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Volume 2, Issue 13, September 22, 2017
Millions of people are recovering and rebuilding after the effects of recent earthquakes and hurricanes. With so many lives and homes affected, the historic sites featured in this issue relate to humanitarian and medical aid. One is the home of the founder of the American Red Cross; the other is a national memorial to a 19th-century flood, the resulting loss of life and charitable help from around the world.

Cynthia Collins
Cynthia Collins 

Johnstown Flood National Memorial
Johnstown Flood National MemorialThe Johnstown Flood National Memorial is the location where a deadly flood occurred when the earthen-structured South Fork Dam broke on May 31, 1889, following several days of heavy rain. This resulted in approximately 20 million tons of water from the Conemaugh River rushing through the community of Johnstown, PA, causing the loss of life of more than 2,200 people, and destroying homes, farms, and anything else in its path. The commemorative area includes remnants of the dam, a visitor center that has two floors of museum exhibits, and historic buildings including the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club and the Unger House, home of the club’s president during the flood.
South Fork Fishing and Hunting ClubhouseThe area is significant not only for the disaster itself, but for its history before and after the flood. The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club was founded in 1879 by prominent businessmen of Pittsburgh. Members bought shares, eventually leading to the building of the club house and private cottages on the shore of Lake Conemaugh. One of the members was Andrew Carnegie. Even though he was in Paris at the time of the 1889 flood, he returned later that year, donating thousands of dollars to rebuild Johnstown’s public library. After the flood, the clubhouse was used to house survivors who were homeless.
The amount of devastation brought about charitable giving from people around the world. Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, and 50 Red Cross volunteers helped with recovery and supplies for the survivors. Donations came from all over the U.S. and 18 foreign countries. Since the Fishing and Hunting Club owned the dam, some of the survivors held the club responsible for the dam’s failure but this was argued unsuccessfully in court. As a result, survivors did not receive any legal compensation for their loss.

Clara Barton National Historic Site 
Clara Barton House, Glen Echo, MarylandThe Clara Barton National Historic Site covers nine acres in Glen Echo, MD, and includes the Clara Barton House, where the nurse, teacher, and founder of the American Red Cross lived for the last 15 years of her life. The house was both her private home and the offices of the Red Cross. It has 36 rooms spread over three levels. This part stone, part wood house was built in 1897 with the wood salvaged from the Red Cross emergency buildings built following the 1889 Johnstown Flood.
Clara Barton HomePrior to establishing the American Red Cross, Barton helped soldiers during the Civil War by writing letters for them to their families, reading to them, distributing medical supplies, etc. She helped their families by establishing the Office of Missing Soldiers to find a soldier’s location, whether it was a hospital, prison, or a grave. She met members of the International Red Cross when she was in Geneva, Switzerland, and worked tirelessly to establish an American branch. The first official meeting of the newly formed American Red Cross was May 21, 1881, with Barton presiding. She was 59 years old.
The Clara Barton House is currently closed due to renovation but it will open again soon.  Exhibits include insight into how she lived and the type of work she did for which she received numerous medals and honors throughout her distinguished career. She died in 1912 at the age of 90.

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The Unicorn Tree
The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins

A teenage girl whose brother is lost at sea –

The diary of a nineteenth-century woman –

And the special place that binds them…

For reviews, excerpts, and summary, see

Ghost story and maritime adventure...
Available at
Photo credits: Johnstown Flood National Memorial and South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club: courtesy of NPS. Clara Barton House: public domain. Jewish Museum of Hohenems: courtesy of Böhringer Friedrich
All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact Cynthia Collins.
Copyright © 2017 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.

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