress); the future Mrs. Womble, aged 6; bottom: Undated postcard of Cascade, Iowa (James O’Meara)