Friday, April 10, 2009

Did anyone really know what time it was?

How time was kept and regulated in the years before 1883, and especially during the turbulent Civil War years, was chaotic. Time balls, Noon Marks, and the widespread use of almanacs helped 19th century Americans determine what time it was in their locality. But when one traveled confusion reigned, often with tragic results.

Historian Arthur Candenquist is presenting a program at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 19, in the John Barton Payne Building that examines the importance of almanacs and time signals to 19th century life, how time was kept and regulated, and how the absence of standard time led to disastrous train wrecks. The free program is sponsored by the Fauquier Heritage Institute and Fauquier County Public Library.

Mr. Candenquist will explain how time was regulated by the armies from 1861 to 1865 and will discuss the possibility that non-synchronized watches may have played a role in their lack of success on the battlefield.

We take time standardization for granted now, but less than 100 years ago there was no standard of time, so examining life in the 19th century might make us stop to wonder: Did anyone really know what time it was?

Mr. Candenquist has been a serious scholar of the War Between the States since 1956 and focuses his attention on the more unusual and lesser-known aspects of the war. He has lectured extensively on wartime railroads, the role of Masons during the war, the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid on Richmond, and the war in Virginia.

The Fauquier Heritage Institute was created to promote the study and love of Virginia and American history. To that end, the Institute hosts public lectures that seek to provide knowledge, understanding and appreciation of our local, regional and national history.

The institute welcomes volunteers to serve in a variety of capacities. Contact Program Co-Chairs Mrs. Paula Johnson at (540) 341-7019; or Mrs. Jackie Lee at (540) 347-0607, for more information.

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