Digging holes here and there in American history.

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Monday, March 11, 2013



They were born in County Clare, poor as the rocky Irish soil, and came to America for a new start after their parents died. One became a popular public servant, the other a brutish killer.
Mayor Andrew Currie

In 1849, Jim and Andrew Currie sailed with their older brother Michael from Cork, Ireland. Andy was only six, Jim two years older. Landing at Boston, the brothers settled in New York City. In 1859 at age 16, Andrew ventured out on his own and found employment in Shreveport as a store clerk. After serving the Confederacy in the Civil War, Andrew returned to Shreveport as a deputy sheriff. His fortune rose as a very successful insurance agent and influential businessman. Elected mayor of Shreveport as a Democrat in 1878, Andy Currie developed the city’s first water and sewer systems and built a bridge across the Red River while maintaining financial interests in the railroad and other business ventures.

The life of brother Jim took a different direction. One writer called Jim Currie “one of the most depraved specimens that ever visited the western country. He was the embodiment of everything bad and disreputable, the very quintessence of all wickedness, and a living personification of crime in its worst forms, without a single redeeming quality. No person was safe against his attacks; his murderous weapons were aimed at all alike.”

“Big Jim” Currie killed more than a dozen, maybe many more than that. Most were outright murders. For instance, in 1870 he went on a drunken rampage in a Kansas dance hall and killed two men and two women. Big Jim Currie was said to be the only man Wild Bill Hickok feared.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Fixin' Up at the White House

During the renovations to the White House in the late 1940s and early 50s, President Harry Truman and wife Bess stayed across the street in the Blair House.  On November 1, 1950, two men attempted to enter Blair House to kill Truman.  One White House police officer was killed and another wounded in the biggest shootout in history involving the Secret Service.  One of the attackers was killed and the other wounded.

It was in high school American history that I learned of the attempt on Truman's life and the reason he was residing at Blair House.  But I had no idea of the magnitude of the renovations until I saw these photos.  

The White House was literally gutted and the interior rebuilt.  See the slideshow at this webpage:


If you search "White House renovation" at flickr.com, you will find even more photos.

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