Saturday, September 23, 2017

"Faith Unfeigned (A Tribute to Joseph Denton)

"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned" - 1 Timothy 1:5

Joseph Crouch Denton died 130 years ago this year. He was the fourth pastor of Clear Fork Baptist Church in Albany, Kentucky, serving 32 years and 11 months, from October 1854 to his death on September 29, 1887.

The son of the first pastor, Isaac Denton, Joseph was born on May 5, 1811. He got saved and joined the church on December 22, 1838, was chosen as a Deacon on March 26, 1842, appointed Church Trustee on June 22, 1844 and preached his first sermon on June 22, 1850. He was ordained into the ministry on October 24, 1853.

In his obituary recorded in the Church minutes, clerk John Hopkins wrote, "The silent boatman has dipped his oars into the dark river and stealthily moored his vessel to earthly shore for a few moments and removed one of our beloved and trusted sentinels from his high place in Zion."

It was noted that the combined pastorates of Isaac and Joseph Denton of almost eighty years was attended with great blessings. Many revivals succeeded and the Church exercised a large influence. Through the Denton's, the Church received its lessons in principles of doctrines of Christ and rose to clossal proportions, exhibiting the teachings of both its pastors, especially Joseph Denton, not only in his labors in the ministry, but in his every day walk of life.

His obituary states that he "shone with intarnished luster in deeds of mercy and unselfishness among his neighbors and brethren and in his family. His feelings were as tender as a babe, yet he stood with the firmness of a granite cliff when bible principles were at issue. He planted himself only on the truth with breast bare to the storm, and amidst the tempest rose higher and shined still brighter, possessing charity and broad liberality for all."

In confusion of the Civil War, when strong men trembled with fear and all men's hearts failed them, Joseph Denton exhibited the same unfailing confidence, the same calmness, the same encouragement to all, as in time of profound peace, faithful to gently reprove the faults of a friend or to apologize for an enemy. His sweet temper possessed a magnetism to attract the attention of the disinfected and gave to him almost a resistless influence in reconciling differences between brethren or neighbors.

Joseph was a man of faith unfeigned, living a life of prayer, from hence he drew his greatest strength and influence. Clerk John Hopkins wrote, "In prayer, he seemed to obtain a neatness to the Throne, seldom given to man, then he seemed to breathe the atmosphere of Heaven and his heart to glow with a warmness of love that encircled the entire number of fallen men. In the pulpit he possessed a native elegance that entitled him to be called a "Sweet Tongued Denton." His theme was the cross of Christ, the cleansing blood of Jesus. With these, he sought to win sinners to the Saviour's love and which seldom left the hearts of his hearers unmoved."

The church record states that for a number of years, Joseph Denton was afflicted, but bore his sufferings with Christian fortitude, patiently waiting for the Redeemer to call him home. Almost at death's door, he prayed, "May the Lord bless and save you all is my prayer, amen."

Joseph Denton died without a struggle on the 29th day of September, 1887, aged 76 years, four months and 24 days. His body was buried near his parents at the Clear Fork Burying Ground, within a few steps of the church house, where he had held membership for almost 49 years, to, as the record states, "await the Resurrection morn."

There were 414 additions to the Clear Fork Baptist Church during Joseph Denton's pastorate.

Joseph Crouch Denton
"May His Example Be Followed
By Those He Left"

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Jim McDaniels Shined At WKU

Jim McDaniels, one of the finest players to ever represent the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, died Wednesday evening in Bowling Green. He was 69.

Big Mac, a 7-foot center from nearby Scottsville, was a legendary and iconic figure in the annals of Western Kentucky basketball. His time at WKU ranks as the most successful period in the program’s rich history.

He set WKU school records with 2,238 career points (now tied with Courtney Lee) and 1,118 careerrebounds.

The Hilltoppers went a combined 62-19 during McDaniels’ time with the program under head coach John Oldham, advancing to the NCAA Tournament in each of his last two years, including a run to a third-place finish in the Final Four in 1971.

Before he arrived at WKU, McDaniels averaged nearly 40 points per game as a senior at Allen County High School and was named Kentucky Mr. Basketball in 1967.

There is a great article at WKU Herald about the 1970-71 season, undoubtedly the best ever for the WKU program, that featured Jim McDaniels. Written and published in 2014 by Elliot Pratt, it is entitled, "Standing Alone: WKU's 1971 Final Four Team Remains in a League of its Own." I highly recommend that everyone who remembers that team read it. Below is information contained in the article.

During that 1970-71 campaign, Western Kentucky basketball – behind the first all-black starting five of Jim McDaniels of Scottsville, Clarence Glover of Caverna, Jim Rose of Hazard, Rex Bailey of Glasgow and Jerry Dunn of Glasgow – would go on to have the most memorable season in Hilltopper athletic history.

Three years before that season, Jim McDaniels turned from the most sought-after player in the country to recruiter.

McDaniels, Clarence Glover, Jerome Perry and Jim Rose were high school seniors preparing to play in the Kentucky All-Star game at Freedom Hall in Louisville. The four sat in a room together at the Brown Hotel talking about where they wanted to attend college.

Jim Rose was going from his hometown of Hazard to Houston, Clarence Glover was going from Horse Cave to Florida State.

When the conversation was McDaniels’ turn to take, he put his recruiting hat on.

“I said ‘guys, it would be great if we could all come together and play together, because I think we can probably win a national championship and definitely make it to the Final Four,” McDaniels said.

McDaniels reached out his hand in the center of the group, inviting them to join him at Western.

Rose said he’d love to play with “Big Jim”, placing his hand on top of McDaniels’. Perry put his hand in, too.

The only one they were waiting on now was Glover.

“It wasn’t something that was premeditated,” McDaniels said. “Everybody put their hand in and finally it got to Glover, and he was the only one who didn’t put his hand in. We kept our hands out there for five minutes. He goes, ‘man, you guys are too much, you guys are crazy’. He puts his hand in and it was great.

“I get goose bumps talking about it now.”

The Toppers just ended the 1970-71 regular season at 20-5. Jim McDaniels had scored 29 points in the finale against Austin Peay to make him the highest scoring player in Western history.

Their first opponent in the NCAA Tournament was Jacksonville.

Clarence Glover still doesn’t know what made him want to do what is now known as the famous shoestring play, but it worked and that’s all that mattered to Western.

Western was tied at 74 with Jacksonville after being down 44-30 at halftime. The Dolphins called a timeout with eight seconds left and Ernie Fleming inbounded the pass and double-dribbled.

While Jacksonville players ran to console Fleming, Western players rushed to the ball to get a play inbounds because the Toppers had no timeouts.

All except for Glover ran to the ball. Glover casually walked down the opposite side of the court and set himself up right underneath the basket, knelt on one knee and aligned himself directly behind the defender guarding the inbounds pass from Gary Sundmacker.

Glover pretended to be tying his shoestring, writing the script for a play that would go down in Western athletic folklore.

Jim Richards recalls the play through his own reenactment on the court of Diddle Arena.

“I said, ‘Gary, Clarence is wide open!’, and he said, ‘Where? I don’t see him’, I said ‘He’s down on one knee pretending to tie his shoe,’” Richard recollected. “He said, ‘Oh, I see him, I see him’.

“He got the ball and he threw it right up near the basket. The rest is history. Glover scored and Western advanced to the first ever meeting between the Toppers and the Kentucky Wildcats.

John Oldham remembers putting a letter up on the bulletin board in the team’s locker room that said McDaniels and Rose “weren’t either smart enough or good enough to play.”

“That was such a big deal to these kids in my mind,” Jim Richards said. “They never said it to me, but full well knowing that they were African American athletes and knowing they were not recruited in essence by the University of Kentucky. They may say they recruited (McDaniels), but they really didn’t recruit him.

McDaniels scored 35 points and Glover had 17 rebounds as Western defeated Kentucky 107-83, the most amount of points the Wildcats allowed all year.

Kentucky and Western wouldn’t meet again until 1986 in the NCAA Tournament.

Against Big Ten champion Ohio State, Western battled from 18 points down to win in overtime 81-78, setting up a date with Villanova in the Final Four in Houston.

At halftime in the locker room, McDaniels said, “I looked around at everyone and said ‘I don’t know about you, but I don’t want this thing to end’. Glover said, "We looked at each other and everybody put their hand in there again and – oh, man, they knew when Big Jim, the captain, puts his hand in there what that means."

Western had every chance to defeat Villanova and advance to the national championship game. Jerry Dunn missed a one-and-one free throw with four seconds left to send the game into overtime, it was then when Glover’s miscue took over.

Whereas Glover was the hero against Jacksonville and scoring the last five points against Ohio State, his miscues helped cost the Toppers that chance.

McDaniels found him wide open under the basket for an easy layup for the chance to clinch victory.

Except, he missed.

McDaniels fouled out in the second overtime and the heart of Western checked out of the game.

A disheartened Topper club sat in the locker room after the game dejected only to hear Coach Oldham announce his retirement following the season’s end.

By McDaniels’ account: “He said, ‘I’m going out with you guys. I’m going to retire at the end of the game tomorrow’. Coach says let’s all go out a winner. We played that game like it was a championship game.

In the consolation game against Kansas, Dunn redeemed himself with the free throw shots to secure a win and a third-place finish in the NCAA Tournament.

It should be noted that the NCAA later voided Western Kentucky's participation in the tournament, accusing McDaniels of signing with an agent while still in college. Still, all of the glory of that 1970-71 season cannot go ignored. You can't erase how successful the program was during his time at WKU.

After his college career ended, McDaniels played professionally in both the NBA and ABA from 1971-78, playing with the Carolina Cougars, Seattle SuperSonics, Los Angeles Lakers, Kentucky Colonels and the Buffalo Braves, as well as one season in Italy.

He continued to live in Bowling Green and remained around the Hilltopper program through the years.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Like Father, Like Son...In The Civil War

The Civil War tore many families apart, pitting brother against brother or father against son, as each rallied to the flag of the cause that captured his heart. My family certainly fits into that category. Perhaps you read the recent story I wrote about the four Speck brothers who fought for the Confederacy. One of them was my 3rd great grandfather. This story is about his wife's uncle and three son's, who fought for the Union.

When the Civil War came to Tennessee, David Hill Walker and three of his sons, Stephen, John and George, decided to join the Union Army, enlisting in the same 2nd Tennessee Mounted Cavalry on June 19, 1862 at Cumberland Gap. They were mustered in for a three year enlistment under the command of Colonel Daniel M. Ray. The unit was composed primarily of Southern loyalists from the East Tennessee counties. The Walkers lived in Campbell County. Before that, the family lived in Washington County, Virginia. David rose to the rank of Sergeant in Company D, while his son's remained privates throughout their term of service.

The 2nd Tennessee Mounted Cavalry particpated in the Battle of Stones River at Murfreesboro, which was fought from December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863, the Tullahoma (or Middle Tennessee) Campaign from June 24 to July 3, 1863 and the Battle of Chickamauga, from September 18–20, 1863.

Following the Battle of Chickamauga, some 1,500 Union troops from the 3rd Brigade, 4th Cavalry Division and the 2nd Tennessee Mounted Infantry moved in and occupied Rogersville, Tennessee, the second-oldest town in Tennessee, and the surrounding area, and began filling warehouses full of winter provisions, attempting to establish a Federal foothold in East Tennessee for future operations. About twice that number of Confederates, made up of Jones' Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Brigade and the 8th Virginia Cavalry, surprised the federal forces on the morning of November 6, 1863 and recaptured the town, along with all of the supplies in the warehouses. The Confederates held the town for the remainder of the war.

Out of 893 soldiers from the 2nd Tennessee who participated in the battle, only five were killed, but 608, including David Walker and all three of his sons, were captured. While the commisoned officers were housed at Libby Prison at Richmond, Virginia, the enlisted men were incarcerated at nearby Belle Island Prison. Those who survived Belle Island were transferred to Andersonville Prison in Macon County, Georgia, when it opened in February of 1864. David Hill Walker and his sons were either paroled or exchanged as the war came to an end.

David and his son, George, are both buried in Pikeville, Tennessee. George died in 1889 and David Hill died in 1892. Stephen died in 1913 and is buried at nearby Crossville. John died in 1910 and is buried at Vera Cruz, Missouri.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Notorious Meddler During August 2017

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Honoring our Soldiers

On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 service members and wounding 1,178...