Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How I Am Related To The Famous Tinker Dave Beaty

David "Tinker Dave" Beaty, leader of the Independent Scouts during the Civil War, is one of the most famous or infamous individuals that Fentress County, Tennessee ever produced. He did not choose the war so much as the war eventually came to him. Tinker Dave said, “About ten or twelve days after the Mills Springs fight, several of Scott Bledoe’s men came to my house and told my wife to tell me I must take sides in the war or leave the country. They took some of my property, some saddles and other things belonging to me, when they left and as they were going down to cross the creek I fired on them, wounding one man and a horse. After this they kept running in on us every few weeks. I told my boys that before I would leave home or run away that I would fight them to Doomsday and if they killed me, let them kill me. So I took my sons and raised a company of men to fight them.”

Champ Ferguson, who lived in Albany, Kentucky, had been swindled in a business transaction and, wanting to reaquire his property, traveled to a camp meeting, which ended up being a fight where Champ stabbed a man. He agreed to join the Confederacy and the case was dropped. Resenting him taking up the southern cause, a group of Union advocates went to Champ's home while he was away, and forced his wife and teenaged daughter to undress and cook a meal before them. Then, paraded them down a public street in the nude. Champ swore not only to track down and kill all those involved, which he did, but he also swore to personally kill a 100 Yankees for for this crime against his family, which he did.

So, it is plain to see that while Tinker Dave Beaty gathered together Union sympathizers in answer to the Confederate home guard, Champ Ferguson answered the call of the confederacy because of what happened to his wife and daughter. They were each others biggest rivals. The Nashville Dispatch noted that Beaty ‘fought Champ Ferguson from the beginning to the end of his career. The paper said, "They have shot at each other innumerable times, and each has received ugly wounds. They were deadly enemies, and hunted each other down with savage ferocity."

According to a letter printed in a newpaper May 25, 1864 and identifing each member of the Independent Scouts and when they joined, two of them are my direct descendents, John Boles, and his son George. John joined on March 25, 1862, while George signed up three months later.

John Boles, my great-great-great-grandfather, married Matilda Beaty, Tinker Dave's sister. Here they are....
John was a state senator from Overton County, Tennnessee. Before that, he was sheriff of Overton County.
Pictured above is John Boles' son, George Washington Boles, my great-great-grandfather. In the 1934 Centennial program for Clinton County, George was quoted as saying he 'always made the rebels run' and that he remembers voting for Abraham Lincoln for President. Someone in Champ Ferguson's gang, or even Champ himself, shot two of his fingers off during a skirmish, as you can clearly see in the photo below. George and his wife, Deborah, are buried at Cedar Hill Cemetary in Clinton County. Here they are....
George and Deborah had a son named, Alijah Hige Boles, my great-grandfather. Here he is...
Hige was deputy sheriff of Clinton County for his uncle, Willie Winningham.

Pictured below is a four-generations photo of George Boles, Hige Boles, Elmer Boles (my grandfather) and my mom, Glenda....
So there you have it....Tinker Dave Beaty was my great-great-great-uncle by marriage.

In the letter mentioned above, Tinker Dave said he wanted to "rid this country of men who are robbing, thieving, plundering, and shooting regular soldiers as they pass about. Such is the character of a few men now infesting part of this country. Wolf River, the hills and mountains of Overton county, are their hiding places. Some of them have been caught by regular soldiers and released upon oath. What! Release guerrillas and bushwackers on oath? I want to hunt the mountains and kill them; catching them and releasing them will never do, because it will never break the thieving crew."

At the end of the war, Tinker Dave Beaty went unpunished for his actions, while Champ Ferguson was hanged for his. That is because Tinker Dave's side won the war. Before the execution was carried out, Champ Ferguson said, "I wish there had never been a war."

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Darkest Hour Before The Dawn (The Jacob Speck Story) Part 1

John Jacob Speck had been named after his grandfather, Hans Jacob Speck, who lived in Ruepurr, Karlsruhe Baden Germany. Soon after his birth around 1754, the family came to America aboard the Friendship vessel and lived in Philadelphia. When he was 21-years-old, Jacob married Christine Keefer or Keiffer. The Speck's and the Keefer's had been friends back in Germany, as both families had lived near Breitenburg and had worshipped at the same Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church. Abraham Keefer had brought his family to America just prior to 1753, while Jacob's family followed a year or so later. Soon after the birth of their second son, Jacob and Christina moved to North Carolina, where they settled at Stokes County, near present-day Danbury.

During the American Revolutionary War, almost every able-bodied man, who was not a part of the Continental Army, joined their local Milita to help protect the settlement in which they lived. At times, these militia troops were also called upon to fight in battles of the revolution. Thus, was the case for Jacob Speck. On July 21, 1780, General Horatio Gates was at Camden, South Carolina commanding a force of 3,200 troops. He was joined by the North Carolina Militia, which included Jacob Speck. The British general, Lord Charles Cornwalis, was also at Camden with an army of 2,100. Even though Gates had Cornwalis outnumbered, most of the americans lacked experience and training. The North Carlina Militia had never been tried. Plus, Gates' army was running out of supplies and many of the troops were not well-rested or fed. Gates was advised NOT to go into battle under the circumstances. But, he ignored the warning.

Just before dawn on August 16th, Gates and Cornwalis found themselves facing each other across a field. The British troops opened the battle as the right flank fired volley's into the militia regiments, causing a significant number of casualties. When the remaining militia looked up, they saw British troops advancing toward them with their bayonets drawn. This tactic had never been used before. The shock of seeing that, added with the fact that the militia realized they did not have bayonets, panic spread quickly and the militia fled before the British regiments reached them. Seeing his left flank collapse, Gates was among the first to run from the field, leaving his remaining troops on the field alone. Within a matter of minutes, the whole rebel left wing had evaporated.

Catherine Keefer was only 16-years-old when she and Jacob were married. That had only been five years ago. Jacob Jr. was now four. Michael had just turned two, and a third son, George, my 6th great-grandfather, was less than two months old. It is hard to imagine exactly what Catherine must have thought or felt as she watched her husband leave home to defend their new settlement. It is even harder to imagine what she must have felt afterwards. For you see...Jacob did not have a chance to run as did most of his fellow soldiers. In that pre-dawn hour on that warm August 16, 1780 morning, when the smoke and dust from the cannon volley's had finally cleared, Jacob lay dead on the battlefield.

The Battle of Camden, South Carolina was likened to 'the darkest hour before the dawn.' For Jacob Speck, it was his darkest and final hour. Most estimates list approximately nine hundred men american soldiers killed and wounded, and nearly one thousand captured. The rest, over 1,000 troops, ran. Christina's brother, Frederick, was one of those captured, but he later managed to escape. The British only sustained about 350 casualties. By evening, Horatio Gates was 60 miles away in hiding. He fled a distance of 180 miles in three days. Because of his cowardice act, Gates was relieved of his duties by General Washington.

The Battle of Camden, South Carolina was depicted in the 2000 movie, The Patriot. The site of the battle is 1.4 miles from Exit 98/I-20 on U.S. Highway 521 North heading towards Camden.

The Battle of Camden, South Carolina

The Darkest Hour Before The Dawn (The Jacob Speck Story) Part 2

As soon as they were old enough, Jacob Jr., Michael and George Speck migrated west to an area that had just been opened to new settlers, near Wolf River and.....Stockton's Valey. It was just after the start of the 19th century. On August 23, 1812, at age 36, Jacob Jr. enlisted as a member of Captain William Cross' company, 7th Regiment of the Kentucky Militia, commanded by Colnel Joshua Barbee. The company traveled through NewPort, Kentucky to St. Mary's River, the international border seperating the United States froM Canada, where they encamped for some four months with General Harrison’s army. During the winter, they suffered greatly from the severe weather, lack of adequate tents and blankets. They were discharged on March 23, 1813. Jacob Jr. came back to Stockton's Valley, where he resumed his life as a farmer tending to his 200 acres on Spring Creek. The record book doesn't say that Jacob Jr. was a member of Clear Fork Baptist Church, but it says his wife, Nancy, was. Occasionally, the Church clerk, or his assistant, would forget to record the minutes. That is probably the case with Jacob Jr. because you will see in a minute that he apparently was a member.

Michael Speck, who was born on November 5th, my birthday, married his wife, Sally, just before moving to Stockton's Valley. In 1805, Michael and Sally owned 114 acres on the Churntop branch of Clear Fork Creek. They joined Clear Fork Baptist Church in July of 1803.

In 1838, there arose a major disagreement within the Church and the congregation was split. Several members were exluded for siding with James Crouch, Jr. over several charges he had made against the pastor, Isaac Denton. Jacob, his wife, Nancy, and Sally Speck were among those excluded from the Church. (Note: Michael Speck had apparently died prior to the incident because Church records does not mention his name in the ordeal.)

Jacob Jr. died about 1862 in Clinton County. His burial place is unknown. Many of the Speck families fanned the fertile land adjacent to Wolf River. In 1943, the dam was built in Celina, Tennessee and Dale Hollow Lake was created. It is possible that a family cemetary containing the remains of Jacob Jr. lies beneath the waters around Lillydale.

George Speck, my 5th great-grandfather, migrated from present-day Danbury, North Carolina to the Dry Hollow area near the west fork of Obed's River in Overton County, Tennessee. He died about 1847.

Here is the genealogy line:

Hans Jacob (1) Speck
Michael Martin (2) Speck....born 1703 in Germany. Came to America 9/20/1738
Jacob, Sr. (3) Speck....born about 1754
George (4) Speck....born 1780
John (5) Speck....born 10/3/1812
William Calvin (6) Speck....born 1/3/1840
James Wiley (7) Speck....born 12/2/1859
Obed (8) Speck....born 1/11/1888
Cecil (9) Speck....born 4/22/1917
Darrell (10) Speck....born 6/4/1938
Randy (11) Speck....born 11/5/1959

Jacob Speck, Sr., who died during the Battle of Camden, South Carolina, is my 6th great-grandfather, and Marina, J.D. and Elijah Speck's 7th Great-grandfather.

Jacob Jr. and Michael Speck are my 5th great uncles.

Friday, September 26, 2008

R.I.P. Patricia Holley Kaiter

Buddy Holly's sister, Patricia, died peacefully Wednesday night at her home near Lubbock, Texas, following a long bout with Alzheimer's Disease. She was 79. Some of you might know that I have been a huge Buddy Holly fan for a real long time. I have a Buddy Holly MySpace page that has had over 106,000 visitors and over 9,000 friends added to it. I talked to Buddy's niece, Ingrid, Thursday night. She said, I appreciate your thoughts. Mother is with her brother and her parents now. We are so glad she went peacefully in her sleep. Never sick a day. She was happy and singing until the very last minute.

R.I.P. Patricia Holley Kaiter (1929-2008)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Old Gospel Hymn

When Christian churchgoers attend service at their Church this Sunday morning, they may not hear the straightforward melodies of the hymns they knew from childhood. These days, many churches have turned to "praise choruses" -- songs that employ simple, repeated words of praise rather than the more poetic, penitent language of vintage hymns.

I have watched hymn-singing decline over the past several years. It is a big loss. The difference between the hymns and the praise songs is the difference between a sonnet and a greeting card. They don't have the depth and the poetic language that a song would have from the old hymnal.

A couple of birthday's ago, my friend, Norma, gave me the book, "Then Sings My Soul," 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories by Robert J. Morgan. It truly is an amazing book. If you are an old Church-goer who loves the hymns of yore, then you know what I mean when I say that singing the old hymns lifts my soul in song. During a recent tent revival my Church had, one of the songs the choir sang was I Want To Know More About My Jesus, and you could feel the warm spirit that filled the inside of that tent as we sang it. And it wasn't just me. I know this because I did not say anything about it, yet we sang that one song 4 times that week. So, it was obvious that I wasn't the only one who felt it.

I yearn to go back to those Sunday mornng services of bulletins shuffling, babies crying, fans waving all over the building, people shouting - not one or two but several - and those good, old-fashioned hymns.

I grew up at Clear Fork Baptist Church and 'my seat' was on the right side, three rows back behind Kate Owens. She was one of my Sunday School teachers. I would listen to her sing those old hymns and oh how she would sing them. And, I would watch her and the very reason I would watch her was because I could tell she loved to sing those songs. And, the more I watched and listened to her singing, the more I got into it. So many times from my childhood, I can remember those sweet spirit-filled moments standing behind Miss Kate and singing - and listening - as hard as I could. It was the late 1960's and even then, I realized the hymns were old. but watching her, and listening to her, I realized how great those old hymns were, and I loved to sing them. I mean, I really loved it. Great to say, I have been hooked ever since. Today, whenever I get the chance to sing those old hymns, it never fails to take me back to those days.

I wish I could write a book about the old hymns and their stories, but it has been done so many times already. One thing I have always had trouble with is this: I believe the King James Version of the Bible is THE TRUE BIBLE. I believe it is THE inspired word of God. I believe everything else is man-inspired. So, why is it that we do not have that same belief in the old hymn book? Check out the new hymn books and, if you are able to find an old song in there, look at the verses, read the words, and notice how verses are left out, and notice how many words have been changed or substituted for something else. Sound familiar?

What we need is an old-time gospel song revolution. You've heard the expression "They don't make 'em like that anymore!" Well I say, "We don't sing 'em like that anymore!"

Oh,those great songwriters like Fanny Crosby, who wrote over 8,000 hymns! My all-time Fanny Crosby song is "Pass Me Not O Gentle Saviour." I left Church one Sunday morning with that song heavy on my heart. Once home, I sat down at the computer, typed the words out, and e-mailed them to about 50 or so people. One by one, the replies came, and that afternoon I sat at my computer and watched as person after person told me what a blessing they had received by reading those words. My brother, Mark, was stunned. While I was at my home typing the words, he was at his home wishing he could remember to the words to that song. And, then he suddenly received my e-mail!

Pass me not, O gentle Saviour
Hear my humble cry
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by

Charles Wesley wrote over 6,500 hymns. Isaac Watts was twenty years old sitting at home writing great hymns! John Newton - you remember him, he wrote a song entitled, "Amazing Grace?" Ira Sankey's songs were so popular that his hymns, selling for six cents each, produced profits of $388,000 for his publisher. He wrote Faith is the Victory and A Shelter in the Time of Storm. Helen Lemmel wrote "Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus." One day, in 1918, a missionary friend gave her a tract entitled Focused. The pamphlet contained these words: "So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness." She said, "Almost instantly, as if commanded to stop and listen, I stood still, and heard inside me, the chorus to that song." William Ralph Featherstone was 16 when he wrote, "My Jesus, I Love Thee". Anna L. Coghill was 18, when she wrote "Work, for the Night Is Coming."

The great writer, John Wesley, said...(1) Learn the tune (2) Sing it as it is printed (3) Sing all. “If it is a cross to you, take it up and you will find a blessing.” (4) Sing lustily and with a good courage (5) Sing modestly (6) Sing in time (7) Above all, sing spiritually. He said, "Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this, attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually." Wow! Give me the strength to do all that, Lord!

Songwriter Matt Redman said, "In the end, worship can never be a performance, something you're pretending or putting on. It's got to be an overflow of your heart. Worship is about getting personal with God, drawing close to God."

I like what I read at The Old Time Gospel: "Why the old time gospel, what's wrong with todays gospel? What's the difference anyway? Well, the simple truth is, todays gospel, for the most part, is another gospel altogether. Paul wrote, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:" Galatians 1:6

What Paul said, was that the Galatians had removed themselves from the truth, to a strange and altered gospel, unfamiliar with the teachings of Christ. Brass had replaced the gold. There is a lot of brass in the Church today, sadly most professing christians don't know the difference, they don't know the God they have come to worship. We have self proclaimed prophets and apostles that live by their own wisdom and are directed by their own greed.

I love this next part.....

The old time gospel worked, when people got saved, they stayed saved, they stayed holy, they stayed humble, giving all the glory to God. "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls" Jeremiah 6:16.

The short story below, is a good example of the new modern thinking of religion verses the old time gospel that is alive in a man's heart.

Have You Tasted My Jesus?

At the University of Chicago Divinity School each year they have what is called Baptist Day. It is a day when all the Baptists in the area are invited to the school because they want the Baptist dollars to keep coming in. On this day each one is to bring a sack lunch to be eaten outdoors in a grassy picnic area. Every Baptist Day the school would invite one of the greatest minds to lecture in the theological education center.

One year they invited Dr. Paul Tillich. Dr. Tillich spoke for two and one-half hours proving that the resurrection of Jesus was false. He quoted scholar after scholar and book after book. He concluded that since there was no such thing as the historical resurrection the religious tradition of the church was groundless, emotional mumbo-jumbo, because it was based on a relationship with a risen Jesus, who, in fact, never rose from the dead in any literal sense. He then asked if there were any questions.

After about thirty seconds, an old, dark skinned preacher with a head of short-cropped, woolly white hair stood up in the back of the auditorium. "Docta Tillich, I got one question," he said as all eyes turned toward him. He reached into his sack lunch and pulled out an apple and began eating it. "Docta Tillich..." CRUNCH, MUNCH... "My question is a simple question," CRUNCH, CUNCH... "Now I ain't never read them books you read..." CRUNCH, MUNCH... "and I can't recite the Scriptures in the original Greek..." CRUNCH, MUNCH... "I don't know nothin' about Niebuhr and Heidegger..." CRUNCH, MUNCH... He finished the apple. "All I wanna know is: This apple I just ate-was it bitter or sweet?"

Dr. Tillich paused for a moment and answered in exemplary scholarly fashion: "I cannot possibly answer that question, for I haven't tasted your apple."

The white-haired preacher dropped the core of his apple into his crumpled paper bag, looked up at Dr. Tillich and said calmly, "Neither have you tasted my Jesus."
The one thousand plus in attendance could not contain themselves. The auditorium erupted with applause and cheers. Dr. Tillich thanked his audience and promptly left the platform. — Source unknown

I end this 'not so short' story with this beautiful refrain by Fanny Crosby.......

Are you walking in the light
In the blessed, blessed light
Is it shining in your soul today
With a firm abiding faith
That will triumph over death
Are you walking in the old, old way

Thursday, September 11, 2008


With football season in full swing, I thought I would re-publish the following story in case some of you missed it the first time. Actually, I needed to re-read this myself. I hope you enjoy it...again

Cassie, my little 8-year-old niece, came to my house the other day with my mom. Unfortunately, the kids and I were gone somewhere. When she got out of her car, mom noticed J.D.'s ankle weights lying on the ground over by the basketball goal.

That boy is constantly leaving something outside. One day he was kicking a football out in the yard, when he managed to get not one but TWO footballs stuck high in the tree out near the mailbox. Those were the only footballs he had, and he tried for several days to bring them down by throwing rocks and other objects at them. As a matter of fact, Elijah and I also joined in the rescue operation, but none of us had any success. It appeared that J.D.'s footballs were destined to stay up in that tree forever.

And then one day, as J.D. would probably describe it, something miraculous happened -- a power outage. Miraculous because the power outage sent Richie Richardson of South Kentucky RECC to our home. J.D. looked out the door and saw Richie standing beside his ladder truck, which just happened to be parked next to the tree, that coincidently held J.D.'s footballs. In a flash, J.D. was out the door. A minute later, I looked outside just in time to see Richie using this long-arm apparatus to remove the footballs from the tree. Then, I saw him turn toward J.D. and point up to the sky, in the opposite direction of the tree. I chuckled when I saw him do that. Later, J.D. said Richie told him to kick the football 'THAT WAY' from now on! I can still see Richie smiling as he drove off down the road waving goodbye to a very happy J.D. Speck.

Mom retrieved J.D.'s ankle weights from the yard and carried them into the house. Cassie saw her lay them down and went over to investigate. She wanted to know what they were. Mom explained to her how that J.D. uses the ankle weights to strengthen his leg muscles so that he will jump higher when he is playing basketball. A puzzled Cassie replied, "Isn't that illegal?"

Have you ever been at that spot in the road where you find yourself in a lull because of something that's weighing you down? And, no matter how hard you try, you're just stuck...like J.D.'s footballs? Even though it may be a hard battle, don't give up. GOD LOVES YOU. Reach out to Him. He will be reaching back for you. J.D. could not get those footballs to move until he asked Richie to help him. And, you know, no matter how far out of reach a solution seems, no matter how difficult the situation is, no matter the size of the weight you are carrying around, just trust in the Lord. He WILL make a way for you. His strength is perfect.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Micajah Bunch - King of the Melungeons

The Roanoke Colony was an enterprise financed and organized by Sir Walter Raleigh in the late 16th century to establish a permanent English settlement in the Virginia Colony. In 1585, during his West Indian Voyage, Sir Francis Drake began attacking Spanish colonies in the Atlantic so that he could supply Raleigh's colony with additional supplies and people -- the slaves he had captured. But, 10 days after Drake's ship arrived, there arose a hurricane and the 500 slaves had to be freed to save the ships. It is believed the captured slaves mixed with members from the colony at Roanoke and all were eventually absorbed into the surrounding native american tribes. By the time the census came around, all of the people were gone. The ordeal became known as the lost colony.

In the mid 1700's, several families lived together, migrating from area to area in the backwoods deep in the heart of appalachia, incuding the Newman Ridge and Blackwater areas in Virginia and East Tennessee, then later moving to Orange County, North Carolina and onto to the Clinch River area near a portion of Hawkins County that is now in Hancock County, Tennessee. They were known as Melungeons, or Molatas, a mysterious group of people who had swarthy complexions, straight black hair, black or gray eyes. They were considered neither white, black, nor Indian, but free people of color; people of a mixed race. Melungeons believed themselves to be of Cherokee and Portuguese extraction. Most also believe they descended from the lost colony.

During the American Revolution, the term Tory was used to describe loyalists...colonists who sided with Great Britian against the revolutionaries. In 1781, Captain William Thomas Riddle, a reckless North Carolina Tory leader, and a Melungeon, captured two soldiers commanded by Colnel Benjamin Cleveland of the Wilkes County Militia. The prisoners were given the choice of taking the oath of allegiance to Great Britan and joining the Tory band or being shot as traitors to the Crown. They took the oath but quickly made their way to militia leaders and gave them Riddle's location. Riddle was captured, court martialed and hung.

The place where Riddle was hung.

The Melungeons called their leaders "King" instead of "Chief." Micajah Bunch was the King of the Blackwater Melungeonites. Born in 1733 near where the Saponi tribe lived, King Micajah was part Melungeon and part Cherokee. He is believed to be the first melungeon to be in the Newman Ridge area. Captain Riddle's wife, Happy, had been seen riding with the tory gang and she had been spotted slipping into town to watch her husbands execution. Fearing for her life, King Micajah and the other Melungeons fled to the Clinch River area in Tennessee. Eventually, Happy died and when she did, the others decided to move on. Destination, at least for one: Stockton's Valley.

The year was 1798. King Micajah Bunch was among the first settlers to arrive at Stockton's Valley. His name is on the 1798 tax roll for Cumberland County, Kentucky. Thomas Stockton had been the first to arrive in 1797, followed by the George Smith family and then the family of William Wood, which contained several sons who had fought proudly for America's freedom. Some believe that William Riddle started out fighting for the same cause but had become estranged and switched sides. Either way, Stockton's Valley may not have been the best place for King Micajah to be, considering he was alleged to have been a part of William Riddle's Tory gang. While Micajah Bunch is listed on the Cumberland County tax rolls for 1798, he is not on the 1804 list. I can't find him anywhere after 1798.

For a short time, Valentine Collins, a melungeon, lived at Stockton's Valley, Kentucky and worshipped as a member of Clear Fork Baptist Church. Sometime after 1803, he and his wife, Dicey, left their home on Newman Ridge and migrated west. In September of 1806, Valentine was received under the watchcare of Clear Fork Baptist Church. Apparently, an issue arose regarding his previous church membership. The minutes of Stoney Creek Baptist Church show he and Dicey were members there from December of 1801 through April 23, 1803. It could be that he was unable to show proof. In March of 1807, Clear Fork's clerk, William Wood, wrote there was a contradiction as to where Valentine's membership was previously. In July, Wood wrote that Collins was a transient member, meaning he was only passing through. In September, Clear Fork declared non-fellowship with Collins after he neglected to address the issue. That was the last reference to Valentine Collins at Clear Fork.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

R.I.P. The Guitar Man

Jerry Reed, singer-songwriter and actor, died August 31st of complications from emphysema. He was 71. Known as "The Guitar Man," Reed had great success as a songwriter. Elvis recorded his "Guitar Man" and U.S. Male." As a singer, Reed had smash hits with When You're Hot, You're Hot, Lord Mr. Ford, She Got The Goldmine (I Got The Shaft), The Bird, East Bound and Down and many others. His film credits include: W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, Gator, High Ballin, Hotstuff, all three Smokey and the Bandit movies. He also starred in the 1998 Adam Sandler movie, Waterboy.

He said, "I was out on the Cumberland River fishing, and I got a call from Felton Jarvis (then Presley's producer). He said, 'Elvis is down here. We've been trying to cut 'Guitar Man' all day long. He wants it to sound like it sounded on your album.' I finally told him, 'Well, if you want it to sound like that, you're going have to get me in there to play guitar, because these guys (you're using in the studio) are straight pickers. I pick with my fingers and tune that guitar up all weird kind of ways.'" Jarvis hired Reed to play on the session. "I hit that intro, and Elvis's face lit up and here we went. Then after he got through that, he cut my "U.S. Male" at the same session. I was toppin' cotton, son."

Chet Atkins always said he thought Jerry Reed was a better fingerstyle guitar player than he was. He said Jerry Reed helped him work out the fingerpickin' to Atkins' hit Yakety Axe.

Jerry was an avid fisherman and came to Gunnels Camp often to fish.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Raccoon John Smith

Raccoon John Smith was a noble pioneer of the restoration movement in America. Born October 15, 1784, he was the son of George Smith, who was the second person to arrive at Stockton Valley, and who was one of the original members of Clear Fork Baptist Church.

When John was a young man, Clear Fork donated a tract of land for the first school building. It was there that Racoon John Smith learned to read and write. One day the teacher, who was gaining a reputation as a drinker, stood up before the school and bantered the students to give him some problem in arithmetic which he could not solve. John Smith asked him: "Master, how many grains of corn would it take to make a square foot of mush?" Smith took a special delight in pestering the teacher. One day while he slept, John took a shovel full of hot burning embers from the fire and poured them into the large open pocket of the teacher's linsey coat. The rest of the children stood aghast at the deed, then seizing their books they fled to the woods. The schoolteacher slept on until the smoke of his burning coat awoke him.

Bro. Isaac Denton, Clear Fork's first pastor, seemed to have a special regard for John, and John was ever ready to go over and help the pastor till his plot of ground. A desire to preach seized the young fellow's heart, but he had difficulty in believing the baptist doctrines.

In 1808, John Smith was ordained to preach. On January 7, 1815, while away from home preaching, his wife, Ann, was called to the bedside of a sick neighbor. While away her cabin caught on fire, and two of the older children were burned to death. Her face never brightened again, and soon after she sickened and died. It was then that Racoon John Smith began to question his religious beliefs and what his Church stood for.

In the spring of 1824, John rode twenty miles from his home at Parmleysville in Wayne County to hear Alexander Campbell speak. He then decided that he no longer believed the way Clear Fork Baptist Church believed. In January, 1828, he went into the ministry full-time.

In 1831, he returned to Stockton Valley to visit his mother. She asked why he hadn't waited till she was dead before he had made the changes he had in religious matters and wept sorely in his presence. He told her that he alone would have to answer for himself at the Judgment. After that, his mother always stood up for him when all others in the community did not.

Raccoon John Smith gave the first unity sermon on New Year's Day 1832 in Lexington, Kentucky. Following the sermon, those in attendance who represented two different sides to the restoration movement, grasped hands demonstrating the value of the plea for unity. Thus, John Smith was credited with pioneering the cause of Christian unity by the restoration of New Testament Christianity.

Racoon John Smith traveled far and wide to preach. On February 9, 1868, he walked to a meeting place over icy ground on a very cold day. The next day he was ill. During his illness he spoke with confidence to those around him as to his future, and one day asked for some music. Some of the brethren were brought in, and they cheered the dying saint with "Since I can read my title clear to mansions in the skies."

John Smith died February 28, 1868 and is buried in Lexington.

His cabin is on display in downtown Monticello.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

From Patriot to Pillory

James Brock was born in England in 1760. His family soon migrated to America, and at the age of 16, James became a patriot of the Revolutionary War when he joined the North Carolina Continental Line. During the war, James served as a cattle butcher and as Assistant Commissary Officer in the State Militia. Following the war, around 1800, he married Mildred Crain and the two left North Carolina and settled near Spring Creek. He was one of the 13 original members who organized Clear Fork Baptist Church.

Unfortunately, things between James and the other members of the Church didn't always go so well. At the January 1805 business meeting, James applied to the Church for liberty to commune with other societies. The Church majority said no. In December of 1805, charges of false testimony were brought against him by fellow Church member Joseph Crawford. Four months later, Brock was taken notice by the Church for keeping up a charge against her by refusing to commune. At the June 1806 business meeting, Brock justified his conduct but still refused to commune and was exluded. It was at the July 1813 business meeting, where James was excluded from the Church for unfriendly treatment of his wife, and for profane language. That is the last entry for James Brock in Clear Fork Baptist Church records. At the May 1807 business meeting, Milly Brock was suspended for approving infant sprinkling Baptism). She was excluded from the Church the following month.

The story of James Brock does not end with his exclusion from the Church. Not long after he settled near Spring Creek, James joined the Overton County Tennessee Militia. He was with that company, when he fought in the War of 1812. He also served under General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. As far as ensuring that America remained the land of freedom and opportunity, James did his part. He was a patriot. But, he was also a horse thief.

On March 12, 1817, James was convicted of horse stealing in Livingston, Tennessee. The court ordered he be imprisoned six months. It was also ordered that on the first, second and third days of the next county court session, he be placed in the pillory for the space of two hours each day and on the third day between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and that he receive on his bare back, twenty lashes. One of the punishments for horse stealing was to be branded, so it was also ordered that the letters H and T, which stood for 'Horse Thief,' were branded on the brawn of his left thumb. He was imprisoned in the White County Jail at Sparta until his punishment was carried out and until all court costs had been paid in full by him.

There is no record of when James Brock died, but his will was recorded at the Cumberland County Courthouse on June 19, 1831.

James Brock signed his first land deed with an X, but he signed his daughters land deed with this B, which was found on record at the Cumberland County Courthouse.

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...