Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Rattlesnake’s Vengeance

Posted by | March 7, 2017

One day in the old times when we could still talk with other creatures, while some children were playing about the house, their mother inside heard them scream. Running out she found that a rattlesnake had crawled from the grass, and taking up a stick she killed it.

The father was out hunting in the mountains, and that evening when coming home after dark through the gap he heard a strange wailing sound. Looking about he found that he had come into the midst of a whole company of rattlesnakes, which all had their mouths open and seemed to be crying. He asked them the reason of their trouble, and they told him that his own wife had that day killed their chief, the Yellow Rattlesnake, and they were just now about to send the Black Rattlesnake to take revenge.

photo by Luke Oleszak/photo.net

photo by Luke Oleszak/photo.net

The hunter said he was very sorry, but they told him that if he spoke the truth he must be ready to make satisfaction and give his wife as a sacrifice for the life of their chief. Not knowing what might happen otherwise, he consented. They then told him that the Black Rattlesnake would go home with him and coil up just outside the door in the dark. He must go inside, where he would find his wife awaiting him, and ask her to get him a drink of fresh water from the spring. That was all.

He went home and knew that the Black Rattlesnake was following. It was night when he arrived and very dark, but he found his wife waiting with his supper ready. He sat down and asked for a drink of water. She handed him a gourd full from the jar, but he said he wanted it fresh from the spring, so she took a bowl and went out of the door. The next moment he heard a cry, and going out he found that the Black Rattlesnake had bitten her and that she was already dying. He stayed with her until she was dead, when the Black Rattlesnake came out from the grass again and said his tribe was now satisfied.

He then taught the hunter a prayer song, and said, “When you meet any of us hereafter sing this song and we will not hurt you; but if by accident one of us should bite one of your people then sing this song over him and he will recover.” And the Cherokee have kept the song to this day.

 

Source: ‘Myths of the Cherokee,’ by James Mooney
From Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 1897-98, Part I. [1900]

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Consigned to live like a brute among savages

Posted by | March 6, 2017

On October 1, 1755, while returning home from Fort Cumberland [MD] Trading Post several miles away, white settler Jane Frazier was captured by Miami Indian warriors and taken to the Miami River in Ohio. “By a person who arrived in town last Monday from Col. Cresap’s (Oldtown about ten miles from Ivitts Creek),” reported The Maryland Gazette on October 9, “we are told that last Wednesday the Indians had taken a man prisoner who was going to Fort Cumberland from Frazier’s and had also carried off a woman from Frazier’s Plantation which is four miles this side of Fort Cumberland.”

Fort Cumberland, MD in 1755Fort Cumberland in 1755, from “History of Cumberland, Maryland”, 1878, by William Lowdermilk.

Jane Frazier miraculously escaped after thirteen months and made her way back to safety. She wrote a detailed narrative of her experience, which has been preserved by successive generations of her family: “Thus to be torn away from home and friends and all that was dear to me, and consigned to live like a brute among savages, and then to lose my only comfort, my first born, and have it buried in this wilderness, was more than my frail nature could bear, and I was nearly crazy for a time. Still the Indians were kind to me, and when they saw my child was dead, they cut a hickory tree, peeled off the bark and made a coffin, and wrapping it in some of the clothes they had stolen, they placed it in the coffin they had made and buried it near our town in their own burying ground.

“I remained with these Indians 13 months, in the summer time helping the squaws in their corn and vegetable patches and in the winter time assisting them in their cooking operations. While I was with this tribe they determined on another raid into Pennsylvania, consequently they performed their powwows and war dances, in order to give them good luck in their expedition, then left for their long trip. They took all their best warriors, leaving a few old men and some boys to hunt game and food for the squaws and papooses.

“The chief and warriors were gone about seven weeks. They returned bringing with them two Dutchmen from Pennsylvania, whom they adopted into the tribe. One of them was a tanner by trade, and they employed them to tan their skins for them. He worked a little ways from the town where there was a large spring and the other man was allowed to help him. These men were very restless in their confinement.

“A little later the Indians determined on another raid, and in a few days departed. The Dutchmen now determined to leave, and let me into their secret, so we procured an old rifle which they repaired, and we hid all the provisions we could find, and a week after the warriors were gone the game became very scarce, so the hunters had to be out nearly all the time for provisions for the squaws and children. We now concluded this would be the best time to gain our liberty, so obtaining a small amount of ammunition we gathered up our old gun and some provisions and left our new connections without stopping to say goodbye, and taking advantage of the warriors and hunters we left for home.”

Full version of her narrative here

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If we were going to quit, they’d quit, too

Posted by | March 3, 2017

“We didn’t even know what a union was. We’d never heard tell of a union. But we just decided that we wasn’t going to work for this wage. We just wasn’t going to work for $10.08 a week. But as it happened, there was a carpenter and a union man, John Penix. He called someone that he knew in the labor movement, and they came here and organized, and it was just one big mess, and they just panicked. [Everyone else in the plant was] getting the same wages, and I imagine that they decided that if we were going to quit, they’d quit, too.

“At that time they paid a flat scale. You started out at $8.96 a week; $10.08; $11.20. I don’t know whether you got past $11.20 or not. I never did hear any man say how much they made, but I don’t think they paid them more. If they did, they didn’t pay them much more. [The supervisors] were American, most of the people from up close by, the close counties. A lot of people worked there from Johnson City and way back up in Pogey. One time, I think we went to Pogey. There wasn’t a thing on earth but just mountains with rocks sticking out. And people worked from up in Butler. Oh, just all around.

An aerial view of the North American Rayon Mills, Elizabethton, TN, taken March 1, 1947. Collection Tennessee State Library, Dept. of Conservation Photograph Collection.

An aerial view of the North American Rayon Mills, Elizabethton, TN, taken March 1, 1947. Collection Tennessee State Library, Dept. of Conservation Photograph Collection.

 

“Fifty-six hours [a week], they didn’t seem to pay any attention to it. People had never been nowhere, and they’d never done anything. Maybe go to a movie on Saturday night. So I don’t guess the hours made that much difference. I don’t remember, except I know you’d get awfully tired.

“I went to the washroom when I wanted to. I went by my own rules, if you needed to go to the washroom. Oh, you worked so hard, you didn’t fudge on them any. They didn’t take any breaks. They were just supposed to go to the washroom and back.

“I don’t remember who did the talking. You see, they selected the one to do the talking, and they passed the word around they was going to ask for a raise. Said, ‘If they don’t give us that raise, we’ll just quit work.’ And that was it.

“It just got in a bigger and a bigger and a bigger mess. Other people kept joining us, first from North American and then Bemberg, because everybody wanted a raise anyway, until that John Penix got in touch with somebody in labor, and an organizer came here and organized.

“There was five thousand people out. And we had asked for an $11.20 raise! We were arrested twice, on those picket lines. It was over here on the old State Line Road. They brought out the National Guard. In the meantime, my daddy cooked down there at the plant during that time. Some of them stayed in there, I reckon, to take care of the machinery and things that had to be looked after, and he cooked for them.”

Christine Galliher
Interview August 8, 1979
Discusses plant strike at North American Rayon Corp.
In Johnson City, TN on March 12, 1929
Southern Oral History Program Collection

http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/H-314/H-314.html

Related posts: “The stretch-out and the strike”

Christine+Galliher North+American+Rayon American+Bemberg labor+strike Johnson+City+TN appalachia appalachia+history appalachian+history history+of+appalachia

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Had I remained in the grand army of the Emperor I would feel perfectly safe

Posted by | March 2, 2017

There died in Logan County, in June, 1885, Christopher Stahley, aged 104 years and 10 months. He was a last survivor of the Grand Army of Napoleon; a native of Alsace; a typical veteran of the wars, scarred and crippled. He was a man of culture, and grew eloquent when describing his campaigns; and, like all of Napoleon’s soldiers, adored his leader and worshipped his memory. We give herewith extracts from Stahley’s story, as related to the correspondent of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“I became a soldier at fifteen, and was one of the thirty thousand men who went with Napoleon to Egypt, and was one of the first to enter the city of Malta. I was with my command at the Pyramids, and participated in the terrible conflict with the Mamelukes. Thence across the desert and through the Isthmus of Suez to Gaza and Jaffa, and saw the 1,500 put to death for breaking their parole, and helped to annihilate the allied army of 18,000 at Aboukir.

Foot grenadier of Napoleon's old guard.Foot grenadier of Napoleon’s old guard.

“It was in 1804 that we helped to proclaim him Emperor, and saw the preparations made to invade England. But England was spared and Austria punished instead.

“Three years of preparation and we were on the road to the Capital of Russia in that memorable campaign of 1812. There were 480,000 of us who went forth to glory. Less than half that number returned, and the most of them after being detained as prisoners. I saw them fall by battalions at Smolensk and Borodino, and perish by grand divisions on the retreat from Moscow to Smorgoni. I personally attended the Emperor to France, when he bade adieu to his soldiers at the latter city.

“I was one of the Old Guard. There is a blank in my memory, and I do not know how I got back to Paris; but I found myself there, and learned that my old commander was a prisoner at St. Helena. Then came the news of his death. I had taken part in fifty engagements, great and small, and had seen men die by the thousand; but that death affected me more than all the rest put together.

“In 1822, in company with my wife, I emigrated to America. We reached Pittsburg by stage. From there we floated down the Ohio on a flat-boat to the mouth of the Muskingum, and ascended that river to Zanesville in a canoe. From Zanesville I trundled all my earthly possessions in a wheelbarrow to St. Joseph’s, near Somerset, where I bought a farm and settled down.

“Then began my disasters. My oldest son was with me in the forest hewing logs for a barn, and by a false stroke of the broad axe cut off my thumb and finger. A few years later a vicious horse kicked me in the forehead and left this scar that looks like a sabre cut. The next year I fell from a tobacco-house I was helping to raise, and broke four ribs and my collar-bone. Ten years later I slipped and fell into a threshing-machine, and I had my foot torn off. A few years ago I was on my way to church, and my horse ran away, threw me out of the carriage, shattered my elbow, and left me with a stiff arm.

“I am in constant dread of meeting a fatal accident. Had I remained in the grand army of the Emperor I would feel perfectly safe.”

Historical Collections of Ohio, Vol. I, by Henry Howe, 1888
online at: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~henryhowesbook/hocking.html

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Nancy Green, the first ‘Aunt Jemima’

Posted by | March 1, 2017

Nancy Green (1834-1923), a former slave from Mt. Sterling, KY, moved to Chicago after the Civil War, where she went on to become one of the first African American models employed by an American company to promote a product.

Nancy Green as Aunt Jemima, by A.B. Frost. Not dated but likely c. 1890s. Courtesy Wikipedia

Nancy Green as Aunt Jemima, by A.B. Frost. Not dated but likely c. 1890s. Courtesy Wikipedia

Green was the first person to portray the character Aunt Jemima. The concept and backstory for the character had already been carefully scripted by Charles Rutt and Chris Underwood, founders in 1889 of the Pearl Milling Company. They created America’s first ready-mixed pancake flour, and a year later registered the Aunt Jemima trademark and renamed the company the Aunt Jemima Manufacturing Company. In 1893 they sold the Aunt Jemima Manufacturing Company to the R.T. Davis Milling Company.

Nancy Green first appeared to the public that same year, presenting R.T. Davis Milling Company’s pancake mix at the Columbian Exposition (aka Chicago World’s Fair). Before trying out for the Jemima role, she had been working as a domestic for the Walker family, whose children grew up to become Chicago Circuit Judge Charles M. Walker and Dr. Samuel Walker.

Her Aunt Jemima was a hit: “Her exhibition booth drew so many people that special policemen were assigned to keep the crowds moving,” says her bio on the African American Registry. “The Davis Milling Company received over 50,000 orders, and Fair officials awarded Nancy Green a medal and certificate for her showmanship.” The milling company proclaimed Green ‘The Pancake Queen,’ and signed her to a lifetime contract, which she honored until her death in 1923. Green’s ongoing presence, combined with the sophisticated marketing machine behind her, made such a lasting public impact that the company was renamed Aunt Jemima Mills Company in 1914.

Green’s employers sought to merge her personal history with that of the fictional mammy, though the two couldn’t have been more different. And it worked: The Sunday Morning Star, in its 1923 obituary for her, described how her young charges Charles & Samuel Walker “spread her fame among their boy chums, and before long ‘Aunt Jemima’s pancakes’ became a common phrase in Chicago when good things to eat were discussed. A milling concern heard of her, searched her out, obtained her recipe, and induced her to make pancakes at the World’s Fair.”

Now, perhaps the boys waxed enthusiastic about ‘Nancy Green’s pancakes,’ though THAT phrase was certainly not the common one used throughout Chicago when ‘good things to eat were discussed.’ Nancy Green never created pancakes as ‘Aunt Jemima’ when she was a domestic at the Walkers. Also, Pearl Milling Company had formulated their ready-mix pancake formula long before they ever hired Green. They didn’t need her recipe.

At the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, visitors walk along a pathway between several of the fair buildings towards a domed building. Photo Smithsonian Institution Archives.

At the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, visitors walk along a pathway between several of the fair buildings towards a domed building. Photo Smithsonian Institution Archives.

The real Green, for her part, was one of the first African American missionary workers, and an organizer of the Olivet Baptist Church, one of the largest (9,000+ members) African American churches in Chicago. She used her stature as a spokeswoman to advocate for antipoverty issues and equal rights in Chicago.

“Aunt Jemima’s success,” says Kimberly Wallace-Sanders in Mammy: a century of race, gender and Southern memory, “was predicated upon a fascinating interweaving of commerce, memory, and racial nostalgia that served as a vehicle for post-Civil War national consolidation.

“Aunt Jemima was created to celebrate state-of-the-art technology through a pancake mix; she did not celebrate the promise of post-Emancipation progress for African Americans. Aunt Jemima’s freedom was negated in this role because of the character’s persona as a plantation slave, not a free black woman employed as a domestic.

“An African American woman, pretending to be a slave, was pivotal to the trademark’s commercial achievement in 1893. Its success revolved around the fantasy of returning a black woman to a sanitized version of slavery. The Aunt Jemima character involved a regression of race relations, and her character helped usher in a prominent resurgence of the ‘happy slave’ mythology of the antebellum South.

This doll, a cut-out and sew cloth doll, is the daughter of the fictional character Aunt Jemima. "Diana Jemima" is written near the bottom of her backside. Aunt Jemima and her family, which in addition to Diana included Moses and Wade, were an advertising scheme by the R.T. Davis Mill Co. of St. Joseph Missouri. The dolls could be obtained by sending one box top from a flour package and 24 cents in stamps. Advertising with cloth dolls became very popular between 1890-1942. Courtesy University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University Library

This doll, a cut-out and sew cloth doll, is the daughter of the fictional character Aunt Jemima. “Diana Jemima” is written near the bottom of her backside. Aunt Jemima and her family, which in addition to Diana included Moses and Wade, were an advertising scheme by the R.T. Davis Mill Co. of St. Joseph Missouri. The dolls could be obtained by sending one box top from a flour package and 24 cents in stamps. Advertising with cloth dolls became very popular between 1890-1942. Courtesy University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University Library

“Nancy Green was a middle-aged woman living on the South Side of Chicago, working a cook and housekeeper for a prominent judge. After a series of auditions, she was hired to cook and serve the new pancake recipe at the World’s Fair. Part of her act was to tell stories from her own early slave life along with plantation tales about Aunt Jemima’s New Orleans childhood written for her by a white southern sales representative.

“The Aunt Jemima trademark was constructed as part of the budding concept of an American Dream for the American family. One year after the Fair, the R.T. Davis Milling Company introduced the Aunt Jemima paper doll family: five dolls that could be cut out from the pancake box. Aunt Jemima’s paper doll family was one of the most popular company premiums; collectors still prize a complete set over the individual dolls.

“This popular re-creation of an African American woman’s life stood in direct opposition to the efforts of real African American women struggling to publicly assert their citizenship. As a symbol of racial harmony, Aunt Jemima proved to be the preferred version of African American womanhood — an exaltation of ‘slaveocracy’ nostalgia.”

 

Sources: http://www.hinkstoncreek.org/articles.html

http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/nancy-green-original-aunt-jemima

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/AFRICANAMER-GEN/2000-08/0965765955

Mammy: A Century of Race, Gender, and Southern Memory, Kimberly Wallace-Sanders, University of Michigan Press, (2009)

“Aunt Jemima”, of Pancake Fame, Dead, The Sundary Morning Star, September 9, 1923

 

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