Accurate Historical Writing at Wikipedia

My beloved SWMBO is convinced she is married to a peculiar fellow.  While this is uncontested, occasional events reinforce her beliefs.

 I was tooling around Wikipedia last night, looking for information on HD Flood, the/Tenth Legion, and Alexander Spotswood (yes, I am easily distracted) when I came upon this sentence:

At a practical level, word of the expedition, and descriptions of the fertile valley land beyond the mountain range, apparently didn’t do much in the short-term to open the Shenandoah Valley for development from the east. The mountain range was a formidable barrier. Instead, most of the early settlers came up the Valley from the north, many of German and Scottish decent.

Well, I let out a whoop and a cry “they got it right”. My wife got up, looked at the screen, and went off to be sure she had the number for the guys in the white suits.

However, I can tell you with certainty that whoever wrote that sentence is from Virginia, because only those steeped in Virginia history or are residents of the Shenandoah Valley understand the significance of “going up the valley”.

Explanation: The Shenandoah Valley has a higher elevation at the southern end. Prior to maps gaining wider circulation and people using “up” and “down” to refer to going north or south, you referred to travels in the valley based on elevation or the mountains. For instance, if you lived in Staunton you would be going “down” to Winchester and “up” to Roanoke. Naturally, a trip to Charlottesville would use neither term, but instead would be “over”.

This up/down directional practice developed during the settling of the Valley, and was a tool to identify non-locals. In fact, the story is told of a Federal spy who was caught in Lexington, Virginia during the Civil War. He thought his disguise and accent impeccable, and asked how they got on to him. He was told he was heard saying he was “going down to Roanoke”…something no local would say.

So to whomever wrote this piece for Wikipedia, Bwana says “Bravo”!!!


2 thoughts on “Accurate Historical Writing at Wikipedia

  1. So to whomever wrote this piece for Wikipedia, Bwana says “Bravo”!!!

    Should be “to whoever wrote this piece” ( “whoever” is the subject of the clause “whoever wrote (verb) this piece…”)

    The clause is the object of the preposition “to..”.

    “Give the book to whomever”. (no verb; no clause)

    “Give the book to whoever comes first”. (“comes” needs a subject.)

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