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Sweet, Sticky Maple Wax

Posted by | February 9, 2017

“Sugar making time was looked forward to with pleasant anticipation by the young people,” writes George Benson Kuykendall in a family geneaology published in 1919. His uncle, Isaac Kuykendall, purchased a 670 acre farm near Huttons, Garrett County, MD in 1881.

“It came along in the early spring when there were clear days and frosty nights and pretty hard freezing, but the days were warmer, with sunshine that started the sap flowing. In the groves of ‘sugar trees’ was the sugar camp, where the sugar makers camped and boiled down the sap. When ‘sugar weather’ came around, the trees were tapped by boring auger holes in them.

catching sugar water, Garrett County MDPhoto caption reads: Foster Yost, owner of the sugar maple grove, is pouring sugar water from a metal collection keeler into a large metal tank. (This sugar grove and farm, located on the Brethren Church Road, is now owned by John Schlosnogle.)Pat is the grey horse and Fred is the black.

“Tubes or spiles were then inserted to conduct the sap to the sap trough. The sap trough was made by cutting a small green maple log or stick of wood into lengths two feet long and splitting them through the middle, then digging out the wood on the split side with an axe and adze. These troughs were set under the drip of the spiles to catch the ‘sugar water.’

“When our forefathers first began maple sugar making, they boiled the sap in any kettles or pots they might have, brass or copper being preferable. Later, they made long, shallow box-vats of sheet iron which were placed on a long, low furnace partly made of masonry, on which the vats were placed. The sugar troughs when full of sap were emptied into the vat or the kettles and a fire kept up to evaporate the water, while, from time to time, the scum was skimmed from the surface.

“There was great fun in sugar making time, every stage of the process being enjoyed from the very beginning until the finished product was in cakes of sugar or vessels of maple syrup. Our good old great-grandmothers broke holes in the small ends of eggs, emptied their contents and then filled the shells with thick, granulated syrup to make Easter sugar-eggs for the children; and small cakes of sugar were moulded in receptacles of various shapes and sizes.

“When a kettle of syrup was boiled down to a suitable consistency, the ‘sugaring off’ process was gone through with to make the delicious old fashioned maple sugar. Those were sweet times, indeed, for everybody concerned in making maple sugar. Every step of the process was watched by them with frequent libations of the fresh sap–that which had been boiled to a more syrupy consistence, and with scraping of the kettles for the sweet, sticky maple wax.”

History of the Kuykendall Family Since Its Settlement in Dutch New York in 1646
George Benson Kuykendall
Kilham Stationery & Printing CO. Portland, OR, 1919.


related post: When the wind’s in the west, the sap runs best

maple+sugar Garrett+County+MD George+Benson+Kuykendall appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history


Now don’t tell a soul I told you this…

Posted by | February 8, 2017

“Why–it’s taken for granted that women are gossips by nature, by instinct and by training,” said the Sparrow.

“Women ought to deny that charge every time they hear it, too!” she exclaimed. “It’s just one of the many accusations men have repeated over and over until they have come to believe it.”

The birds are used to hearing warm debates spring up between the Sparrows, shriek and flutter and prance for a while, and die amicably away. Their part is usually to provide a fair field and no favor, but when it comes up they sometimes listen, knowing that no marital infelicities can be brought about among settled Bird couples.

gossips“If you would listen better to street conversations,” the Sparrow declared, “you would have found out long ago that it’s the women who talk scandal and start idle rumors.”

“They’re not a bit worse than men! I tell you more than half the mischievous talk is retailed by some married woman, who heard it from her husband, who got it, of course, at his club.”

“Nonsense! Men talk politics and business; it’s the women who are always saying to each other, ‘Now don’t you ever tell I told you this,’ and ‘Isn’t it terrible about Mrs. Wood Knott Wearen,’ and ‘Have you heard the story they are telling about Miss Geewotta Peeche’–huh! you can’t deny it, women will gossip! Mind must have something mischievous to take up when they are idle.”

“Then the thing to do is to give ‘em something better to think about,” said the arch-peacemaker, the White Pigeon. “Maybe the movies–”

Her little attempt was foredoomed to failure; the Sparrows were facing each other with open beaks and wings.

“I’ll bet you a flaxseed there isn’t a married man between here and the river that isn’t full of exclusive information about his neighbors, unless his wife is deaf and dumb.”

“How do you know that, I wonder! If their minds are so full of the weighty affairs of the city and the nation that they never gossip, how do you find out that they are full of scandalous information received from their wives?”

“Well—-” The Sparrow was somewhat disconcerted. “They may occasionally help to spread a rumor, but –”

“They start them, too–by a turn of expression or a change of countenance; by a sneer or a gesture. And the man-gossip does vastly more harm than the woman; the malice of his tales is accented because it sounds smart.”

The Sparrow seemed at last to have run out of replies, and the Gray Pigeon commented: “It is said that Wisconsin has a law against gossiping. Offenses are punishable with a fine of not more than $250, or imprisonment not to exceed a year in jail.”

“All gossips ought to be jailed,” said the Sparrow, perking up. “The everlasting ‘Now don’t you ever tell I told you this’ ought to place the speaker on a level with a fellow that carries brass knucks or a sling-shot.”


Emma B. MilesFrom April – June 1914 The Chattanooga News paid Emma Bell Miles $9.00 a week to write “Fountain Square Conversations.” The “Conversations” cleverly combined her naturalist’s knowledge and her social commentary. They featured birds and other creatures on the square conversing under the shadows of the human statues. Miles (1879-1919) is remembered primarily for “The Spirit of the Mountains” (1905), the first comprehensive study of Southern Appalachian culture.


Emma+B.+Miles Chattanooga+TN appalachia appalachian+mountains+history appalachian+history


A flamboyant man who in many ways resembled Elmer Gantry

Posted by | February 7, 2017

“We go to bed at night and get up in the morning, and our Milk Bottles are standing on the back porch waiting for us,” observed Rev. W.L. Stidger in a sermon titled ‘Milk Bottles & Monotony.’

“Fifty years ago we got up at five o’clock, dressed in the cold, shivering as we dressed, went out to the barn, knocked ice from the buckets, primed the old iron pump with hastily heated hot water, and milked the cows before breakfast. We worked for our milk then. Now it is brought to us. That is monotony.”

William Stidger, preacherWilliam Stidger in Missouri, about 1925.

Stidger published this sermon in 1926, the same year that writer Sinclair Lewis was spending time shadowing the famous preacher as part of his research for a forthcoming novel about the Chautauqua circuit and the preachers it produced.

Stidger himself apparently wasn’t bored having his milk brought to him. He had a full time maid and gardener when he wrote these words.

William Leroy Stidger (1885-1949) attracted Lewis’ attention for the modern marketing methods and publicity tactics he brought to his crusade to save souls.

Long before Sinclair Lewis appeared in his life, the future preacher grew up to the slow tempo of late nineteenth century daily life in Moundsville, WV. This town of 5,000 souls was disrupted each summer by Methodist revival camp meetings that more than doubled the population.

“The town rocked with religion each summer,” says John Hyland in Evangelism’s First Modern Media Star: Reverend Bill Stidger. “It was a form of group hysteria. People would climb over chairs to get down the aisles to confess their sins.”

Religious fervor wafted through the heat in the summer of 1901 as Rev. William B. King pressed his followers to find salvation. One audience member, 16-year-old Bill Stidger, decided then and there to follow the ministry. “He learned about evangelism from the exhorters,” notes Hyland, his grandson.

aerial map of Moundsville WV in 1899Moundsville, West Virginia in 1899.

Stidger went on to become an ingenious innovator whose marketing abilities filled churches wherever he pastored: San Francisco, San Jose, Detroit, Kansas City, and Boston. He wrote 52 books, ran FDR’s radio reelection campaign in 1936, and taught techniques for sermon writing at Boston University’s School of Theology. He was one of the first radio preachers. By the mid-1930s, Stidger had a radio audience of half a million listeners.

Sinclair Lewis and Stidger first met in Terre Haute, IN in August of 1922 when Stidger was lecturing on the Chautauqua circuit. He challenged Sinclair Lewis to write a “real preacher book” about a minister “who lives and walks and has a being; not all good, not all bad—some of both—a human being.”

Four years later Lewis accepted the Reverend’s invitation to stay at his house to help get the sense of a preacher’s world. Lewis wasn’t the best houseguest: he stayed with the Stidgers for several weeks, during which time he was visited by Ethel Barrymore, Edwin Markahm, William Allen White, Gilbert Frankau and Harpo Marx. They came to attend a wedding between Stidger’s maid and a gardener – a ceremony which Stidger had planned to conduct quietly. But Lewis slipped out and called a newspaper and the wedding made the front page.

When Elmer Gantry released, Stidger was pastoring the Linwood Boulevard Methodist Episcopal Church in Kansas City, MO. He’d let it be known that Lewis would be writing about him, which led many to think he was the model for Gantry (which, in part, he was). Naturally, he was outraged when he saw how Lewis had shaped the novel—nearly every man of God is either a hypocrite or a closet agnostic.

Sinclair Lewis in the 1920sThis photograph of Sinclair Lewis was taken by Nikolas Muray for Vanity Fair magazine in the 1920s.

The Gantry publication created a church backlash and the book was banned and burned in many cities. Stidger declared that the book contained fifty technical errors in its account of church practices and that the author had been drunk all the time he was working on the book.

Shot back Lewis: “Stidger was a flamboyant man who in many ways resembled Elmer Gantry…unaware of the kind of novel that Elmer Gantry was to be, he went to Kansas City…boasting that the central character was to be modeled on himself.”

A bitter battle ensued between the two men, conducted in the press and from the pulpit, which neither of them ultimately won.

Sources: “Stidger,” Russell Maloney, The Talk of the Town, The New Yorker, March 2, 1940, p. 9
Evangelism’s First Modern Media Star: Reverend Bill Stidger, by Jack Hyland, Cooper Square Press, 2002
Sinclair Lewis, by Richard R. Lingeman, Minnesota Historical Society, 2005
Sinclair Lewis: an American Life, by Mark Schorer, New York, McGraw Hill, 1961


Virginia outlaws marijuana

Posted by | February 6, 2017

By 1937, when “Drug Czar” Harry Anslinger, then Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, introduced the Marihuana [sic] Tax Act to Congress, lurid testimonies were being introduced that cannabis caused “murder, insanity and death.” And just the year before, the film now known as cult classic Reefer Madness was financed by a church group and made under the title Tell Your Children. This highly exaggerated exploitation film revolved around the tragic events that follow when high school students are lured by pushers to try “marihuana:” wild parties with jazz music lead to a hit and run accident, manslaughter, suicide, rape, and descent into madness.

Reefer Madness still photoBut despite the national media hype, most states passed anti-drug laws without much scientific study or debate and without attracting public attention.

In Virginia, for example, the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act passed the House 88-0 on February 16, 1934, and was approved 34-0 by the Senate on February 22. Although the Act as passed in Virginia contained no marijuana provisions, the same legislature the next month passed a bill (H.B. 236), prohibiting “use of opium, marijuana [and] loco weed … in the manufacture of cigarettes, cigars” and other tobacco products. This law, which amended a 1910 Virginia statute prohibiting the use of opium in the manufacture of cigarettes, was the first mention of marijuana, or any of its derivatives, in the Virginia Code.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch, the newspaper of the state capital and perhaps the most influential newspaper in the state at that time, for the period surrounding the enactment of these two provisions (February 1 to March 15, 1934) shows clearly that little, if any, public attention attended their passage.

There is no mention at any time of H.B. 236. As for H.B. 94 (the Uniform Act), the Times Dispatch reported on February 7 that the bill had been introduced. This announcement was buried among the list of all bills introduced and referred on February 6. In a February 12 article dealing with “controversial” bills before the House and Senate that week no mention was made of H.B. 94. On March 6, the newspaper recorded: “Among the important bills passed were. . . . [far down the list] the Scott bill, making the State narcotic law conform to the Federal statute.”

That is the sum of the publicity received by the Uniform Act and the statute that first regulated marijuana in any way in Virginia.



Superabundance of Religious Fervor Lands Holy Roller in Police Court

Posted by | February 3, 2017

Middlesboro Daily News
Middlesboro, KY
Feb. 5, 1921

There are some persons who are emotional to such an extent that they completely lose control of themselves and let their emotions sway them. When persons of this nature are overcome by their emotions, they cannot control themselves and they are not in a position to judge of their actions.

Mrs. Lucy Chadwell, a member of the church of “Holy Rollers,” who lives in the East End, by her own admission in police court today, is such a person. When Mrs. Chadwell, accompanied by her daughter, attended the services last night in the Second Baptist Church, and her religious feelings overcame her so that she shook and rolled, thereby throwing those present at the service into a state of alarm and disturbance, the Rev. A.L. Chadwell of the Second Baptist Church swore out a warrant for the arrest of Mrs. Chadwell on the grounds of disturbing the peace and breaking up religious services.

When arraigned before Judge Wood in police court this morning, Mrs. Chadwell declared that she did not mean to create a disturbance or to break up the services. “I was so overcome with the spirit of religion,” she told Judge Wood, “that I could not hold myself back. The Holy Ghost was within me and I could do nothing but give demonstration to my feeling.”  During the hearing, which was attended by a large number of the members of Mrs. Chadwell’s church, a demonstration was given showing how services are conducted by “Holy Rollers.”

Judge Wood placed Mrs. Chadwell on probation, with the warning that if any more complaints of a similar nature are made, he will be compelled to deal more severely with the offender.


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