Martha Isabella Hopkins Barbour
Reproduced from a daguerreotype in the possession of Rhoda van Bibber Tanner Doubleday.
p111 July 1st — I slept but little last night, yet I feel much better this morning than I expected. Yesterday was, I may say, a day of horror, my dearest husband was obliged from duty to leave me.a It was a great trial for us both. He has more command over his feelings than I have, but it was evident that it required great firmness on his part to keep from giving way. I know I ought to think of the mercies and blessings of God, that he has permitted me to spend two weeks of uninterrupted happiness with my husband. This last meeting was a pleasure unexpected to us both and will ever remain a bright spot in our existence. I have just taken my coffee and think it has refreshed me. It was very difficult for me to keep my tears in the rear while at breakfast. I thought what a change a few hours had made in our little family circle. He who was the life and light of us all was gone, and each one seemed to feel his absence. There is every appearance of a bright and pleasant day and I hope it may continue. That the sea will be smooth, and my p112 husband arrive soon and safely at Matamoras. What delight it will afford him to hear on reaching there that the 3d is to garrison that place. How soon I will fly to meet him.
Wednesday night, 1st — This has been a very long day to me. I thought it would never end. I have employed myself sewing on my dear husband's shirts. This afternoon the General and Mrs. McLeod called. They sat some time. I really felt in better spirits after they left, but no one can fill up the vacuum caused by my husband's absence. Tedious are the hours when he is away. The night is calm, and the moon sends forth her soft and mellow light to guide the "Alabama" on her way, and by tomorrow's dawn she will land my treasure at Point Isabel. The mosquitoes are so troublesome that I shall be forced to put my writing by.
Thursday, 2d — It is now 6 o'clock. I have been up more than an hour. Can't say I feel refreshed as I spent a wakeful night. I am glad to see the sun shining out so brightly after the hard rain we had last night, and there was no wind with the rain. I think it could not have inconvenienced the "Alabama" yet I thought of my husband, and wished he was on terra firma. This morning I presume he is, and even at this early hour is writing to his absent wife. I don't know how this day will pass off. Will give an account this evening. (Thursday evening.) I have been engaged today in arranging p113 a room upstairs to occupy during the summer. My cousin, Mrs. Anderson, has worked herself almost to death in assisting me and tonight I am snugly fixed in the room. Mrs. Love and Mrs. Eve called this afternoon and gave me a kind invitation to visit them. I had quite an agreeable surprise just before tea. Dr. Anderson came in and handed me two letters. I found one of them was from my friend Jennie, and in it a nice note from her to my husband which I shall certainly send to him in my letter. The other was to my husband. I opened it and found it was from our mutual friend, Guy; he expected it would find Cousin Phil here, and I am truly obliged to him for writing it as it cheers me up my much. He writes with so much spirit and humor that one is forced to laugh when reading anything from his pen. He thinks the war is over. God grant it may be.
July 3d — I slept well last night, rose at my usual hour this morning, made up my bed and swept out my room before breakfast. Have been reading extracts from Fenelon; how perfectly he was acquainted with the human heart. I can't feel easy in mind until I know that the war is ended. Wonder what my dear husband is doing, poor fellow. He is exposed to this scorching sun, with only a miserable tent over his head. This has been the warmest day I ever felt.
July 4th — This has been quite a pleasant day. The breeze has been from the south. Wrote a long letter p114 to my husband. Writing to him is the only pleasure I have during his absence. Walked over late this afternoon to General McLeod's. Took tea there and on returning home found quite a houseful of company. Capt. Randolph, U. S. N.,b among the number, was very particular to converse with Capt. R. Another week has gone and in looking back I can see nothing I have done toward benefiting my fellow creatures. I do no good in this world. I fear I am selfish. If I am I pray for grace to overcome it.
July 5th — This has been a sad day with us all. My aunt left for Kentucky and we feel quite lonely. The reflection that she will soon see her children and be happy reconciles us to her absence. I shall miss her more than any one about the house for she watched over me in the absence of my husband as though I had been a tender plant. When I find no earthly friend upon whom I can call, I trust my heart will be drawn near to God, and I may find Him ready and willing to support me under all vicissitudes of life. I know if I put my whole trust and confidence in Him, He will supply the place of husband and friends, and in His own good time unite my husband and I,º never more to be separated. Faith has kept my spirits from sinking often, and if I exercise it, I will still be enabled to look to the "bright side of the picture." God grant that I may.
p115 July 6th — Wrote to my husband today, through General Cazneau.c Heard of his safe arrival at Point Isabel. Fear it will be some time before I get a letter from him as there is no route, but New Orleans. The steamer "Telegraphe" arrived here this afternoon. Left Point Isabel yesterday morning. Brings no news from the Army except all is quiet. If my dear husband had known of this vessel coming to Galveston I am sure he would have sent a letter to his Mattie. When I first saw her coming in, my thought was — now for a letter from Cousin Phil, but the next that he would not be aware of her coming and I must not expect a letter, for I would certainly be disappointed. I must give myself credit for some philosophy. We miss Aunt much, but are getting on so far finely. Sarah and I have spent a pleasant day together. This afternoon we made some calls and tonight I feel very much fatigued but hope to rest well. Before this hour "my own one" is quietly sleeping upon his rude couch. I look forward with almost certainty that we will be settled this fall. How happy we will be when sitting around our "own fireside" and talking over the events of '45 and '46.
July 7th — This day has passed away very quietly. Late in the afternoon I walked over to see my good friend, Mrs. Doswell. Found her little boy quite sick. Her husband left on the "Galveston" for Virginia. She seems very lonely. I know how to sympathize with her. After tea tonight Sallie and p116 I went in the buggy, accompanied by Uncle Levi on horseback down to Col. Rhodes'.d It is •about four miles below the beach. We had a delightful ride. The moon never shone more brightly, the tide was low and scarcely a riffle upon the Gulf. I wish my husband could have been with us. He would have enjoyed it so much. I feel very sleepy, it must be near 12 o'clock.
July 8th — I have nothing to record new or startling that has occurred today. I have been very busy sewing on my blue dress which my husband got for me. Think when finished it will please him. Had a talk today with Uncle Levi relative to my health. He thinks exercise on horseback will be the best thing for me. Says he has a beautiful little pony which he will send down the Island for, and keep it here for me to ride. I am sure it will be very kind of him to do it and I will take great delight in accepting the offer. Mr. & Mrs. McKinney took tea with us this evening and rode home by moonlight. Sallie and I walked over to see Mrs. McLeod and sit until tea time. I have an opportunity of sending a letter tomorrow to my dear husband. How much pleasure it will give me to write it, bless his heart. I wonder what he is doing now.
July 9th — Have sewed very steadily today. This afternoon we found a very large melon in the garden. Uncle Levi went over for General McLeod's p117 family to come and help us eat it and Mrs. McLeod insisted that we should all go back with them and take tea which we did, and spent the evening pleasantly. We were disappointed in our ride in the "Eureka." The wind was not fresh enough for it to run. Tomorrow night we hope to enjoy it. General McLeod thinks (but does not know positively) that he will go to Matamoras in the "Alert." I wish I knew certainly about his going. I should like to send some nicknacks to my dear husband.
July 10th — Another day gone and no news from my dear husband. I have kept up my spirits so far but really if I do not get a letter soon I shall give up. I want to hear from him, how he is and what are the prospects of the war ending. I would not be surprised if after peace is established, that he resigns. We would be mighty happy in some quiet spot of our own. There is no one that enjoys domestic life more than my husband, and it shall be my happiness always to make his home pleasant.
July 11th — I feel so unwell tonight that I can't attempt to record the events of the day. One I will mention. The arrival of Cousin Jack on the "New York." He says he left my husband very well the 8th of this month. Cousin Jack is much sunburnt, with that exception he looks the same. He seems as delighted to see me as if I was a sister. I feel interested p118 in his welfare and do hope he will turn out well.
July 12th — Another Sabbath has passed away. When I look back I can see that I have not spent it as I should, though I have been to Church twice. Yet my thoughts have wandered to the Rio Grande. My husband is ever in my mind. I feel so thankful that there is a prospect of peace. It is more good luck than I expected. Oh! how happy we shall be when settled.
July 13th — Wrote to my dear husband yesterday and sent it to New Orleans by Cousin Jack who left us today on the "New York." How delighted he was with Galveston. This morning received a letter from Capt. Henry introducing Mrs. Kenneth of St. Louis to me. She has come here to spend the summer, so as to be near her husband who is a Colonel in the St. Louis Legion. I shall go to see her tomorrow for I can appreciate the feeling which prompted her to come here.
July 14th — I stayed at Mr. McKinney's last night. Sarah was going over to sit up with poor little Dick and as I did not like being alone, I went out with Mr. & Mrs. McKinney, who were here to tea. I did enjoy the visit. Early this morning by daylight Mrs. McKinney came into my room and woke me to get ready for a ride on horseback. I was delighted with the idea, got up immediately, p119 dressed, and went down; there I found a hot cup of coffee, took that and was ready to mount my horse. Wonder what husband will think when he hears I rode the celebrated Randal. I felt quite complimented that Mrs. McKinney gave me her riding horse. We went down as far as Col. Rhodes'. I enjoyed every minute of the time and had a fine appetite for breakfast. I am going out there in the morning to spend some days. I know it will do me good, the country air is so pure. I did not mention that last night I got a long letter from Cousin Jack, written after he bid me good‑by, and explaining why he had resigned. I think he was perfectly right. Poor fellow, he hates to lose the society of his "Cousins." Let him roam wherever fortune calls him. He will ever be remembered by his "Cousin Mattie" and have her prayers for his future welfare. I received a very comforting letter from Ma today, dear old lady. She has such a just idea about my feelings and seems to have suffered as much anxiety about my husband as possible. She feels still very uneasy but I trust there is no cause for it. No letters have reached me yet from him I love. Why are the boats so tardy? I am tonight in one of my saddest moods, I can't shake it off. A letter would cure me I know.
July 15th — I slept well last night. Did not wake this morning until the servant knocked at my door to tell me breakfast was on the table. I have had no sewing in my hands today. Was until dinner employed p120 copying off some land claims for Uncle Levi and this afternoon Sarah and I took an airing in the buggy. We went out to see Mrs. Johnston. She is suffering very much from a mosquito bite upon her foot which prevents her from wearing a shoe or stocking. Since tea I have been reading Goldsmith's "Deserted Village." It is written in just the style I like. So simple and natural. It rained all this forenoon which kept me from going out to Mr. McKinney's. If tomorrow proves favorable I shall make my visit. It is always pleasant there. Mr. & Mrs. McKinney are so kind. The "Galveston" is still out. I am very impatient for her arrival. Surely she will have a letter for me. My husband has been gone two weeks and no letters yet. I will still try to keep up. I know he has written. Well, I will go to bed and dream about him.
July 16th — The "Galveston" came in today but brought no letter from my husband. I have just finished one to him to go in the morning. I am too sad to write more.
July 17th — The day has passed away quite pleasantly. Mrs. McKinney and I have sat in her room sewing. This afternoon we rode out upon the beach. I was mounted on Randal. We found it delightful going but returning the wind was in our faces and it was so strong that I feared my breath would be taken away. We met an officer driving some young lady p121 out. I was very near asking him if he knew Capt. Barbour. I am enjoying his visit very much and wish my dear husband could share it with me. I wrote him a very sad letter last night and wish now I hadn't done it, but I felt so sad that I could not help it. He knows me well enough to know that I do not blame him for the letter not reaching me. I have today nearly finished another shirt bosom for the dear fellow. How happy it will make me to see him pleased with his shirts. I do love to work for him. This earth can't produce his equal.
July 18th — I woke this morning early. My ears were greeted with the feathered songsters. How sweet they seem to sing in the country. The day passed away as usual. About 4 P.M. I was playing on the piano at Mr. McKinney's when in stepped Willie and reported that he had brought the buggy out for me and that Mrs. Fuller and Jane were here. I hurried home and was delighted to find them here. I am perfectly in love with Mrs. Fuller and Jane I like better and better. We all had quite a frolic late this afternoon. Col. Love'se family and Miss Clark and we went out to the Gulf and enjoyed ourselves in the way of a bath. Mrs. Johnston induced me to go in and though I disobeyed my husband, yet now I do not regret it. I never had anything to do me so much good.
July 19th — This has been the Holy Sabbath. I attended to my duties as usual. Heard Mr. Eaton p122 preach two fine and spiritual sermons. How I wish my dear husband could have it in his power to attend Church every Sunday. I am looking every hour for the "New York." What will become of me if I am disappointed about letters. I shall be sure to conjure up the idea that Cousin Phil is sick. Nothing but sickness would keep him from writing. It is nineteen days since he left, and not a line. When he reads over this journal how he will laugh for to save me I can't help writing about him, when I know in a journal one is expected to speak of themselves.
July 20th — This day has passed and gone. Nothing worthy of note has occurred. Early this morning Sarah and I went out in the kitchen to make a cake. After taking great pains with it, we put it to bake, and it turned out to be very nice, which is of course pleasant to us. Mr. John Howard called tonight. What a good fellow he is. He seems to have great confidence in Sal's and my judgment. He expects to deliver an address shortly upon the opening of the new lyceum and wants us to assist him in the composition, that is, to hunt pieces of poetry for him. I wonder at this hour if my dear husband is dreaming about his Mattie. How I wish I could get a letter from him.
July 21st — Rose at my usual hour this morning. After breakfast went into the kitchen and made a boiled custard for dinner. Sallie expected company p123 and I wanted to help her out. Mrs. Fuller and Jennie left this afternoon. I miss them both very much but dear little Sallie I miss more than all, she is a sweet babe. I made such a fuss over her. Mrs. McLeod sent over today for us to come there and eat melons this afternoon. About six o'clock we started, and when we got into the street, Sal and I discovered Uncle Levi had on his slippers. We looked at each other and then at the slippers. At last Sal ventured to ask if he was aware that he had on his slippers. "Oh, yes." That was enough. We went on and had quite a feast on melons. I was very prudent, did not eat much. Can't say that for the whole family. The "New York" is not yet in. What shall I do if I don't get a letter soon from my husband. I am nearly crazy to hear from him. I have to keep a strict watch to keep off the blues. My thoughts are always with him. I pray that we may soon meet. Time drags heavily away from him; with him hours are but minutes.
July 22d — I got up quite early this morning, dressed and walked in the garden. Found one or two ripe figs which I appropriated, came up in my room and commenced reading but soon got so sleepy that I had to lay down and slept until I was called to breakfast. I have sat very steady at work (hardly taken time to eat) until 5 this afternoon when I took my bath, dressed and Sallie proposed that we should walk over to see Mrs. Doswell. Found the children getting better, came home, picked up p124 Pope's poems and was deeply absorbed in them when tea was announced just as I finished. Mrs. McLeod and Miss Kate came over and sat until a few minutes ago. I think Mrs. McLeod must be surfeited with music for Sarah and Miss Kate played all the time. I myself enjoyed it very much, but I thought Mrs. McLeod looked satisfied long before the "concord of sweet sounds" ceased. While looking over the Life of Pope, I met with a line written by Dryden when at Westminster School. The teacher required that each one of the boys should paraphrase the miracle of Christ turning the water into wine, and Dryden's line is sublime. It runs thus:— "The conscious water saw its God and blushed." I have never met with so magnificent an idea. How I envy such a mind, capable of conceiving such thoughts. There has been no arrival from the west today. I am "on thorns" to hear from my husband. I know he has written often since he left. It seems hard I can't get any of his dear letters. It will grieve him to learn I have not had a line since his departure. It is the fate of war and I will still try to keep up. "Live in hope" is ever in my mind, and it is indeed my meat and drink. My Bible teaches me always to hope for the best and to have a clear and abiding faith in him who "tempers the wind to the shorn lamb."
July 23d — Rested perfectly well last night. Soon, after breakfast this morning I seated myself to p125 copying off some land claims for Uncle. I was busy until 3 P.M. Felt quite much fatigued. Took a short nap, but still felt badly. About 6 the hack came for us to go out and take a bath. I went for the ride, thinking I would not go in the Gulf but when I reached there the waves looked so inviting that I could not keep out. In I went, and how I did enjoy it. Came our so refreshed and feeling perfectly well. If I could take a bath every afternoon, I know that by the end of summer I should be quite robust. Going in the Gulf gives me a fine appetite and I always look rosy for hours after. What delight it will give my husband to hear that I have tried it twice, and the fine effect it has upon my system. Oh how I would enjoy going in with him. I would feel so fearless and could go into deep water. I certainly would learn to swim for I can even now float if I rest upon my hands, which I think is a very good beginning. Three schooners arrived today from the West. No news. I am heartily sick with anxiety to hear from my own dear husband. Three weeks since he left and still no letter. Oh! what will become of me. Surely the "New York" will be in tomorrow. It will so distress my dear husband to find his letters have not reached me. Oh! I wish all things could be fixed. If Mr. Polkº is the means of making peace soon I shall be strongly tempted to change my politics. I want to be quietly settled somewhere with "Mon Chereº Mari."
p126 July 24th — Another day gone and still no news from my dearest one. I learned through the papers of this evening that the "Vesta" has returned here, not being able to get into Point Isabel. She left on the 10th and has been buffeted upon the Gulf ever since. I wrote a letter to my husband which General McLeod gave to some one going on the "Vesta" and I will tomorrow make an effort to get it but it is very doubtful whether I succeed for I have no one to go down to the vessel to inquire.f I am sad, sad tonight. If tears would relieve me how soon I should feel well. Oh! I feel perfectly desolate.
July 25th — Tonight finds another week gone. I look back upon the time past with no pleasure. Nothing has occurred to make me happy but I know it is sinful for me to think and talk as I do. I should look at all the mercies of God and not murmur at any of his dispensations for He has shown kindness to my husband and Iº always. He keeps us in the "hollow of his hand" and how truly grateful we ought to be for all His blessings. This afternoon Capt. Knowlton called. He could not give me any information about my husband, and made me quite sad in telling me he thought the war would last for years. Oh! I trust not. If I am to live that long in painful anxiety about my beloved husband I know my mind will very materially affect my health, but I will not anticipate evil.
p127 July 26th — This morning on waking did not feel very well, but after taking my bath, dressed and went to Church where I heard an eloquent sermon. Mr. Eaton always preaches well, but I think he is certainly improving. His sermons are more spiritual of late. Went to Sunday School this afternoon. Had a very interesting meeting. Called at my good friend's Mrs. McLeod and partook of some fine melon. Though I have not yet heard from my husband, yet it gratified me to find she had heard from the General. I look to tomorrow with hope but may be disappointed.
July 27th — I rose earlier than usual this morning. Finished my letter and sent it to my dear husband. About 10 o'clock A.M. felt quite sick, but endeavored to keep up. Had at last to undress and go to bed, and there I remained until 6 this afternoon. Got up then and slipped on a loose wrapper thinking I could go downstairs but soon found out I was not able and forthwith went to bed and staid until now, when I am only up to try and record the events of the day. It is impossible to say how much I have thought of Cousin Phil today and wished he could be by me to comfort me in my pain, but fate has decreed it otherwise and I must submit. My cousin Sallie anticipates my wants. How I wish I could do something in return for her kindness. She is a superior woman and possesses a woman's heart. My journal for many days past has been sad. If not almost entirely neglected. I am p128 so anxious to hear from my husband that I can't compose my thoughts for anything until I do. This day is also gone, but still no boat. I trust he is well and commit him to the keeping of God.
Tuesday morning, 28th — I am up, but hardly feel able to be. I am very weak. Think I had fever during the night. Dreamed of getting several nice letters from my husband and for the first time in my life in a dream succeeded in reading them. I thought he wrote that he was perfectly disgusted to learn that none of his letters had reached us. Oh! I do hope that before this day closes my dream may be realized. (Night.) The day has closed but no letter yet. The citizens say a boat will certainly arrive tomorrow. It has been coming for 16 days but not yet here. I have employed myself sewing today. This morning my cousin sent me up into my room a plate full of figs. They are very nice. I am becoming quite fond of them. Mr. & Mrs. McKinney came in to see us this afternoon. I entertained them as well as I could. Sallie had gone with our good neighbor Mrs. McLeod in her distribution of tracts. My journal will prove very dull — there is no variety in it.
Wednesday morning, 29th — I feel much better since my nights rest and hope I am going to get well. I shall commence a letter to Ma today. The dear old lady. How I should like to see her, but no power can start me from Texas while my husband is here. p129 When the war is over we will go on to see her. This morning's papers announced the death of poor Capt. Page.g Well he is rid of suffering, but his wife, how I do feel for her. Just think what she has gone through to get to him and before he reaches home, died. I pray the affliction may be sanctified to her. Oh! how I ought to praise God for all His blessings to me and my dear husband. (Night.) This day has ended happily for me. I have heard from "my own one." The "New York" arrived and by her came my friend Lieut. Alvord. He brought me a letter. Also Mr. Brooke and Dr. Ashbel. The delight of receiving so many letters from my husband and seeing those who have so lately been with him has excited me so much that I feel sick from the effects. Mr. Alvord took tea with us. He is in fine spirits. Cousin Phil says he is to be married soon, and that has made him so lively. I hope to have an opportunity of congratulating him upon his bright hopes. I am so thankful to kind Providence for all the blessings I receive, but above all for uniting me to such a man as Cousin Phil. I do not sincerely think there is his equal upon earth and I know him and can better tell of his good qualities than any other being in the world.
Thursday night, 30th — I got up very early this morning, and finished a letter to my husband and one to Ma. Lieut. Alvord called to bid me good‑by. I played and sang "In the Merry Morn" for him which seemed to gratify him much. I gave him p130 my letters which he very kindly offered to mail in New Orleans. When he got up to leave I told him how happy I was to hear of his expected bliss and I hope to meet Mrs. Alvord some day. I felt quite sure we should be good friends. He thanked me and said he expected to be united to his Cousin, Miss Muzzy, soon and anticipated much happiness. That he had followed Cousin Phil's example in paying his attentions to a cousin and he thought it much the best plan, which I agreed to of course. Went into the Gulf this afternoon. We had quite a party under the faithful guidance of Mrs. Johnston. I ventured into pretty deep water and did enjoy it exceedingly. At one time we let go each other's hands and at that instant a very large wave came which knocked me down and gave me my share of salt water. I should enjoy it much more with my husband. I wish I could go in the Gulf with him. I feel certain he would teach me to swim. I am all the time laying plans for his and my enjoyment when we are once more fixed, but the hope of its soon being is yet dim. The future is dark upon that important event. God grant that the darkness that now overspreads our future destiny in this life may soon be dispelled and present a bright prospect before us.
July 31st — Got up this morning at my usual hour. Spent the day sewing on Cousin Phil's shirts. Uncle Levi was quite sick this morning, but seemed to feel better this afternoon. He left in the "Galveston" p131 for the West. How I do miss him. Sarah and I are left alone now, and must cling closer together than ever. What a delightful surprise I had tonight. I was sitting quietly in the hall after tea thinking about my husband when a servant entered and handed me a package which on opening found to contain two letters, one for Uncle Levi and one for me from my dearest husband. And though I have heard from him since this was written, yet how many things it contains deeply interesting. Oh! I feel that I am not worthy such a man, he is too good for me, but if perfect devotion and love for him can make me worthy I am so. It is truly gratifying to see that our friend Capt. S. has come out so well. Received a very nice note from Capt. Duncan acknowledging the reception of "Palo Alto."h He gives my work more credit than it deserves. I shall sleep well tonight and dream about my husband.
b Victor M. Randolph, U. S. N.: He held several prominent posts up to the War between the States, in which he fought for the Confederacy. In History of the Confederate States Navy from its Organization to the Surrender of its Last Vessel (New York, 1887), p37, J. Thomas Scharf writes: "Capt. Victor M. Randolph, late of the United States navy, was appointed by the State of Florida to the command of the navy-yard at Pensacola, and assisted Colonel Wm. H. Chase, then in command of the State forces around Pensacola, in the reduction of that navy-yard".
d Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army lists no officer by the name of Rhodes (or Rhoads) serving in 1846. Texas or St. Louis Militia, a state militia, or an honorary title.
e Heitman's Register lists no officer by the name of Love (or Lowe) with the rank in 1846 of Lieut.‑Colonel or Colonel, including brevet ranks.
g John Page: born in Maine, appointed from Massachusetts. Second Lieutenant in the 8th Infantry 13 Feb 1818; First Lieutenant 1 Jan 1819; transferred to the 4th Infantry 1 Jun 1821; Captain 30 Apr 1831; Brevet Captain 1 Jan 1829 for 10 years faithful service in one grade. Died 12 Jul 1846 of wounds received 8 May 1846 in the battle of Palo Alto, Tex. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)
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