Friday, December 31, 2010

Rosie the Riveter Poster Girl Dies

The object of a drawing my daughter, Marina, did a couple of years ago, has died. Geraldine Doyle, 86, who as a 17-year-old factory worker became the inspiration for a popular World War II recruitment poster that evoked female power and independence under the slogan "We Can Do It!," died December 26th.

For millions of Americans throughout the decades since World War II, the stunning brunette in the red and white polka-dot bandanna was Rosie the Riveter. Rosie's rolled-up sleeves and flexed right arm came to represent the newfound strength of the 18 million women who worked during the war and later made her a figure of the feminist movement. But the woman in the patriotic poster was never named Rosie, nor was she a riveter. All along it was Mrs. Doyle, who after graduating from high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan took a job at a metal factory. One day, a photographer representing United Press International came to her factory and captured Mrs. Doyle leaning over a piece of machinery and wearing a red and white polka-dot bandanna over her hair. In early 1942, the Westinghouse Corporation commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce several morale-boosting posters to be displayed inside its buildings. The project was funded by the government as a way to motivate workers and perhaps recruit new ones for the war effort. Smitten with the UPI photo, Miller reportedly was said to have decided to base one of his posters on the anonymous, slender metal worker - Mrs. Doyle.

For some 40 years Mrs. Doyle did not know the photo had become a famous poster.  Shortly after the photo was taken she left her job at the factory and went to work at a soda fountain and bookshop in Ann Arbor. It wasn't until 1984 that Mrs. Doyle came across an article in a magazine that connected her UPI photo with Miller's wartime poster.

For story about a 'local' Rosie the Riveter girl, read Marina's Rosie

Below is J. Howard Miller's poster and then the charcoal drawing by Marina (2008), then age 15.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Peace On Earth...May Christmas Hasten That Day

The first months of World War I had seen an initial German attack through Belgium into France, which had been repulsed outside Paris by French and British troops at the Battle of the Marne in early September 1914. The Germans fell back to the Aisne Valley and in the subsequent Battle of the Aisne, the Allied forces were unable to push through the German line, and the fighting quickly degenerated into a static stalemate with neither side willing to give ground. To the north, on the right of the German army, there had been no defined front line and both sides quickly began to try to use this gap to outflank one another. In the ensuing "race to the sea", the two sides repeatedly clashed, each trying to push forward and threaten the end of the other's line. By November, there was a continuous front line running from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier. The action was swift and both sides were determined.

But, in December something unexpected happened: An unofficial truce involving about 100,000 British and German troops along the length of that front. The reason?  Christmas.  It began on Christmas Eve when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium. The Germans began by placing candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across the 'No Man's Land, where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco and alcohol, and souvenirs such as buttons and hats. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently-fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, but it continued until New Year's Day in others.

Ironically, just days before Christmas a group of 101 British women suffragists wrote a letter to the women of Germany and Austria. Under the heading "On Earth Peace, Goodwill towards Men, the letter said, "The Christmas message sounds like mockery to a world at war. Is it not our mission to preserve life?

The next Christmas, the two sides again observed an unofficial cease fire at the front but it was not as successful, thanks to strongly-worded orders from the high commands of both sides prohibiting such fraternization.

My prayer is that one day we will have peace on earth...may Christmas hasten that day

God bless you all and may each of you have a blessed Christmas!

"It Could Happen Again"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men

On Christmas Day in 1864, one of America's best known poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote a poem he titled, "Christmas Bells." That poem would later be set to music and become known as, "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day." Why would Longfellow write about 'Peace on earth, good will toward men' while the American Civil War is in progress? There certainly wasn't peace during that time. As a matter of fact, when Longfellow wrote his poem it would be months later before Lee would surrender to Grant. But, did you know that some of the verses in the poem were omitted for the song to shorten it, and that it is in those verses that Longfellow speaks about the war?

While the song is about the war, it is more about hardships Longfellow had to endure in the days and years leading up to the poem. Three years earlier, on July 9, 1861, his wife of 21 years, Frances, or Fanny, Appleton, wrote in her journal, "We are all sighing for the good sea breeze instead of this stifling land, one filled with dust. Poor Allegra is very droopy with heat, and Edie has to get her hair in a net to free her neck from the weight."

The next day, after trimming some of seven year old Edith's beautiful curls, Fanny decided to preserve the clippings in sealing wax. Melting a bar of sealing wax with a candle, a few drops fell unnoticed upon her dress. The longed for sea breeze gusted through the window, igniting the light material of Fanny's dress and immediately wrapping her in flames. In her attempt to protect Edith and Allegra, she ran to Henry's study in the next room, where he frantically attempted to extinguish the flames with a nearby, but undersized, throw rug. Failing to stop the fire with the rug, he tried to smother the flames by throwing his arms around Frances, severely burning his face, arms, and hands. Fanny Longfellow died the next morning.

The first Christmas after Fanny's death, Longfellow wrote, "How inexpressibly sad are all holidays." A year after the incident, he wrote, "I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace." Longfellow's journal entry for December 25, 1862 reads: "A merry Christmas' say the children, but that is no more for me."

To add to his sorrow, almost a year later, Longfellow's son, Charles, was severly wounded in a civil war skirmish with a bullet passing under his shoulder blades and taking off one of the spinal processes.

There was no entry in Longfellow's journal during Christmas of 1863.

And then, on Christmas Day 1864, he wrote "Christmas Bells." 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And thought how, as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth, I said
For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead; nor doth he sleep
The Wrong shall fail
The Right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

What an incredible story! I admit there have been times in my life when I wanted to skip Christmas. I understand why Longfellow did not write in his journal during the Christmas of 1863. Even though it is about the birth of Jesus, Christmas can also be a sad time for people suffering like Longfellow did. His story is evidence that God hears us when we cry, and that He can wipe away our tears.
Most of the words in Christmas Bells fits the world we live in today. In the third verse, Longfellow writes 'the world revolved from night to day.' It was his way of saying he had finally found the peace he had been longing for. Where are we in 2010, night or day?  I think we all know the answer to that.  Just as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow found peace, so can I...and so can you. Longfellow assured us we can when he wrote, "God is not dead; nor doth he sleep. The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men." Merry Christmas everyone!

"O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

God Bless The Weary Pilgrim

God bless the weary pilgrim whose journey never ends. May he rest eternally in the arms of God. - The Notorious Meddler Nov. 25, 2010.

As weary pilgrim, now at rest
Hugs with delight his silent nest
His wasted limbs now lie full soft
That mirey steps have trodden oft
Blesses himself to think upon
His dangers past, and travails done
The burnIng sun no more shall heat
Nor stormy rains on him shall beat
The briars and thorns no more shall scratch
Nor hungry wolves at him shall catch
He erring paths no more shall tread
Nor wild fruits eat instead of bread
For waters cold he doth not long
For thirst no more shall parch his tongue
No rugged stones his feet shall gall
Nor stumps nor rocks cause him to fall
All cares and fears he bids farewell
And means in safety now to dwell
A pilgrim I, on earth perplexed
With Sins, with cares and sorrows vext
By age and pains brought to decay
And my clay house mold'ring away
Oh, how I long to be at rest
And soar on high among the blest
This body shall in silence sleep
Mine eyes no more shall ever weep
No fainting fits shall me assail
Nor grinding pains my body frail
With cares and fears ne'er cumb'red be
Nor losses know, nor sorrows see
What though my flesh shall there consume
It is the bed Christ did perfume
And when a few years shall be gone
This mortal shall be clothed upon
A corrupt carcass down it lies
A glorious bodyu it shall rise
In weakness and dishonour sown
In power 'tis raised by Christ alone
Then soul and body shall unite
And of their Maker have the sight
Such lasting joys shall there behold
As ear ne'er heard nor tongue e'er told
Lord make me ready for that day
Then come, dear Bridegroom, come away

Anne Bradstreet - Aug. 31, 1669
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
The Notorious Meddler

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ronnie's Apple Cake

"Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. You heard what Linus was saying out there. Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that's what they mean by Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown." (Marcie, from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving Day?

My kids think of it as a long weekend away from school. A lot of people look at it as the start of the Christmas shopping season. For me, it is a special time to reflect on the many things I am thankful for. One special thing I am thankful for this year is Ronnie's Apple Cake and all that it allows me to remember. You see, Ronnie's Apple Cake is more than just a is a door that leads to a time in my life that holds many wonderful memories. Memories of my family, when we were all there...together as one. It was a special time in my life.

Ronnie's Apple Cake was not always known as Ronnie's Apple Cake. Originally, it was just known as the delicious apple cake that mom baked. I am not sure how many pieces of that cake I ate from the time I was a youngster until I reached the age of 21, but it was a lot. We all loved it, but Ronnie, my brother, man he loved it more than any of us, and he let it be known that it was his favorite dessert. That was fine by me. I didn't mind who asked her to bake it, as long as she did. Only later did it matter which child asked her to bake it the most. You see, that apple cake was the very last thing Ronnie would ever eat of my mom's cooking and baking as he sat down at the kitchen table on the afternoon of May 6, 1981. At 5:30 a.m. the following morning, we found him dead of a car accident just five-tenths of a mile from home. No long after Ronnie's death, mom announced that she could no longer bare to bake another apple cake again and that was the end of it. We understood. Never again would anyone ask her to bake that apple cake and that was the end of it.

"Isn't it peculiar, Charlie Brown, how some traditions just slowly fade away" (Lucy, from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.)
President Dwight David Eisenhower once said, "There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were." Things have never really gotten back to the way they were for us following Ronnie's death in 1981, but one day recently - 29 years, 5 months and 3 days later to be exact - one very nice memory came back. It was Sunday, and after Church my son, J.D., and I drove to mom's house for lunch. I wasn't expecting to see mom's apple cake sitting there on the food bar, but there it was. Naturally, as soon as I saw it a ton of memories came flooding back as I recalled that time in my life when things were the way they used to be. I never expected things to remain the same after Ronnie's death, but who would expect that after such a tragedy? I am not really sure as to when exactly it happened, but somehow, over the years, I managed to put that part of my life in its special place in my mind, as I struggled to go on with my life.

Standing there, staring down at the apple cake I said, "Wow, you baked that apple cake!" Mom had forgotten about it, because she said she had found the recipe but did not know why she had not baked it. I reminded her it was Ronnie's favorite dessert and that after his death, she had said she could no longer bake it. She just said "Yeah," and that was it. It was nice to sit there and enjoy something I once thought to be the best thing I had ever tasted. 29 years, 5 months and 3 days. That is how long it had been since I had eaten that cake. The best part was that I was able to remember something my brother had loved so much during his short life. That day, I renamed mom's apple cake, Ronnie's Apple Cake.

As I write this, Thanksgiving Day is almost here. As Governor William Bradford of the Pilgrim Colony once said, it is a time to render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings. This year, as we always do, my family will gather together to enjoy one another in food and fellowship, and I look forward to it. I have witnessed many Thanksgiving Day's in my life and I have many blessings to be thankful for, including Ronnie's Apple Cake and all that it now means to me.

For those of you who are curious as to why my brother loved that apple cake so much, here is the recipe. I hope you will enjoy it as much as he did.

Ronnie's Apple Cake

3 cups diced apples
1 1/2 cups of oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs well beaten
3 cups self-rising flour
1 tp cinnamon
1 tp vanilla
1 cup raisins or nuts (mix well)
optional -1 cup powdered sugar
and 1/2 cup of milk for a glaze

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another Hill (And Sometimes A Mountain)

I have spent almost the entire day listening to this song and it has blessed me tremendously.  The words speak volumes to me and I just wanted to share it with you. I hope it touches you as much as it has touched me today.  Thanks.  nm

I've been scorned by a neighbor whom I treasured
I've been deceived by a friend I held dear
So many times I've just wanted to give up
Then I remember my Lord is right here

Another hill and sometimes a mountain
Another road with rocks to hurt my feet
But when He walks along beside me
I can make it, there'll be no retreat

Well I questioned the loss of a loved one
I wondered why it had happened to me
But through prayer I found the answer
It was all so plain to see


I’m so glad that I learned to trust Him
His promise to me He will keep
I have no fear of tomorrow
For the Shepherd takes good care of His sheep


The singer is Donald J. Shockey.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

O Brave Warrior

Today is Veteran's Day, an opportunity for Americans to thank the 24.9 million military veterans who have served our country as a member of the armed forces. So, on this day, I pause to pay tribute to you, O brave warrior.

General Douglas MacArthur once said, "The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." Many members of my own family, past and present, have served this great nation of ours, from the American Revolution to Desert Storm. Some had to travel far from home leaving their families behind. Some suffered the shedding of their own blood, while at least two never made it back home. Another died at home protecting his family and community. All were grateful to serve their country because they believed in the one thing that none of us should ever take for granted - freedom. I am thankful to you, O brave warrior, because you were willing to do whatever it takes so that I can enjoy the freedoms I have in America today.

Singer Ysabella Brave said, "You don't get very far in life without having to be brave an awful lot. Because we all have our frightening moments and difficult trials and we don't have much of a choice but to get through 'em, and it takes a lot of bravery to do that. The most important thing about bravery is this - It's not about not being scared - it's about being scared and doing it anyway - that's bravery.

You don't have to look far to see that America truly is the home of the brave. I pray that she will always remain the land of the free, so that those who sacrificed in whatever way will not have done so in vain. I am proud of you, O brave warrior, past and present. Long may the flag of freedom fly in your honor. Happy Veteran's Day!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It Has Always Been...

It has always been the soldier not the reporter who has given us Freedom of the press

It has always been the soldier not the poet who has given us Freedom of speech

It is the soldier not the campus organizer who has given us the Freedom to demonstrate

It is the soldier who salutes the flag who serves under the flag whose coffin is draped by the flag who allows the protesters to burn the flag!

It is the soldier... It has always been the soldier!



Friday, October 29, 2010

Creature Feature

Between 1970 and 1973, also known as my pre-teen into early teen years, I couldn't wait for 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night. That is when Creature Feature aired on channel 4, WSMV, in Nashville. At exactly 10:30, an announcer would come on and say,
"Each of us carries upon his shoulders this bony sarcophagus, the grinning face of death. Within it resides the human brain, encompassing within its pulsating grey mass the totality of the cosmic consciousness. What a delicate instrument; capable of thoughts of inexpressible beauty, but often enslaved in mindless terrors by monstrous horrors that the mind cannot fathom, and indeed, horrors that may not exist except within the bony confines of the human brain box. This is Creature Feature... exploring the realms of the unknown. And now, from deep within the catacombs beneath our studios, here is your master of terrormonies, Sir Cecil Creape."
Sir Cecil (pronounced ses-cil) Creape was creepy. As the announcer was introducing the show, Sir Cecil would descend from a stone staircase to the sounds of water dripping ever so slowly. When he finally reached the floor of his dungeon, in an unmistakable droll, Sir Cecil would say, "Did someone call?" Then he would look into the camera and say, "Oh, there you are!" 

The dungeon, that was supposedly deep beneath the studios of Channel 4, had rock walls and a large bookshelf, on which rested a few books, a skull, and a framed picture of Floyd Kephart, political analyst in Nashville during the seventies. For some reason the protrayer of Sir Cecil (Whom I will reveal in a minute) thought it was funny to have a picture of Floyd on the mantle, and would refer to Floyd from time to time with such jokes as "Suffering Kepharts," or "That is almost as frightening as Floyd Kephart!"

Sir Cecil was an odd looking character; a short, round little fellow, bald on top with just a bit of hair on the sides. He wore a dark blue cape with a huge purple collar and a chain mail tunic. He had a hump back and walked in a slow, lurching style. He had a large scar across his forehead and wore a monocle in one eye. He wore a set of deformed teeth and always carried a strange looking lamp in one hand

Sir Cecil Creape was actually Russ McCown, a film editor for WSMV. He had a long history of camera work and film editing - In fact, he was the person who shot the very first color commercial in Nashville in 1956. Russ got the name of Sir Cecil from Cecil B. DeMille, the lgreat actor/director of such movies as "The Ten Commandments." He later described his character as a cross between the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Oliver Hardy.

Something else I discovered later on is that one of the main writers of the show was Pat Sajack, star of Wheel of Fortune. Sajack was an announcer and part-time weatherman at WSMV during my childhood.

Wait, I hear the steady drip, drip, drip, drip of water.

"Did someone call?"
(Below are a two Creature Feature segments.  I hope they creep you out just like they did me when I was a child.)


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Psalm 63

My soul thirsteth for thee

My flesh longeth for thee

In a dry and thirsty land where no water stands

I will seek thee

To see thy power

To see thy glory

To know your love is the lovingkind

I will praise thee

And I will bless thee while I live

I will lift up my hands in thy name

I will lift up my hands in thy name

In a dry and thirsty land where no water stands

I will see thee

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Road To Burkesville

For those of you who do not know, for the past several weeks, road crews have been busy rebuilding that portion of Highway 1590 here at the radio station in preparation for the by-pass that is being built around town. That part of the road has been closed while the work is being done, and one of the detour routes is the Old Burkesville Road. The Old Burkesville Road was built nearly 200 years ago, so it was not built with today's traffic in mind, and it was definitely not built to handle the amount of traffic that has had to travel the road the past few weeks.

The Old Burkesville Road is one of the oldest roads in the county. Just prior to the year 1800, the third family to settle in here was the Wood family. They had moved from Virginia to North Carolina after the American Revolution, and now they were headed to a new area in Kentucky that had just opened for settlements east of the Green River. The Wood family chose to settle at Stockton's Valley, where they quickly established themselves as leaders in the community. They helped organize the first Church in the valley, Clear Fork Baptist Church. William Wood was the town surveyor and its sheriff. The Church minutes of 1813 state that William's brother, Samuel, was appointed overseer of the Burkesville Road from Robert Davis’ to the county line. That area of the community was known as Wood's Gap back then. A portion of the road that Samuel Wood helped build later became known as Wood Street. It still bears that name today.

When more automobiles began using the road, and when trucks hauling goods and services got bigger, the need arose to build a bigger road, and so around 1931, nearly 100 years later, the Burkesville Road, as we know it today, was built.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What's In A Name?

There is an old proverb that says 'good men must die, but death cannot kill their names.'

When we chose the name Marina for my daughter, I was a little skeptical at first because of all the marina's where I live, but she IS Marina and I could not imagine her name being anything else. Most people are named after their ancestors. My great-great-grandfather was George Washington Boles.  His cousin was Abraham Lincoln Boles. My great-grandfather was Ulysses S. Frost.  His nickname was Grant.

When I was born, my dad wanted to name me Roy Rogers Speck. "I think NOT," said my mom.  I am glad, too. Sorry Roy, but a lifetime of always being serenaded with "Happy trails to you until we meet again," would have been a little too much. Western TV shows were popular back then, so it could have been worse. He could have wanted to name me Zorro or Festus.

I used to tease my son, Elijah, by telling him that we almost named him Michael Jackson Speck. Although he would never admit it, for a few moments he actually believed me.

For the past several months, I have been keeping up with Rand Paul of Bowling Green. He is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky and he has become very popular.  Fox and CNN are always talking about him and I have been thinking that, IF he wins the election, I might drop the Y from my first name, totally ditch my last name and start using my middle name. So, it would be RAND RAY.

I said I MIGHT. I didn't say that I would.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Moment Worth Remembering

Life is not measured by the amount of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.

I was walking across the parking lot at the grocery store the other afternoon when, above the hustle and bustle of the busy street that lay behind me...above the noise of the shoppers walking to and fro the store in front of me, suddenly I heard the small voice of a child saying my name over and over! I looked toward the store in front of me and saw nothing. I looked toward the street behind me and saw nothing, I looked to my left and still NOTHING!

For a second I thought that perhaps I had only imagined I had heard a childs voice calling out to me, but when I looked to my right I saw it. Across the street, in the playground area of the elementary school, were what looked to be at least a hundred kids enjoying recess, and right in the midst of all those children I saw an arm lifted toward the sky. The hand that was attached to the arm was waving frantically and it was then that I realized the voice that was saying my name belonged to none other than my 9-year-old niece, Chrissy. My first thought was, "My, what great eye sight you have!" My second thought was, "My, what a great set of lungs you have!" Better to love me with, I decided, as I held up both my arms and frantically waved back to her just like she was waving to me. I smiled as I turned to walk toward the store, wiping away a couple of tears as I went inside.  

Italian poet and novelist Cesare Pavese once wrote, "We do not remember days, we remember moments. This was one of those moments. Unexpected but pleasurable.

Thanks for the 'shout out,' Chrissy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Let It Be

In the spring of my 4th grade school year, I bought the newest album by the hottest rock and roll group in the world. I was totally swept away by the sixth song on side A. I liked the song so much that I immediately sat down at the piano and taught myself to play it. I was 10-years-old.

The next day, I walked into music class, sat down at the piano and performed the song in front of the entire class. No sooner had I begun to sing and play the song, a girl came running up to the piano and stood there watching me. I couldn't help but turn my attention toward her. Her eyes were bright and her smile was wide, and it made me very nervous. Then as the song played on, I realized I had found something unique that I could do and the girls would like. It inspired me to want to do more, and I did. I had discovered a way to get girls' attention. I realized that if doing something that came so easy and was so much fun and attracted the attention of girls, that is what I wanted to do.

The song was Let It Be by the Beatles. The album, of the same name, was released on May 8, 1970, shortly after the group's announced break-up. It was to become the Beatles' twelfth and final studio album.

I can remember the TV reporting that some of the Beatles' members were unhappy with one another, specifically John and Paul. The rehearsals and recording sessions for the Let It Be album did not run smoothly. At one point during the sessions, George walked out and quit the group after severely arguing with both John and Paul, only to be coaxed back some days later.

If you are not a student of the Beatles history and you hear Let It Be for the first time, you might think it is a pop song with religious influence, but it is not. As a matter of fact, John hated the song because he thought the public would perceive it as a religious song. He made sure that Maggie Mae, a song about a London prostitute, appeared on the album right after Let It Be. Paul's mother, Mary, had died when he was just 14. He claims that during all the turmoil the Beatles were going through, she came to him in a dream and it inspired him to write the song, Let It Be. Several years later, he explained it this way: "One night during this tense time I had a dream I saw my mum, who'd been dead ten years or so. And it was great to see her because that's a wonderful thing about dreams, you actually are reunited with that person for a second... In the dream she said, 'It'll be alright.' I'm not sure if she used the words 'Let it be' but that was the gist of her advice, it was 'Don't worry too much, it will turn out okay.'
I will never forget that day in my 4th grade music class when I sang and played Let It Be. and the way it affected both myself and that girl, but mostly myself.


When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer. let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Salvation of Absalom Wright

Absalom Barden Wright was born on November 3, 1826 at the headwaters of Wolf River in Fentress County, Tennessee.

At the age of sixteen, he was bitten by a copperhead snake inside his old home place. It was becoming dark in the old house, where Absalom had gone to pick up some oats. When he reached down to pick them up, a snake bit him on his right wrist. He left the oats behind, got on his horse and race the one half mile to his home. His father tried everything he could think of to help his son, but nothing worked. His shoulders, neck, and head became so swollen that it nearly prevented him from breathing, causing people to fear he would die from suffocation. As a last resort, Absalom was given strong whiskey to counteract the snake poison. He drifted off into unconsciousness about midnight. When he awoke about ten o'clock the next morning, he could hardly recognize himself. His right arm was swollen almost as large as his body!

After recovering a little, Absalom felt as though he would rather die than to go through a like suffering again. For the next three spring seasons, Absalom’s arm changed to the color of a serpent and shed off the outside skin. His friends feared that his arm would have to be taken off, but eventually Absalom outgrew it. At the time Absalom was an unsaved boy and he knew it, and it made him shudder to think how near he was to the gate of death in an unsaved state.

Absalom's convictions for sin grew heavier and from early boyhood he had a strong impression of mind that he should do considerable work for the Lord before he died. He would weep bitterly whenever he heard his brother, Edmonson, preach and earnestly appeal to sinners. He wrote, "I would think, if someone would only come and take me by the hand, how readily I would go to the anxious-seat and seek salvation."

In the summer of 1843, someone did take Absalom by the hand. It was August and the Cumberland Presbyterians were holding a camp meeting in the Poplar Cove area. Absalom vowed to the Lord that he would go to that meeting and seek his soul's salvation. But, by the time the meeting came on, Absalom had about overcome all serious impressions he may have had about his needing salvation. He went to the meeting full of life and mischievous fun and, as he had done in the past, he picked out an old man who was shouting aloud God’s praise and make fun of him. On the second night of the camp meeting, Absalom’s heart was melted in deep penitence following the sermon and he went forward to the altar to pray. But, in his words, he ‘got no relief.’ He wrote in his autobiography that it was hard for him to appropriate the precious promises of Christ to his own personal good. A couple of afternoons later, just as the preacher began to preach, there came up a heavy rain, which caused the congregation to retreat to the surrounding campsites with different speakers at each campsite. A man by the name of Tyndall began exhorting in the campsite where Absalom had sought relief from the rain. Directly, he called mourners to come forward. Absalom stood still for a short time before someone took him by the hand and encouraged him to make one more effort. As he started toward the altar, he suddenly fell to the ground crying, "O Lord, here let me die or be saved!" He cried from the very top of his voice, saying “O Lord, save or I perish!" Absalom remained in that condition for some time, when all at once the very same old man that Absalom had made fun of a few nights earlier came and told him to get up. The old man laughed and talked so kindly to Absalom that his faith laid hold on Christ and instantly he arose, shouting “Glory! Glory, Hallelujah! Glory to God in the highest!" As Absalom went through the camps rejoicing, he came upon his father, who at hearing of his son’s salvation, threw himself back in the chair he was sitting in and shouted, “Glory! Glory! Glory,” while clapping his hands together. Absalom continued rejoicing throughout the camps, shouting at the very top of his voice, “Hallelujah! I'm saved! I'm saved! Glory to God and to the Lamb forever!”

And so, at about three o’clock in the afternoon of Monday, August 28, 1843 in the Poplar Cove area of Fentress County, Tennessee, five miles west of Jamestown, the county seat, Absalom Barden Wright was happily converted to God.

Bro. Wright was licensed to preach on July 31, 1848 during a meeting a Five Springs Methodist Church in Clinton County. For nearly 50 years, he boldly traveled throughout Tennessee and Kentucky preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

On November 8, 1893, Absalom was thrown from his horse and killed. He is buried at Wolf River United Methodist Church Cemetery at Pall Mall, Tennessee.

(Taken from A.B. Wright's autobiography published in 1876.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

J.A. Brents' Banner of Liberty

It is necessary to defend a good and republican government against those who would destroy it. Where it can be, let mind appeal to mind. We are in the midst of a revolution. It is a struggle to maintain the principles of freedom. - J.A. Brents

"As soon as the ordinance of secession was forced upon the people of Tennessee, an army was sent into East Tennessee to look after the loyal citizens (traitors, as the seceders called them). They were imprisoned, their property taken and their families insulted and abused. Many were shot and hung. As soon as this program was adopted, large numbers fled to Kentucky for safety and [they] continued to flee as they could find opportunities for escape. Here [Clinton County], they stopped for a while, and were protected and fed by the citizens of this loyal little county. They were not permitted to remain here long, but were pursued and, together with others who were driven from their homes, fled across Cumberland river."

J.A. Brents of Albany wrote the above in 1863. It is from his book, The Patriots and Guerillas of East Tennessee and Kentucky [the book's title is actually much longer] that I present the following story.

Before the Civil War, John Allen Brents was an attorney. At the start of the campaign, he raised a company of some 85 men in Albany, which became Company C, First Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry, Union Army. He served eleven months, first as a Lieutenant then as Major. He said that his position on the border and in the army gave him an opportunity to obtain much valuable information in regard to the loyal East Tennesseeans, the state of affairs in Kentucky, the progress of the war in the West, what has been done in Kentucky and Tennessee since the rebellion broke out, and the history of men whose hands have been stained with pillage and blood. After the war, he used all the information he had collected and put it into a book. Later, I will tell you how you may purchase a copy of it.

Camp Dick Robinson
Soon after Tennessee seceded from the Union a squadron of cavalry and a body of infantry were sent to Fentress County, Tennessee. The citizens there considered this as a menace, but they were entirely helpless. No United States troops were in Kentucky, nor were any likely to be, as it was said that Kentucky's neutrality would be respected. Realizing they needed to prepare for their own defense in case they were attacked, a public meeting was held in Albany and two companies were organized, one cavalry and one infantry. William Hoskins was elected captain of the cavalry, J. A. Brents first lieutenant, J. P. Pickens second lieutenant and J. A. Morrison third lieutenant. Captain Hoskins was directed to immediately procure arms. He went to Cincinnati, where he obtained one hundred muskets for the infantry but nothing for the calvary. He then went to Washington and, even though he was unable to get the arms he needed, he came back home with something else of great value: Camp Dick Robinson.

Camp Dick Robinson's main purpose was to train fathers and sons sympathetic to the Union cause to be soldiers. J.A. Brents wrote that he was at the camp in Garrard County, Kentucky when those East Tennesseeans arrived. "...and it would have excited the pity of the hardest heart to have witnessed the scene," he said. "They had bid farewell to wives and children, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, and their homes, and with broken hearts had taken their squirrel rifles upon their shoulders and started across the mountains for the Union camp, a place where they would be beyond the reach of their persecutors, and where they could prepare to strike a blow for the Union and freedom. Oh, what a bitter cup to them! They suffered and endured all." According to Major Brents, the East Tennesseeans sometimes had to travel several days without food. "What a spectacle to be at Camp Dick Robinson and witness the arrival of these refugees! Their clothes were torn in tatters. Most of them were barefooted [with] their feet bleeding from cuts received on the rocks in the mountains. Some waved little Union flags. Among them were old grayheaded men, midddle-aged men and little boys, who had traveled several hundred miles, and crossed the Cumberland Mountain. Many a stout heart was melted by this sight."

By the 3rd of August, 1861, Brents and Morrison had a full company of cavalry ready to start for camp. "This was a great day in Albany," he said. The entire population of the county assembled to bid farewell to eighty-five citizens who had enlisted in the Union army for three years." All along the route, the one hundred mile march to Camp Dick Robinson was one continual ovation...a one hundred mile parade and celebration. The future soldiers stayed overnight at Monticello and Somerset and were received and feasted like lords. "Men and horses fared bountiously," wrote Brents.

Camp Dick Robinson was alive with hope and renewed vision for a tormented people. Major Brents said, "we had very frequently much amusement, caused by raw soldiers on picket duty getting alarmed, and running into camp and reporting a large force at hand. Then what confusion -- what stirring and moving from point to point -- drums beating -- marching and counter-marching! Excited soldiers would rush to the warehouse, and break open boxes to procure arms and amunition." The cavalry generally got the worst of it. They would often be sent out to hunt the enemy, but were never so fortunate as to find a foe worthy of their steel. Often would they be aroused at the hour of midnight, mount their horses, and ride over hills and down dark valleys, and return to camp just at the break of day. Sometimes the guard at the bridge over the Kentucky river, ten miles distant, would send word to camp that they were about to be attacked. The cavalry would be aroused and sent to their assistance, but on reaching the bridge would find all quiet, the alarm having been caused by a horse running through the woods, or something like that.

Meanwhile, back home a real battle was brewing. One-thousand rebel troops had invaded Clinton County from Fentress County and captured several home guard guns. When word spread to Camp Robinson, Colonel Hoskins called upon all home guards in the area to assist him in defending the area and they did; not only from Clinton County, but from Adair, Casey and Russell counties as well. "This was a rich campaign, said Major Brents." A fight was expected every hour, and all were excited, however no attack was made as the rebels became alarmed and moved to the Monroe community in Overton County, where they commenced fortifying. Colonel Hoskins grew impatient at not being attacked, and decided to become the aggressor. The rebels had established a camp at Travisville, and the Colonel ordered Captain Morrison to take his company and attack them. The captain, a gallant and brave officer, being quite anxious for the expedition, proceeded to the camp and made the attack in a fierce and derermined manner. Captain Morrison himself fired upon the enemy with such promptness and precision that they broke and fled, leaving horses, saddles, guns, pistols, papers, etc. behind. Major Brents said, "There were two things connected with this campaign worthy of notice. Number one, the citizens were loyal and willing to repel the invasion, although they were not in any army, and number two, Captain Morrison's company of the 1st regiment of Kentucky Cavalry were the first Union troops on the soil of Tennessee after the commencement of the rebellion; and this, the first expedition to that State, was entirely successful. Today, the battle is known as the Affair at Travisville.

Camp Wildcat
When word came that General Zollicoffer was advancing upon Camp Wildcat in Northern Laurel County, the 3rd Kentucky regiment marched to the area to help. Among the soldiers was J.A. Brents. "We traveled until about ten o'clock p. m., when we halted, dismounted, and turned in for the remainder of the night," he said. "Many lay down upon the cold ground without any fire or covering except one blanket; others built fires before attempting to sleep. Early in the morning we were again on the march -- halted and took breakfast (a cracker and a slice of bacon) about nine o'clock -- resumed the march, and reached Camp Wildcat Sunday evening." On Monday morning, October 21, 1861, all were on alert. Several hours passed away but no attack was made. According to Major Brents, it was concluded that none would be made that day, so the cavalry retired to the rear to get breakfast and feed their horses. The men had just commenced broiling their bacon, when word came that the enemy was advancing. "We had not been in position long before two regiments of rebel troops advanced against us," he said. About three hundred fifty of the 33d Indiana regiment and three hundred fifty of the cavalry were the only forces to repel this attack. But nobly did the Kentuckians and Indianians stand to their post. The latter were trained troops, and fired volleys  in quick succession. The Kentuckians were not so well drilled, but made "pretty music" with their rifles, according to Major Brents. This was something more than the rebels expected as they broke and fled in confusion, leaving 53 soldiers dead and a portion of their wounded upon the field. The Union fatalities totaled 25.

A Welcome to Waitsboro
The rebels had established camps in Fentress and Overton counties and were continually making raids into Kentucky as far north as Monticello, taking property, arresting citizens, etc. They had two regiments of infantry and perhaps a thousand cavalry, but no artillery. Captain Morrison proceeded to Albany and drove the rebel advance back into Tennessee. In a few days word came that the enemy, including General Felix Zollicoffer and his entire command of three to six thousand rebels, had marched to Waitsboro, where Col. Hoskins and about eight hundred Union soldiers were stationed. Major Brents was among two hundred men who marched to the area to assist the Colonel. He said, "We started about ten o'clock A.M., and rode the whole day, not stopping till after dark. It rained the entire day. We bivouacked for the night, and next morning started again, not having heard a word from Colonel Hoskins or the enemy. It was still raining. We passed Logan's Fields but saw no enemy. Moving on, we thought perhaps we might meet a rebel force at Fishing Creek. The citizens on the road told us that we could not cross the creek -- that it would swim our horses. We pushed on to the creek, however, finding no enemy. The stream was over the banks, and more like a river than a creek. No delay could be made: if we waited ten minutes, it was certain that we could not cross. It was still raining in torrents, and the creek rising rapidly. We rushed into the boisterous stream, the water nearly reaching the backs of the horses, and swam the low horses; reached the opposite bank, and with a yell announced our relief. We were soon in the streets of Somerset, and, although it was still raining heavily, the men rushed out to welcome us; the women came to the windows, the doors and on the sidewalks, waving their handkerchiefs.

Mill Springs
On January 10, 1862, Major Brents and company began moving to Logan's Cross Roads in preparation for major assault on General Zollicoffer at Mill Springs. Major Brents said the march to Logan's Cross Roads was an extraordinary one. "It was the middle of winter," he said. "The march had to be made over a dirt road in a swampy country. The wagons would sink almost to the axle, sticking nearly every hundred yards and an hour or so was consumed in extricating them." Major Brents' company reached their destination on January 16th. He writes, "On the morning of the 19th, at daylight, our pickets were attacked by the rebel cavalry. Twenty of our cavalry were sent immediately to re-enforce them. On their arrival, the rebel cavalry had retired, and our pickets were confronted by a regiment of infantry, whom they met and kept in check until the arrival of other forces." Realizing the mounted calvary was useless, Colonel Wolford ordered his men to dismount and march to the left of the Indiana regiment, which they did just as the attack was made. It was there that the Calvary and the Indianians stood shoulder to shoulder in open field and fought the entire rebel force for about one hour, before being compelled to draw back. Union forces had not retired far when they met the 4th Kentucky. A new line of battle was formed, this time behind a fence and in a skirt of timber. "The conflict was again renewed, and continued perhaps an hour or more, when the 9th Ohio and 2nd Minnesota arrived and, after pouring several heavy volleys into the enemy's ranks, made as gallant a charge as was ever witnessed," said Major Brents. "The enemy could not stand it, but broke and fled in great confusion, pursued by our victorious troops." By early next morning, the enemy had retired across the river in a steamboat, leaving behind artillery, wagons, tents, camp equipage, trunks, and everything except their small arms and four pieces of artillery. The victory was complete. Four regiments and four companies, and a few pieces of artillery, had completely routed eight regiments of the enemy. Union losses were 39 killed and 207 wounded. Confederate losses were 125 killed, including General Zollicoffer, and 404 wounded or missing

A Call For Help
After Mill Springs, Major Brents turned his thoughts to the guerilla raids that were taking place in Clinton County. In a letter to Col. Wolford, dated Feb. 5, 1862, he wrote, "Last June, Clinton County had nine hundred voters, nearly all of whom were loyal to the Union...Clinton County has about five hundred troops in the Army...they [soldiers] have left wife and children, father and mother, brother and sister, their homes and property, and taken up arms in defence of our common country. The rebels invaded the county, oppressed her citizens at home, put them in fear, abused them, murdered several, and stole their property. Stlll her citizens in the army submitted to it quietly for the good of the cause. But, now the rebels have been whipped and routed and driven back, except a small number of thieves, who are now hanging upon the border, threatening destruction and extermination to everbody. Why cannot a force be sent to the border sufficient to protect that country, and stand between the rebels and the families of those in their country's service, who are bound to suffer greatly if not protected? ...Are a loyal people to be left unprotected, and to be plundered and murdered by two or three hundred thieves after the main army has been routed and driven from this part of Kentucky, when fifteen or twenty thousand troops are within thirty or thirty-five miles? As a citizen of Clinton county, who has suffered at the hands of the rebels, I humbly and earnestly ask that one or two regiments, if not more, be sent to the border, so as to render protection to as loyal people as ever lived."

[After the war, guerilla Champ Ferguson was arrested, convicted and hung for the deaths of 53 people, both soldiers and civilians...many of whom lived in Clinton County.]

A Wonderful, Beautiful Place
I include the following excerpt from J.A. Brents book because in the midst of the bloody Civil War he took the time to reflect on the place he called home...the same place that I, too, call home. A wonderful, beautiful place...

In April of 1862, after crossing Obey River at the onset of a march into Tennessee, Major Brents saw what he described as the most picturesque scene he ever witnessed. "About half a mile from the river, on the north side, the road makes a precipitate descent into the river bottom. I stood upon the brink of the hill at this point, and took a view of the surrounding country. There lay the beautiful river at my feet, and a vast plain upon the opposite side, perhaps three miles in width, while a range of hills is presented to the view. Just beyond this range is another, then a third one, and so on to the farther range, which is of great height. These hills approached theriver both to the right and left, thus forming a basin. The timber, which was very heavy upon them, was just getting green; the warm spring days had pushed out the buds and leaves. The soldiers marched down to the river, and, with the waving of hats and banners, rushed into the foaming water, which was nearly over the backs of our horses. It was a beautiful scene. I am no poet nor have I imagination enough to describe the scene as I would wish, yet I have given the outlines, from which a highly wrought fancy can form a beautiful picture."

The march into Tennessee was J.A. Brents last involvement in the Civil War. He resigned his commission on July 2, 1862.

"We must not let the banner of Liberty fall. In the name of all that is sacred, keep the banner of Liberty waving. - J.A. Brents.

To obtain a copy of this book, visit the Clinton County Historical Society's website at:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Innkeeper

James Cole was an innkeeper who came to America in the 1630's with his wife and four children and settled at Plymouth Colony. James was the first settler to live on Cole's Hill.  The site is named for his son, John.

According to Pilgrim Hall Museum, America's Museum of Pilgrim Possession, virtually all the historic sites relating to the earliest period of the settlement at Plymouth in 1620 have lost their original character and convey little impression of the colony. One exception is Cole's Hill. The view from the hill of land and harbor and sea conveys a vivid impression of the scene that greeted the Mayflower's weary passengers.

The hill was the traditional burial place of the Plymouth colonists, Pilgrims, and others, who died during the tragic first winter of 1620-21. The dead were reportedly buried at night, and their graves disguised to prevent the Indians from learning the dangerously weakened state of the survivors. In later years, the colonists occasionally mounted cannons on the hill to ward off possible attack from the sea.

Today, Cole's Hill is maintained by the Pilgrim Society as a public park. On its top stands the memorial to the Mayflower Pilgrims. At the foot of the hill is Plymouth Rock, the legendary landing site of the Pilgrims and stepping stone to the New World. Whether or not the Pilgrims actually landed on the rock, it has deep meaning for most Americans. Cole's Hill, the nearby rock, and the curving shores of Plymouth Bay memorably evoke the time more than three centuries past when Englishmen came to the shores of New England to stay.

Just outside my church, Clear Fork Baptist Church, is a burial ground and in the far lefthand corner of that burial ground, near the back of the Church, is where several members of the David Mason Cole family are buried.

David Cole was the great, great, great, great grandson of James Cole.

He was born in 1777 in Washington County, Virgina and died here on March 4, 1861 at the age of 83. Shortly before the year 1800, he married Remember Woolsey of France. They had five children: Martha, Rebecca, James, Sampson and Sarah. Not much is known about Remember, except that just before the War of 1812, she and her family crossed the Cumberland Mountains from Virginia into Kentucky and settled along Clear Fork Creek. Remember died young, at the age of 33. David went on to became a prosperous farmer and stockman. On June 11, 1817, he purchased a 130 acre tract across the creek from Clear Fork Baptist Church from Alexander Beaty. It was there, near the current site of the Church gymnasium, that David built a large house. He eventually became a prominent landowner as the 1837 tax list shows him owning 540 acres on Spring Creek, and other lots elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dode Dowell: The Courthouse Killing

Dode Dowell lived from 1858 to 1911 and was one of the most colorful characters ever in these parts. Short in stature with dark hair and leathery skin from the outdoor live he lived, Dode, whose real name was Duard Belmont Dowell, sported a droopy mustache and wore his hair parted low on the side to cover a scar left by brass knucks some long forgotten foe had once hit him with. Dode had a reputation for being a dangerous man in combat but he wasn't a mean man. He didn't look for trouble, but he didn't run from it either.

It is said that Dode Dowell was a good business man, a farmer who dealt in livestock and tobacco, and also a merchant, horse stud farm operator and tavern keeper. But, that wasn't all that Dode Dowell was. He was also a legal moonshiner.

His farm on Adam's Fork Creek, better known as Mell Ridge, was mostly an orchard. The fruit was used in brandy making and neighbors hauled fruit away in five barrel wagons for their own use at no charge. A government employee was always present at the making of the moonshine and also at the withdrawal of whiskey from the bond house. Occasionally, Dode would be arrested for selling whiskey illegally, but nine times out of ten he was found not guilty. He also appeared in court numerous times on firearms charges, disturbing the peace and so on.

There are many stories about the life of Dode Dowell, but the one most told begins with Fannie Buckner, Dode's first wife. She was pregnant with their second child when Deputy Marshall Bill Stotts, entered their home one day threatening to kill Dode. The young Mrs. Dowell was so frightened by his threats that she suffered a miscarriage and then died herself a few days later. Believing his wife's death was entirely the fault of Stotts, Dode sent word that if he ever met him he would kill him.

Dode didn't go looking for Stotts. As a matter of fact it wasn't until four years later that the two met. The date was May 16, 1887. The place was inside the courthouse at Edmonton, Kentucky. Court was in session when Dode spotted Stotts on the courthouse steps. The May 25, 1887 edition of the Hart County News described the ordeal in detail...

"Bill Stotts of Three Springs this county, while attending court at Edmonton last Monday, was shot and killed by an unknown person. While circuit court was in session about 3 o'clock in the evening a report of a gun or a pistol was heard and immediately thereafter Bill Stotts was seen falling down the stairs into the courtroom, blood gushing from his mouth and ears. Upon examination it was found that he had been shot in the center of the back, the ball passing entirely through his body. He died within a few moments without speaking a word. Roy Rutledge a young man who was upstairs and who had in his possession a Winchester Rifle and a pistol was arrested and jailed but it is not known whether or not he is guilty. The grand jury began to investigate the case and it is reported that a well known citizen of the county saw the killing and recognized the person who fired the shot. Stotts was on trial at Edmonton for shooting Bill Slinker's eye out some time ago. About 3 o'clock it is said that Dode and Tom Dowell, Rutledge and Hiram and Tom Pendleton were upstairs in the large room immediately over the courtroom and someone who does not seem to be known, came partly down the stairway and beckoned to Stotts and that the latter went up the stairway to the room above. Immediately the noise was heard with the shot, followed by Stotts rushing down the stairway mortally wounded. It is believed that the person in the room above decoyed Stotts upstairs for the purpose of killing him. They are the noted Dowells of Green County and their adherents. It is said the Dowells have been engaged in the manufacture of whiskey illicitly and that Stotts who has been in the Revenue Service, has given them trouble. Stotts seems to have been a bad man, but with all of his faults it looks as if he has been most foully murdered. Two of the Dowells and Rutledge have all been indicted for murder, The Dowells escaped while Rutledge is still in jail....the Dowells are desperate men and justice probably lost the only chance it ever will have of getting it's hands on them when they walked out of the courthouse after killing Stotts."
According to the June 1, 1887 of the newspaper...
"The grand jury at Edmonton last week returned indictments against Dode and Tom Dowell, two brothers named Pendleton and Roy Rutledge for conspiring together and killing Bill Stotts of this county in the court house of that place on Monday week. From the latest information received it seems that George Bushong an old gentleman from Rock Bridge, Monroe County, who had been upstairs in the County Judge's Office on the same floor where the tragedy occurred, came out of the judge's door just in time to see one man slap Stott's face, another hit him with his fist, a third kick him and as Stotts ran and was trying to escape down the stairs, still a fourth man shot him. The shot was fired from a pistol and not from a Winchester rifle as first stated. A Winchester was however found upstairs but had it's full complement of loads, 16, in it. Stotts himself had come to town with a goodly supply of arms in his wagon, a small arsenal in fact, but he seemed to have had no weapons with him when killed. Judge George R. Price the County Judge, also saw the shooting. He had been in his office with Mr. Bushong and was just coming out of the door too, when the shot was fired. He says Dode Dowell is the man who fired it, and as he did so and saw Judge Price had witnessed it Dowell shook his head at him. The pistol used was a Colt 44 and the ball passed clear through Stotts body and through several partition walls. Although only the Dowells, Pendletons, and Rutledge have been indicted Slinker and Johnson are suspected of being in the conspiracy to kill Stotts. Rutledge was the only one arrested the others making their escape, and it is said, have sent word to the sheriff of Metcalfe that he need not come after them as he will not get them. Rutledge is now in jail, and there have been rumors afloat that the Dowells and others would make an attempt to rescue him."
In the confusion immediately following the shooting Dode descended the courthouse stairs and slipped outside, where he mingled with the crowd and got away. It's not clear whether he voluntarily surrendered or was captured, but according to old newspaper accounts the prosecution of his case began in December of 1887 and continued until 1890, when Dode Dowell was found not guilty.

2011 will be the 100 year anniversary of the passing of Dode Dowell. His legend will last forever, or at least as long as there is someone to tell the stories and someone to listen. The Colt 44 used to kill Bill Stotts is a highly sought item by collectors.  

Pictured above is the old Metcalfe County Courthouse at Edmonton, where Dode Dowell killed Bill Stotts in an upstairs room.

Setting The Course On Fire

In golf, I have always heard the phrase, "Setting the course of fire," but I have never ever heard of a player doing that literally until now.

Over the weekend, a golfer's routine swing in the rough at the Shady Canyon Golf Course in Irvine, California struck a rock. The impact caused a spark, and the spark set off a blaze that eventually covered 25 acres and, according to the Associated Press, required the efforts of 150 Orange County firefighters.  The blaze required both helicopters and on-the-ground crews.

The conditions were ripe for a blaze waiting for the right spark -- even from metal touching a rock. No charges are being filed and the golfer's name is being withheld.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Means Brothers at Horseshoe Bend

Prior to the War of 1812, Ahijah and Andrew Means, Jr. and a group of other men formed the Overton County Militia to protect their homes. The militia was commanded by Col. Stephen Copeland and was part of the 3rd Regiment, West Tennessee Militia Infantry in General Thomas Johnson’s Brigade.

As the white population increased, the Creek Indians began to divide among themselves into those who held more traditional views and those who were more assimilated through contact with whites. Tecumseh tried to unite the Native Americans in a confederacy against white Americans. Most Upper Creeks, called "Red Sticks" because of their bright red war clubs, wanted to resist white encroachment. Most Lower Creeks, more accustomed to whites, were inclined toward peace. This division led to the Creek War of 1813-14.

With the Creek already on the warpath, a war faction of the "Red Sticks" took part in a general uprising when a party of frontier settlers clashed with some native Americans at Burnt Corn, Alabama about 80 miles north of Pensacola, Florida. 250 people at Ft. Mims, just above Mobile, Alabama, were massacred and many others burned to death. When the news reached Nashville, General Andrew Jackson mobilized the Tennessee militia for a full-scale campaign.

In January 1814 Jackson launched his campaign to drive south into the heart of Red Stick country between the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers. A deep bend in the Tallapoosa River, known as Horseshoe, enclosed one hundred acres, furrowed with gullies and covered by small timber and brush. Across the narrow neck of the peninsula the Creek had built a log breastwork. At the point was a fleet of canoes to insure an avenue of retreat. On the morning of Sunday, March 27, 1814, Jackson sent 700 mounted militia and 600 Cherokee and Lower Creek allies to cross the Tallapoosa and surround the bend. Jackson and the troops of the Thirty-Ninth U.S. Infantry and Tennessee Militia Infantry, about 2,000 men including brothers Ahijah and Andrew Means, marched into the peninsula of the Horseshoe to confront the 1,000 Red Sticks behind their barricade. Jackson warned, "Any officer or soldier who flies before the enemy without being compelled to do so by superior force...shall suffer death."

"Arrows, and spear, and balls were flying. Swords and tomahawks gleaming in the sun," said Sam Houston. Jackson’s hope was to breach the barricade. "For two hours "a brisk...galling fire" of cannon and musketry, a hail of iron shot and lead balls splintered the bark of the logs, but the "balls passed through the works without shaking the wall... Notwithstanding every shot penetrated...and carried with it death..still such was the strength of the wall that it never shook," Jackson later said.

It was Ahijah and Andrew Means and the rest of the volunteer militia's job to guard the supply wagons, pack horses and wounded. They were located behind the three main positions in front of the breastworks. Records show that some of the regiment were wounded, indicating their position was breached causing the militia men from Overton County to join in the fighting.

During a lull in the battle, a small cloud appeared. The Red Sticks, believing this was the sign they had been waiting for, fired upon the messenger of peace and resumed the battle with fury. The sign of deliverance brought only a quiet shower and the peninsula was strewed with the slain. The battle of Horseshoe Bend was over.

557 Indian dead were counted on the ground and the river held 200 more. All total, nearly 900 warriors are believed to have perished in this decisive battle. Jackson had lost 49 men and another 157 were wounded.

On August 9, 1814, Andrew Jackson forced the Creeks to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson. Despite protest of the Creek chiefs who had fought alongside Jackson, the Creek Nation ceded 23 million acres, half of Alabama and part of southern Georgia, to the United States government. Even though the Creek War was largely a civil war between the Creeks, Andrew Jackson saw no difference between the Creeks that had fought with him and the Red Sticks that fought against him. Of the 23 million acres Jackson forced the Creeks to cede, 1.9 million acres was claimed by the Cherokee Nation who had allied with the United States. After becoming President, Jackson took the land ceded to his former allies, the Cherokees, together with other Cherokee lands in his removal of the Cherokees to the Oklahoma Territory. Chief Junaluska, the Cherokee Chief who saved the life of Jackson in battle and who led 500 Cherokees in support of Jackson at Horseshoe Bend, stated that "If I had known that Jackson would drive us from our homes, I would have killed him at Horseshoe."

The Pay Roll Records for Col. Copeland’s company showed that for the 4 months and 5 days of service, Ahijah and Andrew Means and others in the Overton County Militia received $8 a month with a $2.86 subsistence, for a total of $36.19. When the militia men returned to Overton County, both Ahijah and Andrew left their home on Obey River and moved to Missouri where they lived the rest of their days.

Ahijah and Andrew Means' brother, Benjamin, was the great-grandfather of William Ezra great-grandfather.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Threads of Life

President Dwight David Eisenhower once said, "There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were." The same can also be said for grandparents.

I know so many things in my life ended with the passing of my grandparents, Cecil and Dimple Speck, in 1986. After he died, she said that she did not want to live without him and two weeks later she passed away. It was a sad time for my family. They were the cornerstone of our lives. Everything was built around them; holiday meals, love, encouragement and solid to the core advice. Suddenly all of that came to end never to be again, only remembered. I loved spending the night with them and sitting at the kitchen table listening to my grandmother tell stories from her childhood and stories of other family members. I think that is where my love for genealogy began. She would also read from the bible and would instruct us. I recall with great sadness the day she asked me why I had stopped coming to see her. You see, I had gotten older and I let things drag me away from her kitchen table. She died before I could go back there and I so sorely regret that.

I believe that no one single event ever occurs; that whenever something happens, if you look around, you will find something else has occurred related to that one event. I believe the people in our lives; our family, friends, neighbors, even strangers we meet, are there for a purpose. I believe as we get older, we are able to retain certain memories and recall certain times in our lives for a reason. Like patchwork, the threads of life are woven together to make us what we are or what we are to become. That is how a friend of mine described it and I think she is right. Life is fragile and the older I get the more aware I am of just how fragile it really is.

I read obituaries for a living and sometimes they are hard to read. The older I get, the more I know the name of the deceased. The very morning my grandfather, Cecil, died I had to read his obituary on the air. Someone commented later that they could not believe how I was able to do that. I just remember that it was hard to do. I grew up in radio and was surrounded by great men and women, who not only taught me everything about radio, but they also taught me a lot about life. I ended up writing and reading all of their obituaries and now I am carrying on without them. It isn't always easy.

Watching them, and others, live and die has taught me to enjoy life more. I want to live my life to its fullest every single day that I have left. I am not interested in when I will die. I am going to enjoy today.

I can't imagine living with someone for 50 years but I can understand why Dimple did not want to go on living after Cecil died. Laying in her hospital bed, with her children gathered around her and unable to speak, she took her finger and wrote B-U-Z-Z in the air. Buzz was my grandpa's nickname. She was telling them she wanted to go be with him. A couple of days later, she did.

After my grandpa's death, my grandma began writing a poem, but she died before she could finish it. My dad finished it for her and read it at her funeral.

Today Lord, I'm leaving my loved ones and my home
But I won't be fearing for I won't be alone
You'll be there beside me when I cross to the other shore
Home Sweet Home eternal, never to die no more

In 1843, Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote "It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards, but they forget the other proposition, that is must be lived forwards." So, forward I day at a time, weaving the threads of life as I go. I miss my friends and family who have gone on before me, especially Dolly Dimple Speck. To borrow a line from Kierkegaard, 'Of all the things I inherited from her, the mere recollection of her is more dearest to me.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Claiming Fannie Cobb

In 1794, after the destruction of the Cherokee towns of Nickajack and Running Water in the southern part of central Tennessee, a group of Chickamauga Cherokees moved west across the Mississippi River and into southeastern Missouri. In the winter of 1811-1812, the devastation of the great New Madrid Earthquake persuaded them to leave the area and move farther west into north central Arkansas between the White and Arkansas rivers.

The Western Cherokee received formal title to their land by virtue of a treaty between the United States and the Cherokee, where the Cherokee Nation ceded an area in the east Nation equal to that land occupied by the Western Cherokee in Arkansas. Under this same treaty the U.S. government began actively encouraging Native Americans to move west. It became known as the Trail of Tears. The Choctaw were the first in 1831. The Seminole were removed in 1832, the Creek in 1834, then the Chickasaw in 1837. By the early 1830's, more than 4,000 Native Americans were living west of the Mississippi.

Many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route to their destinations, and many died. The Cherokee were the last to be removed. The U.S. Government tried to remove them in 1835, but most resisted, so they were forcibly removed. In the end, some 46,000 Native Americans had been removed from their homelands.

Between 1839 and 1846, the Indian Nation became divided over who owned the land. A third treaty, signed in August of 1846, determined that the lands occupied by the tribe belonged to all the members. At the same time, the Federal Government admitted that it had, among other things, improperly charged the Cherokee against the $5,000,000 they received for their lands back East. Three lawsuits were filed with the United States Court of Claims ruling in favor of the Cherokee. As a result, over one million dollars was awarded to the Eastern Cherokee.

The Department of Interior assigned a Mr. Guion Miller as special agent to identify those who were eligible to receive $133.18 that was given to each person. The Guion Miller Roll was made to distribute the money to all Eastern Cherokee that were alive on May 28, 1906, who could prove that they were members of the tribe at the time of the treaties of 1835, 1836 and 1845, or were descended from members of the tribe. Each applicant was asked for such information as full English and Indian name, residence, age, place of birth, name of husband or wife, names of children, place of birth and date of death of parents and grandparents, names and ages of brothers and sisters, and names of uncles and aunts. Mr. Miller released his report on May 28, 1909. Over 45,000 applications representing 90,000 individuals were filed with only 30,254 individuals being found eligible. 27,051 of those eligible lived west of the Mississippi River, with another 3,203 living east of the Mississippi River.

According to the records of the U.S. Court of Claims, over 250 of the applicants claimed to be a descendant of Fannie Cobb, a full-blooded Cherokee who lived in Fentress County, Tennessee.

Fannie Coker Cobb was my fifth great-grandmother on my mothers side. Her son, Jesse's granddaughter, Deborah, married George Boles, who was my grandfather's grandfather.

According to the book, Extract of the Rejected Applications of the Guion Miller Roll of the Eastern Cherokee, Vol. 3, (2006) by Jo Ann Curls Page, several of the descendants on my mother's side were among those applications which were denied. They included George and Deborah Boles and some of their children, including Barlow, Doll, Hige (my great-grandfather) and George's father, John Boles.

In his claim filed in 1907, Deborah's brother, Asa Smith, wrote that he was applying "for such share as may be due me of the fund appropriated in favor of the Eastern Cherokees through my grandfather Jesse Cobb. His mother was a Coker and she was a Cherokee Indian. She married a Cobb, my mother's maiden name: Fannie Cobb."  The claim was denied.

If Fannie Cobb was a full-blooded Cherokee, then one of three things happened to cause their applications to be rejecrted.  They either failed to fill out the applications correctly, failed to prove their direct relation to Fannie or they failed to prove she was a full-blooded Cherokee.  Fannie Coker Cobb died five years before the U.S. Court of Claims ruling.

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...