I say hurrah for Lincoln and the Union party! The Disunion party has committed treason

Posted by Dave Tabler | February 5, 2016

When the dark clouds of war were gathering in the South in the spring of 1861, not everyone embraced the new cause. While some were eager to fight for a secessionist government, many others considered the impending war a wicked, treasonous undertaking and wanted no part of it.

Indeed, a majority in the hills of Northwest Alabama, mostly poor yeomen dirt farmers, saw little value or reason in taking arms against the federal government. They recognized quite early that this was not their fight, but that of the landed gentry. It was obvious to the hill folk that the plantation owners and their political spokesmen were fanning the war flames and talked the loudest about separation.

James B. Bell, of Winston County, AL, had six children: Robert, John, Henry, Eliza Jane, Francis, and James T., all Union Loyalists except for one son, Henry.

Henry joined the Confederacy and moved to Mississippi. Henry’s brothers, sister, and father all tried to convince Henry to rethink his feelings, but to no avail. There are seven known letters sent to Henry, who turned them in to the authorities in his community. They were then sent to Governor Moore on July 10, 1861 with a letter signed by A.W. Irvin from Lodi, MS:

“Dear Sir, Enclosed please find a treasonable correspondence from Kansas P.O. Walker Co., Ala. to a citizen of our community, Mr. Henry Bell, signed by James B. Bell, John Bell, and Robert Bell which the undersigned regard as dangerous and forward the same to Your Excellency in order that you may be advised of the existence of such sentiment in your State and to enable you to investigate or take such cause in the premises as your judgment and duty may dictate. Mr. Henry Bell to whom the ___ documents were written ___ ___ these individuals reside in Black Swamp Beat in Winston Co. Ala but the Kansas Walker Co. is their P.O.”

Union is dissolved poster, 1869Robert died in Andersonville on August 3, 1864 (a prisoner of war), John died on August 17, 1864 in Rome, GA, Henry died March 24, 1863, James T. died on July 24, 1864, and James B., their father, died September 15, 1862. Francis was the only male who survived, and his descendants can still be found in Winston County. These letters have little punctuation, gaps, and blanks, and were written to Henry trying to convince him to come home and change his ways.

Letter Seven:

Robert Bell to his brother, Henry Bell in Choctaw County Mississippi

June 10th 1861

State of Alabama Winston County Dear brother it is this one time more that I take my pin in hand to try to right you a few lines to let you no that I am tolebral well and I hope that when this Comes to hand that it may findes you all well and that you aught to bee when I say what you aught to bee is to not bee and rebel nor a fool the way you hair bin righting hear you air one or the other and you cant deniy it nor you nead not to try to deniy it to mee your side has not got a foundaution that is eney sounder than a soft bull tied in the spring of the year you have not I suppose from the way you have bin riting seen nor heard nothing but disunion secession confederate confederated and confederation and you all haive Swollode it down like Sweet milk and Softe peaches I say hurrow for lincol it has ben Said that lincol was a going to free the negros that is a ly I will say that it seames to me like congress has something to say aboute it first it has bin said that the union men was traitors that I say is a ly again I am a heap freader of the disunions with their helish principals than I am of lincol. he has not said that he was a going to free the negros he has bin beging far peas ever since he was elected he has offered the south more than I wood have dun he has offerd the south eney thing they wood ask for if they would stay in [One full line is unreadable because of fold.] bee as it was with Joseph and his brothers if the south will not do eney thing that is right and fair it is said by you or some of you dis union party that lincol was elected by a large negro vote that is not so and you now it two when I say you I mean you all on the dis union side and all hoo the shoe may fit Can ware it. theair was something said a bout a company being sent out here to do something with the union men Send them on when you git redy and it will bee a too hand again I am not afeard in to it my self come on and you will mete with your uncle feddys theair is no dainger of you a coming or sending on that bysness there is too mutch meanness at the bottom of the disunion party to soot me one man in this county said that he wood live fat among the (women) if the war cum on and he has left the County and I heard of a nother one being shot or shot at for trying to force a woman to it.

I am a union man my self and a union principal and all the rest of the con nect tion here there is not ceding 15 rebels in our beat and I say hurrow for lincon and the union party the dis union party has committed treason You say that lincon was elected by a large negro vot that will not do if that bee the case why did not you brake the election at the start it looks to me like he was lawfully elected when he beat the others all to gether you all had better try to keep your negros as for mine they may go I do not like to smell them so will Rebel is one who opposis lawful authority. Rebel to rise in opposition against lawful authority Rebellion insurrection against lawful authority Secede to withdraw from fellowship secession the act of with draw ing from union the act of joining concord.

this is what I am in for I was bornd and Raised in the union and I exspect to dy with the union principal in mee I will Dy before I will take an oath to support the Southern confedersa when ever lincoln dus eney thing Contray to the Constitution I am then ready and willing to help put him a way from their so i ad no more. Robert Bell

source: http://wcgs.ala.nu/bellletters.htm

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Once fertile fields laid waste

Posted by Dave Tabler | February 4, 2016

The Dust Bowl crisis of the early 1930s for the first time brought national attention to the acute dangers of soil erosion. Southern Appalachian farms, for their part, suffered from poor soil conditions and erosion as a result of practices that maximized the short-term potential of corn, tobacco and cotton cash crops at the expense of the soil’s long-term health.

In response to the depletion of the nation’s farmland, President Roosevelt created the Soil Erosion Service (SES) of the Department of the Interior, headed by North Carolina native Hugh H. Bennett, in 1933. It supervised significant numbers of CCC camps in the Southern Appalachian Highlands. Enrollees planted trees and shrubs to help hold the soil in place and built small dams to help lessen floods, mostly on private lands.

soil erosion in 1930s South CarolinaAn example of the condition of much of the rural landscape in South Carolina before the establishment of the Soil Erosion Service.

With a five million dollar budget, the SES set up demonstration sites in strategic locations throughout the United States. One of the first demonstration sites in the United States covered the South Tyger River Watershed, located in South Carolina’s Greenville and Spartanburg counties. The project began on December 18, 1933 at the J.L. Berry farm, located near Poplar Springs, where a gully large enough to swallow a vehicle was repaired.

At the strong urging of a coalition of agricultural and forestry groups, Roosevelt transferred SES to the Department of Agriculture in March 1935 and had it renamed Soil Conservation Service.

Secretary Bennett knew that resource needs and conditions varied greatly from one part of the country to the next and even from one neighboring county to the next. To insure that these local needs were properly recognized and met, Bennett helped draft legislation that states could use to create Soil Conservation Districts.

soil erosion in 1930s South CarolinaA farmer plowing up and down the slope, which resulted in severe soil erosion.

In 1937, President Roosevelt wrote the governors of all the states recommending that local landowners form such districts. South Carolina’s Governor, Olin D. Johnston, signed the S.C. Conservation Districts Law on April 17, 1937.

On August 3, North Carolina Secretary of State Thad Eure made history when he established the Brown Creek Soil Conservation District as the first in the nation.

But Brown Creek was not the first soil conservation district to actually implement a working plan. Dr. Thomas S. Buie, South Carolina’s state conservationist, who several years before had been the Regional Director of the South Tyger River project mentioned earlier, was now director of the Southeastern Region for SES.

Buie was media savvy, and in 1934 had taken his argument directly to the public via a series of 15 talks on radio station WFBC in Spartanburg, and also on a weekly mid-day show out of WBT in Charlotte, NC.

“An enemy as real as any our troops ever have faced in battle,” he exhorted, “has conquered an area 35,000,000 acres in extent, laid waste to what once were fertile fields and almost unchallenged continues his relentless march of destruction across other fields wherever the slope of the land is sufficient for water to flow.”

Mrs. Ploma AdamsMrs. Ploma M. Adams of Seneca, SC.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise, then, that on February 4, 1938, the country’s first implemented farm soil conservation plan occurred at the farm of one Mrs. Ploma M. Adams, in Seneca, SC, adjacent to Buie’s high-profile South Tyger River project.
John Drayton Hopkins, a state director of the South Carolina Farm Bureau, took his cue from the Adams farm’s plan, and sought to educate farmers to use terracing and crop rotation to help maintain the fertility and stability of the soil. He encouraged farmers to supplement cotton and corn with oats and wheat, and to plant fallow fields in fescue, clover, and kudzu to stabilize the soil and to graze cattle.

By 1947, 20,000 farm conservation plans were in place statewide in South Carolina, says a May 19 article in Spartanburg’s “Herald Journal”:

“Little more than a decade ago, practically no annual lespedeza was grown in the state in rotations. Now this crop is grown from the mountains to the sea for soil improvement and as a hay crop. It is a common thing for it to be found on most every farm in a given community.

“The annual lespedezas furnish food for the quail. A good soil conservation farm plan also calls for field borders of perennial plants which prevent erosion and can be valuable as a turn-row in the use of equipment. Sericea furnishes a splendid cover for quail and provides the turn-row.”

Sources: “The Land Today & Tomorrow,” Official Gazette of the Soil Erosion Service, Oct 1934, online at www.archive.org/stream/landtodayandtomo00unitrich/landtodayandtomo00unitrich_djvu.txt




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That is the peculiarity of gold mining; it is just like gambling

Posted by Dave Tabler | February 3, 2016

“The gold,” he mused; “yes, I will come to that. It was just by accident that I came across it; the site is now that of the Calhoun Mine. I was deer hunting, one day, when I kicked up something that caught my eye. I examined it, and decided that it was gold. The place belonged to Rev. Mr. Obarr, who, though a preacher, was a hard man, and very desperate.

19th century gold miners in North GeorgiaEngraving of gold miners in Georgia. Artist unknown. From “Gold-Mining in Georgia,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine,(June to November 1879): p. 519.

“I went to him, and told him that I thought I could find gold on his place if he would give me a lease of it. He laughed, as though he did not believe me, and consented. So a lease for forty years was written out, the consideration of which was that I was to give him one fourth of the gold mined. I took into partnership a friend in whom I had confidence. I went over to the spot with a pan, and turning over some earth it looked like the yellow of an egg. It was more than my eyes could believe.

“The news got abroad and such excitement you never saw. It seemed within a few days as if the whole world must have heard of it, for men came from every State I had ever heard of. They came afoot, on horseback, and in wagons, acting more like crazy men than anything else. All the way from where Dahlonega now stands to Nuckollsville there were men panning out of the branches and making holes in the hillsides. The saddest man in the county was Preacher Obarr from whom I had leased the land. He thought the lease was a joke but now he found out that it was in earnest.

“One day he came to me and said:

“‘Mr. Parks, I want your lease.’

“‘ But I will not sell it to you,’ I replied.

“‘Why not?’ he asked.

“‘Well,’ I answered, ‘even if I were willing, it is now out of my power, for I have taken a partner, and I know he would never consent to it. I have given him my word and I will keep it.’

“‘You will suffer for this, yet,’ said Obarr, menacingly, as he went away.

“Two weeks later I saw a party of two women and two men approaching. I knew it was Obarr’s family, intent upon trouble. Knowing Obarr’s fondness for litigation, I warned my men to hold their own, but to take no offensive step.

“‘Mr. Parks,’ were Obarr’s first words, ‘I want that mine.’

“‘If you were to pay me ten times its value.’ I replied, ‘I would not sell it to you.’

“‘Well, the longest pole will knock off the persimmon,’ he said threateningly.

“At that moment Mrs. Obarr broke the sluice gates to let out the water. A laborer was in the ditch and the woman threw rocks in the water in order to splash him. Failing to make him aggressive, she burst into tears; when her son advanced to attack him I caught him by the collar and flung him back.

“Then the party went off, swore out warrants against us, and had us all arrested. All this was done for intimidation, but it failed to work, and the next thing I heard was that Obarr had sold the place to Judge Underwood, who in turn sold it to Senator John C Calhoun of South Carolina, and then I lost a fortune.

“Senator Calhoun wanted to buy my lease, and I sold it for what I thought was a good price. The very first month after the sale he took out 24,000 pennyweights of gold, and then I was inclined to be as mad with him as Obarr had been with me. But that is the peculiarity of gold mining. You will go day after day exhausting your means and your strength until you give it up. Then the first man who touches the spot, finds the gold the first opening he makes. It is just like gambling; all luck.”

—Benjamin Parks, from an 1894 interview in the Atlanta Constitution. Parks is said by some to be the person who discovered gold in Georgia in 1828, west of the Chestatee River in Lumpkin County.

source: “A preliminary report on a part of the gold deposits of Georgia, Bulletin No. 4-A,” by William Smith Yeates and Samuel Washington McCallie, Geological Survey of Georgia, 1896

One Response

  • Mardine Campbell says:

    Thank you for publishing this. My gg grandfather prospected in northern Georgia in Lumpkin county in the 1840s before moving to Pickens county, Georgia, where he farmed and mined. He didn’t strike it rich but he made enough to buy his farm and provide cash.

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The Family Bible

Posted by Dave Tabler | February 2, 2016

Prior to easily retrievable birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates, and digitized record keeping in general, the family Bible held the ultimate narrative of ancestral history.

They’re a treasure trove for both genealogists and historians. For example, here’s a simple entry in the Lampton family Bible, which was carried from southwest Virginia as the household migrated to eastern Kentucky: “Jane Lampton, born 1803, married John M. Clemens” Lampton and Clemens were the mother and father of Samuel L. Clemens –Mark Twain.

More often than not, the family Bible was the only written record of births, marriages and deaths of loved ones. In addition, between the leaves of this precious possession one could expect to find a wealth of newspaper clippings, letters, photos, and other ephemera pressed for safekeeping over generations of forbears.

It was understood that the book was to be carefully guarded and passed along: “1960 — This Bible goes to Mary Rose. after I am done with it. Momie [sic] Promised it to her. Dad” And: “I wonder how old this old Bible is. Gert gave it to me sometime after Mother Hawkins died. Someday it will be yours. Love, Mother.”

Most family Bibles present dates without any embellishment, but every now and again a quirky personality shines through. The transcriber of Thomas Snelling’s death entry seems obsessively precise in noting the time: “Thomas C Snelling died Dec 25, 1884 half past 1 o’clock and burried ten minuts of 12 the 26″ [original spellings].

It was illegal for any printer in the Colonies to produce the English Bible. Publication of the King James Version of Scripture was controlled by Oxford and Cambridge University Presses as well as other printers licensed by the king.

In response, Colonial printers created a ‘family Bible’ with the addition of record keeping ability to circumvent the copyright restrictions of English law. They frequently included blank pages for multi-generational notes and commentary, as well as engravings and illustrations. These Bibles were sold in inexpensive serial editions.

After the Revolutionary War, the budding American legislature wasn’t any more friendly to Bible printers. “An effort was made in its first Congress to restrict the printing of the [Bible] to licensed houses,” says the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature.

However, this political attempt to continue regulated distribution “was cut short by the first amendment to the Constitution, and the book was thrown into the hands of the trade at large, with anything but a beneficial effect on its general integrity.”

Isaac Collins bibleIsaac Collins Bible from 1782; one of only two surviving copies.

England refused to send its former colonies any more Bibles, so demand for the Good Book was high and supply was low. Isaac Collins rose to the challenge in his Trenton, NJ print shop. He pre-sold 3,000 copies before the project was even begun, and by the time the presses stopped, 5,000 copies awaited eager hands.

Rag cotton linen paper was a precious commodity in early America, which forced Collins to resort to wood-pulp paper. His choice of stock was somewhat thicker than that used for books today. The resulting folio had the unintended benefit of more heft, greater durability, and a therefore a built-in likelihood of arriving at heirloom status.

Isaac Collins produced the most influential American Bible from the late 1700’s until the mid 1800’s, originating the “Family Bible” format we’ve come to know today.

source: “Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies: Women, Sexuality, and Religion in the Victorian Market” (review): English Studies in Canada – Volume 32, Issue 2-3, June/September 2006, pp. 203-206
The First American Bible, by Margaret T. Hills, American Bible Society, 1968
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, edited by John M’Clintock and James Strong, Vol. I, pg. 563, Baker Book House, 1981

One Response

  • Jay Shepherd says:

    I love those old bibles. My grandmother had a Bible that was passed down from generation to generation, kept a record of everything that’s happened in our family.

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Tsuwe’nähï: A Cherokee Legend Of Pilot Knob

Posted by Dave Tabler | February 1, 2016

In the old town of Känuga, on Pigeon River, there was a lazy fellow named Tsuwe’nähï, who lived from house to house among his relatives and never brought home any game, although he used to spend nearly all his time in the woods.

At last his friends got very tired of keeping him, so he told them to get some parched corn ready for him and he would go and bring back a deer, or else would never trouble them again.

Jeff Thompson, a Cherokee Indian, wearing traditional costume and posed on a rock outcropping overlooking a valley at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo taken 1939.

Jeff Thompson, a Cherokee Indian, wearing traditional costume and posed on a rock outcropping overlooking a valley at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo taken 1939.

They filled his pouch with parched corn, enough for along trip, and he started off for the mountains. Day after day passed until they thought they had really seen the last of him, but before the month was half gone he was back again at Känuga, with no deer, but with a wonderful story to tell.

He said that he had hardly turned away from the trail to go up the ridge when he met a stranger, who asked him where he was going. Tsuwe’nähï answered that his friends in the settlement had driven him out because he was no good hunter, and that if he did not find a deer this time he would never go back again. “Why not come with me?” said the stranger, “my town is not far from here, and you have relatives there.”

Tsuwe’nähï was very glad of the chance, because he was ashamed to go back to his own town; so he went with the stranger, who took him to Tsuwa`tel’da (Pilot knob). They came to a cave, and the other said, “Let us go in here;” but the cave ran clear to the heart of the mountain, and when they were inside the hunter found there an open country like a wide bottom land, with a great settlement and hundreds of people.

They were all glad to see him, and brought him to their chief, who took him into his own house and showed him a seat near the fire. Tsuwe’nähï sat down, but he felt it move under him, and when he looked again he saw that it was a turtle, with its head sticking out from the shell. He jumped up, but the chief said, “It won’t hurt you; it only wants to see who you are.” So he sat down very carefully, and the turtle drew in its head again.

They brought food of the same kind that he had been accustomed to at home, and when he had eaten the chief took him through the settlement until he had seen all the houses and talked with most of the people. When he had seen everything and had rested some days, he was anxious to get back to his home, so the chief himself brought him to the mouth of the cave and showed him the trail that led down to the river. Then he said, “You are going back to the settlement, but you will never be satisfied there any more. Whenever you want to come to us, you know the way.” The chief left him, Tsuwe’nähï went down the mountain and along the river until he came to Känuga.

He told his story, but no one believed it and the people only laughed at him. After that he would go away very often and be gone for several days at a time, and when he came back to the settlement he would say he had been with the mountain people.

At last one man said he believed the story and would go with him to see. They went off together to the woods, where they made a camp, and then Tsuwe’nähï went on ahead, saying he would be back soon. The other waited for him, doing a little hunting near the camp, and two nights afterwards Tsuwe’nähï was back again. He seemed to be alone, but was talking as he came, and the other hunter heard girls’ voices, although he could see no one.

When he came up to the fire he said, “I have two friends with me, and they say there is to be a dance in their town in two nights, and if you want to go they will come for you.” The hunter agreed at once, and Tsuwe’nähï called out, as if to some one close by, “He says he will go.” Then he said, “Our sisters have come for some venison.” The hunter had killed a deer and had the meat drying over the fire, so he said, “What kind do they want?” The voices answered, “Our mother told us to ask for some of the ribs,” but still he could see nothing.

He took down some rib pieces and gave them to Tsuwe’nähï, who took them and said, “In two days we shall come again for you.” Then he started off, and the other heard the voices going through the woods until all was still again.

In two days Tsuwe’nähï came, and this time he had two girls with him. As they stood near the fire the hunter noticed that their feet were short and round, almost like dogs’ paws, but as soon as they saw him looking they sat down so that he could not see their feet.

After supper the whole party left the camp and went up along the creek to Tsuwa`tel’da. They went in through the cave door until they got to the farther end and could see houses beyond, when all at once the hunter’s legs felt as if they were dead and he staggered and fell to the ground. The others lifted him up, but still he could not stand, until the medicine-man brought some “old tobacco” and rubbed it on his legs and made him smell it until he sneezed.

Then he was able to stand again and went in with the others. He could not stand at first, because he had not prepared himself by fasting before he started.

The dance had not yet begun and Tsuwe’nähï took the hunter into the townhouse and showed him a seat near the fire, but it had long thorns of honey locust sticking out from it and he was afraid to sit down.

Tsuwe’nähï told him not to be afraid, so he sat down and found that the thorns were as soft as down feathers. Now the drummer came in and the dancers, and the dance began. One man followed at the end of the line, crying Kû! Kû! all the time, but not dancing. The hunter wondered, and they told him, “This man was lost in the mountains and had been calling all through the woods for his friends until his voice failed and he was only able to pant Kû! Kû! and then we found him and took him in.”

When it was over Tsuwe’nähï and the hunter went back to the settlement. At the next dance in Känuga they told all they had seen at Tsuwa`tel’da, what a large town was there and how kind everybody was, and this time–because there were two of them–the people believed it.

Now others wanted to go, but Tsuwe’nähï told them they must first fast seven days, while he went ahead to prepare everything, and then he would come and bring them. He went away and the others fasted, until at the end of seven days he came for them and they went with him to Tsuwa`tel’da, and their friends in the settlement never saw them again.


Source: “Myths of the Cherokee,” by James Mooney, Bureau of American Ethnology, 19th Annual Report to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Congressional Serial Set, publ. by US Government Printing Office, 1900

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