Thursday, June 29, 2023

Unifying America on Independence Day

On the 4th day of July 1861, nearly a thousand men, women and children met at Dr. Johnathan Hale’s mill, just south of the Kentucky-Tenneessee state line, and celebrated the day as had been the custom in former years. They raised a hickory pole, on which was hoisted the old flag. Dr. Hale’s daughters sang the “Star Spangles Banner.” Mrs. Hale read the Declaration of Independence, and the whole concourse of people partook of a bountiful repast prepared by the women, every one of whom opposed revolution in every shape.

The Civil War had begun twenty-two days earlier. Our ancestors had thought this area was too remote to be included in any war, but it came nearly three months later, on Sept. 29, 1861 in the Affair at Travisville in nearby Pickett County, and then almost four months later at the Battle of Mill Springs on Jan. 19, 1862. The war coming here was inevitable. By its end, over 10,000 battles, engagements and other military actions had occurred in 23 different states, including nearly 50 major battles and about 100 others that had major significance. The remainder were skirmishes, reconnaissances, naval engagements, sieges, bombardments, etc. Over 650,000 deaths resulted. An estimated 814 casualties occurred at Logan's Crossroads, 814 on the Union side and 552 on the Confederate side, including General Felix Zollicoffer.

J.D. Hale, who had been born in Stoddard, MA in 1817, began to erect his two-story mill, store and post office in October of 1845. This 100-acre property on Wolf River was in the area where the Farmhouse Restaurant was located on Highway 111 in Pickett County. Hale served as postmaster. It was said that he also operated a manufacturing facility there, producing wagons and furniture. When the Civil War started, he and his family declared for the Union. As a matter of fact, he was among the first to denounce and expose session. The U. S. Army appointed him Captain and Chief of Scouts of the Army of the Cumberlands under General George Thomas, who had led the Union army at Mill Springs. Not only did Hale report on the activities of Confederate leaders Morgan, Forrest and Wheeler, he also recruited area men for the Union army.

The Consequence...

The massive July 4th celebration that had taken place at Hale's Mill, coupled with Hale's expressions of loyalty to the United States, infuriated Confederate sympathizers. He and his family were forced to flee to Albany for safety. Three days after the July 4th celebration, all of Hale's property was destroyed by fire. $20,000 worth of buildings and materials were burned, including his home and two other houses, a large library in Hale’s house, worker's cabins, a barn, stable, store, still house, kitchen, grist mill and saw mill, 1000 bushels of corn, planning machine, mortising machine, running lathe, circular saws, tolls, lumber, wagons, and furniture. In 1864, a military commission would award him $25,000 in an assessment levied against those accused of burning his property.

When the Civil War officially ended on May 9, 1865, the 4th of July celebrations across America were unlike any other in the nation’s history. An uneasy mix of joy, relief, resentment and unhealed wounds was reported as America sought reasons for celebration after a war that nearly tore the country apart.

Following the assassination of President Lincoln, an untested Andrew Johnson was trying to find his way forward as commander-in-chief. He looked to the 4th of July as a launching point to reunify not just the states, but also the hearts and minds of their inhabitants...

“Of all the anniversaries of the Declaration of Independence, none has been more important and significant than that upon which you assemble,” he proclaimed. “Let us trust that each recurring 4th of July shall find our nation stronger in number, stronger in wealth, stronger in the harmony of the citizens, stronger in its devotion to nationality and freedom.”

For the first time in more than four years, Independence Day 1865 had dawned without Americans on the battlefield trying to kill other Americans. Contemporary accounts and newspaper stories depicted a subdued, at times somber celebration in a country struggling to recover a sense of normalcy. In some places, the holiday was barely observed at all. But, on July 4, 1865, a group once again gathered at the Hale's Mill site to celebrate Independence Day, as well as the outcome of the war. They hoisted the 'old flag' and attendants fired a 34-gun salute. Hale’s daughters again sang the Star Spangled Banner and this time it was Hale who read the Declaration of Independence.

By 1871, the Hale family had left this area for New Hampshire. Jonathan died of old age in 1896. In 2011, Tennessee honored him by erecting a historical marker near the site of Hale's Mill. It is located just before Wolf River Bridge, where the Farmhouse Restaurant stood.

J.D. Hale, left, and Tinker Dave Beaty

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Love, Honor and Respect for our Flag

June 14th

Today is Flag Day to remember when the Continental Congress introduced our country's first flag as the official American flag on June 14, 1777. In honor of this, I present a very beautiful piece written over 50 years ago by our Louis O. Brummett of Albany, Kentucky.

"We should display our flag and fly it proud­ly," he said, "in homage to those great Americans who died that we might live and that "Govern­ment of the people, for the people and by the people, should not perish from the earth."

"God hasten the day when we will regain those attitudes of love, honor, respect and enthusiasm for our flag and country that caused our fore fathers to bow their heads in humble grati­tude to the God they loved and served and say, 'Almighty God, we thank Thee for our country and its flag; and what it stands for. As we gaze upon its radiance, may Thy holy light spread over us and bring to our hearts renewed devotion to God and country and love for our flag. Amen.'"

Mr. Brummett served as a Corporal in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was also a member of the American Legion, and it was on behalf of this group that he wrote these words on Flag Day in 1969.

I pledge Allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
And to the Republic for which it stands,
One nation under God, indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all

Friday, June 9, 2023

The Monticello Doughboy's Spirit will Never Die

Nearly 500 Wayne Countians served in WWI. Almost half as many actually engaged in combat. Ten were killed in action. Thirteen died in service related events and forty-five were wounded in action. The names of those sixty-eight men are engraved on a plaque at the base of the Doughboy.

Here's the way it all started: On April 28, 1919, hundreds of people gathered at the Monticello public square for a Victory Day celebration in honor of the veterans of the great war. It was reported that the patriots of Monticello and Wayne County wanted something more, a daily reminder of the bravery of her soldiers. Three and a half years later, at the conclusion of the American Legion Armistice Day celebration cere­mony on November 16, 1922, Rose Shearer, mother of 1st Sgt Lee Shearer, the first Wayne County boy killed in action (July 19, 1918), broke ground for the new Legion Memorial Park. A month later, the Legionnaires decided to place 'The Spirit of the American Doughboy' in the new park with the pedestal bearing the names of all the men from Wayne County were killed in action, died in service or wounded in action.

At the 80th anniversary celebration of the Doughboy Memorial on April 8, 2003, Bro. Harlan Ogle said, "For 80 years the people of Monticello and Wayne County have passed this magnificent memorial. Some have passed giving no thought whatsoever to the sacrifice of the over 480 men who served their country in WWI. That is in sharp contrast to the thoughts in the hearts and minds of those who passed by it when it was first erected. Believe me when I tell you that many a mother and dad, brother and sister, and other relatives and friends have passed this memorial and shed a tear as they were reminded of the lives that were lost and the sacrifices that were made by their loved ones as they fought to preserve a free America. It is my conviction, and evidently the conviction of many of you, that the sacrifice these brave heroes made will never be forgotten."

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Doughboy Memorial being on the square in Monticello.A celebration took place on April 6th. Joyful noise was made by the Waynetonians. "Amazing speakers spoke of history and heartful memories. There was even a moment of silence followed with a 21-gun salute and Taps being played. It was a day that made folks not only proud to be a Wayne countian, but proud to be an American," according to a post on the City of Monticello Facebook page.

Now, there is talk, again, of moving the statue for improved traffic reasons, an issue that has come up numerous times over the years. No matter what happens, the 'Spirit of the American Doughboy' is still very much alive and will always be. In the words of Bro. Ogle, "that is because the Doughboy of yes­terday passed on to his descen­dents a love of country, for God and for family."

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Battle Hymn of the Republic

My 106-year-old recording of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" by singer Thomas Chalmers was recorded on May 29, 1917 at Thomas Edison's recording studio in Manhattan. The recording is registered with the Library of Congress. Chalmers, who lived from 1881 to 1966, was a baritone soloist with the Boston Opera Company and the Metropolitan Opera from 1913 to 1921. He eventually became a popular stage and film actor.

"Battle Hymn of the Republic" first gained popularity around Charleston, South Carolina. It became known as "John Brown's Body," following the insurrection at Harper's Ferry, led by Abolitionist John Brown, whose actions, trial and subsequent execution made him a martyr.

"John Brown's body
lies a-mouldering in the grave
His soul is marching on"

By the time of the Civil War, the song had become a popular marching song with Union Army regiments. It was when Julia Ward Howe visited Washington, DC on November 18, 1861 that "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was first born.

Howe and her husband were active abolitionists, who had experienced first-hand a skirmish between Confederate and Union troops in nearby Virginia, and heard the troops go into battle singing "John Brown's Body." That evening in the nation's capital, Howe was inspired to write a poem that better fit the music. It began "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

Here are the words to Battle Hymn of the Republic

A photo of Julia Ward Howe made in 1908

My 78 RPM Disks (1905-1924)

1. Albert Campbell - Dreaming (3701). Steve Porter - Flanagan At The Vocal Teacher's (3705). Standard Talking Machine Company 1907. 2. ...