Sunday, March 16, 2008


These crumbling old photos were evidently sent by Orra Finney to his sister, Beulah Finney Strachan. This one says on the back: “Phillippine Is. 1913, Mr. Perry (maybe Piery) and Mr Roberson”

This says “Phillippine Is. 1913 Little Frank Roberson Jr."

Philippine-American War: 126,000 soldiers
First Philippine Republic: 80,000 soldiers
Casualties and losses: 4,380 U.S. soldiers dead, (possibly over 5000 from 1899–1913) 3,100+ wounded
2,000 killed, dead, or wounded suffered by the Philippine Constabulary: 16,000 soldiers killed.
Est. 250,000 to 1,000,000 civilians died of war (through combatants of both sides), famine, or disease.
The Philippine-American War was an armed military conflict between the United States of America and the First Philippine Republic, fought between 1899 to at least 1902, which arose from a Filipino political struggle against U.S. occupation of the Philippines.

While the conflict was officially declared over on July 4, 1902, American troops continued hostilities against remnants of the Philippine Army and other resistance groups until 1913, and some historians consider these unofficial extensions part of the war.

“Camp Keithley, P.I.” when Googled, leads to books of Army paperwork. Mercifully small and parts are online.

The following is also from Wikipedia:
Lake Lanao is a large lake in the Philippines, located in Lanao del Sur province in the country's southern island of Mindanao. With a surface area of 340 km?. (131 square miles), it is the largest lake in Mindanao, and the second largest lake in the Philippines.

The lake was formed by the tectonic-volcanic damming of a basin between two mountain ranges and the collapse of a large volcano. It has a maximum depth of 112 meters, and a mean depth of 60.3 meters. The basin is shallowest towards the north and gets progressively deeper towards the south.

The lake is fed by four rivers. Its only outlet is the Agus River, which flows southwest into Iligan Bay via two channels, one over the Maria Cristina Falls and the other over the Linamon Falls. A hydroelectric plant installed on the Lanao Lake and Agus River system generates 70% of the electricity used by the people of Mindanao.

The lake is home to 18 endemic species of freshwater fish and supports a large number of waterfowl. In October 2006, a study from the Mindanao State University discovered massive algae contamination in Lake Lanao. Initially, poor sewage and agricultural waste management were seen as the culprit to the contamination. However, the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources stated that soil erosion from indiscriminate logging and extensive land use and farming are the problems that caused the algae contamination.

A Maranao myth describes the formation of the lake. It is said that a group of angels under the command of Gabriel removed the vast population of Mantapoli to prevent the world from tipping over. The hole that was left was filled with water and threatened to drown the rest of the world. In response, the angels enlisted the help of the Four Winds to gouge out an outlet. The hole became Lake Lanao and the outlet became the Agus river.

* * * *

The war in the Phillipines was the pre-WWI version of Iraq, and though it was a hundred years ago, the effect on our family still reverberates down through the generations. Orra Finney, probably as a result of war trauma, returned an alcoholic. Of course, with a name like Finney, one suspects a genetic vulnerability. He was beloved by his sister Beulah, who became in reaction a staunch WCTU member. She raised her son, my father, to be nothing less than phobic about alcohol, which is only marginally healthier than being dependent on it.

This grief also fed into a style of suppression, denial and evasion that was only encouraged by the rural pioneer culture in South Dakota where Beulah and Sam Strachan homesteaded and produced their family. Stoicism prevailed, which meant that many things were pushed down into the dark where they easily became rage -- at least in my father. He prided himself on being a “quiet man.” My mother accepted the idea that she was a “violent woman” and indeed she could be, since her father (a Pinkerton) certainly was extravagant and violent, at least he talked that way though his actual behavior was something different.

My mother’s mother’s brother was also in the Phillippines and also became alcoholic. The last time the family saw him was when they were traveling somewhere, passed the community cemetery, and saw that he was one of several men digging a grave. My grandmother’s response was to tell the children not to look. She would answer no questions.

These are lost men. I have no stories about them, am not sure they have descendants, and am VERY aware of how much the pattern is repeating. Where is that little boy with the violin now? Did he grow up successfully? Have children? Keep music in his life? Was he somehow related to me?

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