Saturday, June 27, 2015

Liberty And Justice For All

Just because the U.S. Supreme Court gave members of the same sex legal sanctions of marriage should not mean that preachers or churches should be required to perform or host the weddings, or for that matter, even recognize the civil union in their church. The same liberties that allow a civil union should also be afforded to those who oppose it. Both sides need to respect that. The liberty to act and believe as we choose, within the realm of justice, and to not restrict that liberty based on ones beliefs, applies to everyone. And I quote, ".. with liberty and justice for all!"

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

"These old men would say, 'One of these days the South is going to rise again.' I didn't take it as a joke. I thought it was really touching, that these people lived this world from the standpoint of a rocking chair."

"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" by The Band was released by Capitol Records on September 22, 1969 as the B side to, "Up on Cripple Creek," which was the title track on their second album by the same name. It was written by the group's guitarist, Robbie Robertson.

The lyrics tell of the last days of the American Civil War, the winter of 1865, and the suffering of white Southerners. The Confederate states are starving and defeated. Confederate soldier Virgil Caine served on the Danville train (the Richmond and Danville Railroad, a main supply line into the Confederate capital of Richmond). Union cavalry regularly tore up Confederate rail lines to prevent the movement of men and material to the front where Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was overtaken at the Siege of Petersburg. As part of the offensive campaign, Union Army General George Stoneman's forces tore up the track again. The May 10th date refers to the date Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured, the definitive end of the Confederacy.

Robertson claimed that he had the music to the song in his head but had no idea what it was to be about. Band mate Levon Helm took him to a public library and he began researching the civil war, and that is where the song was born.
"When I first went down South, I remember that a quite common expression would be, "Well don't worry, the South's gonna rise again." At one point when I heard it I thought it was kind of a funny statement and then I heard it another time and I was really touched by it. I thought, "God, because I keep hearing this, there's pain here, there is a sadness here." In Americana land, it's a kind of a beautiful sadness."

"I went from Toronto to the Mississippi Delta, and...I liked the way people talked, I liked the way they moved. I liked being in a place that had rhythm in the air. I thought 'No wonder they invented rock 'n' roll here. Everything sounds like music...and I got to come into this world, a cold outsider - cold literally from Canada...and because I didn't take it for granted, it made me write something like "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." These old men would say, 'One of these days the South is going to rise again.' I didn't take it as a joke. I thought it was really touching, that these people lived this world from the standpoint of a rocking chair." (Copyright, Peter Viney)

In 1969, Ralph J. Gleason wrote in Rolling Stone magazine: "Nothing I have read has brought home the overwhelming human sense of history that this song does."

Virgil Caine is the name
And I served on the Danville train
Til Stoneman's cavalry came
And tore up the tracks again
In the winter of '65
We were hungry, just barely alive
By May the 10th, Richmond had fell
It's a time I remember, oh so well

The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singin'
They went la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la

Back with my wife in Tennessee
When one day she called to me
"Virgil, quick, come see
There goes Robert E. Lee!"
Now I don't mind choppin' wood
And I don't care if the money's no good
Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest
But they should never have taken
The very best

Like my father before me
I will work the land
Like my brother above me
Who took a rebel stand
He was just eighteen, proud and brave
But a Yankee laid him in his grave
I swear by the mud below my feet
You can't raise a Caine back up
When he's in defeat

Story #500

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Confederate Battle Flag

The Confederate flag was a battle flag. It was never a national flag. The CSA never adopted it.

The Confederate battle flag represents a spirit independence, courage, family and good times.

"Racism and bigotry are to be despised and abhorred."

For most southerners, the Confederate flag is about heritage and pride. It is not about hate and it is not about prejudice.

Hatred in the heart is the devil's doing. It is not brought on by a flag.

Trying to erase our past will not prevent further senseless acts of violence. People who want to kill are not going to stop because of a flag.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Pocket Watch

My grandfather gave me that pocket watch when I was 12 or 13 years old. I have kept it mostly put up since then, only getting it out a couple of times a year just to wind it up and then I return it to its home. But, I see it every day, and when I see it, I think about him. Maybe he thought about that when he gave it to me. I like to think he did, anyway.

No one has ever wound that pocket watch up but me. Someday, I will pass it on to my kids and tell them it is a gift from their old great granddad. He will smile that day. Yes, he will smile.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Night I Saw Boston In Concert: Nov. 20, 1976

The date was Saturday, Nov. 20, 1976. The place was Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. Until that night, the only thing I knew about Boston was their song, "More Than A Feeling," was getting lots of airplay on radio and was a hit. I had also heard, "Smokin'" and "Peace of Mind."

That night in Nashville, they performed all of their debut album live. It had only been out a little over three months (August 8, 1976), but had attracted a lot of publicity because of the unprecedented record sales by an unknown act, the groups unique sound, specifically the layered guitar parts, and singer Brad Delp's amazing vocals.

What we did not know that night in Nashville was that Tom Scholz had played all the instruments on the album except drums. There had been a conscious effort to de-emphasize him as the total mastermind behind the band.

Boston fronted Foghat that night, but it wasn't long before they became the headliner and, within a short time, established itself as one of rock's top acts.

The debut album, Boston, ranks as one of the best-selling debut albums in U.S. history with over 17 million copies sold. Additionally, the album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the charts for 132 weeks.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In My Family Tree: Hige Boles

My great-grandfather, Ahija Boles, and his second cousin, Willie Winningham, owned Winningham Chevrolet. One day Hige came home with a brand new Chevrolet, which had a manual transmission with the stick shift on the floor instead of on the steering column. He sat down in a chair with the owners manual in his left hand and practiced pushing in the clutch with his right foot and shifting gears with his right hand. After a while he said, "I think I can do this!" Hige did a lot of stuff during his lifetime, from farming to sheriffing to selling cars and real estate. Folks knew him as Hige or A.H., but I knew him as Papa Boles.

Tinker Dave Beaty with his brother-in-law, John Boles (left), and nephew, George Boles. They were members of Tinker Dave's Independent Scouts during the Civil War.

Hige was born in the year 1882. During the civil war, both his father and his grandfather were members of Tinker Dave Beaty's Independent Scouts. Tinker Dave's sister, Matilda, was Hige's grandmother. Right after the war, Hige's grandfather, John Boles, served a term as sheriff of Overton County. His wife, Nannie's, great grandfather, Elijah Koger, had been part of the home guard in Clinton County during the war.

I think Hige inherited a desire to try and separate right from wrong from his father and grandfather, because in 1925 he became a candidate for sheriff of Clinton County. Hige was elected and served as sheriff from 1926 to 1929. He confiscated so much moonshine and illegal whiskey that when he began talking about a second term, he heard serious rumors that if he won another term, his life would be in danger. So, at the next election, Willie ran for sheriff and won. Hige served as his deputy. At the same time Willie was sheriff of Clinton County, his father, George, was sheriff of Pickett County. George's son, Floyd, was his deputy.

On Saturday, April 22, 1933, George and Floyd tried to arrest Jerome Boyett at a lumber camp, but Jerome Boyett opened fire on them, killing Floyd instantly. George died the following day while enroute to a hospital in Nashville. Boyett fled into the woods, but later fearing for his life after a vigilante posse was formed, turned himself in to authorities in nearby Oneida. A few days later, a mob showed up and took Boyett from the jail and into a wooded area, where he was killed.

After that all went down, Willie was ready to get out of the sheriffing business. With the next election coming up, Willie filed as a candntye election day, Willie went to the Highway community to arrest Reed Cox for shooting at a man. He tried to get Cox to surrender peacefully, but that didn't work. Shots were fired resulting in the two men killing each other. Willie's wife, Anne, served the remaining six months of his term as sheriff. Hige stayed on as her deputy.

A new book will soon be released that deals with the Jerome Boyett story. Hige was in the woods that night. Whether or not he actually participated in the lynching is a matter of opinion. My grandfather always claimed that Hige stayed back, acting as a lookout and did not participate in the lynching. Many of the men involved died mysteriously over the next 20 years, but Hige lived to be 93.

Hige and Nannie Boles

Mom pulled into the grocery store one day. She was only going to be gone a second. I decided i want to scare my brothers and sister. As soon as she disappeared into the store, I very stupidly grabbed the gear shift and pulled it from park into neutral. Suddenly, the car began to roll backwards toward an awaiting busy street. But stopped! I could not understand why, until I looked out the back window and saw Hige standing behind the car, holding it with all his might while someone else reached inside the car and put it in park. I can still see him standing there with his outstretched arms, using every bit of strength an 80-year-old man had to keep our car from rolling out into the street. But, where did he come from? I thought that he magically appeared to rescue us kids. I later learned he had been standing across the street and didn't know that mom had asked him come over and watch after us until she returned. I deserved the spanking I got, but from then on, I looked at Hige in a totally different way. He was my angel.

Hige grew older and slowly his body began to wear down. He lost his hearing and then his eye sight. And then the day came when we were called to his bedside. He had not raised his head or spoken a word for several days. When we walked into his hospital room, suddenly his eyes opened and he sat straight up in his bed. We gathered around him to hug and kiss him and to be hugged and kissed by him as the tears rolled down our cheeks, including his. Hige died peacefully in his sleep the following day. I think God let him live long enough to allow me to see my angel one last time.

Monday, June 15, 2015

In My Family Tree: Chief Nettle Carrier

There is evidence of Cherokee indians on more than one branch of my family tree. Elizabeth "Jennie" Franklin Boles, who was the great-grandmother of my great-grandfather, Hige Boles, was the daughter of a full-blooded Cherokee, whose name was Princess Rose. She was the niece of Chief Nettle Carrier, whose village in Overton County wasn't far from Obey River. Later, when a community sprang up near the Indian village, it was called Nettle Carrier, in honor of the chief. Today, we know it as Alpine.

Alpine Mountain

A map of Overton County showing Nettle Carrier Creek

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Means Family of Whitewright, Texas

Caleb and Docia Means left Albany around 1915 and moved to Whitewright, Texas, near Mesquite. Caleb was 63 years old and Docia was 59 years old when they moved there. Nine of their children also moved west to either Texas or Oklahoma, another moved north to Indiana and two stayed in this area, twins William Ezra and Azel Edra Means. William, or Bill, was my great-great-grandfather.

Caleb and Docia, and their children, raised up a big family and they were proud of that. So proud, that on March 28, 1928, Caleb stopped a reporter from The Whitewright Sun newspaper to tell him about his family. It appeared in the weekly edition, which came out on the following day...

"Mr. Means has a large family, and is proud of the fact. The following figures were given to prove it. Mr. Means is 75 years old and has fourteen children, all of whom are living, five boys and nine girls. He has ninety living grandchildren and fifteen dead, thirty-five great grandchildren and one dead. These figures total one hundred and fifty-five descendants for Mr. Meant, which is not a bad record. Mrs. Means is 72 years old. There is probably not another family in this section as large with as few deaths recorded as the Means family."

Docia Means died in 1929 at the age of 73. When Caleb died in 1936, his obituary appeared in The Whitewright Sun...

(Sept. 10, 1936) "Funeral services for C. S. Means, 84, were held from the home of his daughter, Mrs. J. P. Thornhill, at 4 o’clock Tuesday afternoon, with interment following at the City Cemetery. Funeral services were conducted by J. R. Waldrum, pastor of the Church of Christ. Mr. Means had been a member of the Church of Christ for a number of years. Pallbearers were grandsons of the deceased. Mr. Means was ill three weeks preceding his death. Mr. Means was born December 2, 1852, in Clinton Co., Kentucky. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. Azel Means. He came to Texas a number of years ago, and had resided in Whitewright for more than twenty years. Mr. Means is survived by four sons and eight daughters and approximately 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The surviving children are: Mrs. J. P. Thornhill, Mrs. M. L. Thornhill, Mrs. B. H Thrasher and Mrs Gus Taylor of Whitewright, Mrs. Lucy Cline, Mrs. E. Cecil of Durant, Okla., Mrs. J. A. Cecil of Raymondville and Mrs. R. C. Burnett of Slaton, Bill Means of Livingston, Tenn., Azel Means of Albany, Ky., Jim Means of New Castle, Ind. and Ben Means of Denison."

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Lord Sustains Me

This time last week the sign at Campbell-New Funeral Home said, "Pat Speck Bowlin." Today it reads, "Darilyn Speck Brown." They say God never gives us more than we can handle. Why do I always have to be the one who can handle it? Why can't I be that guy who runs down the middle of the street pulling his hair out? Thank God the Lord sustains me. I don't know where I would be without that. (Psalms 3:5)

"May the good Lord bless and keep you
Whether near or far away
May you find that long awaited
Golden day today
May your troubles all be small ones
And your fortunes ten times ten
May the good Lord bless and keep you
Till we meet again"
(Jim Reeves)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Happy 100th Birthday, Les Paul!

Les Paul was born on this date in 1915. One of his classic recordings by he and Mary Ford is part of my 78 r.p.m. collection. Translated as "Go with God," Vaya con Dos" was first recorded by Anita O'Day in December of 1952, but, the most popular version of the song was recorded by Les Paul and Mary Ford in June of 1953. It was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 2486 with "Johnny (Is the Boy For Me)" as the flip side. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on June 13th and lasted thirty-one weeks on the chart, reaching number one on August 8th and remaining at number one for a total of eleven weeks. The recording was number one on the Cash Box chart for five weeks. In 2005, this Les Paul and Mary Ford recording was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Pat Bowlin's Legacy

~ In loving memory ~

Just recently, the choir at my church learned to sing "I've Never Been Sorry," a beautiful hymn written by Albert E. Brumley. He published the tune in 1941, ironically the same year that Pat Bowlin was born. This song mimics her life perfectly.

"I’ve never been sorry (Praise the Lord)
That I trusted His name (Blessed holy name)
Ev'ry moment I find Him (All the way)
Exactly the same (He’s exactly the same)
My soul has been singing (Ev’ry day)
Since the Savior came (Since the Savior came)
I've never been sorry (Praise the Lord)
that I trusted His name, blessed holy name"

Pat, or 'Auntie,' as I called her in my youth, was saved and joined Clear Fork Baptist Church in 1960. She promptly set out to serve the Lord, and did in so many different ways for the rest of her life. She would pick up friends, or children, and take them to church. She taught numerous people how to play the piano, including some who play in church today. Another way she served the Lord was with her voice.

Born into a musical family on October 15, 1941, the daughter of Cecil and Dimple Speck, Pat had learned to play the accordion by the time she was in her late teens or early twenty's. In 1965, she and her brother, Darrell (my dad), formed the popular Clear Chapel Trio. The group performed throughout Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as Indiana and Missouri. They also had a 30 minute weekly radio show on WANY in Albany. The original line up included Pat, Darrell and Bro. Anson Perkins of Monticello. Sue Tallent of Albany later replaced Bro. Perkins. They had several backing musicians on the radio show. Their cousin, Libby McWhorter (later, Mullinix) would sometimes play piano, as would Cecil Pryor, who also would sometimes played bass. Ray Mullinix also played bass on the program. Sometimes Elmer Goodman would play guitar, mandolin or fiddle. Joe Cerrato, who was the local sheriff at the time, played drums.

In early 1967, the Clear Chapel Trio released two 45 r.p.m. singles on Miracle Records out of Bowling Green. The songs were "If God Was Dead," "This Feeling In Me," "The Greatest Man," "God May Not Let You Live That Long," "This Feeling In Me" and "Thank You For The Valley." All but the last song were originals written by dad and his songwriting partner, Gene Coulter.

The Gospel Servants

Later that year, the trio changed their name to the Gospel Servants. The line up would eventually include Pat, Darrell and their cousin, Libby. An album entitled, "The Gospel Servants Sing The Greatest Man," was recorded at Sounds of America in Nashville. The album featured studio musicians, including famed gospel singer and composer, Henry Slaughter, on organ, and legendary guitarist Hal Kennedy of the Dixie Echoes. Most of the songs on the album were original songs written by dad and Gene, including "Big Singing Day," which was later recorded by the Speer Family, and "The Greatest Man," which was also later recorded by Kennedy.

Vestal Goodman was one of the most well-known female gospel voices back in the day, but while she was a great singer, she was no Patsy Speck. I always thought Pat was a much better singer. No one ever sang like my auntie. Her unique voice captivated audiences. She would throw her head back and wail like no other singer I ever heard. Her low alto range, so powerful it would almost shake the walls and you would sometimes think it was a man singing, commanded attention and she received nothing but respect and admiration from all who heard her.

"I’ve never been sorry (Praise the Lord)
That I trusted His name (Blessed holy name)"

When Pat became a christian, she put God first in her life and He remained first in her life 100% of the time. Pat, and her husband Jim Bowlin, a good and Godly man, never had children of their own, but Pat looked after other children, including nieces and nephews, and children outside the family who became her family. She told them about Jesus, took them to church and taught most of them how to play the piano.

"My soul has been singing (Ev’ry day)
Since the Savior came (Since the Savior came)"

It is difficult for me to come up with a favorite song that Pat sang, because she sang them all so well. "Who Am I" would have to rank at the very top. So would "I'll Follow The Lord." My favorite duet song that she sang with dad was "Somebody Bigger Than you And I." My favorite of all the trio songs would have to be their version of Dottie Rambo's "He looked Beyond My Faults And Saw My Need." When Pat takes over the lead on the last chorus, I am deeply moved.

On the day before my dad would have turned 77, Pat passed away at the age of 73. It is a sad time for us, but (to borrow the words of Pat's niece, Emily) we know that today in Heaven is a 'Big Singing Day.'

Pat was an inspiration to us all. Her love of gospel music touched my heart. Rarely a day passed that she did not sit at a piano and sing. It was the only Pat Bowlin I ever knew. It will forever be her legacy.

Monday, June 1, 2015


The state of Tennessee is only six years older than my church, Clear Fork Baptist Church. Tennessee earned its statehood on this date in 1796. Long before it became a state, one of Clear Fork's founding members, Thomas Stockton, Sr., settled there.

Thomas was born about 1740 in Albemarle County, Virginia. By 1783, he and his wife, Mary, and their children were living in what is now Sevier County, Tennessee. In about 1797, Thomas and his family became the first white settlers to live in what is now Clinton County, Kentucky. They named the place, Stockton's Valley.

Thomas' 200 acre property (at Irwin) was granted to him in 1798. Thomas died on Feb. 9, 1809. In 1824, his son, Thomas Jr. sold 128.5 acres of the property to John Irwin. Irwin Cemetery is located in the northwest corner of that land. Thomas Stockton Sr. is buried there.

Today, many people with the Stockton name live in Clinton County. According to, Thomas Stockton, Sr. had 13 children and 11 brothers and sisters.

April Was A Busy Month

4,353 different people viewed The Notorious Meddler, last month.

120,793 people have visited since 2008.

My visitors came from all over North America, Europe and Asia, including...
(1) United States, 2958
(2) Germany, 377
(3) Ukraine, 216
(4) France, 108
(5) United Kingdom, 48
(6) Russia, 45
(7) Greece, 33
(8) Canada, 21
(9) China, 17
(10) Japan, 17

Stories read the most were:
(1) Gap Creek
(2) Long Live The Goat Man
(3) Micajah Bunch - King of the Melungeons
(4) Ode To A Mule
(5) The Cold Hard Facts Of Life
(6) Lindle Castle: A Shining Star
(7) Blessed Are The Peacemakers
(8) Wow! What A Woman!
(9) The Battle of Camden (etc.)
(10) An Evening of Music: Betsy Lane Shepherd

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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...