Monday, July 21, 2008

The Jeannette Tragedy

For those of you who have not read this article yet, or were unable to to view it online, you can now click on the pictures below and read the story full-size.  "The Jeannette Tragedy" was published in two parts in  The Irish Echo  on July 9th and July 16th, 2008.  This newspaper is the most widely read Irish-American Newspaper in the US.  I am honoured to have been interviewed for this story, and even happier that it turned out so well.  

I am still waiting to hear from another writer with The Daily Mail, a national newspaper in Ireland,  as to when my other interview will be published.   When that happens, I'll be sure to let everyone know. 

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tornados in Northeastern Minnesota

"Severe weather moved through Northern Minnesota Monday night. Northlanders got quite a sight.

A tornado was spotted in Buhl at 8:45 PM, while a funnel cloud was spotted in Grand Rapids and a tornado was spotted 13 miles NNW of Virginia at 9:05. Talmoon had .75 hail. Squaw Lake had .88 inch hail. Coleraine sported 1 inch hail, while a 14" diameter tree was down near Bowstring Lake at 10:20 PM."

I personally saw two funnel clouds right over my own house in Aurora, while listening to the sirens going off in the next town just 5 miles away. It's no doubt the good people of the Iron Range were either in their basements or glued to their windows to see an event that Mother Nature does not let us see but for a few rare times in our lives.

Thanks to some of those same good people in Grand Rapids and the surrounding area, the photo's below were featured on our local 10pm news tonight and gave everyone in the path of this storm a reality check of what threatened over our heads just a few hours ago. As I write this, another storm is rolling through but with the threat of severe winds and larger than golf ball sized hail. This one I can handle, but a tornado I can not.

When the tornado sirens were going off, I was vacuuming and our little son who is 4&1/2 was helping me pick up his toys before bedtime. I turned on the TV, the radio, and loaded up the latest satellite imagery on my computer. The technology that had been used to alert citizens of the potential for deadly and destructive weather had reached me in about 1 minute from it's issue by the trained meteorologists who know when to send out these life saving alerts. The latest satellite technology and radar imagery used today is the Mercedes-Benz compared to the now outdated telegraph that Jerome Collins used in the late 1870's to issue his very own weather warnings via the New York Herald Weather Bureau to the west coast of Europe, Britain, and Ireland. One thing that Jerome has in common with the meteorologists of today, they both saved lives. Their weather forecasts alerted people to the threat of severe weather, either in a minutes notice as in today's example where I live, or less than a week's time in Jerome's day. Seafarers would usually confirm upon their entry into port that yes, they did indeed navigate through the storm which Jerome would have predicted to travel across the Atlantic to the coast of Europe, and therefore the people in Europe would have received fair warning in advance of the weather to come. I don't think that the meteorologists of today, or yesterday for that matter, ever received a proper thank you or commendation for saving a life. Firefighters are heralded as heros, Policemen are honored when fallen in the line of duty, and the US Armed forces are national symbols of noble sacrifice. So where's the recognition for the Meteorologist? Despite all this technology, we sometimes take for granted the job of a Meteorologist which is easily aided by technology. What if that technology failed us? Then we are forced to think to a time long ago, when simply observing the weather by looking up to the sky was where it all started.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Welcome Cousins!
Welcome Irish Echo!
Welcome NYC!

What a simply fascinating month it's been!  First I was FOUND, yes FOUND by the British branch of the Bernard A. Collins family, a cousin in the UK stumbled across this very blog while googling "Jerome J. Collins" our mutual family member!  She Emailed Me me stating she believed we were related, and now my long lost cousins are in touch with me, emails flying like crazy to my new-found relatives across the Atlantic and even in the Caribbean.  How exciting it's been to learn more about this side of the family and what happened to them after Jerome's brother Bernard moved from New York City to London in 1885.  Bernard has a long line of descendants, of which I am still learning about thanks to cousins Bridget, Maureen, and John.  If you think you are related to the Collins family tree via any one of Jerome's siblings OR his parents (Mark Collins and Ellen [nee Ryan] Collins) do not hesitate to Email Me.   Jerome's siblings were:  Dr. Daniel Francis Collins, Mark Jr., Patrick, Bernard A., Michael, William J., Mary Catherine, Thomas S.  All 9 children including Jerome Collins were born in County Cork, Ireland.  

Ronnie tells me work should be getting under way any day in regard to the railings that will be re-erected surrounding Jerome's grave.  Thanks to Mona who is the Conservation Officer with County Cork, she authorized the funds for the railings which will restore Jerome Collins' grave to it's former glory in the early 1900's.  Not only is Jerome buried on this site, but his parents and a brother.  Again, Catryn Power, County Archaeologist was beneficial as was Ronnie who seemed to get writer's cramps at all the forms he had to fill out to get the ball rolling on our endeavor.  When the work begins, I hope to post pics for everyone to see, as Ronnie plans on making a visit or two to Curraghkippane during the progress.  

This morning I contacted the Newseum in Washington D.C., as Jerome's bio is (incorrectly) listed on their website along with his name permanently etched on a huge glass Freedom Forum Journalists Memorial.  I contacted them a few years back, early in my research when I didn't know 1/8th as much as I do now about Jerome and our family history, and I told them THEN some info that is now proven to be incorrect.  The Newseum recently had their grand opening, and knowing this and the amount of increased traffic they would receive there and on their website, I spoke with a nice man by the name of Don Ross who agreed to let me send him new info about Jerome's life.  He seemed very happy that I called, especially since some of their reporters listed back in the 1800's don't have a lot of background info.  

129 years ago yesterday, the steamer Jeannette sailed from San Francisco Harbour by way of the Behring Strait in an attempt to be the first to reach the North Pole.  Jerome J. Collins was aboard as the NY Herald Correspondent, and served as the Meteorologist and Scientific Officer on board, despite having been forced to sign on as a seaman in order for the Navy to claim any glory under the US flag.  After almost 2 years stuck in ice, the Jeannette sank.  As they say, "the rest is history" and you can read about Jerome J. Collins in The Irish Echo which just printed today in NYC and will be posted in it's entirety on their website Thursday, July 10th.  The Irish Echo is "the USA's most widely read Irish American Newspaper".  I received an email last week from Edward T. O'Donnell with "The Irish Echo" stating he wanted an interview with me about Jerome.  I rang him immediately and we had a good chat.  This is the first US Newspaper that Jerome and I have appeared in since I have been doing research on his life, all the other news media has been overseas in Ireland and Australia.  What's great is that not only is the exposure right in the heart of NY where Jerome lived and worked, but it happened on the anniversary of the sailing of the Jeannette.  I hope that readers all over the US and beyond realize that Jerome really got the short end of the stick on this Expedition, not only was he Irish and unwanted on board by Lt. Cmdr. De Long, but  De Long refused to let Jerome go forth to seek help with two other members in the party during their last month of survival.  Jerome was the strongest and fittest man in the party when they reached the Lena Delta in Siberia, yet because of the martyr Commander De Long, the entire party perished including Jerome due to starvation and exposure, along with the fact that De Long would not leave his ship logs and records behind.  Jerome also suffered under arrest for 18 months until his harsh death, not allowed to help the crew escape to land once the Jeannette sank.  In addition, Jerome was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to his family, this medal has been missing since 1900 and rumored by my family as possibly stolen.  If anyone has any knowledge of this Congressional Gold Medal for Jerome Collins' service aboard the Jeannette Arctic Expedition, or any knowledge of the whereabouts of his personal diary, or knowledge about Jerome J. Collins himself, please EMAIL ME with info.