Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2016 College Football History Tour

This college football season, the Matt Ward History Experience will travel to a number of college football stadiums in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. During this tour, I will be providing my blog readers with some interesting facts about the history of the college teams I see play and the stadiums they call home. My tentative schedule is below:

9/10 - Howard at Rutgers at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway Township, NJ

9/24 - Princeton at Lehigh at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem, PA

10/1 - SMU at Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA

10/22 - Stony Brook at Delaware at Delaware Stadium in Newark, DE

10/29 - Brown at Penn at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, PA

11/26 - Rutgers at Maryland at Maryland Stadium in College Park, MD

Stay tuned!


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

John Lawrence Grattan's Grave

John Lawrence Grattan's Grave 
Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery
395 Biddle Boulevard
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027
(Plot: Section A, Site 290)

John L. Grattan was born on June 1, 1830 in Corinth, Vermont. Grattan's mother Sarah died when he was five years old. Following his mother's death, his father Peter relocated the family to New Hampshire where he worked as a wheelwright. Grattan attended West Point from 1849-1853, and was held back one year due to poor performance in academic courses.

Second Lieutenant Grattan's first assignment out of West Point was with the 6th Infantry Regiment at Fort Laramie in Wyoming. Soon after reporting to Fort Laramie, Grattan earned a reputation for being brash and boastful. He was also known for his dislike for Native Americans, despite having little interaction with them. When tensions grew between local Native Americans and pioneers, the Army decided to intervene. A Mormon wagon train passing through the post reported that one of their cows had been stolen and butchered by starving Lakota Sioux. Grattan and other inexperienced officers decided to confront the local Lakota Sioux band under Conquering Bear, and demand that the man responsible for stealing the cow, High Forehead, be turned over to the Army.

In August 1854, Grattan led a detachment of 30 soldiers and one civilian translator towards the Lakota Sioux encampment east of Fort Laramie. The encampment was estimated to have 4,800 residents, including 1,200 warriors. A combination of his inexperience and a breakdown between the Grattan's translator and the Lakota Sioux resulted in the Grattan Massacre. Grattan's translator Luciene Auguste spoke the language poorly, was intoxicated, and had a bad reputation among the Sioux people. When the detachment arrived at the village Auguste began taunting and threatening the Lakota Sioux. Grattan demanded that Conquering Bear turn over the alleged thief, but Conquering Bear refused the demand, instead seeking to negotiate with the young officer. A local trading post owner James Bordeau was called by Conquering Bear to act as a negotiator. Bordeau later recalled that by the time he arrived at the scene the situation was already out of control. Conquering Bear offered Grattan a horse as compensation for the cow, but Grattan continued to insist that High Forehead be turned over. As tensions escalated, warriors began to flank the soldiers. When Grattan turned to return to his detachment, a nervous soldier shot and killed a warrior.

Grattan's surrounded command was then decimated. A young Red Cloud participated in the massacre. The Lakota Sioux suffered two casualties including Conquering Bear. Bordeau was spared because he was married to a Lakota Sioux woman and had a friendly relationship with the local Native Americans. The Grattan Massacre is considered to be the opening shots of the First Sioux War that lasted from 1854-1856.

Grattan's remains were initially interred at Fort Laramie, while his soldiers were buried in a shallow grave at the site of the massacre. Grattan's remains were later exhumed and re-interred at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery in Kansas where he rests to this day. His soldiers were also exhumed, and re-interred at Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Nebraska.

The inscription on Grattan's grave marker reads:  "To the memory of LIEUTENANT JOHN L. GRATTAN Who was killed in an engagement with the Sioux Indians near Fort Laramie, N.T. August 19, 1854."

Below are two websites with more information on John Lawrence Grattan, along with several photos that I took of his grave site:


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Upcoming Event - Ghost Walk of Historic Matawan

Ghost Walk Tours of Historic Matawan

Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 7:00 PM and 8:30 PM. 

Please join us as we take a walk back in time, revisiting the chilling stories about some of the businesses and private homes along Main Street.

The evening will begin with a short presentation at Burrowes Mansion, which will include stories about the ghosts of the mansion. Then we will continue with a walk along Main Street with more stories about the ghosts haunting our town. All of our ghost stories are true!

The tour includes a stop inside Bedel Funeral Home, where attendees will have the unique opportunity to view antique funeral items that have never before been on display. A representative of Bedel Funeral Home will be on hand to answer questions!

The entire tour will cover approximately one mile (round-trip ) and last about two hours.

Light refreshments will be served.

The tours will be held rain or shine! In the event of severe weather, the tours will be canceled.

For more information and to purchase tickets please visit the following website:

Friday, August 19, 2016

Anthony Wayne's Grave

Anthony Wayne's Grave 
Old Saint David Church Cemetery
763 S. Valley Forge Rd.
Wayne, PA 19087

Anthony Wayne was born on New Year's Day in 1745 in Easttown, Pennsylvania to Isaac Wayne and Elizabeth Iddings. Wayne was born on his family estate Waynesborough. Isaac was part of a Protestant Anglo-Irish family that had emigrated to Pennsylvania from Ireland. Wayne studied as a surveyor under his uncle and at the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania).

In 1775 at the outset of the American Revolution, Wayne raised a militia unit in Pennsylvania. In 1776, he was appointed colonel in the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment. His actions during the unsuccessful Invasion of Canada (1775-1776) resulted in his promotion to brigadier general in the Continental Army on February 21, 1777. Wayne served with distinction throughout the American Revolution and participated in a number of the famous battles including Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth. His most famous victory of the war was on July 16, 1779 at the Battle of Stony Point in New York. Troops under the command of Wayne assaulted British troops at the outpost of Stony Point under the cover of darkness. The outpost was located on the cliffs overlooking the Hudson River, and was about 30 miles north of New York City. The victory served as a morale booster for the Continental Army. The victory also helped to solidify the Continental Army's hold on West Point. This daring assault led to Wayne being nicknamed "mad."

Following the British surrender at Yorktown, Wayne was sent to Georgia where he negotiated treaties with the Cherokee and Creek, two Native American tribes that had previously supported the British during the war. Wayne was awarded a plantation from the state of Georgia for his negotiation of these treaties on behalf of the United States government. Wayne was promoted to major general on October 10, 1783.

After the war, Wayne moved to Georgia where he ran for Congress in 1790. Wayne served a year in Congress before being removed by a Congressional committee that determined that he had won the seat through electoral fraud. The committee claimed that Wayne did not meet the residency qualifications to serve as Georgia's 1st Congressional District representative.

Wayne was later recalled to military service by President George Washington who placed him in command in the newly formed Legion of the United States. Wayne was ordered to take this army to the Northwest Territory to subdue the Native Americans of the Western Indian Confederacy who resisted the annexation of their lands by the United States government. Wayne mounted an assault on these tribes at the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794. Wayne's victory near present-day Toledo, Ohio, led to the Treaty of Greenville on August 3, 1795. This treaty opened the door for the settlement of Ohio and led to the state joining the Union in 1803.

On December 15, 1796, Wayne died of complications from gout while returning to Pennsylvania from a military garrison in Detroit. Wayne was buried at Fort Presque Isle in modern-day Erie, Pennsylvania. His body was disinterred in 1809, and his remains were boiled to remove the remaining flesh. His son Isaac Wayne put his father's remains in two saddlebags and carried them back on horseback to the family plot at St. David's Episcopal Church cemetery. Legend has it that a number of Wayne's bones were dropped along the way on a road that now makes up much of modern-day U.S. Route 322, where his spirit returns every January 1st to search for his missing bones.

Below are several photos along with three links with more information on Major General Anthony Wayne:


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Berlin Wall Memorial

Berlin Wall Memorial
290 Stimson Ave
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027
(Follow sidewalk east from the Buffalo Soldier Monument)

During the Cold War (1947-1991), Germany was broken up into two states. East Germany was a Soviet satellite and communist nation, while West Germany was a federal parliamentary constitutional republic that was aligned with the United States and its allies. The Berlin Wall was constructed by East German officials and separated East Berlin from West Berlin from 1961-1989. The primary purpose of the wall was to isolate West Berlin, and prevent East Germans from escaping to West Berlin.

When the Berlin Wall was destroyed in November 1989, concrete sections of the wall were presented to President Ronald Reagan and other U.S. officials. Three sections of the wall were presented to Fort Leavenworth to recognize the influence and contributions of Fort Leavenworth's U.S. Army Command and General Staff College to ending the Cold War. The Berlin Wall Memorial was dedicated at Fort Leavenworth in 1998.

Below are several photos of the Berlin Wall and memorial at Fort Leavenworth, along with two links with more information on the memorial:,2548151&hl=en


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Jim Thorpe's Grave

Jim Thorpe Memorial 
103 East 10th Street
Jim Thorpe, PA 18229

In honor of the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics, I decided to write up a blog post on one of America's greatest athletes and 1912 Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe.

Jim Thorpe is believed to have been born on or about May 22, 1887 near Prague, Oklahoma. Thorpe was born to mixed-race parents. His father Hiram Thorpe was of Irish and Sac and Fox heritage. His mother was French and Potawatomi. Although no birth certificate exists, he was baptized as Jacobus Franciscus Thorpe in the Roman Catholic Church. Jim had a difficult childhood, which included the deaths of his twin brother Charlie and parents.

Jim attended several schools during his childhood including the Sac and Fox Indian Agency School in Stroud, Oklahoma; the Haskell Institute, an Indian boarding school in Lawrence, Kansas; and the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. It was at Carlisle that his athletic abilities were first recognized by teachers and staff. At Carlisle, Thorpe excelled at track and field, football, lacrosse, and ballroom dancing. Future President Dwight D. Eisenhower played against Thorpe as a member of the 1912 Army football team that was defeated by Carlisle 27-6. Eisenhower commented on Jim Thorpe's performance as a football player: "Here and there, there are some people who are supremely endowed. My memory goes back to Jim Thorpe. He never practiced in his life, and he could do anything better than any other football player I ever saw."

Thorpe was selected to participate in the 1912 Summer Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. He won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon events. At the closing ceremonies, it was rumored that King Gustav of Sweden told Thorpe, "You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world", to which Thorpe replied, "Thanks, King." Thorpe was later stripped of his Olympic medals after January 1913 newspaper stories revealed that Thorpe was not an amateur athlete at the time of the Olympics because he had played professional baseball in 1909 and 1910. Thorpe later admitted to playing professional baseball for a meager salary.

Thorpe went on to play professional baseball, football, and basketball. As a professional baseball player, he played from 1913-1919 for the New York Giants, Cincinnati Reds, and Boston Braves. His football career lasted from 1915-1928, and he played for six different teams. Thorpe barnstormed as a basketball player in New York and Pennsylvania as a member of the "World Famous Indians" of LaRue (Ohio) in 1927 and 1928. Thorpe retired from football, and professional sports in 1928 at the age of 41.

Following his retirement from professional sports, Thorpe had difficulty providing for his family. Thorpe worked a variety of jobs including film extra and doorman/bouncer. He was hospitalized for lip cancer and heart failure. On March 28, 1953, Thorpe died at the age of 65 in Lomita, California. Thorpe's funeral was held at St. Benedict's Catholic Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma. His body was lying in state at Fairview Cemetery in town, while residents tried to collect money to have a permanent monument erected in his honor. State legislatures refused to provide funding to the monument, which made the process of collecting money more difficult.

Thorpe's third wife Patricia, unbeknownst to the rest of the family, made a deal with the eastern Pennsylvania town of Mauch Chunk to have Thorpe's remains interred there. In return, the town compensated Patricia, renamed the town Jim Thorpe, and built a fitting memorial for Thorpe. In June 2010, Jim Thorpe's son Jack filed a lawsuit to have his father's remains returned to his family's burial plot in Oklahoma. The case was heard at various levels of the legal system, and was officially closed in October 2015 when the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Jim Thorpe was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. 

Below are two links with more information on Jim Thorpe, along with several photos of Jim Thorpe and his memorial: