The Curious Case of L B Foster Pt 2

The Curious Case of L B Foster (pt 2)

Lyman Beecher Foster was appointed to the US Naval Academy from the state of Maine by Congressman Israel Washburn jr., a founding member of the then new Republican Party. Lyman had lived since his birth in 1841 in Orono, Maine. His father Cony Foster had successful businesses there and served the community regularly, holding many town offices, which included a 25 year stint as Justice of the Peace. Both sides of Lyman’s family were New Englanders of long standing, so it is particularly odd where he ended up.

He reported to the Academy on Sept 24, 1856 and passed both the medical and academic tests. Throughout his first year, he accumulated remarkably few demerits, a total of 43 which was reduced further to 23 when the Superintendent of the Academy ordered 20 removed. (This is the year he carelessly set fire to the bedding in the hospital noted in a former post). I have not located his academic records, but they must have been subpar for he is still listed in the fourth class for the 1857-58 school year, indicating in the parlance of the day that he had been “turned back.”

He did better repeating his plebe year, at the end ranking 27th in a class of 91 middies, and passed into the Third Class for the 1858-59 year. However, his demerits increased five fold to 112, including many tobacco infractions (smoking, chewing, and permitting others to do so).

By the end of his Third Class year he only ranked 44th out of 50, and was allowed to resign. His demerits had increased also (up to 161), of which three were violations of the regulations governing the academy. One of these states rather cryptically “Throwing torpedoes into No 4 Bldg.” I’m still scratching my head over that one.

Rather than return to Maine, he went to live with his older brother Charles Henry Foster, who was then editor of a newspaper in Murfreesboro, North Carolina. He settled right in, and once Sumter was fired upon in 1861, he remained aligned with his new country. In fact, he travelled to Charleston to volunteer there, but then returned to his new home and enlisted in a North Carolina unit. After recovering from a severe wound received in 1862, he transferred to the Confederate Navy in 1863, and served faithfully until the end of the war.

Lyman felt so strong about his new home, that he changed his middle name to Livingston, which was that of a treasured friend. Beecher was a hated name in the slave states, for Lyman Beecher was the name of a famous Presbyterian preacher and abolitionist, and the father of Harriet Beecher Stowe who was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Rebel Treasure forty fifth post

Rebel Treasure forty fifth post

UNDERWATER TUNNEL
Ben has taken to the water like an otter. Riley, on the other hand, maintains the grace of a drowning cat.

Ben breaks the surface and feels his way towards the ledge. Riley follows suit, helped along by the taut rope.

LEDGE
Ben flops out of the water and bounds to his feet, braces himself and begins to pull on the line. However, it comes too easily as the line has gone slack, and he can see the form of his friend being swept towards the roaring waterfall.

Then, before he can react, the rope has reached its limit and drags him back into the water.

EDGE OF THE WATERFALL
The bottom half of a stalagmite parts the waters at the lip of the waterfall. Riley tumbles through the white water to one side of the stubby rock while Ben goes down the other channel, snagging a hand-hold on the other side.

Riley’s descent is arrested by the rope between them, momentarily, then begins to drop inch by inch.

BEN
Hang on, Riley! I think I’ve got you!

RILEY (O.S.)
Uh. You can let go now. I’m down.

BEN
What?

RILEY (O.S.)
I’m on terra firma. Pay off the rope and come on down. It’s a short drop.

Ben descends in a smooth, controlled fall, landing on his feet just to the other side of Riley. They splash over the ledge and climb up to the passage. Ben takes out the helmets and gives one to Riley.

BEN
Onward and downward.

THE RING TUNNEL
Abigail lumbers along in her Hummer, with Mrs. Slidell bringing up the rear. Her head swivels as she catches sight of a carving on the wall. She motions to Mrs. Slidell and they both slow to a stop. Abigail hops out and runs to the second Hummer. She halts in front and directs Mrs. Slidell forward onto a pressure plate, which is lined up with a carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

INT THE HUMMER
Abigail runs through the gears quickly and barrels down the tunnel.

ABIGAIL
Okay, pop the hood, then bring the keys and come with me.

MRS. SLIDELL
Are you going to tell me what we’re doing?

ABIGAIL
Getting us into the vault. Watch for carvings on the wall.

MRS. SLIDELL
Carvings?

ABIGAIL
Yeah. Like, maybe Jeff Davis or Robert E. Lee.

ANTE-CHAMBER TO THE CAVERN
Sadusky and his crew have fanned out in a semi-circle and press hard upon one of Horatio’s teams.

SADUSKY
You’re cut off, gentlemen, the game is up.

ONE OF HORATIO’S TROOPERS
You have no authority here.

A couple of Sadusky’s men chuckle under their breath at this. Then, from behind them:

HORATIO
He’s right. No one move!

Sadusky and his men freeze. Sadusky looks to his men and a red laser dot has settled on each of them.

HORATIO (CONT’D)
Put your weapons down, slowly!

SADUSKY
Stand down, men. They have the advantage.

STONE DUNGEON
Horatio and Morgan have herded Sadusky and his men into a stone cell, fitted with an iron grate.

HORATIO
(to Morgan)
And have our other prisoners “escaped” as planned?

MORGAN
(nodding)
I expect my team should be calling in any time now.

[next pt 46]

Rebel Treasure tenth post

Rebel Treasure tenth post

INT. THE SLIDELL GARAGE
Morgan enters by the side door, taking care to shut it behind him. He crosses to where the tools are hung on the wall and gathers together two shovels and a pick.
A huge glass jar sits on its side on a work bench in front of the wall of tools. A heap of gold coins lies where it was poured from the jar, and two neat stacks rise from the jumble. He stops briefly to admire the treasure on his way back to the door.After passing out the door, he stops on the outside to lock it. Further back in the shadows along the same wall, we see the body of cousin Toby, hung by its heels from the rafter.

EXT. THE TREASURE SITE – LATER
An eager Mrs. Slidell moves from one side of the fresh pit to the other, as the boys finish setting up a tripod from which they suspend the line from the winch mounted on the bumper of Morgan’s SUV.

MRS. SLIDELL
Morgan, be careful!

MORGAN
Don’t fret, Ma.

Morgan starts the winch and Ben and Riley guide a Wells Fargo strongbox up and out of the hole. The tripod groans under the weight.
When it’s safely out they crowd around all googly-eyed. Ben opens the hasp and throws back the lid. Gold bars, stamped with the Confederate seal, fill every square inch.

RILEY
Do you think we better get this to a bank right away?

MRS. SLIDELL
The kitchen will do just fine.

INT. SLIDELL RANCH HOUSE – KITCHEN
Mrs. Slidell turns a gold bar over and over in her hands, examining it. Before her the table is heaped with the contents of the Wells Fargo strongbox. Riley and Morgan enter each carrying gold bars.

MORGAN
These are the last of them, ma! Looks like you can now pay off the mortgage.

MRS. SLIDELL
Won’t that be a blessing!

She places the bar she’s been holding into its place with the rest, taking care to arrange it just so.

RILEY
I’m going to go give Ben a hand with the box.

Riley exits.

MRS. SLIDELL
Two treasures in less than twenty-four hours.

Morgan is pained by her observation.

MORGAN
Well, I hadn’t gotten around to that side of the house yet, ma. I would have found it.

MRS. SLIDELL
Maybe. And maybe not! I think our Mr. Gates bears close watching. It may be quite profitable.

MORGAN
For the Knights of the Golden Circle, you mean.

MRS. SLIDELL
Of course! Don’t be a ninny!

Ben and Riley enter, each bearing an end of the strongbox. They place it on the floor with a CLUNK.

MORGAN
So! No sign of any papers?

Ben reaches inside the box and raps the bottom. With a knowing smile he pulls up on some straps that release the false bottom, causing “oohs” and “aahs” from all watching.

INSERT
In between the reinforcements in the bottom are indeed papers: maps, bills, pictures, and wrapped in a fine mesh cloth is a book of some sort. With care Ben removes it from its resting place.

BACK TO SCENE
Ben removes the cloth with equal care and opens the book.

BEN
(flipping pages)
Judging by the dates, it’s a log Turner kept during the war.

Mrs. Slidell rummages through one of the drawers and comes up with a large size zip lock bag.

MRS. SLIDELL
Here, take this for your papers.

Ben and Riley retrieve the papers and slip them carefully into the plastic bag, all that is, except the logbook. That Ben keeps in a death-grip.

MRS. SLIDELL (CONT’D)
I suppose you will be returning home now? Where is home, for you?

BEN
Just outside Baltimore. And yes, we will be returning, as soon as we can catch a flight. Could we hop a ride to the airport?

Mrs. Slidell picks up the same gold bar she’d been handling earlier and passes it to Ben, much to the disapproval of her son.

MRS. SLIDELL
Here. Take this, I want you to have it. You’ll see that it’s different from all the rest.

Ben feels its heft, its solidity brings a smile to his lips. This one, instead of the Confederate seal, has San Francisco mint markings and the date 1860.

BEN
Thank you, Mrs. Slidell. I don’t know what to say.

MRS. SLIDELL
“Thanks” is just fine.

Riley picks up the false bottom and turns it over. He notices something, and so does Morgan.

MORGAN
Hey, that’s another map, isn’t it?

Ben takes the artifact from Riley. And they all look over his shoulder.

BEN
There’s that JJ combination again. And here’s a Masonic symbol, one that was shared by the KGC. Ever hear of them?

MRS. SLIDELL
You mean that old soviet spy organization?

MORGAN
No, ma. Not KGB, he said KGC.
(to Ben)
The KGC was some Confederate group wasn’t it?

BEN
Yes, and Lon Turner was a former member.

MORGAN
That makes sense.

BEN
This caption here – Sha-co-na-qe – the Cherokee word for the Smoky Mountains gives us a place.

MORGAN
Just over in Tennessee, huh?

Mrs. Slidell takes the map and holds it up close to her face.

MRS. SLIDELL
Mr. Gates, instead of returning by plane, would you like to swing by this place and check it out?
My son was driving back to DC today, anyway.

Ben looks at Riley, and Riley looks at Ben.

BEN
If you would excuse us for a minute.

They step out onto:

EXT. SLIDELL RANCH HOUSE – BACK PORCH

RILEY
So, what are you thinking?

BEN
I feel like we’re hot on a trail of bread crumbs.

RILEY
Having visions of rebel submarines?

BEN
The way I see it, I need to follow up every possibility. Let’s see what kind of deal we can make.

[next pt 11]

Rebel Treasure eighth post

Rebel Treasure eighth post

INT. MOTEL ROOM – EARLY MORNING
With the SOUND OF A SHOWER running in the b.g., Ben pores over the images captured from the detector on the laptop. He adjusts the scale of the image so all the objects are within view. He flips it 180 degrees and focuses it in and out.

IN THE SHOWER
Riley’s concert of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” is interrupted by a SHOUT from the room.

MOTEL ROOM
Riley barges through the door girt in a towel, ready for action. Ben is dancing around the room with his fists in the air.

BEN
He’s talking to us!

RILEY
Who’s talking to us, Ben?

Ben pulls him into the dance.

BEN
Alonzo! It’s a map, Riley! It’s another map!

Riley breaks free and stoops to look at the laptop.

RILEY
Bedsprings and junk?

BEN
Cousin Toby is going to flip!

EXT. MOTEL PARKING LOT – LATER
Ben and Riley have their things piled on the curb, waiting outside the motel restaurant. Ben closes up his cell phone.

BEN
Still no answer.

RILEY
I’m getting a bad feeling about this.

BEN
You’re getting a bad feeling!

RILEY
I’ll call us a cab.

SLIDELL RANCH – THE GRASSY SLOPE – DAY
Our mournful duo stand on opposite sides of a freshly dug pit. The items from within are strewn helter-skelter about the landscape. And at the bottom is a neat circular hole from which the glass jar had been plucked.

They pick up their things and turn towards the Slidell ranch house, in front of which are now parked two vehicles, a sedan and an SUV.

E/I SLIDELL RANCH HOUSE
MRS. LETITIA SLIDELL, a white-haired Southern Belle of a grandma with a smile as sweet as apple pie and coffee in the parlor answers the door.

MRS. SLIDELL
Good day, gentlemen.

BEN
Howdy, m’am. Would you happen to be Mrs. Slidell?

MRS. SLIDELL
(with a chuckle)
Why, yes, and whom do I have the honor..?

BEN
The name’s Ben Gates, and this is my associate Riley Poole. And I’m afraid that I bear some bad news.

MRS. SLIDELL
Do forgive my lapse in manners, won’t you come in?

She ushers them into a spotless kitchen, sparkling in the morning sunshine. At the table sits MORGAN SLIDELL, a fine specimen of thirtyish manhood. The creases on his shirt could cut the steak that he currently is carving for breakfast.

MORGAN
What’s the problem, Ma?

MRS. SLIDELL
That remains to be seen, Morgan.

Ben shifts uncomfortably from one foot to the other.

BEN
I’m afraid that someone has taken something from your property.

MORGAN
There, Ma. See, I told you so, you gotta start locking your doors.

RILEY
Actually, it was something way out yonder…

He points out the window and down the grassy slope.

MRS. SLIDELL
And who was it that did the taking?

BEN
We suspect that it was someone we know. But it’s only a suspicion.

RILEY
We don’t even know for sure what was taken, but we’re quite sure that it was very valuable.

The Slidells look at one another with absolute befuddlement.

BEN
Are you familiar with the Turner name hereabouts?

MRS. SLIDELL
It was a Turner that once owned this ranch, if I am not mistaken.

BEN
Yes, Alonzo Turner. He was an ancestor of mine. On my mother’s side.

MORGAN
We’re talking about back around the time of the Civil War aren’t we?

BEN
Alonzo was a Confederate naval officer during the war, but it was quite some time after that that he lived here.

MORGAN
So, you’re saying he left something of his on the property?

BEN
Actually, yes. And he left a map by which to find it.

MRS. SLIDELL
And if it is on our property now, it’s ours isn’t it?

Her question casts a silence over the room.

BEN
That is most certainly true, m’am. In fact when we were here yesterday…

MORGAN
You were here yesterday?

RILEY
Yes, we located where something had been buried…

BEN
But went no further, for we were awaiting your return, in hopes that we could come to some agreement.

MRS. SLIDELL
I see!
(turns to her son)
You see it too, don’t you son.

MORGAN
Yeah, I smell a rat.

BEN
I assure you both that our intentions were and are honorable. Why don’t you come with us and we’ll show you?

Mother and son exchange a look and shrug “Why not.”

[next pt 9]

The Second Clue

Second clue Salem paper 1960

North and South. Union and Confederate. Slavery and free.  I knew about these as concepts.
I didn’t know much about the Civil War when it came to the details involved.  Sure I knew about the individuals – Lincoln and Davis, Grant and Lee, etc.; and some of the battles.  But when it came to regiments, brigades and other units with state names and ordinal designations, I was in the dark.
And to discover how E. T. fit into all this, I would need to educate myself.  But where to begin?
I thought I had something when I found an old newspaper clipping in one of my grandfather’s volumes. It was from a Salem MA newspaper, I think from the 1960s. The writer of the article was describing a picture with something to do about the first casualty from Salem in the Civil War.  It gave his name as George A Thompson of Company H.  And he died in the first Battle of Bull Run.  It stated further that our mutual ancestor (Herbert is a distant cousin of mine) served with George and was a prisoner of war.
When I was first looking at this it was 1996 or 1997, so there wasn’t a whole lot of stuff on the Internet.  I had dial up at home, but no graphic interface (I went to the library for that).
So, it appeared that ET was in Company H and a POW.
Where to from here?
Stay tuned.