Breaking Bad star

From Yahoo TV:

Why was Breaking Bad star Dean Norris MIA during the show’s triumph at the Emmys on Monday night? He decided to go fly a kite instead.

Well, that’s one of the things he could have been doing anyway, as Norris missed the Emmys festivities because he was off in Romania filming his role as Benjamin Franklin in History Channel’s upcoming miniseries Sons of Liberty.

Postal Markers

The East End Beacon has a nice article about postal route markers in this area of Long Island in New York.

Following Ben Franklin’s Path Down the North Fork

August 24, 2014

If you are steeped in Southold lore, you know about the day in 1755 when Benjamin Franklin, then the postmaster for the British colonies, took a trip down the North Fork to measure the distance from the Suffolk County courthouse in Riverhead to the Oysterponds ferry in Orient, with a crew who placed granite mile markers along the path.

The mile markers were used to gauge postal rates, which in those days were determined based on the distance letters traveled.

Many of these headstone-like slabs are still here, in Southold Town (historians have surmised that the mile markers in Riverhead Town were wood, and haven’t survived the more than 250 years since Franklin’s crew had them installed).

Full story and images here.

See also the
Southold Historical Society
, 54325 Rte 25, Southold, NY 11971.

Ann Franklin

Nice story from

August 22, 1762
Ann Franklin, the sister-in-law of Benjamin Franklin, becomes the sole editor and publisher of the Newport Rhode Island newspaper, the Newport Mercury. She had earlier worked with her husband and son on other publications. Ann Franklin, later named to the Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame, is considered one of the first women to run a colonial newspaper. The later part of her life is described in the following excerpt:

Successful as a printer and businesswoman, Franklin also assumed the responsibilities of a master craftsman, training her two surviving daughters as typesetters and shopkeepers. Her surviving son, James Jr., was dispatched to Philadelphia to apprentice with his uncle, Benjamin Franklin, returning to Newport in 1748 as a partner in his mother’s business. In 1758 Franklin and her son launched the Newport Mercury, the first successful newspaper in Rhode Island. James Jr. served as editor and publisher, and Ann, who was ill and semiretired, wrote some of the copy.

When Franklin’s surviving children died, she was once again forced to assume full responsibility for the business.

— “Franklin, Ann Smith”
The Encyclopedia of American Literature / Facts on File

Tobyhanna Township and BF’s Travels

Franklin and His Travels

The Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township sponsored an interesting-looking talk on Franklin’s travels.

The grave of Polly Stevenson is not far from this area; perhaps this association or the speaker, Bruce Denlinger, could be involved in learning more about that.


Ben Franklin Re-Invented

Very nice article and video about David Mitchell of Crossville (TN?): school presentation with armonica music.


Swim fins, bifocals and the glass harmonica are just a few of the inventions Benjamin Franklin showed off when he visited the Spring Hill Public Library Tuesday.

The politician, inventor and newspaper publisher — portrayed by David Mitchell of Crossville —stopped by as part of the library’s summer reading program to educate children — and adults — about his scientific contributions. From demonstrations on typesetting to static electricity, participants learned about Franklin’s experiments, his love for books and how he developed his first invention at the age of nine.

Children’s Library Marsha Gallardo said Mitchell does the presentation through Mobile Ed Productions, a company that provides interactive programs for schools, libraries and other groups. Gallardo said Franklin’s love of science and inventing goes hand-in-hand with the theme for this year’s summer reading program: Fizz, Boom Read.

“We are super excited to have such high quality entertainment for our community,” Gallardo said. “It’s amazing how many things you didn’t realize after watching the presentation. It’s really great to see history come to life.”

Mitchell has portrayed Franklin for 10 years, and while he does four other programs for Mobile Ed, Mitchell said the Benjamin Franklin presentation is the only one he does in character. The program has taken him from New Hampshire to California in previous years.

“I have been involved in teaching my entire adult life,” Mitchell said. “This brings history to life. History can be boring, and was for me in school. This lets kids meet a character and learn he was a lot like them. Franklin, in particular, inspired a lot of patriotism. He was one of this country’s first rags-to-riches stories and was a real self-starter.”

Though he has portrayed Franklin for years, Mitchell said he is always learning something new about one of the nation’s most famous Founding Fathers.

“I have about 50 books about Franklin, and I am always learning new things,” he said. “He was called the American DaVinci because he was so multi-faceted. He was a man who loved to learn.”

- See more at:


Constitutional Convention: Elizabeth Powell?

Franklin’s quote about “a republic, if you can keep it” is cited daily somewhere on the Internet, it seems. This posting is the first I’ve noticed that identified the woman who asked Franklin the question:

At the close of America’s Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was reportedly asked by George Washington’s friend, Mrs. Elizabeth Powell of Philadelphia, “Well, doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin responded, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”


Franklin’s Death

A nice posting on the anniversary of Dr. Franklin’s Death here, by Scott Bomboy, editor-in-chief of the National Constitution Center.


Madison asked his colleagues in the House of Representatives to wear symbols of mourning for one month and they agreed.

The Senate declined. The chamber was influenced by John Adams, who disliked Franklin, as did Richard Henry Lee. The Senate also ignored tributes about Franklin sent by France. Franklin, in his lifetime, had been critical of a government that had two houses of legislature, and his grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, was a newspaper publisher openly critical of the Federalists who controlled the Senate.

Jefferson lost an argument with President George Washington for the executive branch to wear mourning symbols. Washington feared the act would set a precedent for all Founding Fathers and that it was too similar to how royalty was honored in Europe.

The first official eulogy for Franklin in the United States didn’t happen until 1791.


The 1791 Eulogy might be referring to the graduation exercises of the Philadelphia Academy, with Ye Sages, Contending in Virtue’s Fair Cause…”


Alexander D. Bache, Great-Grandson


from an Article in, 4/14/2014.

Bache Stones


Granite monuments set more than 150 years ago mark a baseline surveyed on the Outer Banks. A ceremony on April 11, 2014, honored the work done by survey team leader Alexander D. Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin. (Courtesy of the National Park Service)


By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot


A nearly 7-mile string of granite monuments set on Bodie Island in 1848 – all still in place – mark one of the first official surveys of the Outer Banks.

The markers formed a baseline for mapping the coast and its waterways, from ocean to inland rivers.

“They knew they were setting the foundations for American geodesy,” said Bobby Stalls, a retired surveyor from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Geodesy is the science of measuring the Earth.

Stalls spoke Friday to about 50 people gathered in a clearing around the northernmost monument deep in the brush near a National Park Service rest stop. Representatives from the National Geodetic Survey, the North Carolina Geodetic Survey and the North Carolina Society of Surveyors attended along with other guests, standing among pines and wax myrtles during the ceremony dedicating and celebrating the original work.

President Thomas Jefferson in 1807 set up the Survey of the Coast to establish safe passage into U.S. ports and along the coastline. First mapped were Maine, New York, Maryland, the Outer Banks, South Carolina, Florida and Alabama, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Bodie Island markers are the only complete set remaining, Stalls said. Alexander D. Bache, a great grandson of Benjamin Franklin, led the project.

The original Survey of the Coast was the predecessor of the National Geodetic Survey, the agency responsible for mapping the nation. Brass and bronze markers placed all over the country serve as base points for surveyors locating bridges and buildings.

The 1846 storm that opened Oregon Inlet interrupted the Bodie Island survey, according to a history provided by the North Carolina Society of Surveyors. Eleven sailors – including Bache’s brother – were washed overboard and lost.

The inlet severed the original line. Bache considered building a bridge. Instead, he moved the baseline, running it 6.75 miles from the new shoreline north to the monument where Friday’s group gathered. He set granite markers about 1 mile apart.

“They wanted it to last,” Stalls said. “They needed it to last.”

A 2000 mapping project by the state Department of Transportation rediscovered the granite marker 36 inches square at the north end of the original baseline for the first time since the 1970s. Another monument sits close by, marked with Bache’s name. A team of volunteers cleared brush and found the other markers along the line two years later.

Park Service workers cleared a path of about a third of a mile from the rest stop to the monument. A modern survey of the baseline found the measurements were accurate within 5 inches, Stalls said.

“That’s amazing,” he said.

Jeff Hampton, 252-338-0159,