Tuesday, December 3, 2019

In The Service of a President


In the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of the Department of Library Special Collections at Western Kentucky University is a letter addressed to George W. Burchette, a civil war soldier born in Clinton County, Kentucky, who was once in the service of one our nation's greatest presidents and later recognized by another.

George Washington Burchette was born on August 27, 1843 to John Calvin and Polly Branham Burchette. He was the grandson of Icil Burchett. On September 29, 1861, soon after the Civil War began, George enlisted in the Union Army's 12th Kentucky Cavalry, where he became a 1st Sergeant. He served until July 24, 1865. Although he fought in battles at Mill Springs, Fort Henry, Perryville and elsewhere, it is what he did at the war's end that he became known for.

The story begins just after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, which occured on April 14, 1865, less than a week after the Civil War ended. A funeral train, known as The Lincoln Special, was set up to transport the president's remains from Washington D.C. to his hometown of Springfield, Illinois, where he was to be buried. There were no television cameras or radio broadcasts in those days, only newspaper and telegraph. The Lincoln Special brought the slain president to the people. It allowed the nation to mourn together in a way that neither telegraph nor newspapers could do.

Following his assassination on April 14th, over the course of 20 days, the train made 14 stops, retracing the route Lincoln had traveled from Springfield, Illinois to Washington D.C., as the president-elect on his way to his first inauguration, more than four years earlier. Millions of Americans came to view the Lincoln Special along the route and to participate in ceremonies and processions that were held at each stop. Most wept.

The train left Washington, D.C. on April 21 and traveled 1,654 miles through Baltimore Maryland, Harrisburg and Philadelphia Pennsylvania, New York City, Albany and Buffalo New York, Cleveland and Columbus Ohio, Indianapolis and Michigan City Indiana.

Before going on to Springfield, the train stopped in Chicago, where 1st Sergeant Burchette had been chosen as one of 24 men who would serve as Guard of Honor for Lincoln's body as it was taken from the train depot to Cook County Courthouse to lie in state.

When the funeral train arrived at Chicago's Park Place, a signal gun was fired, and the tolling of the bell on the courthouse announced the news to the citizens, but thousands upon thousands of people were already congregated in the vicinity of the funeral arch. They stood in profound silence and reverently uncovered their heads as the coffin was borne to the dais beneath the grand arch, while the great Western Light Guard Band performed the "Lincoln Requiem," composed just for the occasion. Thirty-six young lady pupils of the high school, dressed in white and banded with crape, then walked around the bier and each deposited an immortelle on the coffin as she passed. The coffin was then placed in a hearse, prepared expressly for the occasion, and the funeral cortege passed out of the Park Place into Michigan avenue, and fell into procession.

John Carroll Power, an historian who served as the first custodian of Abraham Lincoln's tomb, described the procession this way: “It was a wilderness of banners and flags, with their mottoes and inscriptions. The estimated number of persons in line was 37,000 and there were three times as many more who witnessed the procession by crowding into the streets bordering on the line of march, making about one hundred and fifty thousand who were on the streets of Chicago that day to add their tribute of respect to the memory of Abraham Lincoln.”

The body of Abraham Lincoln lay in state at the courthouse for 28 hours, ending on May 2 at 8pm. Power wrote: “The coffin was then closed and carried to the hearse. The Light Guard Band performed a requiem as the remains were being transferred. An immense procession, bearing about three thousand torches, was already in line, to escort the remains to the depot. At a quarter before nine o’clock, it moved to the time of numerous bands of music. While the preparations for starting were in progress, the choir continued to sing funeral dirges, and twenty-four Sergeants of the Veteran Reserve Corps (including 1st Sergeant George Washington Buchette) stood around the funeral car with draw swords. At half-past nine o’clock, the funeral cortege moved slowly out of the depot to the strains of a funeral march by the band, while the bells of the city tolled a solemn farewell to all that was mortal of Abraham Lincoln.”

U.S. Sanitary Commission activist Mary A. Livermore recalled: “There was none of the hum of business; none of the rush and whirl and hot haste that characterize Chicago, but closed stores, silent streets, and sadness resting on all faces. Flags bound with crape floated mournfully at half-mast. Black draperies shrouded the buildings. All talk was low and brief. Many wept as they walked, and on the breast or arm of all were mourning badges. All nationalities, creeds, and sects were ranged along the route to be taken by the funeral cort├ęge, or stood amid the solemn pageantry and funeral splendor of the great procession.”

The train left Chicago to the sound to tolling bells. As it crossed through Illinois towards Lincoln’s home town, it passed large bonfires, large crowds and banners that read, “Come Home" and “Go To Thy Rest.” At Springfield, the coffin was loaded into an elaborate hearse pulled by six black horses in feathers and mourning blankets and bearing a silver plaque engraved with “A. L.” and taken to the state house. There, in the Hall of Representatives, where Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” speech, approximately 75,000 people filed silently by the coffin as a band played hymns sung by a choir of 30 vocalists. The next morning, Abraham Lincoln was laid to rest at Oak Ridge Cemetery.

George Washington Burchette was 22 years old when President Lincoln was assassinated. Being a member of the funeral guard brought him much notoriety back home in Cumberland and Clinton counties. After the war, he was appointed to oversee a group of 40 men who assisted the sheriff's of both counties in getting rid of bushwackers. He went on to become one of the Burkesville community's outstanding citizens and was elected state senator of Clinton and Cumberland counties.

When he died in 1935, just four months shy of his 92nd birthday, Burchette was Cumberland County's last surviving Union soldier and the last surviving member of the 24 men who had been chosen as guards for President Lincoln's while it as in Chicago and subsequent trip to Springfield. A few weeks before his death, Burchette received a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the letter, dated March 8, 1935, the president wrote "My dear Mr. Burchette, I am informed that you were a member of the funeral guard of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago and I am glad to send you this note to extend to you my personal greetings and my best wishes for your welfare. Very sincerely yours, President Franklin D. Roosevelt."

George Washington Burchette died at noon on April 18, 1935, one month and 10 days after receiving that letter. A funeral was held the following day at his residence and he was buried at Burkesville Cemetery. After his death, the letter was placed in the Department of Library Special Collections at WKU, where it can be seen today.

At the time of his death, Burchette was survived by his children: Georgia Bow, Sada Williams, Nettie Bryson, Della Brown Johnson, and William and Edward Burchette. Della was the mother of Oscar "Boss" Brown and other children. His grandfather, Icil Burchett, was killed by civil war guerrillas at his home in Clinton County. His great-grandfather, John Burchett, was a revolutionary war soldier in Virginia.

The photocopy of the letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to George Burchette is courtesy of Library Special Collections, WKU.



Thursday, November 21, 2019

How To Live Long


Between the mid 1800's and early 1900's, sheriffing was a way of life for some in the Boles side of my family. My 3rd great grandfather, John, was sheriff of Overton County, Tn right after the Civil War. His grandson, Hige, who was my great grandfather, was sheriff of Clinton County, Ky from the mid to late 1920's and a deputy sheriff for over 15 years.

In the early 1930's, another of John's grandsons, Savage Garfield Boles, my first cousin three times removed, worked as a deputy sheriff in the Fentress County, Tn coal company town of Wilder, which has long been abandoned. Wilder was the site of a violent coal-miners strike in 1932 that lasted nine months and ended with the killing of United Mine Workers union leader Barney Graham.

Born on Big Piney Creek in 1883, Savage was nicknamed, "Republican," an appropriate title, given the fact that several of the Boles men back in those days were named for Republican presidents, like Garfield, Abraham, Lincoln and Ulysses Grant, and even though he wasn't a Republican, a few were even named after George Washington, like my great, great-grandfather.

Except for Hige, who wasn't born yet, these men all had strong allegiances to the North during the Civil War. After all, John's brother-in-law was Union guerilla Tinker Dave Beaty, and John and his son George, (my great, great-grandfather) and Savage's father, Robert, were all members of Beaty's independent scouts, and so all were very pro-Union and very strong Republicans.

George was 95 years old when he died and his son, Hige, was 93. Savage lived to be 85 and, when asked to account for his long life, he would always say "I never smoked, I walked a lot and I never shook hands with a Democrat, if I could help it."

Savage married the daughter of a preacher man. He is buried at Boles Cemetery on Savage Boles Road at Wilder.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Day the Civil War Came to Albany, Kentucky


During the Civil War, John W. Tuttle of Wayne County kept a diary while he served in the 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry. This story begins with his trip to Albany, three months after the war had officially begun.

"We arrived at Albany about 10am," he wrote on July 27, 1861. "The first thing we saw upon arriving at the top of the hill overlooking the town were the Stars and Stripes gaily fluttering to the breeze above the tops of the houses. On entering town, we met a procession with 34 ladies in front on horseback, one of whom carried a National Banner followed by about 60 cavalry and 500 infantry. They presented quite an imposing appearance. About two thousand persons were in town. After dinner a procession was formed which marched out about a half a mile from town where they were addressed by the Hon. Thos. E. Bramlette in a speech of something more than three hours duration. He made a most thrilling appeal in behalf of the Union and called upon the loyal citizens of Clinton County to join a regiment he is raising for the purpose of aiding the Union men of East Tennessee."

Bramlette, who was a Clinton County native and future Governor of Kentucky, had put his promising political career on hold to form and then command this regiment as its Colonel. The regiment became known as the Wild Riders.

Several men enlisted as soldiers that day in Albany. Nearly all of the Commissioned Officers were from Albany. John A. Brents served as Major, John Morrison, captain, Jonathan Miller, 1st Lieutenant, Lt. James E. Chilton, Capt. William Perkins and Capt. Delaney R. Carr. Another local resident, Dr. Benjamin Owens, served as hospital steward and physician before being promoted to First Lieutenant. Non-Commissioned Officers from Albany included Company Quartermaster Sergeant William Thrasher, 1st Sgt George D. Thrasher, Sgt. Cornelius Huff, Sgt. Jonathan E. Southerland, Sgt. Jesse F. Thrasher and Farrier Francis M. Cole. There were forty-eight privates. Among the locals were John Burchett, James H. Cumming, William C. Cole, Thomas A. Carr and Josiah Kennedy.

These new recruits formed Company C. Volunteers were not just from Clinton County, but also from across the state line in Fentress and Overton counties. Those who did not wish to enter the Infantry enrolled as Cavalry.

In his book, "The Wild Riders of the First Kentucky Calvary," Eastham Tarrant of Liberty wrote, "The companies that made up the 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry were composed of the best men of their respective sections. There were some lawyers and other professionals and tradesmen among them, but the farmers predominated and some rough or lawless men. While some of the troops who volunteered may not have been the right material to make first-class heroes or soldiers, they were as good as any other soldier who ever fought under the Stars and Stripes. There were many beardless youths, and a large majority were young men. Some were middle-aged, while there were a few whose "sands of life" had nearly run out. There were fathers and sons in the same company.

After organization on July 27, 1861, the men were given time to arrange their business affairs at home and then reassemble in one week to go to a training camp in Garrard County. They were required to furnish their own horse and horse equipment. If they could not, their captains endorsed their obligations, retaining a certain portion of their pay until their obligations were met.

The newly formed troops left for training on Aug. 3rd. Major Brents, in his book, 'Patriots and Guerillas of East Tennessee and Kentucky,' wrote "This was a great day in Albany. The entire population of the county had assembled to bid farewell to eighty-five citizens who had enlisted in the Union army for three years. It was the first company to depart from that section. Some had assembled through curiosity, but many had come to bid farewell to husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and relatives."

According to Major Brents, the company left for camp amidst the tears and shouts of the citizens. "They traveled a distance of about one hundred miles, through Monticello, Somerset, Crab Orchard and onto Camp Dick Robinson near Lancaster, where they arrived on the 6th of August. The march was one continual ovation as they were welcomed all along the route. The citizens of Monticello and Somerset, where they stayed during the nights of Aug. 3rd and 4th, received and feasted them like lords. Men and horses fared bounteously."

The Wild Riders participated in many battles and skirmishes during the Civil War, including the Siege of Corinth and the Battles of Shiloh, Perryville, and Stones River. Twenty-five of them died during the war, including 1st Lt. Jonathan Peery Miller and Pvt. Isaac Denton Cole, both of Albany, who was killed at the Battle of Mill Springs while fighting with the 12th Ky Infantry. After being wounded in his thigh, Sgt. Chilton and another soldier carried 1st Lt. Miller to a ravine to shield him, but with the enemy drawing near, they were forced to abandon him there. After the battle, his remains were placed inside a coffin and buried near the battle ground. Later, his father removed the body and re-buried his son at Five Springs Cemetery in Clinton County. Pvt. Cole was severely wounded at the Battle of Mill Springs and died the following day. He is buried at Shipley Cemetery in Clinton County.

Sgt. Jonathan Southerland of Clinton County was 19 years old when he enlisted in Company C on July 27th in Albany. Just over two years later, on Oct 20, 1863, he was captured at Philadelphia, TN and imprisoned at the Confederate prison at Andersonville, where he died of dysentery eight months later. An estimated fourteen soldiers from the 3rd KY Infantry died in prison.

By the way, Confederate guerilla Champ Ferguson's brother, James, chose to fight in the Union army. He was a Corporal in Company C, but was killed by a citizen near Stanford, KY on Dec. 18, 1861. He is buried at Camp Nelson National Cemetery.

147 volunteer soldiers belonged to the Company during its service. Fifty-three were present when the troops mustered out.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Sgt. York was a Symbol of American Courage and Sacrifice

On this day in 1918, then Cpl. Alvin C. York and sixteen other soldiers under the command of Sergeant Bernard Early were dispatched before sunrise to take command of the Decauville railroad behind Hill 223 in the Chatel-Chehery area of the Meuse-Argonne sector in Northeast France.

The seventeen men, due to a misreading of their map (which was in French not English) mistakenly wound up behind enemy lines. A brief fire fight ensued which resulted in the confusion and the unexpected surrender of a superior German force to the seventeen soldiers. Once the Germans realized that the American contingent was limited, machine gunners on the hill overlooking the scene turned the gun away from the front and toward their own troops.

After ordering the German soldiers to lie down, the machine gun opened fire resulting in the deaths of nine Americans, including York's best friend in the outfit, Murray Savage. Sergeant Early received seventeen bullet wounds and turned the command over to corporals Harry Parsons and William Cutting, who ordered York to silence the machine gun.

Fearlessly leading the seven remaining soldiers, York charged with great daring a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. When the smoke cleared, he had taken the machine gun nest, killing twenty and singlehandedly capturing 132 German soldiers, including four officers, and several guns.

Alvin York's actions that day are recognized as one of the most significant combat feats by a single Soldier during WWI. For his exceptional heroism in the face of danger, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Lauded by The New York Times as “the war’s biggest hero," upon his death in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson called him alvin“a symbol of American courage and sacrifice” who epitomized the gallantry of American fighting men and their sacrifices on behalf of freedom.”

For an in-depth look into the heroics of Sgt. Alvin C. York visit:

Alvin C. York and the Meuse Argonne Offensive

To read about Sgt. York's struggle with being a soldier and having to fight in a war and how he finally found peace in it, go to:

How To Wrestle with a Difficult D,ecision - Advice From Sergeant Alvin C. York


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Clear Fork: The Civil War Years


"There being a war broke out in our government and dissention amongst the people, the Association never met and the church is doing no business and seldom met." - James Harvey Wood, Clear Fork Baptist Church Clerk, August 24, 1861.

During the Civil War years, 1861 to 1865, the members of my church, Clear Fork, rarely met. Business meetings were held only three times in 1861. On July 27th, clerk James Harvey Wood wrote: "At the time of the July meeting there was no business done because of a 'publick' speaking at town."

That event was a Union-sponsored rally led by 6th Judicial District Judge Thomas Bramlette, a Clinton County native who, during the Civil War, served as colonel of the 3rd Kentucky Regiment Infantry, leading his regiment in the Siege of Corinth and the Battles of Shiloh, Perryville, and Stones River, then resigning his military commission in 1862 to serve as U.S. district attorney before being elected governor on August 3, 1863 and guiding the state through the latter part of the Civil War and the onset of Reconstruction.

Literally hundreds of people showed up for the rally on the 27th, as testified to in Captain John W. Tuttle's Civil War diary. "We arrived at Albany about 10. The first thing we saw upon arriving at the top of the hill overlooking the town were the Stars and Stripes gaily fluttering to the breeze above the tops of the houses. On entering town we met a procession with 34 ladies in front on horseback, one of whom carried a National Banner followed by about 60 cavalry and 500 infantry. They presented quite an imposing appearance. About two thousand persons were in town. After dinner a procession was formed which marched out about a half a mile from town where they were addressed by the Hon. Thos. E. Bramlette in a speech of something more than three hours duration. He made a most thrilling appeal in behalf of the Union and called upon the loyal citizens of Clinton County to join a regiment he is raising for the purpose of aiding the Union men of East Tennessee."

Tuttle, who was from Wayne County, served in Company H of Col. Bramlette's division. In his diary he goes on to write: "About 30 enlisted in the service under him and 87 cavalry, to compose a part of a regiment destined for the same service, now being raised by Frank Woolford of Casey County. The feeling for the Union here is very strong and the most intense enthusiasm prevails. A Secessionist is not allowed to open his mouth. The people of this county are apprehensive of an invasion by Tennesseans. They have picket guards stationed out at every pass. The alarm was spread about an hour by sun yesterday evening, and from three to five hundred armed men gathered from various parts of the county and stayed in town last night."

And so the war began. Back at Clear Fork, a month later, in August, clerk Wood made this entry in the church minutes: "There being a war broke out in our government and dissention amongst the people, the Association never met and the church is doing no business and seldom met." The church did meet once in 1862, but ten months later Wood noted: "Up to March of 1863 the Church is doing nothing." No minutes were recorded during the remainder of 1863 or in all of 1864.

The next entry in the church minutes came on June 24, 1865, two months after the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse and the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which set the stage for the end of the war. "The Church having for a long time been deprived of meeting together on account of the war," Wood wrote, "met at the schoolhouse on Clearfork.

The reason for meeting at the school is because sometime during the year 1864 Clear Fork Baptist Church became a direct victim of the Civil War when Confederate guerillas burned the meeting house to the ground. Luckily, the church's business meeting records from it's organization up to the Civil War had been kept in the clerk's homes. Clinton County's courthouse also burned, it is thought, on the same day as the church. "Guerillas believed that destroying places like churches and courthouses, where records were kept, helped add to the disorder of the war," writes historian Tim Talbott at explorekyhistory.ky.gov. Although he wasn't a member of Clear Fork, Confederate guerilla Champ Ferguson, who was born and raised in Clinton County, did attend services there with members of his family.

In his book, "A Lighthouse in the Wilderness," former Clear Fork pastor Morris Gaskins wrote that after the war church members not only met at Clear Fork School, but in other school houses and even other church houses in communities across the county for the convenience of it's members who lived in the different communities, and the good news is there was a season of revival. In 1866, for example, ninety-seven new additions were added to the church, most on professions of faith. The greatest of the meetings that were held while Clear Fork was without a meeting house took place at Beech Bottom, before that church was constituted, and at Locust Grove. Revival was spontaneous, usually starting with the regular monthly meeting when several people would respond, and continuing for eight to ten days.

Clear Fork church was no stranger to religious upheaval. First pastor Isaac Denton arrived at Spring Creek between 1798 and 1799 just as the Second Great Awakening was getting underway. Soon, he brought the early settlers together and began preaching to them. The meetings were directly responsible for the organizing the church on April 2, 1802. The Denton family was also no stranger to religious upheaval as they had experienced the First Great Awakening in the mid 1700's at Sandy Creek, North Carolina with the great preacher Shubal Stearns.

Following the wars end, Clear Fork Baptist Church continued to meet in other church houses and school houses until July of 1869 when members voted to build a new church. As for the courthouse, it was rebuilt in the 1870's. Historical Marker #597 on the courthouse lawn in Albany notes the burning of the courthouse by guerrillas during the Civil War.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Tah Chee: Lone Warrior of the Tellico Bird Clan

My 4th great-grandmother on my mom's side, Elizabeth Franklin Boles, also known as "Be'toc'e," was the daughter of a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. Her grandfather, Da-Tsi (Tah Chee) "the Long Warrior of The Telico Bird Clan," was a child when his parents joined the first Cherokee party to move west of the Mississippi River, from an indian village on the Coosa River, in what is now Alabama, to the St. Francis River in Arkansas.

Throughout his life, Tah Chee, also known as William Dutch, was known as a fearless warrior, becoming a major political force in the old settler party, fighting many fights with the Osage Indians who lived near the Cherokees. The treaty the Cherokee made with the United States in 1828 so infuriated Tah Chee that he led several families to the Red River country. To keep the frontier peaceful, the Army ordered both nations to stop their raids, an order Tah Chee refused to recognize. Tah Chee fought a one-man war with the U.S. Army for years, but eventually became a scout for them, where he reached the rank of Captain.

Tah Chee (Captain William Dutch) and his wife, Aisley of The Paint Clan, were my sixth great-grandparents. Their daughter, Rose of the Tellico Bird Clan, was the mother of Elizabeth Franklin Boles.

Tah Chee died in Cherokee indian territory at Park Hill, Oklahoma on March 12, 1848.



Sheriff John Boles was a Radical

The Nashville Union
April 22, 1866

Dear Editors:

"State of Affairs in Overton County"

If you should find room and consider the following worth publishing, the writer hereof will be greatly obliged. The writer hereof desires to give to the public some facts transpiring in the notoriously represented county of Overton, that she has been frequently and generously represented for the last six months as being a den of returned Rebel guerrillas, and that only a small number of her citizens were loyal and worthy of any of the rights and immunities of citizens, I have no doubt but by whom these representations have been made.

Have, as a general thing, those who have served in the Federal army and returned home and living quietly within her limits, made these representations? Did Col. Garrett, the late representative from this county, so represent affairs? Did gentlemen who have been engaged in the oil business in this county represent that the county is infested with returned Rebel desperados? I would just say in answer to these questions, "not so far and heard from."

The question, then, very naturally comes up, who are making these representations? I would answer that they are men who, but few of them have ever been in the Federal army, and in all composing a small number known in this county as radicals, but as it happens holds some of the offices in the county, who obtained these offices, not from the choice of citizens but by appointment, and men who believe in furnishing our sheriff (Boles) with a guard of from five to fifteen men and paying them (cost of subsistence and all) $52.50 per month each out of the county treasury; and this too when our revenue collector last year, a discharged Federal soldier, rode through the county without a single man with him, and collected the taxes with better success than usual, and was never molested by these believed to be Rebel guerillas.

This same sheriff also refused to hold the election last March, as by law he should have done, and openly declared that he would arrest and carry to Nashville any magistrate or other person who should presume to open and hold the elections. But however, the election was open and held in all of the districts but one, by law, so far as I was informed, and he has not arrested any person yet; but he went right off to Nashville swearing he would break the elections all up, and accordingly, on last Monday, the first Monday of April, those who were elected made application to be installed into office by the County Court, when Sheriff Boles (Deputy Governor, as he styles himself) rose and produced and read to the Court, a paper writing, purportedly to be an order from Governor Brownlow, by Secretary Fletcher, to the honorable John Boles, sheriff, directing or commanding him to allow no Rebel officers to be sworn into office, or something to that amount, and concluded with a harangue to the court that if one of them voted to install a man who had been elected into office, he would most certainly arrest him and carry him to Nashville, whereupon the court unanimously (except two Magistrates who were, I suppose, afraid to vote against it, and did not vote at all) declared the March elections null and void, and authorized or empowered Sheriff Boles to appoint constables throughout the district; and this, too, when there were men demanding to be installed into office who were Union men.

The court then, upon motion, declared the certificates which had been given to authorized voters by the County Clerk, whom the governor through Sheriff Boles, had appointed some 12 months ago, all null and void; and that voters must get new ones before they could vote again. This same party, sometime since, there being a vacancy in the Legislature, occasioned by the resignation of A.E. Garrett as representative, in convention in the town of Livingston, nominated Sheriff Boles as the radical candidate for that position. John Q. A. Sproul, G.A. Overstreet and Dr. Meadows were also candidates. I suppose of their own will.

The election went off, and the result is that Sheriff Boles is badly beaten, and Mr. Overstreet, a straight out Union man, is elected, while Mr. Sproul, also a Union man, and Dr. Meadows, an ex-rebel, are also beaten far behind - Dr. Meadows being behind all. Now, it looks like this notorious Rebel gang in Overton are not so quite hostile to the government and Union men when they come up to the ballot box; those who are permitted to vote and elect a Union man and reject a Rebel, but yet they are not quite loyal enough to elect a radical. So, Sheriff Boles still presides as Sheriff, etc.

Now in conclusion, I desire to say that I have served in the Federal army; have been residing in this county for the past six months, yet I have not for once seen or heard of a rebel-returned soldier molesting any Union man. I have been through the county some and find the people all friendly and hospitable and engaged in useful pursuits of life. I have, more than once, seen on public days men, professing to be very loyal, some of them, I believe, composing the Sheriff's guard, armed and intoxicated, drive every man who had ever been considered a Rebel out of town, beating them up scandalously, and yet they did not resist this kind of abuse. I have not heard of an instance in which a man who had been a Rebel, attempted to resist the civil law.

As regards to the certificate matter, I have only to say that I suppose the county court clerk complied with the law to the best of his knowledge and ability, and if elections are to be set aside and broken up, and declared illegal, by anyone, I think that some legal cause should be shown for so doing and legal proceedings had; and further, if elections are not to be regarded, at once say there shall be none, and do away with the trouble of holding them, and say to the people that, though they have elected a Union man to the legislature and rejected an ex-rebel: "You are not radical yet enough to be allowed to vote."

But I am ever confident that the present state of affairs will not last long; that those who persist in the idea of further persecuting those lately in rebellion, will discover their error and desist, and that peace and good will yet reign.

Signed by: A Citizen

During the Civil War, John Boles served as Captain in his brother-in-law Tinker Dave Beaty's Independent Scouts. His sons Robert and George (my 3rd great-grandfather) were also members of that guerilla unit. Before the war, John was a politician, serving as state representative for Overton County from 1851 to 1853, and as state senator of Fentress, Morgan, Overton and Scott Counties from 1853 to 1857. He was the first post-Civil War Sherriff of Overton County, from 1865-1867. John was born in Blount County, TN on June 16, 1802 - the son of James Boles and Elizabeth, Jennie Franklin. Elizabeth, aka Be'toc'e," was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian, the granddaughter of Tah Chee "Dutch" - "the Long Warrior" - of The Telico Bird Clan, and  Aisley of The Paint Clan.

John's wife, Matilda, was the sister of Union guerilla Tinker Dave Beaty. John died on March 18, 1869, at the age of 66. He and his wife are buried at Bolestown Cemetery near East Port Marina. The American flag flies nearby.

John Boles


Hige Boles Proved To Be An Excellent and Efficient Official, who had the Respect of all Law-Abiding Citizens


From: The New Era newspaper, Albany KY
Date: March 3, 1926

"Our Sheriff"

Sheriff A.H. Boles is a native of Fentress County Tennessee, but at the age of ten years his parents moved to Clinton County, where he has resided since that time. For a number of years he lived at Hobart, but about 12 years ago he moved to Albany where he now lives. Most of his life has been spent on a farm and he now owns a fine farm in the Albany graded school district. He is now forty four years of age and is married and has an excellent family. He is a member of the Methodist Church here, a Mason, a progressive citizen and a staunch Republican. In the August 1925 primary election, Mr. Boles received a plurality of 407 votes and was elected in the final election by a majority of 735 votes. Although he has been in office only a short while, he has proven himself to be an excellent and efficient official, who has the respect of all law abiding citizens.

The above article was reprinted in the Clinton County News in 1965 under the headline "A.H. Boles Sheriff in 1926." By that time, Hige was 83-years old and was very active in the real estate business. During a twenty year period between 1914 and 1933, Hige was either sheriff or deputy sheriff for sixteen of those years. He was sheriff from 1926 to 1929, and he served as deputy sheriff during Sheriff Charles P. Huff's term from 1914 to 1917, during Sheriff Billy Felkins' term from 1922 to 1925, and during his cousin Sheriff Willie Winningham's term from 1930 to 1933.

Ahijah "Hige" Boles was born at Bolestown in Fentress County, TN on March 19, 1882, one of ten children born to George and Deborah Smith Boles. He died on March 22, 1975 at Sparta, TN. He is buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Clinton County. Hige followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, John Boles, who was the first post-Civil War Sheriff of Overton County, TN from 1865 to 1867.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Apollo 11 Mission: Fifty Years Ago


Where were you the day men walked on the moon? It was on July 20, 1969, fifty years ago today, that the world collectively held its breath as astronaut Neil Armstrong slowly backed out of the Lunar Module Eagle and cautiously climbed down a nine-rung ladder before stepping foot on the surface of the moon. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” were his now immortalized words. In the photo, his fellow astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, salutes the U.S flag during the Apollo 11 mission.



Friday, July 19, 2019

Does the Appollo 11 Flag Still Fly on the Moon?


One of the most iconic images from the Apollo 11 mission is of Buzz Aldrin saluting the American flag on the surface of the Moon. It was a standard 3-by-5-foot nylon flag, with the only modification being a hem sewed along its top edge to allow a metal rod to slide through – that gave the flag rigidity in the windless environment so that it appeared to wave. The flag was attached to an 8-foot flagpole, gold-anodized aluminum tube, that the astronauts planted into the lunar soil.

HOW WAS THE FLAG AND ASEMBLY CARRIED TO THE MOON?

According to NASA, the overall Lunar Flag Assembly, including a stainless steel case to protect the flag against temperature extremes, weighed 9 pounds 7 ounces. The assembly was attached to the forward landing leg of the Lunar Module Eagle three days before launch.

The video here shows Apollo 11 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin deploying the flag on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. The split screen shows the live TV downlink on the left, synchronized with film taken by an automatic camera set up inside the LM on the right.

SO WHAT ABOUT THE FLAG TODAY?

The flag left by Apollo 11 cannot be seen in recent years by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and is presumably no longer standing. The film taken from inside the lunar module as the astronauts lifted off from the Moon begins after the module is already airborne and the flag cannot be seen, but Aldrin claims he caught a glimpse of the flag getting knocked over during liftoff. But, over the next three years, five more flags joined the one left by Apollo 11. Photographs show that the flags left by Apollo 12, 16 and 17 appear to be still standing. On the later landings, astronauts planted the flags farther from the lunar module. The status of the Apollo 14 and 15 flags cannot be determined conclusively, although it looks like the Apollo 14 flag took quite a beating from the lunar module engine exhaust during liftoff.

ALL WAS NOT LOST!

The good news is that, flag-wise, all was not lost from the Apollo 11's trip to the moon. The flag that Apollo 17 left on the Moon was a flag that went to the Moon and back on Apollo 11. It had hung on a wall in Mission Control until it made a return trip to the Moon, this time to stay.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Attention Band Leaders, Do Not Play My Song


"There's A Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere" is a patriotic anthem written in 1942 by Paul Roberts and Shelby Darnell (a pseudonym for producer Bob Miller). The song enjoyed great popularity during the World War II years. So why did Miller threaten to sue big-name band leaders if they played it?

It was because Miller was all about hillbilly music. When the song hit its third million in record and sheet music sales he placed an ad in Variety magazine, asking big-name band leaders not to play it, and when the song made the Hit Parade he threatened to sue if they did. He explained that his reputation as a writer and publisher was at stake. "This music," he insisted, "must have the common touch. It is violated unless done by a true son of the soil, one to the manner born."

The title of the song has a significant meaning. The word "somewhere" appears to signify heaven, for, as the lyrics state, only the great heroes of Uncle Sam get to go there. The narrator states he'll see the likes of Lincoln, Custer, Perry Washington and Hale. He adds that he is willing to die to "be a free American" and wherever that Star Spangled Banner is waving is where he wants to be living when his time to die is at hand.

My 1942 recording of this song by Arthur Fields (Hit Records) is among the first recordings after the song was written.

There's a star spangled banner waving somewhere
In a distant land so many miles away
Only Uncle Sam's great hero's get to go there
Where I wish that I could live someday

I see Lincoln, Custer, Washington and Perry
Nathan Hale and Collin Kelly too
There's a star spangled banner waving somewhere
Waving ov'er the land of hero's brave and true


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

From Whence Our True Freedom Comes


Did you know that ''The Star Spangled Banner'' wasn't actually adopted as the official national anthem of the United States until 1931? Before that, the nation had a few de facto national anthems, and ''The Star Spangled Banner'' wasn't even the most popular. That honor goes to ''America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)." For a century, this was the most beloved 'unofficial' anthem of the nation.

The story of this popular hymn begIns in 1831, when Samuel Francis Smith, a student at the Andover, Massachusetts Theological Seminary, who would later become a Baptist preacher, journalist and author, was asked to translate the lyrics in some German school songbooks into English. The "God Save the Queen" melody caught his attention, but rather than translate those lyrics, Smith was moved deeply by the desire to create a national hymn that would allow the American people to offer praise to God for our wonderful land. And so, in just thirty minutes, he wrote his own words to the melody and "America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)" was born.

The first three verses of this patriotic hymn encourage and invoke national pride, while the last verse is a petition to God for His continued favor and protection of the United States of America. "Long may our land be bright with freedom’s holy light," it says. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (aka freedom)," which is to say Christ is where true freedom is found. It is a freedom that lasts for an eternity, not anything temporary. The kind of freedom we will never have to worry about being stolen or taken away.

It was William Penn who wrote: "Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants." And, while America strives to provide freedom, let us pray that we never lose sight of from whence our true freedom comes.

Morgan's Kentucky Raid Began at Cumberland County


On July 2, 1863, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his troops crossed the Cumberland River at Burkesville, KY, where a skirmish with Union foes took place. Morgan's Rebels were able to drive the Yankees back to the nearby Marrowbone community, but another skirmish occured just beyond the community of Waterview. This time, however, the Union forces used artillery and fresh men to push Morgan back.

Morgan's whole purpose in conducting raids into the north was to create diversion to keep Union troops and resources away from the ongoing Confederate operations at Vicksburg and Gettysburg.

From Kentucky, Morgan's Men raided across southern Indiana and Ohio. At Buffington Island in Meigs County, Ohio on July 19, 1863, Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside ordered out all available troops for a battle that ended with the capture of over half of the 1,700-man Confederate force, including my grandmother Vada Boles' 3rd cousin, Samuel Washington Frost, who had grown up at Gap Creek in Wayne County and had enlisted in Co. H 7th KY Cavalry at the onset of the Civil War.

Samuel and hundreds of other prisoners who had fought at Buffington Island were sent to Camp Douglas prison camp in Chicago, where he died on March 26, 1864. It has been estimated that more than 6,000 Confederate prisoners died there from things like smallpox, dysentery, pneumonia, starvation and torture.

They are buried in the Confederate Mound at Oak Woods Cemetery, located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. It is one of the largest mass graves in North America. Near the southwest corner of the cemetery stands a 30-foot granite monument dedicated to the thousands of Confederate soldiers who died at Camp Douglas. 

As for General Morgan, less than a month after the skirmishes that had taken place in Cumberland County, he surrendered, although, he escaped to fight again, only to be killed about a year later.

Three Cheers for the Red, White & Blue, But Not The Yankees


In 1974, a radio and tv commercial began airing that claimed there was nothing more American than "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet." I'm not sure if fifty-four years earlier writer/composer Louis Hirsch would have agreed.

In 1914, Hirsch, who was born in New York City, was one of the nine founders of ASCAP, which stands for "American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers," a non-profit performance-rights organization that protects its members' musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music and compensating them accordingly.

In that same year, 1914, Hirsch composed a patriotic love song entitled, "The Red, White and Blue," which was recorded and released on Victor Records by The Peerless Quartet. It is one of the disks in my 78rpm record collection.

Being a native of New York, Hirsch loved the Yankees, but in 1920 he sued the baseball organization for $100‚000 because of an incident which happened at a game on May 24th that year. To avoid sitting next to a cigar smoker‚ Hirsch switched seats with his brother, but an usher informed him it was against the rules to do that and ordered the two brothers to switch back. Hirsch refused and had to be forcibly ejected from the stands.

The Peerless Quartet, a popular ensemble organized in 1906, recorded The Red, White on June 4, 1914.

Your lips are so red
Such a beautiful red
I just love to see you smile
Your teeth are so white
Like the stars in the night
or the pearls from a southern isle
The blue of your eyes
Like the midsummer skies
Form a color I just love to view
So no wonder I say
When I'm looking your way
Three cheers for the
Red, White and Blue


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Smitty's 1st Annual Summer Jam


It was a big night for CW Steele and Albany on that hot summer night in 1980 when the band played its now-legendary concert at Smitty's Drive-In. The lot behind the restaurant where we sat up the stage, a flat bed trailer, was standing room only. The parking lot there was full, as was the big one across the road at Albany Stockyards. A continuous flow of traffic encircled the well-known restaurant for what seemed like hours that day and evening. The carhops were kept busy, as were those working inside. But, oh what a night it was.

As far as the band went, we jammed the night away: myself, Dwayne, Leon, my brother Ronnie, Jeff "Monk" Flowers, Steve Claborn and Gary Lehman. Two things happened that night that clearly stand out in my mind after all these years. One was when Junior Byers came on stage to play his harmonica, a calling of his that he never really answered during all of the years he played music. The other thing was when the police came to tell us to turn down because residents living three miles away were complaining that we were too loud. In all my years of playing music, and being told to turn down, that night at Smitty's is my favorite "turn it down, you're too loud" moment, because the band played on that night (thanks to Smitty being on the city council) and we rocked the entire east end of town.

Before we started, Leon, Dwayne and I went inside the restaurant. Leon said, "Watch this," then turned to Smitty and said, "Hey, Smitty how 'bout a bologna sandwich," and then threw his head back and laughed. Smitty disappeared for a few seconds, only to return with a piece of bologna in his hand. "How do you want it?" he asked.

That night at Smitty's was the first time I had played keyboards in a live band setting since the age of 14, when my dad put together a little combo to play a couple of country club parties and let me be in the band. It also featured future bandmates David Pennycuff and Junior Byers, and that one night when my idol, Cecil Pryor, joined joined in at one of Smitty's famous Christmas parties.

My memory of Smitty's 1st Annual Summer Jam is a special one to me. My brother, Ronnie, died in a car accident in 1981 and Leon was killed in a boating accident two years later. We played the Smitty's concert for free that night for a couple of reasons. Number one, we wanted to give ourselves, and everyone else, something to do, and number two, just like everyone else, we loved Smitty and Shelva and wanted to do something special for them. They had given us, and the generation before us, a place to cruise and a place to hang out, not to mention the delicious food they served had up for what ended up being 38 years.

Smitty’s Drive-In opened on May 18, 1962 and closed on July 4, 2000. If ever there were husband and wife icons in Clinton County, James and Shelva Smith are it. Oh yes, how they definitely are it! Smitty was so popular. He served as a member of the Albany City Council for 15 terms, stretching out over three decades. For 36 years, he was chairman of Albany Housing Authority.

What kind of impression did Smitty's Drive-In leave on us? Robbie Davis, in a Facebook post dated June 30, 2016, the night before he died, shared a photo he had taken of the Smitty's sign out by the road, which is the photo you see here, and he wrote the following: "John and I cruised Albany late last night and I showed him the circle and shared what we did in Albany growing up. It was fun. The sad part is, we where the only people out at 11pm on a summer night. Things sure have changed."

By the way, the day Smitty's 1st Annual Summer Jam took place, my pal David Cross showed up with t-shirts to commemorate the occasion. Who still has theirs?

In Memory of James "Smitty" Smith
(1935-2019)



Sunday, June 2, 2019

Medal of Honor Recipient Was Born 100 Years Ago Today


Medal of Honor recipient, WWII hero and native Lt. Garlin Murl Conner of Aaron, Kentucky was born 100 years ago today, in 1919. "Conner embodied the pure, patriotic love that builds and sustains a nation," said President Donald Trump, as he awarded the MOH to Lt. Conner's widow, Pauline, on June 26th of last year. "Lt. Conner stared down evil with the strength of a warrior and the heart of a true hero. [He] was indeed a giant. In his daring, his devotion and his duty, he was larger than life," the president said.

Monday, May 27, 2019

"An Unsung Hero in the making of a Legend"



Legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr died Sunday at the age of 85. He had been in failing health since suffering two strokes and a heart attack in 2014. Starr played for the Packers from 1956 to 1971 and won five NFL championships. He was the most valuable player in the first two Super Bowls.

Before playing in the first one on Jan. 15, 1967, the Packers first had to get by a tough Dallas Cowboys team in the NFC Championship on Dec. 31, 1967. When I think of Bart Start, this is what I think of:

The now legendary 1967 NFC Championship, dubbed the “Ice Bowl,” was known not only for the artic conditions (-41 degree wind chill factor) but for the final play by the Packers. It was the 4th quarter, the Cowboys were leading 17-14 with just 16 seconds left in the game and the Packers were at the one yard line. Starr, the quarterback, asked offensive lineman Jerry Kramer if he could make a hole in the line for him to get through for the touchdown. Kramer answered yes. The ball was snapped and true to his word, Kramer, the right guard, blocked for Starr, who crossed over into the end zone as the photo shows for the game winning touch down. The crowd went wild. Pandemonium followed as both fans and players swarmed the field. Starr was lifted high into the air as the crowd chanted STARR! STARR! STARR! over and over.

After he made the successful block, Kramer wound up face down on the icy field. As he picked himself up, he stared down the field at the sight of the famous Starr being in exalted for making the touchdown. Although happy his team had won, Kramer felt dejected, overlooked for his great contribution to his teams victory. Sure, Starr had ran in the touchdown, but if not for Kramer, the quarterback would have never been able to make it. And then, Jerry’s eyes turned away from the celebration and they found his head coach, Vince Lombardi, who was still standing on the same sideline where his team had stood during the game. Lombardi was standing still, his eyes steadfastly staring straight at Kramer. The second their eyes met, Lombardi extended out his arm and gave Kramer a thumb’s up. At that moment the lineman knew that, even though his role in the victory had gone unnoticed by the crowd, his head coach knew the truth, and that made everything okay.

Incidently, prior to Kramer's 2018 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the selection committee received a letter of recommendation on behalf of Bart Starr from his wife, Cherry. It said, in part, “Bart has always believed Jerry was the total package for a quality football player.”

As for Starr, he was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro. He won NFL titles in 1961, ’62, ’65, ‘67 and ’68. He was the 1966 NFL MVP and was named to the 1960s All-Decade team.

Yesterday, ESPN wrote that Bart Start was the toughest football player who ever lived. Jerry Kramer may have been invisible on that day, Dec. 31, 1967, but he sure was invaluable.

The photo here shows Starr, #15, lying face down in the end zone, while Kramer, #64, is lying almost face down before him.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Tim Conway's Tale of Childhood Faith and Answered Prayer


2007
by Tim Conway

Five dimes were burning a hole in my pocket—the ones I'd saved just for this day. The carnival was in town! Part of the annual Blossom Festival in my hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio: brass bands marched down Main Street, the town's ladies competed for the best jams and pies and the fruit trees dripped pink and white blossoms on the sidewalk. But, for me the best part was the carnival.

Saturday morning I wrapped my fingers around those coins and made my way to the carnival. "Step right up, young man, step right up," came the call from the booths. "Take a chance and win the prize of your life!"

There were giant teddy bears and rockets that a 12-year-old kid like me could shoot off in the backyard. Plastic jewelry sparkled in gimcrack treasure chests. But I wasn't going to waste my hard-earned money on just anything. It had to be the perfect thing.

Why pitch a Ping-Pong ball into a pot of goldfish or swing a hammer in a test for "The World's Strongest Man" if you didn't really want the prize?

I lingered for a moment at the merry-go-round, watching the horses go round and round to the calliope's song. They seemed a poor match for the real horses my dad took care of, and I would rather ride the real thing.

I bought a Coke in a bottle and sipped it, walking around the fairgrounds. One dime down. Then I spotted the Ferris wheel, circling above the fair. Ten cents a ride. I ponied up my second dime and hopped on.

Slowly I rose above the cotton candy and popcorn booths, above the sounds of the barkers shouting, above the trees until I could see the whole town. There was the school I attended and the fishing hole my buddies and I raced to after school.

I could see the ballpark, the movie theater on Main Street and our church, the center of our world.

Both Mom and Dad had immigrat­ed here from the Old Country. Dad had worked with horses back in Ireland and got a job on a horse farm. And Mom was a seamstress who could sew anything; Dad's shirts, my Halloween costumes, her own dresses. She came here from Romania when she was only 16 years old and quickly found work.

I was their only kid and I always felt I was a real blessing to them. But when we prayed together on Sunday mornings their faith seemed so much greater. Kneeling next to them, I felt like I was waiting to hear God speak.

The Ferris wheel brought me plummet­ing back down to the ground and I hurried away, fingering the three dimes left in my pocket. That's when I spot­ted it: a white plastic crucifix that glowed in the dark with an emerald-green ribbon around it.

It was attached to one of 60 plas­tic ducklings bobbing up and down in a pool of water. A hose at the bottom of the pool made the ducks swim and spin. That crucifix was meant to be mine. I'd never been so sure of anything in my life.

"Step right up, son," the barker called to me. "For just ten cents that beauty could be all yours. All you have to do is pick it up with a hook. I'll bet you can catch anything when you fish."

Sure can, I thought. I handed over my dime and the man handed me a wooden pole. I lowered the hook toward the crucifix, slowly, carefully, but just as I yanked it the plastic duck scurried away. "Try again," said the barker, holding out his hand for another dime. This time it'll work.

I acted like I was fishing down by the river, casting my hook toward a trout. The duck with the crucifix came just in reach. I jerked up the line. Noth­ing. "Third time's a charm," said the man. I handed him my last dime and lowered the hook ever so gently to the crucifix...and pulled. Nothing.

The barker turned away. "Step right up," he called. It was so unfair! All my dimes were gone. Why was I so sure that crucifix was meant for me? Why was I certain I could win it?

I started to walk away, head down. My day at the carnival was over. Then I spotted something on the ground. One shiny dime, glinting in the bright sun. I picked it up and squeezed it between my fingers—and headed back to the game.

For some reason, I turned around. To this day, I can't tell you why. I left the fairground and stopped at a giant old maple tree. Leaning against the trunk, I closed my eyes and started praying, praying harder than I'd ever prayed before.

Lord, I said, if you're listening, I would really like that cross. The one that glows in the dark with the emerald ribbon.

I stayed there for a long time, just waiting. I could hear shouts at the carnival and the sound of the calliope. But slowly it all faded away and I was left with only my de­sire for the cross. What did it mean? It was just a piece of plastic that glowed in the dark, after all.

No, but it was more. It represented the faith I'd been yearning for, the deep and living faith that my parents had. I wanted it too and, somehow, in my 12-year-old heart, that plastic crucifix had come to symbolize it.

Standing against that old maple tree I knew that faith was already there for me to have, if I could just reach for it. Lord, I really want that crucifix. But even if it's not meant to be, I want you in my life every day.

I hurried back to the fairground, and right back to that booth. The barker looked at me, raised an eyebrow and stretched out his palm. I slapped the dime in it, and he handed me the fishing pole, eyeing me with bemusement.

Many of the other prizes had disappeared, but the crucifix was still there. I dipped the pole in the water, felt it catch against the emerald ribbon, then I raised the hook. The crucifix dangled from the other end. It was mine.

That little cross stayed with me for a lifetime. It was with me when I left home and went off to college. It was with me when I decid­ed I wanted to act, and got my break on the Steve Allen Show and then on McHale's Navy.

It was with me through my wonder­ful years on The Carol Burnett Show, too. I still have it, and I hold on to it when I pray for people who are ill, for my children and grandchildren.

All these years later, miles from Chagrin Falls, that little carnival cross still helps me feel connected to God.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Remembering John Havlicek


I stopped caring so much about NBA basketball when Magic Johnson retired from the game for the third and final time in 1996. From a personal hero standpoint, I had no one else to root for. Larry Bird had already retired and so had Issel and Gilmore.

Growing up in the late sixties and all through the seventies it was routine for my family to attend church on Sunday morning. After lunch, our attention turned to the television set where there was almost always a Celtics game on, and that's where I became a big fan of Hondo. John Havlicek. Number 17.

Havlicek died Thursday night, April 25, 2019 at the age of 79. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.

It's funny because I always thought Havlicek looked more like a lumberjack then he did a basketball player. At 6'5 he was a small forward who sometimes played the shooting guard position, but he never slowed down. He never stopped running. His relentless hustle is what attracted me to his style of play.

Havlicek played 16 seasons in the NBA, all of them with the Celtics. He was one of the central figures in the Celtics’ rise to prominence and was considered a mainstay on eight championship teams (1963-1966; 1968, 1969, 1974 and 1976). Havlicek averaged 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.2 steals over his career. He is the Celtics all-time leader in points scored and games played, ranks second in assists and fifth in rebounds. In addition, he made 13 All-Star teams and was an 11-time All-NBA selection before entering the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984. The NBA named him to its list of the 50 greatest players to play in the league. His No. 17 is forever enshrined in the Garden rafters.

"HAVLICEK STOLE THE BALL"

Havlicek was involved in one of the NBA's most iconic plays of all time on April 15, 1965, during the Eastern Conference final playoff series between the Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics were clinging to a 110-109 lead with five seconds remaining when Bill Russell’s inbounds pass from under the 76ers’ basket hit a guide wire overhead, giving the 76ers the ball and a chance to win the series. Guarding Chet Walker in the area near the free-throw line, Havlicek began silently counting off the five allotted seconds that 76ers had to inbound the ball. At the count of four, he peeked back to see that the ball had just been tossed in his direction. Havlicek reached and tipped the pass to teammate Sam Jones, who then dribbled out the clock to secure the victory for Boston, setting off pandemonium in Boston Garden. The play was immortalized by Celtics’ radio broadcaster Johnny Most, whose call “Havlicek stole the ball!” became enshrined in every highlight reel of the Celtics’ glorious history.

The Celtics issued a statement following his passing. It read, “(Halicek's) defining traits as a player were his relentless hustle and wholehearted commitment to team over self...he was a champion in every sense."

The basketball star was described by the team in a statement as "one of the most accomplished players in Boston Celtics history, and the face of many of the franchise's signature moments."

So long Hondo, thanks for the memories!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Parcel Post Began on Jan. 1, 1913


By law, the Post Office Department could not carry parcels weighing more than four pounds at the beginning of the 20th century. Private express companies, which had begun to flourish in the mid-1800s, delivered large packages. The establishment of rural free delivery had provided a heady taste of life for rural Americans. Soon the demand increased for the delivery of packages containing food, dry goods, drugs, and other commodities not easily available to farmers. Though express companies and country merchants fought long and hard against it, rural residents, who represented 54 percent of the country’s population in 1910, were equally emphatic in wanting Parcel Post.

The Act of August 24, 1912 authorized Parcel Post and it officially began on January 1, 1913. It was an instant success, with 300 million parcels mailed in the first six months the service was offered. The effect on the national economy was electric. Marketing and merchandising through Parcel Post spurred the growth of the great mail-order houses. Montgomery Ward, the first mail-order company, started with a catalog of more than 100 products in 1872. Sears, Roebuck and Company followed Montgomery Ward in 1893. The year Parcel Post began, Sears handled five times as many orders as it did the year before. Five years later, Sears doubled its revenues.

(from usps.com)

In The Service of a President

In the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of the Department of Library Special Collections at Western Kentucky University is a le...