Sunday, June 19, 2011

Vancouver Riots

The words used most frequently to describe the rioting that occurred in Vancouver after the Game 7 Stanley Cup loss are "embarrassing" and "shameful".  Much better than "tragic" and "deadly".  No one died.  No buildings were torched.   It was all over before 11:00 pm.  Three hours of mayhem, property damage, and looting over a few blocks.  Hundreds of volunteers came out the next day to clean up.  By its end, the city was back together, except for some boarded up windows. By other standards, not that much of an event.

However, people in Vancouver are plenty upset that this occurred.  There doesn't seem to be any excuse, except some young people wanting to see some action, being drunk, having a stage, and an opportunity to grab some free stuff.   People around the world with legitimate concerns of poverty, democracy, and oppression are demonstrating for their rights; in Vancouver, they riot for electronic gear to sell on the internet, on the excuse of  losing a hockey game.  The image spread around the world is that of hooligan children of affluent parents; any child of the third world (think Tahrir Square) would know better.

It's interesting that my liberal friends seem more upset than the conservative, law and order types.  After all, they are the ones who usually complain about heavy-handed police presence, being too quick to arrest, and violating rights.  None of that here.  Suddenly the call is for more police, more crowd infiltrators, removal of the rowdy early, examination of back packs, put up more fences, have a more secure venue, raise the drinking age, and jail time for those convicted.

The electronic age has changed the dynamics.  While some looted and broke windows, just as many seem to have been taking pictures.  Together with surveillance cameras, the events were well documented.  Some of the rioters have become internet celebrities, something they weren't counting on in the apparent anonymity of the crowd. Some have had their addresses and phone numbers published, to the great discomfort of their families.  Their fifteen minutes of fame may cost jobs, scholarships, and result in criminal charges.  A kind of people's justice has sprung up, some might say vigilantism by the internet.  The legal protection for young offenders not to have their names revealed isn't much use when their actions have already been splashed online.  It will be interesting to see if the pictures can be used in court, unless actual witnesses come forward, but some already stand condemned and are feeling the effects.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Samuel Cowsill

Cowsill family monument, Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, DC
On Dec 30, 1884, my gggrandfather Samuel Cowsill arrived at Baltimore, Maryland,  from Liverpool, England, aboard the ship Circassian, with his wife Catherine and daughters Emma, 15, and Ada, 14.

Samuel had been born in 1831 in Kearsley,  Lancashire, England.  At eleven, his father, also Samuel, was killed in a mine accident at Botany Bay Colliery, Clifton, Eccles Parish, Lancashire, leaving his mother Mary Ann a widow with seven children, ages two to fifteen.  Five years after his father's death, in 1847, his uncle James Cowsill and James' son William were killed on the same day in another mine accident at Spindle Point Colliery.  Prudently, Samuel took up bricklaying as a trade.   He married Catherine in 1854.

Two years before Samuel's arrival in America, his sons Nathan (1855), Edmund Turner (1857),  James (1860), and Arthur (1864) had immigrated from Farnworth, Bolton, England.  They first settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where my grandfather, James Arthur, son of Edmund and Margaret Oakes, was born in 1883.  A few years later, the family relocated to Washington, DC.

In America, the Cowsills became brick contractors.  Nathan and Margaret Evans had five children, Vincent, Evelyn, Nellie, Harold, and Alma.  Edmund and Margaret Oakes had Frederick, Lillian, and James.  Arthur and Matilda Rutherford had Catherine and Arthur Rutherford.  Tragically,  in 1916, 19-year-old Arthur Rutherford Cowsill and a friend drowned in the Potomac River (near the Aqueduct Bridge), when their canoe capsized.  James, who went to San Francisco about 1895, died there in January, 1896, age 35.  In 1906, my grandfather also relocated to San Francisco, in search of work after the great earthquake and fire. 

Some of Samuel's relatives spelled their name Coucill.  His uncle William, whose descendant Walter Jackson Coucill (1915-1982) became a well-known Canadian artist, took this spelling.

Several of Samuel's third cousins also immigrated to the U. S. and Canada at about the same time as he.  Together their descendants make up most of the Cowsills found today in the United States and Canada.