QUESTION: The Supreme Court recently ruled that the Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, could stand at its location where it’s been since World War I. There’s been several picture of it that show the top 3 or 4 feet with a covering over it. Why is that covering there? What’s under it that’s not going to be shown?
ANSWER: The cover is actually designed to protect the cross from additional damage caused by time and weather. Officials there now hope to repair the cross since its future has been settled.
A little background: The 40-foot Peace Cross was built in 1925 as a memorial to 49 men from that area who died serving in World War I. (I found a beautiful Washington Post story about the men memorialized by the monument from Sept. 21, 2018, should you want to look it up.) A lawsuit challenged the legality of the cross because it is a religious symbol on public property and maintained by the government. The Supreme Court, as you know, determined the cross could stay.
The cross falls under the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and I contacted that organization’s parks and recreation department to find out what’s underneath the cover. Spokesperson Kira Clam Lewis cited a May 2015 assessment by Davis Buckley Architects and Planners, titled “Crack Survey of the Memorial Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland.”
“As a result of the findings of the survey it was discovered that extensive cracks and fissures existed on the top (flat) surface of the memorial,” Lewis said in an email. “The report states: ‘The top of the cross is approximately 5 feet square, and there is no indication that this cap was cast with any slope or chamfer. In 2015, the center of the cap stands more than an inch higher than the other sections, and the surface of the cap has severely cracked. It may be that in 90 years, the concrete has shrunk slightly, and the central raised area indicates the presence of a steel support post, which may be expanding slightly as water infiltration causes oxide jacking and expansion.’ Therefore as a result of its design and construction, as well as some failing repairs, water was discovered to be pooling on the flat surface on the top of the memorial. As a response to the report, and in an attempt to prevent further water infiltration and associated damage from winter freeze and thaw cycles, a ‘shower cap’ was crafted for the top of the memorial to shield this vulnerable surface area from the elements. This cap is what has been mistakenly referred to as a ‘tarp.’
I found news reports indicating local officials now hope to determine how to proceed with repairs of the cross.
Q: I’m looking for a way to trace back my Indian name. I’ve been told my great-great-grandmother was full blood Indian. “Young” lived in Panola County, Texas.
A: The best thing I can do is direct you to some useful resources where you can start your search for information.
The Sammy Brown Library at 319 S. Market St. in Carthage has local history and genealogy information online and in the library. View some of the online resources at tinyurl.com/y3b9984d . Library staff members also might be able to help you determine if the facility has information that might warrant a visit. Give them a call at (903) 693-6741.
The Panola County Historical and Genealogical Association’s Old Jail Museum and Library, at 213 N. Shelby in Carthage, also sounds like it has some useful resources. (Visit the website at tinyurl.com/y2ty3brg or call (903) 693-3388.) The museum is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
One of those resources is the librarian herself, JoAnn Oliphant. She’s taught local history and genealogy courses for many years, and she suggested the Dawes Rolls might be useful in your search. The rolls list people who the Dawes Commission accepted between 1898 and 1914 as members of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes.