For over one hundred a fifty years, a long standing mystery appearing in a poem written by Walt Whitman remained unsolved … until now. The meteor in question, mentioned in Whitman’s famed “Leaves of Grass,” and referred to as “a strange huge meteor-procession,” really did occur. It was discovered that a painting by Frederic Church shows the meteor streaking through the sky. The meteor appeared in 1860, which coincides with Whitman’s publication. Period newspapers verified the event, which was visible from the Great Lakes to New York, but by the mid-twentieth century, the event was forgotten. The meteor actually split into multiple fireballs upon impacting the atmosphere. Earth-grazing meteor processions are so rare that few people have ever heard of them. There were also documented processions in 1783 and 1913.
Another artistic find recently discovered is a photograph believed to have been taken by famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. The photo portrays two young African-American children dressed in raggedy clothing, barefoot, and sitting on an upright barrel. The two boys are thought to be slaves. It was discovered at a moving sale in Charlotte, North Carolina in April, accompanied by a document stating that “John” sold for $1,150 in 1854. The photograph is believed to have been taken around 1860.
I find it extremely fascinating that old relics, photos, and historical artifacts keep resurfacing. Lost long ago, these connections to the past are an essential part of our American experience, thus making us who we are today. I hope these newly-discovered items are never again buried and forgotten.