Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 51

Benjamin Franklin would say that the "Christian Warrior" militia group and "Black Widows" of Chechnya of Russia were guilty of an "act of violent injustice." These groups sought revenge against American and Russian government authorities March 30th. The score 1-1. Who became the winners or losers depends on participants, not necessarily the witnesses? None of this solves anything, but does perpetuate fear. The lunatics, fringe elements, hatemongers, racists, radicals, paranoids are weaker or stronger depending on who is watching and learning.

Before the American Revolutionary War started Franklin told those responsible for the Boston Tea Party they should repay the East India Company for the tea they destroyed. It wasn't long until he changed his mind and he and Alexander Hamilton were considered terrorists against England with huge bounties on their "treasonous" heads. Search for secrets of a sunken cannon continues here, but we had to figure out what kind of cannons came to America and Ben Franklin and Alexander Hamilton could put holes in why Bob Alcumbrack was searching for the wrong cannon.

Hamilton's guerrilla fighters at night stole English cannons and at morning light his minutemen used them against them. Ben Franklin's militiamen layed at anchor in rowboats in harbors and when British sails appeared their only duty was to shoot holes in the sails. They weren't allowed to shoot at sailors. Odd, you might say, but Ben lured the ship into his trap that could kill all onboard. Years before war broke out he lived in London and was known for his "nudist" mentality of stepping outside his apartment stark naked to get the morning paper.

He literally shocked strangers when they put their hands on his electrified metal fence when staring at his moon bare body. Where and what they saw he didn't care. Franklin was very comfortable walking around inside his apartment naked and "fart proudly." He wrote an essay under that title. He proposed to "Discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreeable, to be mixed with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharge of Wind from our Bodies, not only offensive, but agreeable as Perfume." Somebody did it is called "Beano" and made by GlaxoSmithKline in Moon Township, PA. Destiny rides again.

One prerequisite of all cannon or treasure hunters is to know what you are looking for before you spend fortunes and labor extensively to achieve nothing. Bob hadn't done enough research to warrant mounting such an expendition based upon scant evidence. The giant cannon he perceived to resurrect was a ghost of his own imagination.

"Awesome blast" and "small cannon" and the fact it had been repeatedly fired for 38 years without incidence didn't mean it was an American cannon. What Bob really needed was hard evidence, such as a cannonball or tool, but that didn't surface until two years later, but during those years he found lots of white brass objects. What he did know was that the cannon pre-dated the Civil War, but more likely came from the War of 1812 or American Revolutionary War. Surely Le Grand Cannon wouldn't give a small cannon to the town elders that had already outlived its usefulness in 1848. Maggie McCarthy and John Downes thought Bob was searching for the wrong size cannon prior to July 4, 1986. Like they, I felt it was more likely a cannon of English, French or Spanish origin. Standing in front of a six-pound cannon would have shot Walter Tompsett in the chest, not the knee. It would have cut him in two pieces.

Using some info from the historical archives of Alexander Hamilton in the Library of Congress I'm giving you a sneak peak of the British ordnances landing in Boston during the Revolutionary War. This might explain why the Federal government was warning so many villages and town's to discard the old cannons.

Alexander Hamilton was an opportunist. He was fascinated watching American militiamen firing artillery; the awesome blasts, the noise and belching smoke of captured British artillery. He dreamed of joining their ranks so he volunteered. His rank "private" but became one of America's first "commando." He and his fellow soldiers would become America's first future artillerymen and he'd use his skills as such to infiltrate and raid British garrisons by night and steal cannons. Hamilton's day and nights would be consumed with cannons. He ate and dreamed about cannons, like Bob Alcumbrack's obsession of digging up his wildest dream cannon.

One dark night Hamilton placed his rifle against a wall near an old cannon. When he started rolling the cannon away he returned for his rifle. The aged and rickety wheels squeaked loudly so Hamilton gave a small oil can to each soldier and they began oiling wheels before the carriage was moved. Silently the cannon and carriage were wheeled away. Waiting outside of town were the non-militia contractors, who were the only men to move the relics for the minutemen. Immediately they would strip the guns from old carriages and replace them on new carriages and returned them to the militia minutemen who put them back into service the same night stolen. They were used against the British, but only private contractors moved military cannons, not the militia minutemen. One branch knows not what the other knows.

Another night Hamilton left his rifle in Boston during a cannon raid and when walking into camp without his rifle George Washington, the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army asked Hamilton where was his rifle? Hamilton replied, "Oh-my-gosh, Sir it's against a wall in Boston." Washington replied, 'Soldier go get that rifle or I'll dock your wages for six months' for punishment. Sounds similiar to GI's that lose or sell gear today.

Hamilton returned to Boston and retrieved his rifle and Washington was so impressed with Hamilton's courage he ordered Hamilton to command America's first artillery unit. Hamilton trained his men to be expert artillerymen through repeated tactical drills, which was what the Cannonsburg seven lacked - no training.

Washington promoted Hamilton to Captain and his artillerymen helped George Washington force the British out of Boston. But that wasn't before Washington and Ben Franklin forced the British out of New York. Hamilton became a staunch Federalist who later became President Washington's secretary and aide-de-camp (1777-1781) and Secretary of The Treasury 1789-95. Hamilton proposed and created the National Debt and Federal Bank, both opposed by President Thomas Jefferson.

When the Revolutionary War broke out during the Boston Tea Party, the venerable Ben Franklin was in London and seen "streaking" outside his apartment. In wasn't long and he was disillusioned by English politics and the dominence rule in America and left England returning to New York. Within months Franklin's guerrilla fighters were raiding British garrisons to steal their ancient 3-4 pound cannons. Most were so old the carriages could hadly move over dry land; they squealed and clanked. Ben had his militiamen harvest the bigger naval cannons off sunken British ships using his Franklin diving bells.

Men sat inside large bells on planks, the sailors lowered into the water trapping air inside like a glass placed upside down in a sink full of water. The bottom ordnances were wrapped with ropes and raised after the bell housing, the cannon's lifted and placed inside a ship's pinnance and floated to distant underwater cribs filled with rocks. The crib was an underwater square log frame blockhouse filled with jagged stones with cannon's nested into the rocks, the cannon placed at a precise angel with the cannon muzzle just below the surface.

Franklin said, "the harvested cannons were so old and dangerous for firing he used them as small harpoons that were driven through British ship bottoms entering New York harbor." Several militiamen sat at anchor tethered to the below surface cannon and the men had strict orders not to shoot sailors, but sails. Although they were like shooting ducks in a barrel, Ben told them to "shoot holes in sails" because they can't catch the wind. This tactic infuriated British captains so they heaved to and tried to run down the militiamen sitting at anchor over the cribs. No sailors were to be shot even though the sailors had orders to shoot them. This was a suicide mission.

As the vessels approached the men kept firing at British sails. With collision imminent one man released the anchor rope and they rowed out of the way and since British ships can't turn or avoid split second decisions, the British ship would strike the crib, the cannons puncturing holes in the vessel's bottom. Submerged cannons were harpoons and often as the vessel moved forward it struck another precise placed crib and the second jolt a harpoon cannon was thrust into the ship's powder magazines. The entire ship exploded killing up to 110 sailors. Fourth, fifth an sixth rate British warship had soft pine bottoms. These were made in Canada and towed across the North Atlantic for rigging and weapons in England. The extinction of the giant White Pines in England was due to overharvesting for larger Man of Warships. First class ships were held in reserve or sent to France and fought against Napoleon. These ships had bows 3 feet thick and sheethed in copper plating making it more difficult to puncture bottoms.

The monarchy in England declared Franklin a war criminal for his militiamen's deadly attacks against the British in New York harbor. A 10,000 pound ($) reward was offered for his capture and conviction. Ben Franklin's men could kill hundreds of sailors before they set foot on American soil. Franklin helped negotiate an end to the war in 1783. England had lost the war in America because it thought the continental army was too weak with inexperienced fighters so it sent the worst of ancient 3rd and 4th class ships to fight us.

Losing the war made England's King George III very unpopular with his countrymen who complained 'we lost because he shouldn't have concentrated so much on Napoleon.' The King had to protect England, protection of homeland was most important. It didn't have the resources to fight both wars on equal footing. The ancient cannon were sent to America. They were extremely dangerous to fire, let alone move far on such rickety hardware. These were thorns to the British also so why send good cannons to America. Many in England thought America was a lost cause. They couldn't move the cannons fast either, but so to the king thought they'd be a hinderance to any American's who captured them as "trophies" of war. Although American's didn't have or could manufacture cannons, what they did possess were excellent woodworking craftsmen who could refurbish the cannons with new carriages.

Hamiliton's field militiamen had astounding success using ancient cannons against the British and it was enough resolve to force them out of America. The Le Grand Cannon, Hamilton, Washington and British ordnance connection shows us the true age of pre-Civil War cannons that was not exposed until after the conclusion of Bob's first big dig failed. Bob had hoped to shine July 4, 1986 in a treasure hunters limelight before media TV broadcasts with the resurrection of the missing Cannonsburg cannon, but such was not his destiny until.... more next time. Have a nice day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 50

Where the original five men capable of burying the Cannonsburg cannon went to dispose of the piece had stayed hidden for 103 years. Bob's mind envisioned a six-pound of English registry. Bob knew very little about Mr. Cannon, with the exception he was a wealthy New York eastern capitalist. and land speculator. He was shrewd and had the backing of many influential friends and financiers.

Le Grand was a risk taker, a man of adventure who traveled extensively throughout Michigan to Colorado and Oregon with friends like John Ball, his attorney who's name is still associated with Grand Rapids today. His name is above the gates of the John Ball Zoological Park in Grand Rapids. Le Grand Cannon, John Ball, Edmund Bostwick and O.N. Bostwick were the largest freeland holders in Michigan and Oregon with Mr. Ball owning about a million acres of timber and farmland in the 1840's ouside of Michigan. Mr. Cannon owned more than 3000 acres and 24 lots in Cannonsburg and 7000 acres in Ottawa County with the Bostwick owning thousands of acres, too.

Mr. Cannon's wealth in Michigan was a mere drop in the bucket to his other interests. He had a go-getter type one personality like Ball. Cannon was engaged in building railroads, foundries and had mining interests in gold and silver west of the Mississippi and they did it together traveling extensively after graduation from Dartmouth College in 1821. They would have graduated sooner, but both men were heavily engaged in the six-year war (1812-18) that broke out.

Cannon was wealthy in the 1840's and he could have purchased the cannon outright or had one cast by a skilled craftsmen in one of his finest foundries. Why Bob Alcumbrack thought it was a 6-pound cannon wasn't logical since it was illegal for a private citizen to purchase small military field ordnances. He could only purchase a cannon from a private foundry and he couldn't purchase a small cannon from another country, but he could from a private foundry. The only other plausible place to get a cannon was a gift from a friend or a cannon rescued from a shipwreck by Capt. Gillispie.

Bob was right to assume that whatever Mr. Cannon gave it must be an old gift cannon made of cast bronze with his name and date engraved, but what he didn't understand was it was downright dangerous and difficult to engrave a cannon after being cast. Hardened metal fractures upon contact with chisels and when engraved after being cast the chisel makes tiny unforeseen fractures in the castings making them more likely to explode so that practice ceased before 1850. Bob's information sources said the cannon was "old" when referring to the Walter Tompsett accident. If it were indeed "old" in 1885 and since Mr. Cannon dropped off the cannon to town elders in 1848 conceivably the cannon would originate from the War of 1812 or American Revolutionary War era. Was the cannon older or newer?

Historians at the Rensselaer County Historical Soceity in Troy, New York were unaware that a township government and village in Michigan were named in honor of Mr. Cannon. Searches of his personal archives in New York and the archives of Ball (one) and Bostwick didn't reveal any information about the small cannon Mr. Cannon gave as a gift to Cannon Township's first elected officials in 1848. This was only a small piece of Le Grand Cannon's secret life. Men throughout history leave behind many unseen secrets. We don't share as easily as women.

Mr. Cannon left no clues about the special Cannonsburg cannon, but did note it was engraved with his name and date. Was it in the gun metal? If it was a captured gun it'd have the original engravements from a king or queen with his name and date either in the metal or a brass plaque attached to the carriage like the Twin Sisters' of Texas. It might have been a decommissioned brass military piece because of its age, but why would he donate something that old if its life expectancy was already growing dim. The cannon could have been a captured, rescued or family heirloom ARW held in personal storage. The cannon had to be a product of England, France, Scotland or the Netherlands and Bob had envisioned a standard issue military cannon. I felt it was more likely the cannon was bronze and a brass plaque added to the carriage or engraved in the carriage. This put Bob's cannon on the international scene.

Mr. Cannon was 62 years of age when he gave the cannon to town elders. He was ailing and his aches and pains told him it was time - now or never to make the trip. Bob Alcumbrack felt the aches and pain each morning and his health was suffering at age 55. He felt it was time to engage in physical activity and didn't like the senior status being placed on him by his friends at the Honey Creek Inn. They thought he was daft in the head for undertaking such a huge risk with his limited funds to find the missing cannon. I'm now 62, the same age as Mr. Cannon and feel the aches and pain in the morning, but I resist getting that senior soda or coffee. It's the young state of mind that refuses to admit or let go of our usefulness. We think young, not old. It's time to be irresponsible. Can't do it when young so I guess it's best to do it in the twilight years, but at least its adventurous and nobody is kicking into the tar pits without a fight. Although only fiction Earl Sinclair was looking forward to tossing his wife's mother, age 75, in wheelchair off the mountain top into the tar pit. That was the culture of dinosaur extinction.

Bob's time for heavier physical and mental activity was dwindling and it was getting harder to supercharge his mind to get his bones and muscles to react favorably to strenuous work habits. His physical window of opportunity was closing. It was time to dig up his wildest dream cannon. What skeptics thought was immaterial. Think positive. Start somewhere. There were times when he didn't like his crew calling him President Manual' Labor. We laughed, but he snarled and bristled with indignation of his new title - hard work.

A search of Le Grand's archival records to John Ball, his Dartmouth College friend, who became his attorney and best friend for life showed he handled Mr. Cannon's land procurements and selling affairs in Cannonsburg, Cannon Township, Kent and Ottawa County. Cannon in a letter informed Ball he was sending Capt. Gillispie to replace E.B. Bostwick in 1849 soon because of Bostwick's failing health. Gillispie was going to protect Cannon's timber property from those who were stealing lumber.

Bostwick failed to collect mortgage and tax payments owed to Mr. Cannon from the 24-lots he sold in Cannonsburg. Bostwick received land in payment for his services to collect money, but he had to pay all property taxes on his acquired holdings. John Ball handled all of Mr. Cannon's legal work for his 24-lot enterprise in Cannonsburg 1843-1850. If Cannonsburg settlers were honest and promised to pay the taxes without defaulting and took a home building mortgage with Mr. Cannon, the property was FREE.

Wouldn't you love to find find free land holder/builder/mortgager like that today. A half-acre lot in a subdivision today costs upwards of $90,000 or Lake Michigan frontage of one-acre cost up to $850,000 in 2009. In 1843 land was expensive at $1.25 per acre, but cheap by comparison to today. The standard of living income is about the same, but Le Grand Cannon bought land at 1.50 per acre and sold it for twice its original amount.

Le Grand Cannon and John Ball would hunt rabbits together in north central Kent County. They fished for trophy Brown trout in Lamberton Creek downstream from Lamberton Lake to where the Michigan Veteran's Hospital is on Monroe Ave. in Grand Rapids. Another favorite haunt and jewel was Silver Lake and Bostwick Lake off the towering pines for slab-sided blue gills, which both Ball and Cannon were planning to do when he returned to Kent County in 1848, that after Cannon presented his gift to town elders. He cancelled the fishing trip and returned passage home hastily by steamboat from Grand Rapids. He had a yearning in his mind and body that he should get his affairs in order. He was ailing, but didn't elaborate nor did he let his family know he was sick.

Bostwick went into bankruptcy in 1842 to wealth with Mr. Cannon and Ball and back to poverty in 1849 before leaving Michigan. Unfortunately Capt, Gillispie didn't arrive until after the death of Mr. Cannon May 7, 1850 and the death of Mr. Bostwick in 1851 on a train trip to California thru the Rocky Mountains with his wife Charlotte (Charlotte, Michigan named in her honor). Bostwick Lake named in his honor. The humid air in Michigan made it difficult to catch his breath. Some believed asthma was responsible for his ill health. Bostwick's doctors thought he would feel better out in California.

Shortly after Le Grand Cannon's death his son Le Grand B. Cannon, Jr., took over his father's many businesses. Gillispie had finally arrived to stop the pilfering of his timber in the Cannonsburg area until Mr. Cannon's remaining acreage listed at 1,100 acres was sold after 1855. The younger Mr. Cannon never visited. He just let Ball take charge of his Michigan holdings. O.N. Bostwick and Le Grand Cannon were the largest freeholders of land in Gaines Township of Kent County, too, with John Ball owning more than 6000 acres in Ottawa County in 1844 and 75,000 acres elsewhere. O.N. Bostwick with no relation to Edmund Bostwick was also an attorney at law who graduated with Mr. Cannon and Ball.

Edmund Bostwick owned several thousand acres, too, but before leaving Michigan he had forfeited all his holdings to Le Grand Cannon, because of failure to pay property taxes. John Ball's fortune was increasing and he owned more than 1,000,000 acres across America. Ball and Cannon gobbled up Bounty-land warrants that were originally deeded to soldiers for military service, but the government sold the Cannonsburg lots to relatives of the deceased who then resold, transferred or traded with relatives and then resold the property to Mr. Cannon. Mr. Cannon purchased the property for 1.25-1.50 per acre and resold lands for $2.50-3.00 per acre
per ads offering Michigan land for sale in New York newspapers in 1848.

Mr. Cannon's health was failing when he gave town elders the special cannon in 1848, a piece of his honor. He kept that secret from everyone and never informed his family he was making the trip to Michigan for that purpose. He just said it was a business trip. It was in a roundabout way. John Ball (John Ball Lake in northeast Grand Rapids Township named in his honor) and Capt. Gillispie knew about the gift. Only Gillispie knew if it was an iron or brass cannon and our secret was that whatever cannon was given it wasn't an iron cannon, because perfected iron cannons didn't come into being until after 1850. Iron cannons from the American Revolutionary War or War of 1812-18 would be too dangerous to fire. Life expectancy of a iron cannon was 20-40 years depending on wet weather, but brass had an unlimited life.

Bob was unsure about life expectancies of cannons until near the last big dig. Cast iron cannons couldn't be engraved post haste, because of the metals hardness. England's cannons after the 1600's were cast iron, with the exception of swivel or poop deck guns, but these ended production runs before 1643. Bronze cannons such as English falcons and falconets were used up until the early 1700s, the French falconnes and Spanish falconetes were rarely carried on naval vessels after 1550. Time and labor is a consummation issue to engrave iron without breaking the piece and those that are can be damaged causing explosions. Few iron cannons were made, with the exception of those experimental guns in Cincinnati, before 1860.

Mr. Cannon could have had his tradesmen make a cannon at his Rensellaer Iron works after 1840, but search of arhival records didn't reveal anything. America simply didn't have any skilled cannonfounders. The iron mill formerly known as the Troy Vulcan Co. ceased to exist, however, Mr. Canon was heavily invested in both companies and he could have purchased a cannon or Mr. Gillispie supplied him with the cannon and would have been easy for an foundry worker to engrave the cannon, brass plaque or carriage. Le Grand Cannon was very influential.

He was a trustee and investor in the Troy Water Works in 1829. Director of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad (1833) and Director of Le Grand & Co. and principal owner of One Cannon Place, a prominent building that still stands today and Director of the New York and Albany Railroad in 1844. Mr. Cannon and John Ball's hometown was Troy, New York and John Ball was licensed to practice law in courts for the Rennselaer County Bar in 1835, both men set up shop in One Cannon Place.

In the spring of 1835 John Ball was the speaker for the Young Men's Association and presented "Tour Across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific" a journey where he met E.B. Bostwick and later hired him to be Le Grand Cannon's front man and land agent in Cannonsburg, Michigan. Le Grand Cannon dedicated One Cannon Place in Troy, NY, a historic landmark. The buildings exterior architecture resembled British and French designs, while the top floor (mansard roof sides of building) resembles an English or French warship. The top floor of the building has remained the same since 1835.

Le Grand's heritage was French and Bob Alcumbrack missed this fact for it could have led him sooner to correct identification of cannon, its approximate age, size and physical characteristics. The two different cultures of One Cannon Place would uncover bigger secrets to come. When Le Grand Cannon died his family, his sons and daughter inherited his fortune in Troy, NY. His wealth was divided amongst his children. He died at 64 years of age and soon you'll read more about his journey to Michigan in 1848. Enough for this morning. Wow! I'm windy - the flow of words ran like water over a dam. Unusual.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 49

Le Grand Cannon's father, a Frenchman came to America with French Gen. Lafayette who fought with colonists for freedom from the British rule during the American Revolutionary war. Le Grand wasn't born until 1786 approximately 3 years after the physical hostilities had ended. The U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787 and George Washington became the first elected president in 1789. Cannon had a date with destiny and many people helped shape his future, but it took the American Revolutionary War to take America away from British rule. I'm laying the foundation for secrets of a sunken cannon.

The precursor to war started with the Boston Massacre (1771) and Boston Tea Party (1773). The People's Tea Party of 2009- is patterned after the 1773 revolt, a time in history where American colonists refused to pay higher taxes on tea to England. Americans today (2010) are angry at Congress and President Obama for uncontrolled spending and they fear rising taxes. Again the pressure to co-exist with politicians calling all the shots is waning. Those in government are responsible to the people - not themselves and party affiliaton for power and prestige. The tea party movement of 2010 isn't just disgruntled Republicans, it covers all political affiliations. To remain "free people" requires us to fight for what we believe and we must take a stance against taxation without representation, but without violence. Too much government rule isn't freedom. It's socialist slavery to the government.

If we could time travel and bring back the fifty-six original signers of the Declaration of Independence from July 4, 1776, they'd tell you that "Freedom isn't free!" They pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to America and when they signed the DI it sealed their fate. Men of honor sacrificed their lives for an ideal to live as free men with representation. They believed since 1771 it was time to break away from English rule, but British sympathizers felt England should squash the rebellion to keep English dominance.

Cannon would be a man of great wealth by age 32, because he had the fortitude to work hard, put his nose to the grindstone while treating people with respect they earned; John Ball and Edmund Bostwick, all noteable names in Michigan and Oregon. Le Grand's father probably told him that "freedom isn't free, it cost many signers of the Declaration of Independence their lives and livliehood. Five signers were captured by the British and tortured, tried for treason before death. Twelve had homes ransacked and burned. Two lost sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another two sons captured. Nine men of the 56 fought and died of wounds or hardships of war. Who were these "men of freedom"?

Twenty-four were lawyers or jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but still they signed the DI knowing full well the penalty meant death if captured. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his fine commercial ships destroyed by the British navy. He sold his house and properties to pay off his debts and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was harassed so viciously by the British his family moved in exhile to evade them. He served in Congress without pay, but kept his family safe. The British stripped him of possessions and left him in poverty. Vandals and soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge and Middleton.

At the Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr. noted that British gen. Cornwallis siezed Nelson's home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly urged Gen. George Washington to blast his home to smithereens and Washington destroyed it. Nelson died bankrupt. British soldiers seized the home of Francis Lewis and took his wife captive, imprisoned her and she died within several months. John Hart was forced to leave his wife's bedside near death. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His crop fields and gristmills laid to waste. He lived in the forest for a year, a phantom living in caves, but when he returned home his wife was dead, his children had vanished. On the Fourth of July or Veteran's day just don't remember who has fallen since, but remember those who signed the Declaration of Independence, because they died to keep freedom alive, the same freedom's we enjoy being able to voice our opinions and concerns at President Obama and Congress today. Pray for them. I usually don't write on Sundays.

Pray for our soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Give pause and cause to remember fallen soldiers like Army Corporal Nicholas Rousch of Middleville, Michigan who was killed when an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) went off near his vehicle in Herat, Afghanistan the second week of August 2009. Nick's funeral was Aug. 25th, 2009 in his hometown of Middleville a half-a-world away from his buddies still fighting. He died protecting the freedoms of others and ours in a far away land. His sacrific proved freedom is never free and he paid the ultimate sacrifice for God and two countries just like those who signed the DI. Nick was an acquaintance's nephew.

My opinion of President Obama changed after he was elected. I didn't vote for him simply because as a Congressman he hadn't accomplished anything. He strutted around like a grand peacock promising he could deliver everything nobody else could do. He lambasts Bush on the need for two wars and criticizes him for not catching Bin Laden, but he hasn't caught him either and seems to back away from fights with radicals. After election my fear of him changed to the worst when he told world leaders that "America isn't a Christian nation." He degraded Americans by pandering to the whims of radical Islamic extremists to temper them. I'm quite sure those who signed the DI wouldn't agree with Obama. America was founded on Christian principles and doctrine today even though many are trying to squash it.

The Holy Bible says, "Thou shalt not lie," for this is a biblical truth that Satan's helpers in Congress practice to deceive the moral majority who think the government is out of control and if they could would throw away the DI and Constitution on the grounds it doesn't suit their purpose or ideals. Without the Holy Bible's Ten Commandments who you gonna' believe is telling the truth? How can Michigan trust Sen. Bert Stupak's judgement when he rolls over his "NO" to "YES" on health care reform the last second. Who did he serve? I thought the person or Congressman that shouted out to Obama "You Liar" had guts to voice his indignation.

Stupak needs to serve the people. Fight truth decay, read the Bible and pray daily. Worship the Lord and God Almighty instead of dyfunctional politicians. Seek His wisdom for He gives us strength to keep us "The land of the free and home of the brave."

Millions of American have been killed and millions more will be wounded fighting in foreign war worldwide to keep freedom ringing in America. It's been done for 231 years. Americans should never cave into radical Islamic terrorists. We must fight oppressive and evil regimes.

England in 1774 didn't like what was happening in Canada's backyard, but neither was it going to let the colonists go free without a fight. It kept flexing its muscle in limited quantitites. Ramius (Sean Connery), the fictional Captain of the Russian nuclear submarine "Red October" said it best "Revolutions are a healthy thing sometimes don't you think?"

Through movies; fictional or nonfictional, ancient books, diaries, manuscripts; published or non published, personal notes, papers, newspapers, neighborhood musings, obituaries, memorial editorials, wedding anniversaries, et., all reveal the secrets of our lives and Le Grand Cannon had many secrets your about to learn from a round-about way. All these things are the windows to our heritage and it'll provide truth copies of our secrets.

Children today don't search for hard copy truth. They find material, much of it hearsay reprinted faulty things on the internet. They write essays and term papers based upon single sources, but don't criss-cross reference other viewpoints by searching library archives to substantiate their conclusions. Many internet posts aren't the gospel truth, but twisted dribble and people fail to connect the real dots of past history, because it might take longer to tell the story. Learning from the past prepares you for the future.

Bob Alcumbrack and his crew learned lots about our local area from our excavationsal searchs for secrets of a sunken cannon. The lesson many should learn is that people don't hire people who don't know what doesn't work. They need skilled people who know what works, but also can fix it when it doesn't. Those who always succeed get frustrated and mad when they can't fix something and they blame others. Its the real workers, the backbones of industry that lose their jobs before dysfunctional management blunderers.

Next time I'll discuss more secrets about what tripped Bob into belief the cannon was a six-pound field artillery piece. What I write is nonfictional (real history). It's how I see it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 48

We return now to Bob Alcumbrack's journey into what happened to the Cannonsburg cannon. Did it meet its demise after it killed Walter Tompsett? Finding rusty cannonballs gave Bob evidence of its existence, but the size gave Bob time to fine tune his dowsing skills. However, a prerequisite of dowsing means one must be factual and just knowing its size isn't enough to envision the physical characteristics. Bob, the crew and I let our imaginations run wild what decorations or inscriptions were engraved in such a rare cannon. Was it "pure art or trophy " status ordnance from an English Man of War vessel or a field artillery piece beholding the marks of royalty up until about 1750.

The Rose and Crown of the Tudors frequently decorated English cannons up to 1714. After this date flowery initials "GR" for George Rex were cast on most barrels of English cannons, while the Fleur-de-Lis is the French identification. When it is incorporated into the shield of Spain from 1700-1808 and engraved with a big "N" with or without a spread-winged eagle, it's the mark of Napoleon that denotes it as a French gun c. 1808-1815. The big "N" on swords to a collector of antiquities makes for easy identification between Napoleon and Civil War swords.

In fact government thefts of priceless artifacts has been around since 1000 B.C. The Israelite temple in Jerusalem was pillaged by the invading armies twice. The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar around 586 B.C. and by Roman Emporer Vespasian in A.D. 70. In fact when Le Grande Cannon was a teenager deciding what his future would hold, we have Napoleon's army invading Egypt during his 1798-99 campaign. His army uncovered one of the most famous spoils he considered a national treasure of the war called the "Rosetta Stone." The Rosetta Stone language courses we use today are the proprietary language learning software of which both title and logo are in reference to the original Rosetta Stone found in 1798.

In Napoleon's campaign in Egypt he brought "Men of letters and Science" whose sole responsibility was to unlock, learn and understand the mysteries of the Egyptians. In the town called "Rosetta" it was reported that Napeoleon's invading French army knocked down a wall containing the engraved rosetta stone. It was laying on the ground and chiseled into it were two languages in Greek and Egyptian with three scripts.

The first was Egyptian script on Hieroglyphs used 1000 B.C. during the first dynasty. The second script was determined to be a cursive language of Demotics that evolved from Hieroglyphs from 643 B.C. The third was ancient Greek. The stones message was repeated in three scripts. Since Greek was easy to intrepret, it was used over time to decipher Egyptian Hieroglyphics.

Napoleon's accidental discovery by conquest of the Rosetta Stone made it possible for the Hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt to be understood and translated. It originates from a decree passed by the Council of Priests that affirms the royal cult of the 13-year old male ruler King of Egypt Ptolemy V at his coronation 205-180 B.C.

The Rosetta Stone language of today uses primarily images, text and sound as a method of learning to understand vocabulary terms and grammatical functions termed "Dynamic Immersion" learning. It is patterned after the original Rosetta Stone language and principles of the ancients. Although Napoleon's army may have been looters of artifacts, the fact remains had they not found this national treasure the understandings of Hieroglyphics and mysteries of the Egyptians might not have been discovered and the Rosetta Stone language of today would have been an impossibility. Napoleon's men of science only had the treasure a few years, then the British soldiers captured the Rosetta Stone in 1801.

About this time France, Germany and the Romans were engraving cannons with eagle wings, too. Bob got so excited when I discovered that certain English guns carried the mark "B.O." meaning British Ordnance and nearly all British guns carried a Broad Arrow cut on top of the reinforcement forward of the breech. The up facing narrow arrow is 1-2 inches long and very easy to miss without close observation of any piece.

Another way to identify a cannon's timeline was the vent. Between 1700-1850 many cannons had two vents; side by side found on the barrel of the gun. Only one vent is open, the other plugged. It was a safety feature in case one vent became inoperable in time of need. American militiamen weren't aware of this feature, because we weren't skilled in cannon manufacturing craftsmanship. Bob originally thought the timeline of the Cannonsburg cannon was 1775-1825, but the discovery of the cannonball quickly put it in the "doubt it" category.

Engraved twin dolphins with tails arching in the air with heads and tails on the barrel was a popular design used between 1500-1699. As you see any model parts on a cannon could identify from what time period the Cannonsburg cannon originated. This fired up our imaginations that ran wild with anticipation of what we'd find on the Cannonsburg cannon. We kept our silence fearing we might tip off some other cannon hunting group to how valuable the lost cannon was to the community.

Since the Cannonsburg cannon was engraved with a private person's name like Le Grand Cannon it was I who suggested to Bob his discovery of small cannonballs meant it wasn't an American army ordnance. It originated from England, France, Scotland or Netherlands. Remember any cannons in the American military were mostly captured or stolen from the English who captured French and Spanish cannons. Six-pound field artillery pieces don't cut anyone down at the knees. The small pop gun Davy Crockett gave to Mike Fink was a small half-pound Robinett (named after a Robin), a brass cannon that weighed 150-250 pounds.

Bob Alcumbrack knew the Cannonsburg cannon was pre-Civil War era, but what he didn't know was how old. Before the July 1885 accident that killed Tompsett, the Federal government was warning local governments to dispose of old cannons, but the reference was made towards old cannons, most iron made with scrap metals after the Civil War or captured guns from the War of 1812 or so. Remember many iron cannons made last only twenty-five years - the Cannonsburg cannon was in use for 38 years without incident. Sure lots of cannons were prematurely discharging in Michigan like in Rockford and Grand Haven in 1884. Hundreds were being injured yearly.

Sure the liability monster was rearing its ugly head, but the fact remains that none of the Cannonsburg seven had any military training and is this the mystery that sealed the fate cannon's fate by being buried the first time? Were the tools of the cannon missing? Why didn't they make new ones? What do you think was the primary reason the town elders buried the town cannon July 3, 1885? Why wait until the last possible day before it would be used? You apply the answers, we did!

It could have been a captured piece or lost gun of English or French origins. Maybe it was a stored family heirloom? Or, was it a lost bronze gun removed from a French or Spanish warship and kept in storage by a friend or acquaintance of Le Grand Cannon's? Or was it a gift delivered to Le Grand Cannon from his friend Capt. Gillispie of Her Majesty's Royal Army, who captured it from a Spanish galleon or purchased it from a private foundry in England or Scotland?

I felt Capt. Gillispie could have known where to resurrect a special small bronze cannon after he left Her Majesty's service and gave it to Mr. Cannon. Cannon was wealthy, a man of deliberate and adventurous means or he himself might have purchased it from a private foundry, but not in America, but France. Mr. Cannon was French and his father fought with Americans during the American Revolutionary War. Le Grand was born in New York in 1786. Mr. Cannon and Capt. Gillispie met on the battlefield or near its conclusion (War of 1812-18).

Next time I'll delve into the mysteries and secrets of Le Grand Cannon. Sun is risin' and I gotta' a job to pull out in the cold. Brrrr - 18 degrees! Maybe I'll wait another hour or so. It's morning snack time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 47

Ultimate treasure hunter Bob Alcumbrack found some cannonsballs that validated the Cannonsburg cannon really existed. Tompsett's accident was real and now he had to find a rare cannon. It wasn't a standard issue cannon. He presented me, his historical researcher with solid evidence and as such I, like him, was bold enough to per chance assume we might be right or wrong to continue the search for secrets.

Despite all that had gone wrong for Bob and crew it would have been easy to give up when the first big dig was a failure, but treasure hunters are a different breed of chance takers like everyone else who has a wild dream to be successful. Try and try again if you fail. Never give up following the clues that lead to discovery of secrets. Think positive thoughts and don't dwell on the "What if I'm wrong?"

Pity me thoughts are negative reactions that fester and inflate faster with more failures. To do so makes us afraid to take bold chances and let our imaginations explode or run wild, which might be clues to uncovering secrets and that ultimately might lead sooner to the treasure of one's affection.

What Bob, the crew and I found on our expedition was the fact that clues lead to clues, which opens doors to more clues until they abruptly stop. I didn't give up then. I just changed course and I got to tell you sometimes I didn't find another clue for weeks until I found something in the most unusual places. Clues are like spider silk, each strand connects to another strand until the whole web is seen as connection points. Some strands cross over each other or are connected until for some strange reason you realize some strands hang out in space to ride the breeze. What it was attached to is the mystery to uncover?

One could wonder what it was connected to or was it just an extra silk strand or parachute to an unseen or unknown secret landing until the destiny of a future event released it. Well this is treasure hunting. You never know where your gonna' wind up or what you'll discover in the distant future. Treasure hunting doesn't happen like clockwork -- that's everything falling into perfect order like glamorous Hollywood movies portray treasure recovery.

Bob Alcumbrack didn't know how far he'd have to go to find the cannon. He and his crew took many interesting sidetrips and little did he know until after his first dig failed that his journey wasn't just local history, but state, national and international. The direction of Bob's wildest dream expedition led his crew to startling conclusions far beyond his own personal thoughts of what really happened on July 5, 1885. When clues ended we went with gut reactions that lead to surprise secrets or shock of destiny that would pit the intelligence of the past seven accident men to and against seven cannon hunters in the future.

Bob concentrated most of what he knew on key old timers that had knowledge of the accident. What he didn't do was backtrack Le Grand Cannon's personal history for if he had done so he would have found out that Mr. Cannon, was himself a very secret agent man. He was a man Agatha Christie, Mrs. Marple or Columbo (Peter Falk) would have enjoyed unraveling his mysterious ways. It took me several years to unravel Le Grande Cannon's secret life, but more than that it was the personal contact with other people outside of Cannonsburg or Michigan that helped unravel some of his secrets.

On American soil lost cannons are ghosts. Few if any originals were left after three major wars where many were recycled into larger cannons. The crests, seals, decorations, etc. weren't photographed or sketched so lost was their illustrious histories. Ordnance plaques on carriages were recycled, too. Cannon hunting is the ultimate treasure and piece engravements are what give it a higher auction value. The Cannonsburg cannon's value and especially all cannons deemed rare could fetch prices into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and those with "raised reliefs" are rare finds. Nearly all cannons on Michigan's Mackinaw Island are reproduction cannons barren of original legends. The original cannons from War of 1812, with the exception of the 32-pounders at the base of Fort Makinac, were removed in 1942, scrapped for metal recycling war efforts for World War II.

Lake Huron's depth are littered with a treasure trove of ancient British and French cannons after the Rush-Bagot Treaty brokered by France was signed in 1818. Different areas of underwater bottomland preserves are protected from salvagers and scuba diving enthusiasts. Once the Great Lakes shipwrecks are documented they are registered with the State of Michigan for protection. Signatures on the treaty prohibits American and Canadian military vessels from engaging each other on the five Great Lakes. Live fire exercises are prohibited, but Coast Guard and law enforcement vessels may take precautions and use lethal force in emergencies dealing with smugglers, drug and gun runners, terrorists and illegal aliens. Military forces may not engage each other. Naval vessels other than Coast Guard search and rescue crafts and floating museums are not permitted to operate on the Great Lakes, a neutral basin. That's why you don't see submarines, aircraft carriers, destroyers, missile boats or any type of war vessel operating on the lakes. Each country can build war vessels in shipyards in bays or drowned river mouths, but once launched must leave for sea duty trials. Certain areas of the Great Lakes are reserved for military training exercises and the general public is prohibited from entering these areas. Doing so puts private boaters in grave danger.

After Americans were overrun by the British at Fort Mackinac on July 16, 1812, the British discovered a secret about their lost cannons. When the Americans surrendered the British discovered they had recovered two of their own lost cannons during the American Revolutionary War. The cannons bore inscriptions that said they had been captured from the British at Saratoga and Yorktown, NY. We Americans engraved capture details., too. We let our imaginations explode, too, on what other decorations the Cannonsburg cannon might record?

We want you, the public to know at the time the cannon might have "raised art". Some decorations were pure art with raised or depressed fancy scrolls with statues of animals, Indian savages, fish and mermaids, curlicues all which were either made by the French and Spanish master craftsmen. These were considered trophies of war or high art treasures and rare finds.

Fancy coat-of-arms and inscriptions in Latin are found on the top and breech. Along the cannons chase, that's forward of the trunnions, are the marks of the Fleur-de Lis alternating with special capital letters like "F" meaning it originates from King Francis I of France. Raised relief decorations increase the value when on highly prized bronze trophies of war.

The barrels of cannons from 1650-1750 were elaborately decorated and easier to decipher while the cascable that looks like a doorknob is sometime sculptured in the form of a lion's head. Rarely can you identify a cannon by the knob. During this span of years the breeches and upper barrel surfaces are engraved with two or three inscriptions encased in elaborate scrolls with a big escutcheon forward of the breech. Any low relief designs elsewhere says its probably of French or Spanish origins. Its physical characteritics on a cannon that can date it. After 1760 the highly decorated art subsided to when cannons were only engraved with names, escutcheons, ogees and symbolic features like the spread-winged eagle over the trunnions. English cannons were void of such engravements.

Bronze pieces of Dutch, French and Spain origins the founders name is listed in Latin and casting date around the back of the breech. The Dutch made most of England's six-pound bronze cannons and they had the most beautiful engraved decorations on the escutcheons listing reigning families. Iron cannons were engraved with the marks of kings. Bob's small military cannon mentioned in the history book wasn't an American cannon, but a captured English cannon, but he imagined it wrong. It wasn't a 6-pounder, but at least he got the metal right "bronze."

Secrets are what treasure hunters don't tell before something is found. Time for lunch. Next time a little more info on cannon markings, Napoleon and discovering secrets from the Le Grande Cannon's past.
I realize I could just tell you the who, what, when, why, where and how 's of Bob's secret, but you wouldn't see the whole picture of our cannon expediton and you wouldn't discover the mystery secrets about America's rich historical heritage in our own communities.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 46

National Treasure was a thrilling action packed movie, but Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon had the same philosphy that clues lead to clues and more clues. While our search wasn't as intense as National Treasure it took lots of hard research to find the clues that lead to more clues. Bob was searching for the ultimate treasure, but he needed a crew he could trust.

True the small military cannon mentioned in the Cannon history book and the accident story in the Rockford Register did fire up the historical imagination of Bob Alcumbrack growing up in Cannonsburg.

As a child he was living the legend of Indiana Jones and he was going to resurrect what he viewed was the theft of a priceless historical local artifact, the Cannonsburg cannon that had been missing for a century. Bob prodded old man John Murray for approximately ten years until he passed away in 1943. Murray was born in 1863 and at the time of Walter Tompsetts death he was 22 years of age and carried the dreadful day about 58 years. His eyes filled with tears each time he took Bob on his buggy ride over the creek crossing. Bob always tried to understand his body language and when at sleep this is what created Bob's wildest dream which stroked his intellect and body to find out what happened to the cannon.

Listening to the oral history provided by John Murray and Grandma Herrington (Estella Ward) what they did or didn't say isn't the best reason to start physical digging. Then too, the history book says Le Grande Cannon's name and date given to the township is engraved somewhere on the ordnance or carriage. It was labor intensive and difficult to engrave cannons after being cast. It had to be done by expert foundrymen and not a jo-blow jewelry engraver with a yen to expand his business. Engraving after being cast caused tiny fractures in the gunmetal and this is what caused premature burstings.

For years Bob kept his silence. He wouldn't chance telling any secrets to just anyone, because he never knew who might be listening or watching for they could be the thief in the night to steal his priceless dream cannon. Collectors pay big bucks to historical looters. Bob was Indiana Jones personified and he kept silent secrets from those who might discover his source of information to put the jingle jangle in their pockets rather than keep the cannon for local historical preservation. Bob was going to protect the cannon from outside interests. National treasures have been stolen for centuries and smuggled out of countries of origin to bring value and prestige of ownership to museums, private collectors and government treasuries during wars. Bob didn't want any cannon grave robbers stealing the priceless Cannonsburg cannon.

The art of cannon hunting means more than just listening to oral history. It means the researcher must dig into past history and uncover as much hidden paper evidence as possible. Paper trails reading old books, newspapers through a hundred other sources determines the success or failure of a treasure hunter. Search for secret clues is hard work and it comes from the most unlikely spots just as the cannonballs he found. Death notices, obituaries, memorials in newspapers, but old memoires hidden in walls of old houses too can reveal secrets nobody knew existed. Short today, I've got some appointments to fulfill. Clues lead to...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 45

Iron ore carriers of the Great Lakes started the shipping season on Sat. March 13th. As of last Sat. 20th the Coast Guard ice-breakers rescued several 1000 foot long freighters from ice packs in southern Lake Huron. Weeks of northeast winds broke up ice early shifting it southward. 65,000 tons of coal left Duluth, Minnesota for coal fired power plants and passed through the Sault Ste. Marie (Soo Locks) on Saturday while other iron ore carriers were preparing to sail for steel mills in southern Lake Michigan.

Iron ore is what England had in excess quantities and it took England more than 400 years of purchasing cannons before they had the craftsmen to use their own iron ore. Brass cannons were imported and made everywhere except England. The English were exceptionally good at rigging ships that arrived from New England and Canada after being towed across the North Atlantic. England had exhausted its pine and oak forests before 1700.

Where cannons were made was only dependent on whether or not England was friendly or warring with them. Switzerland, Scotland, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, France, Italy, Spain and Germany were its suppliers, but the true Master founders came from Italy, Germany, France and Spain. England was always at war with them and America (1775-83) and (1812-1818).

Prior to the Civil War very few American gunfounder workers could read or follow blueprints for production of war cannons. Several American private bell foundries did successfully manufacture a few bronze cannons, but they were muzzleloaders and not made according to bronze standards. American founders mixed the copper and tin with other scrap metals, which meant the cannons were cheaply made hollowware (not solid), which had the habit of bursting prematurely when fired. Many inferior bronze cannons burst before the 300th round and that is why the US military refused to purchase them.

Military officers who did were court-martialed, imprisoned or drummed out of the military. Military hardware couldn't be sold to the general public so how could the Cannonsburg cannon have been deemed small military? It's because wealthy individuals could purchase slightly less than military grade from private foundries or they were cannons captured during war or rescued from shipwrecks. Therefore the Cannonsburg cannon wasn't an arsenal piece from the US military. We kept this secret, because original cannons from other countries increased the treasure value of documented history.

The US military had strict regulations and requirements for purchasing cannons from European countries during the Civil War. Many times cannons were purchased for Union and Confederate war operations from the same gunrunners of the same company. When the Civil War hostilites started each side had about 40 cannons with a few bronze cannons made in America. Since bronze resists corrosion, the old Cannonsburg cannon would show no signs of of deterioration even if buried hundreds of years in a cold moisture laden grave beside a small stream or buried in upland soils. The metal wheel shoes (iron and steel) would soften from oxidational rusting unless they were made of white brass. Some carriage wheels didn't have shoe rims.

What was most intriguing at Bob's first big dig site was he dowsed the energy field dimensions of the wheels and the distances between the two-wheel mounts inside the coffer box were larger than the dimensions of any previous small military cannon. This poundage increased the deeper the box sunk, the more sand was pumped or dug out, but no wood fibers or oxidized metal rusting. Bob's use of dowsing rods was being questioned. The energy fields were growing as we got closer and Bob said piece and carriage was still intact.

If the cannon were as big as Bob dowsed we wondered how was he going to raise the cannon weight without destroying the liquified carriage. Carriages were made of oak, not pine. Pine was too soft but it built the British Man of Wars, but oak was sturdy and had weight. Weight of carriage is what keeps them from exploding upward. Getting close to the carriage, the slightest movement of water and soil disbursement would destroy the carriage architecture before we could map it. We tried visualizing whether or not after being buried for 101 years would it simply dissolve with water movement and mining disturbances? When Bob started his search he was looking for just the cannon and wasn't concerned with the carriage.

To authenticate the cannon he needed to find the brass engravement plaque. The engravement might be in the carriage wood. Without the engravement language it couldn't be certified as the Cannonsburg cannon. If the carriage was found he'd have to draw a diagram, the disposition of cannon and carriage. With the history of the cannon missing he couldn't ascertain if the cannon were engraved, a brass plaque installed or was the inscription branded into the wood. Very seldom were cannons engraved after being cast.

Houdini's the five men (Tompsett's friends) weren't and Bob assumed it was a small 6-pound cannon, but the corrected ordnance weight put it in excess of 884 pounds and thas is the same size and weight of each of the Twin Sisters' cannons. Each wheel of the carriage would weigh in from 150-200 pounds each. The trail with tongue spade that keeps in on the ground when cannon is fired would weigh an additional 1,153 pounds for a total of 2,337 pounds.

Bob's nine-foot six-inch long dimensional cannon resting on carriage would weigh 3,493 pounds and require a four-wheeled caisson and 6-8 horses to pull it. That's one horse for each 600 pounds. Two horses couldn't pull this two-wheeled cannon carriage deadweight if stuck in trail sand. Think like a treasure hunter.

How could five men pull and wrestle with such a large cannon and carriage and dig a deep hole in water laden sand the size of a 1976 Gran Torino - Ford automobile within one hour after passing Estella Wards parents house around 5 a.m. Sunday, July, 5, 1885. It took Bob and crew 28 days to find out it wasn't a cannon inside the coffer box, but a (+) formation where two major underground streams intersected with stones encrusted in iron ore remains.

Estella Ward never told Bob how many horses were pulling the cannon, but she did confirm that she saw five men hauling the cannon up the street. He questioned Estella many times trying to spill the beans, but she kept silent. She was a willing participant in the ultimate secret society of Cannonsburg. Bob always said that Estella heard the carriage wheels squeaking loudly as they pulled the cannon up the street. She made no mention of a caisson, but the our crew wondered why didn't the men oil the carriage wheels. They couldn't if made of wood. Any oil on wood it'd swell making it squeak louder and she wouldn't tell Bob how many horses were pulling the cannon.

Estella never mentioned the size of cannon or number of horses. She was sworn to secrecy probably under a death pact not to reveal any information that could lead any future treasure hunters to its resting place. The town physician between 1885-1889 tried to loosen tongues, too, on where the cannon is buried, but alas, after four years of tending to throngs of depressed Cannonburgers he left town and resettled at a Grand Rapids medical school teaching surgery techniques. He could no longer stand the secret silence and the town folks constant depression had finally taken its toll on his psyche so he left. This showed the depth of the ultimate secret societies compassion for the Tompsett's.

It took the original five men in 1885 to get rid of the cannon in one hour. It took seven men in 1986 some 28 days of digging to find out Bob hadn't dowsed a cannon, but a major underground river with two feeder streams with iron ore encrusted stones and deposits with black sand sparkling with real gold and a poliferation of magnetized stones. As a treasure hunter you might have mined the gold, but we couldn't take the chance spectators found out, because the area might be pock-marked with too many additional holes.

When Bob's big dig failed to produce the cannon he found out that he should have done lots more research, the paperwork trails "that lead to clues and more clues" like in National Treasure starring Nicholas Gage, before mounting a physical search. Smart treasure hunters must dig less soil and rock before mounting such a large scale expedition with minimal support. When paper trails diminish, stop or grows cold then you can consider physical action.

Bob was running out of time and options. He didn't have all the answers before he started looking and his research was limited to hearsay clues or what he didn't hear as he listened to oral history. Mr. Murray's body language blindsided his better judgement, but at age 55, the senior status he acquired was beginning to take control of his body; aches and pains getting more prevalent so he decided it was now or never. He wasn't getting younger, but he started somewhere and hoped to succeed. More physical pain lessens mind concentration. The mind's eye takes longer to focus.

At the bottom of the first dig he found no cannon, but mysteries yet to unfold. No public spectators to witness Bob and crews humiliation. We had to figure out what corrupted Bob's dowsing rods and his mind's eye. We had to find a clue that lead to a better understanding of what size cannon he had to envision. No more guessing and miscalculations because of increasing or decreasing energy fields. He had to learn how to use the rods to discern between iron ore, energized stones made of tungsten and lost white brass junk. We found out after the second dig was a bust what size cannon he had to envision while digging hole number three. He had perfected rod useage and we found...

How do you like mysterious cliffhangers?

I've baited the hook, you swallowed both and I set the hook and now I'm washing you without reelin' you in. That's the flickering halo I've told you about - mine flickers, but its that short-circuit flash that keeps your attention! Like Red Green of PBS fame says "Keep your stick on the ice, we're all in this together."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 44

Why would seven Cannonsburg men just shoot off the cannon just to hear it go "BOOM?" Why after it killed Tompsett did the remaining five men bury it so close to town and presumably in the same hole? This is what the ultimate secret society kept hidden from Bob Alcumbrack.

Uncovering secrets left hidden by Cannonsburg's ultimate secret society was a monumental task that stretched our imaginations. Opinions swirled amongst the cannon recovery crew as we acted out different scenes of the Tompsett accident. The only people who like to hear things go "BOOM" are firework pyrotechnicians only today the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms calls them "explosive possessers."

Boom is what gets people at night so excited. The splat across the sky of multi-colored sparks with the occassional earth shaking salutes that sets off car and business security alarms delights the senses. Cannon firings vibrate our ears as the sounds ricochet off metal and stone causing thunderous echoes. The Cannonsburg seven surely wouldn't be rapid firing the cannon just to hear it go boom.

Bob felt they may have shot cannonballs at a distant target because that's the only thing that makes sense. We thought it would be too easy and foolish of them to bury the cannon so close to town. When Bob was digging his first big hole one of my first observations was the fact it couldn't be buried here because the soil being dredged wasn't disturbed soil. Sediment was all the same color. No distortions as if previously disturbed.

The tears in Mr. Murray's eyes at the trail bridge convinced Bob it was close, but Bob never said when Mr. Murray's eyes began to tear, but a least he knew where he stopped sniffling. Had they not dug up the cannon the first time the nightmare wouldn't have happened. When Bob was a junior private detective. His ears strained to hear the oldtimers talking amongst themselves. He'd hope to catch a secret, but many of the original seven were either dead and several moved out of Cannonsburg for fear they couldn't keep silent.

Fred Thomas, the missing man, the one drunk on hard cider within several years married Bertha Tuffle of Ionia and left Cannonsburg. Fred's father was John Thomas and his grandfather's was James Thomas, highway commissioner and reportedly one of the original four town elders that buried the cannon first on July 3, 1885.

Bob said he didn't conduct an exhaustive search for cannonballs on distant hills. He thought they were shooting stones, but stones would be more dangerous to fire at distant targets. Distortions in weight would cause them to alter course and yet we all wondered when did they stop shooting cannonballs and switch to stones? In olden days the stones were encased in lead while they sat in moulds. In Bob's mind he had to find a 3.62" diameter to fit a 6-pound cannon. That's a mighty big cannonball to be rocketing over Cannonsburg, when in reality the cannonball found was almost half that diameter at 1.87", but he didn't know that until two years after his big dig failed to produce bronze, but gold.

The blacksmith shop in Cannonsburg could have made cannonballs for Fourth of July celebrations, but none had been found in the vicinity of this shop. George Inwood, a member of the 1885 firing group was a stone mason. As such he would have had the skill to collect certain round stones earlier. He was the stone mason that built the spring house near the Wabasis Lake boat launch. James Thomas was the blacksmith in 1867, but when he sold that business was a mystery.

Bob said he didn't search any distant hillsides except for the Nesbitt (Schipper) property for iron or lead cannonballs. He thought surely they wouldn't fire cannonballs over the town since area population was expanding. I challenged his mind and body with supposition that why would they fire an old cannon just to hear it go 'boom.' He always said they fired the cannon towards the east, but if so, how was it that townspeople could see the smoke bellow over Cannonsburg? If it didn't why did storefront windows rattle? The crew thought the percussions would be greatest in direction of shot fired. But then again surely the village officials wouldn't let them fire balls over the town to the northwest or north?

Bob didn't explore other hillsides, except for eastward. Charcoal markings on stones would have washed off over a hundred years, but not rifling marks. Rigling marks are the ballistics of discovery and could be used to date the cannon from whence fired. Since Bob hadn't found any cannonballs prior to 1986 how could he know what kind of cannon and what size cannoball or stones it shot? I pointed out because the newspaper and history book said it was a small military cannon didn't mean it was the smallest in U.S. military requirements - a 6-pound cannon. He assumed it was a pre-Civil War 6-pound U.S. military cannon, but these were captured guns before 1850 from England. That's mostly iron with few brass. Bob felt that since the cannon had been repeatedly fired for 38-years without premature incidences it had to be a brass cannon.

Last year some folks over in Lowell, Michigan were seeking information where the cannon that rests in their Oakwood cemetery originates. History about the old piece was lost, but one local man assumed it was made in Boston during the Civil War. Wrong, we in America didn't have the ability to create cannons until the end of the Civil War. What they knew was that it was a nine-pound cannon. I assume it is one of the French guns that came into America with French freedom fighters during the American Revolutionary war. I've only seen the cannon in the newspaper in 2009, but what I've heard is that this cannon has no markings, decorations, seals or crests so it has no historical significance. It might have been an experimental gun or a reproduction, probably because many war cannons were recycled for the Spanish American or World War I, like in World War II and the original history was lost when smelted down. Even American's engraved cannons when captured or made. Most without inscriptions are reproductions.

Bob did find cannonballs, not one or two, but this didn't happen until 1988 during digging operations on his third big dig. We kept this secret from the public. Where found? Well that's a secret you'll learn, not now. I want to provoke you to think like a treasure hunter. That's part of our mystery expedition. I want to show you how important it is in your life and how revelant the history of our lives are in our own communities where historical treasures exist. The secret cannon is shrouded in mystery and intrigue, but it is real history and not fictional junk.

The Cannonburg cannon was made of bronze, a good quality muzzleloader specimen, because it had been repeatedly fired safely for 38 years, while other iron cannons had fallen from grace at 20 years of age and this is why so many lives were being lost firing old post Civil War era cannons. The Twin Sisters' of Texas fall in this group. Average life span for iron cannons is 20 years, but a brass cannon's life expectancy was indefinite. Kings and queens did have problems with bronze cannons, too. Many of the earliest cannons were muzzleloaders, but breechloaders were too expensive and many failed to proof so muzzleloaders were favored most by artillerymen until the 1700's.

Only a handful of breechloaders were availabe before 1850, but again breechloader era originates from c. 1460-70, but only on field carriages. Bronze breechloaders were made in Scotland and Switzerland 1460-70 an known for safe quick rapid fire salvos. With breechloaders the men servicing the cannon never stood in front of the muzzle using a ramrod to nest powder and shot, which was the secret proof of the Cannonsburg cannon's existence.

Prior to 1860 most of the cannons in the U.S. military were muzzleloaders and American breechloaders didn't appear until 1861, but dominated military forces before 1870. England and France made breechloaders before 1850, but weren't reliable and had a tendency to misfire or explode before the 27th firing. They were more detrimental to artillerymen moral than the enemies and defects in casting since 1460. America didn't possess the knowledge or experience to manufacture cannons until 1836 in Cincinnati, Ohio. We were infants. We cut captured guns apart to make moulds, but few proofed, so we used captured or bought guns until the middle of the Civil War.

Muzzleloading cannons had been in use since the late 1300's. It took the British more than 400 years of trial and errors (death) to finally make our own cannons. England found out how much gunpowder to use or not overcharge with the deaths of thousands. Dead men can't speak what went wrong. Why the guns failed to proof and those who died as a result of sloppy workmanship is known only to God.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 43

When Bob Alcumbrack started his first major dig for the Cannonsburg cannon he thought he had all the necessary tools to accomplish his mission. Having all the right tools of any trade is a prerequisite of life. Mechanics need specialized tools to get the job done right. Bob had bilge pumps for water removal from the tank, but for clean water only, but alas what he needed was pumps that could handle debris.

The Cannonsburg seven firing the cannon needed specific tools to servicethe cannon, but some tools had one on each end of the rods, like powder-scoops and ramrods to nest powder, shot and wadding into the bore. Six specific tools were needed for servicing a cannon. That's six tools necessary for safe cannon loading and consider these military accessories. During the Civil War a 6-pound cannon was serviced not by seven men, but 21 men due to the enormous amount of supplies each battery had to supply. It wasn't just the cannon, but the caissons, tools and ammunition, which weighed in at nearly two tons and military requires one horse for each hundredth total weight.

Probably the most important was (1) the thumbstall, a leather pouch or sheath used for protection of the gunner's thumb, which when placed down over the vent prevents oxygen from entering the hot chamber while the powder and shot are rammed down and nested. There is a stark difference between iron and brass cannons after first firing. Iron cannons are exceedingly hot - to hot to touch the metal barrel. A good brass cannon would be cool to the touch. So cool a stick of butter wouldn't melt. That's the proof difference between brass and iron. It takes many repeated firings to melt butter on a brass cannon. The core heat from a 6-pound iron cannon after one firing is 575 degrees F., which makes the outside surface metal too hot to touch.

A (2) quadrant was used in hand to elevate the angle of barrel. An elevation rise of 5 degrees could send a projectile downrange one mile, the cannonball or stones hitting a target in four seconds. It reached the target before anyone heard the blast. Many English cannons had a device for raising cannons, but when captured by Americans we destroyed this when we put old cannons on new carriages. In doing so American guns were inferior in relation to superior English cannons.

The (3) rammer or ramrod, was used for pushing the powder, shot and wadding into the bore and nesting it in the bottom chamber. The (4) sponge-rod, was used for swabbing and cleaning out the bore of debris and glowing embers inside the bore between shots. Failure to use this rod after each firing was suicide. The (5) worm rod, was used to clear out obstructions, like damp charges or burning debris from the bore or hold rags soaked in vinegar when cleaning the cannon bore. The (6) powder-scoop was used to measure out a precise amount of loose gunpowder if premeasured bagged charges were absent. These were the military required specific tools needed for the art of safe gunnery.

Our group believed that when Walter Tompsett was critically injured by the premature explosion they didn't have all the necessary tools to fire it safely. We felt this is one of the reasons why the Cannonsburg town elders buried the cannon the day before the accident. The Federal government was urging villages to either bury, dismember, smash, discard or recycle old cannons, but most of these cannons were 25-year old wrought iron cannons were post Civil War. These were the guns that were prematurely exploding because of fatigued metal. Another reason why the government was discouraging towns from firing the old weapons was that so many of those injured or killed never had any strict artillery training. Those who fought in the Civil War wanted nothing to do with military cannons. Firing a cannon takes discipline and those servicing such weapons of destruction can't be distracted from firing point procedures.

Four of seven young men were distracted when loading the Cannonsburg cannon. The sponge and worm rod weren't used to clean out burning debris and glowing embers from the bore before loading. Had they used these tools it wouldn't have exploded prematurely, but equally important was the fact the vent man was distracted and raised his thumb allowing oxygen to enter, which in turn brightened the glowing embers and instantaneous ignition. Strict artillery procedures were circumvented and Tompsett's accident was inevitable. Missing tools, mistakes in judgement and distractions of non-artillery trained men were the liabilities of the accident. This is what the town elders tried to stop by burying the cannon on July 3rd, but they should have buried it long before Fourth of July and kept their mouths shut where it was buried.

The mistakes of all cost Tompsett his life on July 5, 1885, by a small military improperly serviced. Sponge and worm rods are safety requirements for entire the battery of men servicing the cannon. The bore is wormed of obstructions and sponged out with water and vinegar to extinguish any glowing embers clinging inside the bore and to soften and remove soot from last shot fired. Before loading with fresh gunpowder, the thumbstall man presses his thumb down on the vent hole while the rammer, with ramrod in hand pushes powder and shot down the bore. The gun is aimed on orders from the gunner as he sights along the barrel using a quadrant and then primes the vent holes for ignition. The gun fires, but the Cannonsburg cannon prematurely exploded.

Evidently the Cannonsburg seven were quick firing the cannon, but since none had any military training or knowledge of the strict disciplines of gunnery and they weren't using the specific tools. Again none of the town elders were teaching the younger men how to fire the cannon. The sponge rod, the worm rod weren't used, but the thumbstall man removed his leather encased thumb from the vent hole causing premature ignition of sparks to powder. A distraction caused him to momentarily remove his thumb.

A thumbstall is a piece of leather tied around a thumb for vent suffocation. Its similar to a rubber pouch which when used by Postal Workers helps them sort mail faster or food workers who use sharp knives to protect fingers when peeling fruits and vegetables.

It's the missing tools which prompted Cannon town elders to bury the cannon. They feared it was only time before the lack of artillery training and lost tools would result in a premature explosion that might kill or injure some young man. Repeated government warnings couldn't be ignored any longer and the threats of providing liability insurance was an expense small villages couldn't afford. Cannon township men had been firing the cannon for almost 38 years. Iron cannons were what was causing all the ruckus -- delibus ones - to old to be safely fired. Because the Cannonsburg cannon being fired repeatedly over 38 years meant the cannon must be brass, but lost tools is what prompted town elders to consider getting rid of the cannon.

Bob started digging in July 1986 and four hundred years earlier (July 1586), Maurine of Nassau, Prince or Orange (1567-1625), the Dutch son of "William the Silent" of the Netherlands commenced battering Spanish rule with 36 cannons. His cannons reported all day without intermission "for he had his charges of powder ready in bags" and beside them were milk and vinegar and all supplies to clean and cool the pieces (cannon or ordnances).

The English, French and Italians all used water and vinegar to clean and cool pieces between shots. Vinegar was a quick cooling agent, but when combining vinegar and water on blistered skin it cools. Never use just vinegar on large areas of sunburned skin since vinegar causes an immediate cooling effect. Too much vinegar over large areas on the hottest of summer days leads to hypothermia, the same as wind to cold core body temperatures after a cold swim on hot summer days.

Had the Cannonsburg seven swabbed the cannon, the Tompsett accident wouldn't have happened. Newspaper accounts about the tragic accident report that Tompsett was the only one critically injured, but we wondered why Fred Thomas and John Murray showed the most grief to the whole accident. John Murray's facial expressions, tears and remorse at the trail crossing was Bob Alcumbrack's biggest faulty clue to the possible whereabouts of the missing cannon. Beyond the creek is where Murray's tears ended. He felt it must be buried closeby.

Fred Thomas reportedly was too drunk on hard cider to help bury the cannon a second time. In a drunken stupor he might lead them to the last burial site so the remaining five left him in town, because he couldn't be trusted. Bob thought this was the reason. To my thinking could it be that Thomas was made purposely drunk, because as rammer he was enveloped in the flash burn and shock by the blast and suffering severe burn pain. Walter was standing with cannonball in hand next to Fred, his knee partially in line with cannon muzzle. John Murray released his leaden thumb stall briefly from the vent hole allowing oxygen to brighten glowing embers igniting scooped gunpowder and instantly exploded.

"BOOM!" Flash, bellowing smoke and Walter Tompsett thrown outward as Tompsett's screaming brought the picnic festivities to an end. Many a soldier has seen the flash and felt the sting of shrapnel before the noise. When the noise stopped reverbrating Tompsett lay screaming with nones and flesh scattered across the ground with Fred Thomas in severe pain, the others in disbelief and shock. This is the horrible scene Murray remembered for more almost 60 years. None of the remaining mens eyes showed as many tears as Murray's nor did they show such intense facial expressions of sadness. The entire village was gripped with intense emotions, so deep was the grief of residents, the village was locked in extreme depression for more than five years. The ultimate secret society was born upon Tompsett's death. Enough for today...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 42

Believe-it-or-not when Bob Alcumbrack started his exploratory dig for the missing Cannonsburg cannon he thought perhaps the gun was less than 50 years old. The misnomer it was a small military cannon is what he got wrong. He thought the cannon must be brass because after many repeat firings at celebratory functions it never prematurely exploded during its 38 year history in Cannon Township.

The Cannonsburg cannon was made between 1635-1743 and the barrel of every gun made in existence before a king or queen has decorations, marking and reliefs when cast. Four categories: (1) pure art (2) founders signature and date (3) facts about the gun owner (4) ordnance marks. Engraving cannons many years after being cast is almost impossible on iron cannons, because it causes tiny fractures within the metal causing metal fatigue and accidental bursting.

Imagine what Mary, Queen of Scots and Mary I coat-of-arms quartered with England, France and Spain's coat-of-arms might have resembled and how hard it would be to deciphercannon history. ECU professor Rodgers said they couldn't understand the decorations, because they didn't have these reliefs in any publications. They hadn't seen anything like the decorations on the cannon dredged up from the Atlantic Ocean in a commercial fishing net.

This is not to say that brass cannons couldn't be engraved after casting, because many specialty British cannons with illustrious histories were engraved post battle with American capture history and recaptured by the British. I suspected for this reason Mr. Cannon had a brass plaque attached to the carriage and that is what Bob had to find to historically authenticate the Cannonsburg cannon. Finding just the piece would render it another marina landscape cannon unless it was engraved with Le Grand Cannon's name when given to Cannonsburg town elders in 1848.

Well you now have some insights into the problems associated with cannon manufacturing. The first four hundred years of cannon manufacturing was done outside of England. England didn't have copper and lead. These were imported in the country beginning in late 1600's.

In 2008-09, Odyssey Marine Excavations of Florida, a treasure hunting group using towed sonar discovered the shipwreck location of a 17th century ship they dubbed the "Meat Wagon" southeast of England. The vessel was loaded with lead bound for England and it sunk with the world's richest cargo of lead and today's value places its worth at 100 million dollars. Because you find something in the world's oceans doesn't mean finders keepers.

It wasn't until the late 1600's the England started casting its own iron cannons with many imperfections due to bad kings, queens and subordinates who cheated craftsmen out of money owed or those who scrimped to make faulty cheap cannons. The English monarchy at time didn't care how many of their loyal countrymen lost their lives and limbs. The monarchy always claimed they had the best weapons and the king's artillerymen thought he wouldn't put them in harms way. Many within England had only eyes for money and lives lost were just collatorable damage due to war. Many cannons exploded and the shrapnel from the burst cannon killed whole batteries of men and those servicing it.

The Cannonsburg cannon prematurely exploded killing only Walter Tompsett. The piece didn't disintegrate. He lost his life approximately 13 hours after he had been struck by premature explosion of the piece, which sent the ramrod that just nested the gunpowder charge rocketing out striking his knee. Why was Tompsett standing in front of the cannon is what puzzled Bob. That puzzled us, too, but Bob Alcumbrack assumed Tompsett was distracted by someone and didn't realize he was standing too close. Bob was correct in assuming that the seven men wouldn't be content to shoot off the cannon, see the flash, smoke and hear the awesome blast listening to the repercussions and echoes up distant valleys.

The men had to be shooting cannonballs or stones. He searched for cannonballs and stones on distant hillsides, but never found any to substantiate they were live firing the cannon. After 100 years the exposed iron balls would be mostly rust and the scorched by fire stones would have been washed clean by acid rain. What he didn't understand that many stones were covered with lead, the weight of the metal made the stones fly farther. This was another silent secret we didn't share with the public.

When supplies of English cannonballs dwindled they substituted iron balls for bluestones that were heavy in weight. Bluestones could be found throughout England and in the vicinity of Stonehenge. These stones along with round pibble stones were shot from small cannons like poop deck and swivel guns. American artillerymen used greenstones - heavy in weight and dipped in lead. This was a secret we didn't share because we didn't need throngs of other artifact and would-be cannon hunters digging holes and trespassing on private property. We sought to keep our expedition a controlled hunt. Bob was digging enough holes, lots of holes and we couldn't chance outside influences tarnishing our resolve to treat other property owners with respect.

Another problem with the accident was Bob never anyone who could substantiate whether the seven men were using a powder-scoop to load loose-powder or gunpowder bags. No matter because the outcome would have produced the same tragic result. Three men were at fault and one lost his life, because he bled to death before physicians could save his life. Bob also miscalculated how the ramrod from a 6-pound cannon ramrod could strike Tompsett in the knee was a mystery. He assumed the carriage wheels were nestled deep in soil, but if the the blast was as 'awesome' as eyewitnesses said, the force would have flipped the cannon. It needed to recoil.

If the ramrod shot from a 6-pound cannon struck Tompsett in the knee it should have struck him in the upper abdomen or the rod could have cut him in two pieces or killed instantly. Bob envisioned the men nesting the carriage wheels in sand and blocked them, but old cannons needed to recoil to keep them from exploding upward and flipping. Six-pound cannons rested atop heavy wooden timbers made of oak and mounted 54-inch wheels putting the piece 48-inches above the ground. This fact alone proved that Bob's six-pound cannon was more mythical, a ghost cannon rather than factual. He based the cannon size because the smallest U.S. military ordnance was a 6-pound iron or brass cannon. If the later he had to find the brass plaque.

The life expectancy of a brass cannon is unlimited in battle, but iron cannons burst before the 30th firing in succession or anytime before the 300th firing. Brass cannons can be fired 130 times or more in one day and it can be fired an unlimited amount of time before bursting. The Cannonsburg cannon didn't just prematurely explode because it was 'delibus'. It was missing the necessary tools or someone else made a mistake in loading it. The Cannonsburg town elders who buried the cannon the first time probably did so because the Federal government was warning town officials that many cannons were nearing the milestone firing. That alone was a good reason to get rid of the old cannons - destroy or recycle them. See you next time for more interesting stories about the Cannonsburg cannons disappearance and whether or not Bob actually found the cannon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 41

When Bob Alcumbrack found the three cannonballs it was the break he and crew needed to hone his dowsing skills. At least now he had physical evidence that the Cannonsburg cannon really existed and wasn't just legendary. The size of the ball at 1.87" suggests it was shot from a 2.01 inch bore English cannon called a Falconet and not necessarily a Falcon, but we had to consider the fact the diameter sizes might be a different size for a French falconnett.

The cannonballs found indicated the cannon would have been cast before 1643, because after that date an English falconet's bore chamber increased to 2.25 inches, which made the cannonball to small for safe cannon firing. What also dates the cannon is whether or not the balls had been fired. The striations on a fired ball changed about 1716, but the balls Bob found weren't fired so don't construe this as not being from the cannon. The striations on fired cannonballs are the forensic ballistics of all shells. These striations appear on all fired shells whether from cannons, rifles and pistols.

At least the cannonballs found gave Bob a physical characteristic indicating type of cannon he should envision, but with the evidence presented he still had trouble picturing a cannon that could be anywhere from 44-72 inches long. The cannon might be of English, French, Spanish, Danish or Austrian design. Just because Bob found three virgin cannonballs (secret not previously mentioned) didn't mean they could be fired from the Cannonsburg cannon. Bob assumed they were keepsake balls from the cannon, but per chance they might have been remembrance heirlooms from a different cannon.

Bob had a 50/50 chance the balls could or couldn't be from the Cannonsburg cannon, but what increased the odds to 80/20 was the fact the cannonballs were found amongst the possessions of one of the founding fathers of Cannon Township and he buried the cannon before the Tompsett accident. Say it was you who found the cannonballs under the same conclusions would you continue the search with a positive mindset or would you go with a negative mindset and forget digging for the cannon?

When you launch an expedition and are engaged in treasure hunting it is best to find some sort of tangible evidence before you commit lots of expeditures of cash for supplies and equipment. Wrong or right this is what Bob did when he found one primary and two secondary sites for possible digging, but his only evidence was hardcopy documentation. One newspaper article and one book entry is all. He didn't have any physical in hand evidence, but with the virgin cannonballs he was energized like that pink bunny.

Trial and error is the best way to learn whether something will work or not. Those who succeed without ever failing don't know what it took to make it succeed and many times get frustrated when it breaks and they can't fix it. Everything looks great on paper until physical labor begins and that's when you find out if your dream can be fulfilled. Waiting until you have all the pieces doesn't mean you'll be anymore successful, but at least you tried to make something work and forgot about possible failures.

Trial and error in cannon founding was exhausting work and many crafters died needlessly trying to perfect the art of cannon founding. When we left the Verburggens' in 1756 Jan Verbruggens started casting solid guns, then drilled out the core last replacing casting guns on a core. King George II was impressed with the Verbruggens new technology of core drilling and he appointed them Master gun-founders at Woolrich. The Verbruggens churned out many cannons for ten years until subordinates filed papers of protests against them with the Dutch War Office charging them with hiding from King George serious mistakes in cannon founding when installing new furnaces.

The two brothers were concealing shoddy workmanship by covering up irregularities in cannon founding and the Verbruggens were ordered to stop production until the Dutch commission had appointed a Stadtholder (DU Chief Magistrate) in 1765. Cannons weren't being proofed and too many of King George's artillerymen were being killed by first firing cannons. For too long two bad kings, the father and grandfather of King George III scrimped to save time and money at the expense of loyal artillerymen. Englands oldest cannons went to America for the American Revolutionary War (1775-83) and the War of 1812 (1812-18). During both wars America had to overcome many disadvantages, however, during each war America was ill prepared, too, because it lacked trained artillerymen and infantrymen.

Americans believed they could fight off a British invasion by using a citizen militia. We did defeat the professionally trained British navy and army. We had to endure lots of trial and error tactics before we got it right and certain American's took this challenge seriously and we prevailed. The War of 1812 wasn't popular with all on either side of the Atlantic and didn't support the entire population in America or Great Britian. Many in America were willing to support British rule, but President James Madison and President James Monroe fought to win and keep our fledgling nation a democratic country.

War is never popular, but once you start you finish it no matter when people change their minds or beliefs and no longer support the President. He's the leader, but you continue to support America and its troops wherever they are fighting in harms way and stay the course until you win or lose. Today the terrorists win and democracy dies when you don't win to succeed lest you become submissive to terrorism and lose. Fight to win or be the doormat to failure. Kings and Presidents have always been unpopular with large populations of its people who feel vulnerable when the fight is NIMBY (not in my back yard).

Americans have always fought for the rights of others whether inside or outside America. That's our heritage since the frontier days of Davey Crockett and Jim Bowie. They fought for Independents fighting for democracy. They sacrificed for the benefit of others. Fight to stay free otherwise radical terrorists will extinguish democracy and our rights to live as free people.

The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the 911 World Trade Center terrorist attack happened in America, but the terrorists targeted all the countries of the world including America and they did so without warning or announcing war declarations. The radical extremists wanted to exterminate democracy and religions of others. Fight or die. Win or lose. When verbal threats don't work to change circumstances that's when war action starts. Our founding fathers wanted something better than English rule. Ignoring terrorist problems elsewhere because its "not in your back yard" is a like stuffing your head down a gopher hole so you won't see or hear terrorists until you feel the heat flame your ass. To a radical terrorist its embrace Islamic law or die. Ignore terrorism and your ass will pass your head when the bomb goes off stamping out our democracy and freedom forever. Freedom isn't a free! That's what Americans have been doing since 1775.

Payment of exorbitant taxes on tea importation from England is what started the Boston Tea Party, the dumping of tea into the Boston harbor. Americans were seething mad and this is what started the America Revolutionary War. Duty taxes were rising and Americans didn't like funding the monarchy of Britian and ruling them as subjects under Crown rule. We were being taxed to oblivion without representation.

Most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence who sat around a table drinking Goldenrod tea died horrible deaths. The signers along with family members were murdered or killed and houses and farms burned to the ground by British officials. They paid with their lives for signing our freedom document.

Look where our American government has taken us today. Everything is taxed. Taxed without representation from the people. Taxed by Congress who won't listen to the people. Taxed by President Obama. Spend, spend, spend, tax, tax, tax is what President Obama believes to rescue us from our dung heap of economic distress instead of taking aim at greedy investors, oil barrens and dysfunctional financial companies who support predatory lending practices.

The people continue to get the shaft by Congress and the President. The peoples investments, pensions and retirement funds were stolen and those who got the TARP funds and stimulus capital who caused the problems get rewarded and the people get stuck with higher interests rates on loans, credit cards and higher taxes. The economy is in shambles and unemployment is rampant and the treasonous greed of others the people bailed out are reaping huge bonuses and the government is running amok threatening the people with higher taxes again to pay for the new health care debacle. Prison convicts have a better life than citizens. They get room, board, food, recreation, education all free from tax duty, while the people live in a tax troubled environment.

The President says Americans should save more money. We can't when he wants more of what we earn and he's wasting it by spending before we've earned it. Americans can't save money when the people are being taxed to death. Taxed beyond representation by Congress and the President is the fault of the people. Congress is dysfunctional. They work for us - not themselves. We are not willing to fight big government intrusions into our lives and now the President and Congress wants to rule not from the will of the people, but by wishful fulfillment of his campaign unsound promises with predatory spend and tax practices.

Government ownership of failing businesses, banks, health care and people is not democracy. It is Socialism, the same type of government people had in Russia or Soviet Union. Government ownership of private corporations is not democracy rule, but dictatorial or radical. American's should tax Congressional pension benefits higher than the people for taking us into a tax hellhole without people representation. This is exactly what England did to Americans that led to the American Revolutionary War. People representation was absent. Stop the proliferatory and predator taxation without voter approval. Demand it!

It takes two wings for a bird to fly. Congress has two wings, the conservative and liberal, the republicans and democrats. The independents get the tail. Since a bird can't fly with one wing, why should the people believe the Democrats and President can pass health care reform with one wing to make the health care successful. That's an unnatural act and defies the laws of nature. The spendthrifts are destroying our return to economic recovery with threats of even higher tax spending. This ends my diatribe on tax prophetizing for what I see from a historian standpoint. Various kings and queens had different perspectives on how to protect homelands, the good, bad and ugly shortcuts taken to save money at the expense of artillerymen lives. Many soldiers and sailors sacrificed their lives for God, country and cheap King's or Queen's never realizing they might die sooner because of shoddy cannon founders.

Our forefathers and fathers died to keep our freedoms alive, but today that is being stripped away. Our lives, liberties and the pursuit of happiness with justice for all is flying in the face of extinction. History is repeating itself and as Americans we've forgotten the lessons our forefathers learned and are now complacent to let our politicians and President's decide our future. Just as they had the Boston Tea Party it's time to empower the people again to use tea and coffee parties and take the government to task for misrepresentating the people.

Next time we'll get into what possibly went wrong when Walter Tompsett was killed and more secrets will be resurrected. Until then as Red Green of PBS fame would say "We're all in this together."