Thursday, December 24, 2009

First Grade Christmas in Cedar Hill

(as published in the Robertson County Times, 23 Dec 2009)

Christmas is here. It seems like only yesterday that I was enjoying a party in my first-grade classroom in Cedar Hill Elementary. We had red punch, decorated sugar cookies and cupcakes. We also exchanged names in the class to purchase a Christmas gift. I don’t remember if there was a financial limit, but I can’t imagine it was more than five dollars. The class had decorated our cedar tree with colored paper chains and other decorations we made in class from glitter and glue. There might have been some tinfoil stars as well, but I know we had lots of tinsel added at the end.
Our teacher was Mrs. Sallie Gamble Orand. She was a very gentle woman, who was always smiling and seemed to have time to talk to each one of us. Just a month ago, we were practicing a couple of songs for the Annual School Christmas Program. I remember that we sang “Away, in the Manger” and another song with an older group. The sixth-grade students, taught by Mrs. Marion Martin, played two Christmas selections on their flutes. This was very impressive to all of us in the first grade. My older brother, Denny, would have been in the seventh grade that year. I’m sure he sang with his class, but I don’t remember their performance that year, because I was so nervous. All of the younger classes sat in chairs in front of the stage, while the older classes came onto the stage for their performances.
On the night of the performance, there was a large Christmas tree on the stage and our principal, Mr. Joe Borthick, welcomed all of the parents and guests. I remember several of the older students playing Christmas songs on the piano during the evening. I know I was focused on our songs. My parents; my sister, Beverly; my brother, Wayne, and of course, my brother, Denny were there for our Christmas extravaganza. Our big brother, Joe, was home from college and came to our big show. It seemed to me that everyone I knew from Cedar Hill was in the auditorium.
The first grade stood for their first presentation. I was on the second row. On the row just in front of me were Sharon Shepard, Pam Harris, Mary Jo ‘Josie’ Head, and Julie ‘Sweetie’ Tinsley. Beside me were Billy Corbin, Mark Mason, Robert Hulsey and Bailey Knight. There were about 28 of us in the class that year as we stood for our song. Mrs. Lovan gave us our notes from the piano and Mrs. Orand stood before us smiling and urging us to sing out. I’m sure our parents thought our rendition of “Away in the Manger” was as beautiful as ever heard. We finished our second song to loud applause and took our seats. We listened intently as all of the other classes performed. Just as we thought the evening was over, Mr. Borthick, said we have a guest who has traveled a long way to be here in Cedar Hill tonight. “Ho, Ho. Ho., Merry Christmas!” was booming as the jolly old elf himself walked out onto the stage standing just behind the first graders. Now I had seen Santa many times at Ben Franklin 5 & 10 Store, at Gamble’s Hardware, and other stores over the years, but never had I seen Santa in Cedar Hill. What a Christmas! I was ready for Santa to come.
We were gathered in class for our Christmas party and after we had distributed all of our gifts and enjoying the party, Mrs. Orand called each of us up to her desk, one at a time. She wished us a very Merry Christmas, gave us a book and a big hug. She gave me The Big-Little Dinosaur. I still have that book from that special person. It was not the first book I was ever given, but Mrs. Orand would always fill a special role for me. It was through her encouragement that I began reading every book I could. She encouraged me to learn music theory and I began taking piano lessons. Perhaps I learned that it was not the gift itself that was special, but the attachment to the special person who gave it.

As we went home from school that afternoon, everyone shouting Merry Christmas as they boarded the buses home for the holidays. There was a light snow falling as we pulled out of the school drive in Cedar Hill on Bus No. 6, driven by Mr. Porter Corbin. Now Mr. Porter was one of the nicest men I ever knew, but he didn’t put up with any shenanigans on the bus. He let my brother, Denny, off the bus at our Feed Mill. When I walked up to the front of the bus to get off, Mr. Porter said, “Not today young man, you’re headed to the house.” I was disappointed because I wanted a bag of peanuts and a Grape Delish soda from the big cooler at the Feed Mill. A few other students got off the bus at the railroad track and others at Gossett’s store. When the bus turned left onto the big Highway, I knew my house was the next stop. Mr. Porter stopped in front of my house and called one of the older students to cross the highway with me. He wished me a ‘Merry Christmas’ in his big booming voice and I waved bye to all of my friends who were headed home in the snow. The snow continued to fall until we had six inches.
We have some pictures of the holidays, but it is hard to capture the true essence of those family gatherings. Those photographs cannot hold the smell of my Mom’s cornbread dressing cooking or the taste of Aunt Martha’s fruit salad or the sound of my brothers playing with their new toys. Remember to take some time this season to share your memories with your family.
[The photo of Mrs. Sallie Orand was saved in one of my many memory boxes. I believe she gave each of us a picture in the First Grade. ]

Friday, September 18, 2009

Invincible in 1909

As the first decade of the promising 20th Century moved toward its end, American felt strong and proud of their country and its accomplishments.
Having weathered the Spanish-American War, the average American felt that growth in industry and family income would make the U.S. the strongest power in the world. America emerged as a World power. It had been called an age of innocence, adventure and invention. People were travelling across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe on luxury liners, and railroads provided the opportunity for many Americans to visit family members in other states.
Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt continued to captivate the American people and promote his strong business, strong military and enthusiastic conservation programs. The nation followed the adventures of this President. The ‘teddy’ bear, named for President Roosevelt became widely popular throughout the country.
Teddy’s successor elected in November 1908 would quickly be known for his size. William Howard Taft became the 37th President of the U.S. on March 4, 1909. Taft was a large man, weighing well over 300 pounds.
Although he was widely known as an intellectual and policy-oriented statesman, he is often mentioned as the man who traveled with his own bathtub. Taft’s tub, which was large enough for four average-sized men, was featured in newspaper photographs and articles throughout the country. President Taft was amused with the obsession with his tub and used the humor to further his policies while in office, although he was not successfully elected to a second term. His keen sense of policy design and interpretation of the American Constitution made Taft the only President who also served on the U.S. Supreme Court.
On the local front, Robertson county was sending their native son, Joseph Wellington Byrns, to the U.S. House of Representatives. Jo Byrns was born near Cedar Hill in 1867. He was a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School and represented Robertson county in the State Legislature before his election to Washington. He replaced the flamboyant, but popular John Wesley Gaines in Washington.
Byrns would remain a well-respected leader, ultimately serving as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Many local shoppers traveled by train to Nashville to shop in the large department stores. A newspaper advertisement of Castner-Knott in Nashville reminded customers that ‘all shoppers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays who presented a railway ticket for the day would be reimbursed for their travel.” Many people also worked in Nashville and depended on the early and late local for their transportation to work. Mail was delivered by railroad mail cars. Mail clerks sorted the mail between stops.
Overnight travel by trail was still an expensive option, but those passengers were treated to a luxurious dinner and superb service.
Tobacco farmers in this region were thrilled that Felix G. Ewing and other representatives of the Planters Protective Association signed an agreement of sale with the Imperial Buyers to purchase Association tobacco. The agreement and rising tobacco prices would soon bring an end to the Black Patch War and the Night Riders.
Although Ewing’s efforts would receive a boost as he was asked to speak at the State Democratic Party Convention, his political ambitions would never be realized. He had angered many individuals who disagree with the Association. Moses Wall, who refused to join the Association and called Ewing an anarchist, challenged him to a duel in Keysburg. Ewing’s brother-in-law, Joseph Washington, the former Congressman, became involved in a public debate with Ewing over roads in Robertson county. Washington’s public support and influential friends would find Ewing without the backing for a political race.
The summer of 1909 brought the Aero Club of America’s great national hot-air balloon race which began in Indianapolis to Robertson county. The Hoosier with Capt. Thomas Scott Baldwin as pilot and Charles Walsh, landed at Greenbrier, Tenn. One of those who had the pleasure of seeing the balloon soon after it landed near Greenbrier, and talking to its occupants, was James A. Althauser of the Bransford Realty Co. He gives an interesting account of the appearance of the balloon and of the statements made by the two aeronauts. [James A. Althauser was the son of William and Mary F. Swift Althauser.]
“The balloon came down in Butler Allen’s field about three miles from Greenbrier,” says Mr. Althauser, “and was hauled in to town in wagons. Its appearance created much interest and excitement there and a good-sized crowd gathered. [J. Butler Allen and wife, Clay, lived on Gideon Road.] Capt. Baldwin and Mr. Walsh seemed little the worse for wear. They said they were close enough to talk to people on the ground and until they landed they did not know in what state they were. Frequently, when they would ask where they were, people would yell back ‘come down and take breakfast with us’ or some such pleasantry.”
They told the crowd they would have kept on and could have gone further if they had not struck a sapling and become entangled in it. Under the rules this barred them from proceeding further. The balloon and its occupants with their balloon neatly folded, boarded the L & N Passenger train at 8:16 headed for New York.
America remained a regional country despite the extensive railroad network, hot-air ballooning and introduction of the automobile. Veterans of the Civil War gathered regularly for battlefield reunions and to dedicate monuments to fallen comrades.
Industrial changes and technological advances made Americans contemplate how far man could go in the 20th Century. Locally, sentiments against the whiskey industry were growing. In 1870, Charles Nelson, a native of Mecklenburg, Germany, who had come to Nashville from Cincinnati, bought the Greenbrier distillery to supply his wholesale grocery business in Nashville (at that time grocers sold whiskey). The whiskey was manufactured in Robertson County, but it was both bottled under the Greenbrier label and distributed from his Nashville warehouse on Second Avenue North. When the distillery was founded by Charles Palmer of Springfield, the capacity was a modest five gallons a day. At the peak of production, the distillery employed a work force of fifteen to twenty-five men. According to Goodspeed’s History, in 1885 the Greenbrier Distillery manufactured 8,000 barrels of whiskey or a little less than 380,000 gallons a year, and paid annual taxes of over $341,000.
By 1894, Nelson’s widow, Louisa, was running the distillery but Tennessee was gradually becoming a dry state. In 1903, the Four Mile Law (enacted in 1877) closed the saloons of Springfield. State-wide prohibition of the manufacture of whiskey was enacted in 1909 and Nelson’s Greenbrier distillery went out of business, along with all other distillers in Robertson county.
Learning about the historical events in your area, and understanding how they might have impacted your ancestor is part of keeping the story alive.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ninety Six Years of Great Living

Robertson County
Tennessee lost another hero this week. Joe Harvey McClanahan ended this chapter of his life on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009 at his home. This information is taken from an article I compiled in 2008 for his 95th birthday. I have added some notes and pictures. As researchers and family historians, people like Joe Harvey are rare. He remembered minute details about every person he encountered. He had a keen, discerning eye which I admired. Thank you Joe Harvey.

When I need to learn about any event in Robertson County or any person who lived in the last 150 years, I turn to one person, Joe Harvey McClanahan. He is the historian’s historian. Joe Harvey is an active member of this community and a former businessman. He is a charter member of the Springfield Lions Club and a 48-year-member of the American Legion. He was a lifelong member of Springfield Baptist Church and likely to be seen around town at the Farmers’ Bank Coffee Club or learning about new happenings in town.
Joe Harvey McClanahan was born 20 August 1913 in the house where he lives today.[He died in the same room he was born.] His parents were Albion Amzi McClanahan and Ella White McClanahan. Across the street his nephew, Wilbur McClanahan was born in 1914. Wilbur and Joe Harvey would become close friends and playmates.
The McClanahan family moved into the house at 251 Oak Street (now known at 315 Oak Street) after Dr. A.A. McClanahan purchased the house and lot from Kate England in 1897. In his book, The Springfield I Have Known, Charles Love discussed the backside of this property at the turn of the century.
There were no buildings on the East side of Walnut Street between Third and Fourth avenues. Milton Green’s pasture embraced all of the territory between Oak and Walnut streets and the martin (now Tony Dowlen) property. Along Walnut street between the Green pasture and Third Avenue were the cow lots of G.P. Martin, Dr. McClanahan, John R. Long and others.
As a youth, Joe Harvey had a continuing love for the trumpet and band music. One band he led was called “Blues Chasers.” Their theme song was “Goodbye, Blues.” They traveled throughout the area playing for dances and special events. Among the band members were Charlie Brandon, Herbie Knowles, G.B. Kemper, Bobby Rosson, Johnny Whiting, Haywood Couts, Howard Byrum, Ellis Binkley, and Pope Johnson. His love for music continued. He was a charter member of the Springfield Lions Club where he received the Melvin Jones Fellow Award and also directed the first Springfield [Tenn.] Lions Club Minstrel.
Joe Harvey attended Main Street school and graduated from Springfield High School and also attended Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon [Tenn.].
A few years later, he opened the Gulf Pride Service Station, which was located at 4th and North Main, across from the Center. He was a contractor and insurance agent for White-McClanahan Insurance Agency. Mr. McClanahan purchased the Stinnett Coal Company, which later became McClanahan Lumber Company, which he owned and operated with his son, Harvey, until his retirement in the mid-1990s.
Shortly after the marriage of Joe Harvey to his wife, Ruth Glover, the McClanahans moved into what they call the “little house.” According to the family, Joe Harvey built the little house in 1935. His first two children, Harvey and Gail [Holman], were born in the little house. After A.A. McClanahan broke his hip, Joe Harvey and his family moved into the big house about 1938.
The second floor of the house at 315 Oak Street became the home for Joe Harvey, Ruth and their growing family. Their third child, Ella [Bellflower], was born after the family was living in the “big house.” The former pump room of the big house became the kitchen for the family. Joe Harvey had grown up hearing stories about the pumping of water from his older brothers, White and Albion. The front room became Joe Harvey and Ruth’s bedroom. Their children called it the “big room.” Gail and Ella shared a bedroom at the rear of the house beside the kitchen. Harvey’s bedroom was very small. There was just enough room for a bed and a chest.
The family flourished and enjoyed their home. They lived and played in their second floor home for many years. With the exception of weekends, they ate their meals upstairs in the kitchen / dining room. On the weekends, they would go downstairs and dine with Joe Harvey’s parents (or as the children called them, Grandmother and Papa.)
Joe Harvey entered the U.S. Army during World War II. He completed training for the Infantry, was involved in combat in France, and completed his service as an Army clerk. After his military service, he returned to Springfield and the Gulf Pride Service Station. Joe Harvey was involved in several business interests, but we all remember his involvement with McClanahan Lumber on Cheatham Street. He was member of American Legion Post #48.
Joe Harvey and his family have celebrated every Christmas together on Oak Street except one. The family moved to Silver Springs, Maryland, in 1943. Joe Harvey was working in a bakery, until he was called into service. The family moved back to Springfield eighteen months later. Ella remembered celebrating her fourth birthday in Maryland.
[Let me add a note to this memory. During World War II, Joe Harvey was a member of the 4th Infantry Division in France. He completed his Infantry training and remained in the Infantry until the end of the War. Just prior to his discharge, he was encouraged to change his military status so he would receive more compensation. With a young family he changed his status or MOS. Several years after the War, a military friend and colleague wrote Joe Harvey a letter telling him that he was eligible for a Combat Infantry Badge for personally participating in active ground combat while a member of infantry unit after 6 December 1941. Joe Harvey applied for this Badge and was turned down because he had changed his MOS from Infantry to a Clerk. All parties agreed he would have been eligible except for the change in his MOS. He worked with every elected official throughout the years, but was unable to gain that medal. We once thought we could obtain this medal for Joe Harvey and have it presented to him. A medal was purchased and mailed to him with the return address of the awarding organization, but the postage endorsement indicated it was mailed from Springfield, Tenn. He immediately questioned his daughter, Gail, about who might have sent this medal. He was unwilling to accept the medal except if presented from the U.S. Army. He was still working on that at the time of his death. ]
Your life is an inspiration to all who had the pleasure of knowing you. Thanks for the memories and life lessons.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Atlas Will Broaden Early Tennessee Research

Whenever we have an opportunity to understand the land around us, we should take advantage of that education. The state of Tennessee is a diverse landscape with people whose background is as widely varied as the terrain where they settled. Tennessee is distributed into three natural geographic divisions called East, Middle and West Tennessee. These geographic grand divisions correspond to the political, economic and settlement cultures of the state’s three regions.
The land that became the state of Tennessee was originally part of North Carolina. The King’s Proclamation of 1763 was intended to prevent settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains on the land of native people. However, settlers in southwest Virginia just continued to move down the valley into what is today, Tennessee. The first permanent settlement in Tennessee was made in 1769 on Boone Creek by Capt. William Bean, who came in that year from Pittsylvania county, Va. His son, Russell Bean, is said to have been the first white child born in the State.
Soon after Bean made his settlement, in 1770 and 1771, James Robertson. Landon Carter and others, laid the foundation of the Watauga settlements, which at first were in what is now known as Carter county. The steady stream of emigrants from the older States, however, soon forced these to overflow into the territory now embraced in Washington and Greene counties. Richard Henderson and the Transylvania Company purchased most of the land in northern Middle Tennessee and Kentucky from the Cherokees. In 1780, James Robertson and John Overton brought settlers to the area of Nashville.
With the Revolutionary War, colonies (states) did not have an abundance of money, but did possess unsettled land. Soldiers were promised land in return for service. The military district for the state of North Carolina covered the Middle Tennessee area from the Tennessee River eastward into Clay county. These soldiers or their heirs were given grants on the basis of military service in the North Carolina Continental Line. In addition, North Carolina granted land to those families who were settled in the area (or prempted) prior to statehood. Land was also available to surveyors and assistants, commissioners, individuals for special service and, finally, to the general public for purchase.
Knowledge of these land grants paint a vivid picture of life out on the frontier. Identification of trails, stations, forts and homeplaces would make understanding the Cumberland settlements more complete. It was just that desire for knowledge that led three historians to construct the Founding of the Cumberland Settlements: The First Atlas 1779 – 1804. Doug Drake, Jack Masters and Bill Puryear studied and worked together to compile the first land grants located in portions of eleven counties in Middle Tennessee. In addition this book will include the locations of publicly designed areas, early Indian trails, traces and roads.
Doug Drake traces his kin back to signers of the Cumberland Compact and an original pioneer, John Drake. Jack Masters is a retired Engineering Manager of Aladdin Industries in Nashville and an active member of Bledsoe Lick Historical Association and Sumner County Historical Society. Bill Puryear is a Sumner county native with roots in Dixon Springs & Hartsville and he chairs one of the largest charitable foundations in Tennessee. All three are active historians. In a discussion with Jack Masters at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, he told me that three came together through the Bledsoe Lick Historical Association. One of them mentioned that they should locate the original road or trace and began their search. They learned about the North Carolina land grants and a three-year project was born.
This book will become a well-used reference for land and family historians of Tennessee. The Atlas includes the 1500 land grants taken from the manuscripts of the North Carolina Secretary of State Land Grant Office. This will include a transcription of the land description along with a copy of the surveyor plats from the grant.
Drake, Masters, and Puryear started this project in an effort to locate sites of stations and roads. With the information learned from these grants, these men have been able to identify original sites and have walked the grounds of these pioneer roads. Their first book covers all of Robertson, Macon, Trousdale and Sumner counties and portions of Cheatham, Davidson, Montgomery, Wilson, Smith, and others.
In addition, these compilers have included topographic maps depicting the earliest Indian trails, pioneer roads/traces and a sequence of maps depicting the growth of settlements. In addition to an every-name index, you will find biographical sketches for the pioneers who signed the Cumberland Compact on May 13, 1780.
Lest you think this book is filled with great historical information – it is. However, it is also illustrated with the paintings of nationally recognized artist, David Wright and abundant photography of old roads, buffalo trace segments, fords, fort sites and ruins, relics, historic sites, and portraits of pioneers.
Volume I Founding of the Cumberland Settlements - The First Atlas 1779 - 1804 is in limited pre-publication sales (through August 31st) and can only be purchased via their website . Delivery on these books is expected in October. Also included with the Atlas is a CD containing copies of all 1,500 land grants. This data supplement is also available in a separately purchased book.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

1888 Summer Teachers' School

Since schools will soon be starting up, let's look back at a Summer Teacher Institute held in July 1888. The students compiled the letter to report on their activities. The Robertson County[Tenn.] Teachers Normal School was held on the grounds of the Cedar Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, South, under the oversight of the County Superintendent, J.E. Ruffin. Photo is the Cedar Hill Methodist Church, Cedar Hill, Tenn.

Report from Cedar Hill [Tenn.] Normal School – Springfield Record, July 5, 1888

Knowing the great interest you feel in the young teachers of Robertson county, we offer you a few items from our Normal school now in session at Cedar Hill. And as all young folks like to see their name in the paper we will, in our jottings, insert the name of every member of the class.
The first two weeks of our term Prof. Hooker gave us a thorough drill in practical Arithmetic, introducing some work entirely new to some of us.
Prof. Willett gave us an exhaustive review of practical and analytical Grammar on a new method, which we like very much, and Prof. Clinard wrestled with our dull comprehension in the intricate analysis of intellectual Arithmetic.
This week Prof. Watson has critically ventilated all our pet authors and theories upon Phonic Elements, Reading and Elocution. His work has been intensely interesting both for its merit and novelty.
Prof. Empson has been laboring hard to impress upon our imaginations the graceful forms of his elegant penmanship. Miss Callie Johnson has been striving, with equal emphasis, to resurrect the little knowledge of Geography, which we obtained in our childhood days; and out Superintendent has set us to writing a History of the United States. We think of having it copyrighted and published under the firm name of Robertson County Teachers Normal School.
Our class is composed of twenty girls and five boys. A citizen of Cedar Hill said he thought the women would capture the school of Robertson County before many years, and Supt. Ruffin flattered us by rejoining, “they ought to.”
Bud Moore, Nat Kernan, Charlie Payne and John Cook are domiciled at Rev. F.G. Cobb’s. When Bro. Cobb was asked if the boys had run him from home yet, he remarked, with a wise look, “I think I will hold the fort.”
Misses Lula and Lee Atkins are boarding at Mrs. Melvin’s; Attie Rosson and Maggie Morrow at J.F. Ruffin’s; Sudie and Mattie Chambers at J.C. Ruffin’s; Lattie Holland at Mrs. Wynn’s; Lula Jones and Ida Fry at Dr. Hawkins’; Prof. and Mrs. Walton and John T. White at W.R. Featherston’s and Prof. Empson and Clarance Nave at T.J. Ayers.
Our school is opened every morning with religious service. Misses Jessie Ruffin and Mattie Ayers are our organists. Misses Minnie Henry, Kittie Connell, Walton Ryan and Mollie Clinard, come regularly from Springfield. Bud Moore is the champion athlete of the class.
Nat Kernan is the bashful boy in school. He was seen one evening throwing stones (very softly, of course) at some girls who were leisurely taking a walk down the railroad. Misses Kittie Connell and Mollie Clinard could not be convinced that they are not the tallest in the school until Prof. Willett backed up the standard. Sudie Chambers and Carrie Ruffin are the baby girls of the class.
The girls have christened Prof. Hooker “Lightening Calculator.” Prof. Walton is known as “Old Chris,” and Prof. White “Little Chris.” We are hunting a nick name for Supt. Ruffin but we shan’t talk very loud till after examination.
Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Ayers entertained Prof. and Mrs. Walton and a number of students, Thursday night. The most delightful feature of the evening was Mrs. Walton’s rendition of some find music on the piano. Bro. Reams and Mr. Ben Mallory of Adams Station, spent one day with us.
We have had quite a number of visitors. The people of Cedar Hill have manifested some interest in our work and have treated us with marked courtesy and hospitality. The most delightful entertainment of the season, was given at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Bascom Batts, in honor of Misses Clardy and Carlyle, who are visiting there. We, poor, tired Normal students, were out en masse and all went away thinking our kind entertainers for turning our thoughts away from formulas and rlues event for an evening. We miss, this year, some familiar faces of last year’s class.” Virginia Cobb, Nora Richards, Gussie Owen, Addie Smith, Georgie Atkins and Nannie Atkins, Lucy Felts, Louis P. Pearson, C.P. Kernan, J.E. Empson, and others. Most of all we miss Prof. Borthick, one of our best teacher. One of them, Prof. Pearson, has died. A man whom we all admired – Miss Nannie Atkins has abandoned her profession to became a farmer.
This 1888 report mentioned Professor Louis P. Pearson. His obituary appeared in the Springfield [Tennessee] Record just two months before the school report was shared.
“On Sunday night, April 29th, gloom was cast over the entire community by the death of Professor Louis P. Pearson. No grander, nobler man ever lived. Notwithstanding he had been sorely afflicted for years, he ever maintained a cheerful and amiable disposition. He was a candidate for County Court Clerk in the race of 1886. He leaves a devoted mother and twin sister, and other loving sisters and brothers.”
Sources: Springfield Record, 5 July & 10 May 1888.
Newspapers in smaller town are likely to report personal information and relationships, which may shed new light on our research. Find new records and keep the story alive.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Genealogists Descend on Little Rock

I received this wonderful reminder of the FGS Conference to be held in Little Rock, Arkansas in just a few days. It will be a great conference and hope to see you there. I had a chance to sample some of the great food and desserts prepared by the Peabody. OUTSTANDING! Congrats to Jan Davenport, National Conference Chair (pictured above in front of a White House exhibit at the Clinton Presidential Center) and the Little Rock Conference Committee for what looks like one of the best FGS Conferences ever.


Only a month left till genealogists descend on Little Rock!

In just a month, genealogists from all over the United States and beyond will be getting together in Little Rock for four full days of learning more about genealogy, finding cousins, seeing how much is online, seeing how much is not online, figuring out how to get the most out of records, determining what archives or libraries have the answers, helping your genealogy society, and spending some money in the large Exhibit Hall. Don’t let this event pass you by. The Arkansas Genealogical Society is the host for this event which is the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. You will be hearing about this event for years to come and will feel sad if you weren’t a part of it.

The syllabus consists of most of the lecture handouts and each registrant receives it on CD at the Conference. If you wish to receive a paper copy of the syllabus in addition to the syllabus on CD you must order it no later than August 1st. It will also be online before the conference but some prefer to have the full paper copy at the conference. Just order it online at when you register for the conference. If you have already registered, go back to the registration page and add the paper syllabus for $20.00 using the PIN number you received when you registered.

Door prizes
Many of the vendors in the Exhibit Hall will be giving away conference door prizes. Each registrant will receive 20 door prize tickets with your conference name tag and syllabus CD at the registration booth. The ticket will ask for your name, mailing and e-mail addresses and phone number. Bring along some of those address labels you have sitting around or print some up before you leave home to save some writing. Each participating vendor will have a black box labeled for door prizes. Each attendee chooses which door prize box to drop their tickets in depending on the door prize being given. Some will have more than one door prize drawing during the three Exhibit Hall days. The names of the winners will be posted on a bulletin board in the Exhibit Hall. If you are a winner, all you need to do to claim your prize is to revisit the specific vendor’s booth.

Conference sessions to be recorded
Many of the conference sessions will be audio recorded and available for purchase on CD. Listings of those sessions being recorded will be available at the conference. Jamb-Inc. will be doing the recording and will have a booth where you can make your on-site purchases. The CDs will also be available after the conference from Jamb-Inc. but mailing fees will be charged.

Last minute Conference Information
Be sure to read the Conference News Blog during August and even during Conference Week to learn last minute details, reminders, suggested things to bring along, types of clothing to wear, and detail on special items. Some exciting special announcements will be made in the next couple of weeks on the blog!

See you at the conference,

Paula Stuart-Warren
National Publicity Chair
2009 FGS/AGS Conference

Friday, April 24, 2009

1905 Tobacco Hearing in Congress

Tobacco and Robertson County Visited the U.S. Senate in 1905
J. Mark Lowe

[Photo: Felix Grundy Ewing, courtesy of Robertson Co. Tenn. Historical Society]
Tobacco has always often been at the center of controversy. Whether taxation or health, the subject has fueled passionate debates. Robertson County Tennessee and Tobacco were featured in an article in the New York Times in March of 2007. The discussion was the proposed comprehensive ban on workplace smoking in Tennessee.  On October 1, 2007 all public places, including restaurants, became smoke free. 
The subject of tobacco was also the focus of the United States Senate in January 1905.  A resolution passed by the House of Representatives was being considered by the Senate, which would have allowed farmers to sell their unprocessed tobacco without taxation. These statements from the hearings were transcribed exacted as printed in the Congressional Record and published accounts of the activity.
Hearings before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Finance, United States Senate on H.R. 14896, for the Relief of Tobacco Growers. 
Washington, D.C., Monday, February 6, 1905.
The subcommittee met 11 o’clock am. Present: Senators Allison (acting chair, Iowa), John W. Daniel (Virginia)  and Arthur P. Gorman (Maryland) of the subcommittee; also Senators William B. Bate (Tennessee) , and Edward Ward Carmack (Tennessee)  and Hon. John Wesley Gaines, Representative from Tennessee. 
Statement of Felix Grundy Ewing, Esq. of Glenraven, Tenn., Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Dark Tobacco District Planters’ Protective Association of Kentucky and Tennessee.
"Chairman:  Mr. Ewing, please state your occupation and business, so that we will know what significance there is to your testimony.
Mr. Ewing: My name is Felix Grundy Ewing. I am a tobacco planter living in Robertson County, Tenn. I am the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Dark Tobacco District Planters’ Protective Association.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, we are a trust-ridden people. We are suffering very much from the methods that they have resorted to in buying tobacco from us. It has been the custom for the past four years for one buyer to come to a barn and make one bid on that tobacco, and, generally speaking, he does not come any more. He comes and says: “I will give you 4-1/2 cents,” or “I will give you three and one,” or “I will give you something else;” and it is that or nothing. Most frequently we will not have another opportunity for selling.
We see an outlet now for our crop. We are organizing the farmers and demanding a better price. We know that our tobacco is not raised anywhere else in the world. We know that our good tobacco can not be duplicated and we are making a very earnest effort to organize the farmers, with a view of making them pay a fair price for tobacco. But there is another thing that affects us very much. The trusts have been buying the best of it at their own prices, and then they will say, “20 or 25 per cent of this tobacco is nondescript, and we will buy it for nothing. We will give you 3 cents for that,” or “we will give you 2 cents for it.”
Chairman: That is the refuse?
Mr. Ewing: That is what they call nondescript, but we call it low grade or lugs. 
Chairman: And that is what you want to retail?
Mr. Ewing: That is what we want to retail; and if we had the opportunity of simply saying to them, “This tobacco that you call nondescript you need not take unless you want; we can make another disposition of it,” then we would be satisfied. We want to have the privilege of selling that tobacco at retail.
Chairman: Where would you sell it, then?
Mr. Ewing: It is a very coarse character of tobacco, and we would sell it largely to miners and persons of that kind. I do not believe it would be possible for us to take it to a store in New York, or possibly in Washington City, and sell it to a fashionable class of trade. I do not think that would be a possibility. But everybody in that district chews and smokes our own tobacco, and they prefer what we call the “lugs” – that is, the lowest grade. They prefer it because it is not quite so strong as the higher grade tobacco. Eighty per cent of our whole crop is exported.
Chairman: What do they do with it? How do they prepare it in order to use it?
Mr. Ewing: I presume you mean this tobacco we desire to retail at home. If they chew it they just break off a part of the leaf. 
Chairman: They just chew the leaf?
Mr. Ewing: Sometimes they put it in a twist, you know. A man can put it in a twist if he does not dispose of it. Sometimes they do that; but at other times you will find a man with just a hand of tobacco in his pocket, and he will break off a part of the leaf. If they smoke it they crumple it in their hands and put it in their pipes. It is a coarse grade of tobacco that is not popular with the better class of trade; but we see that it has an outlet in this way.
Again, we recognize the fact that this is the only agricultural product that is taxed. Ours is a tobacco country, a tobacco soil, and a tobacco climate. We can not raise wheat and corn in competition with other sections of the country. Our grass is not spontaneous. We do not raise stock as they do in other sections of the country. We are absolutely dependent upon tobacco."

Watch for more installments from this Congressional Hearing.  Learning about individuals can be found wherever the story is shared.  Keep the story alive.  - Mark

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Communication Speed Found in Telegraph

(As published in Robertson County [Tenn.] Times in January 2007 by J. Mark Lowe - Photo Credit: Library of Congress)
Today, we have cell phones, e-mail, instant messaging, and even blackberries, but the first method of electronic communication was the telegraph. Thomas Edison is most famous for inventing the light bulb, phonograph and moving pictures. He was granted 1,093 patents for his inventions. But 150 of these patents related to telegraph technology. Edison started his career as a telegrapher. At age 15, in 1862, he started work in a small town Western Union office. As his skill grew he moved to higher profile jobs. By 1869 he had positioned himself in the telegraph service and manufacturing business. 
After the Civil War, as American business expanded across the globe, telegraph was essential as a communication tool. Congress held hearings to consider making the postal telegraph system part of the Post Office. Other companies scrambled to fight the Western Union  monopoly.
JW Mackay founded the Postal Telegraph Cable Co. This company was the major competitor to Western Union.
A young local telegraph operator was George Christopher. George was born outside Murfreesboro Tennessee in 1895 to James and Louisa Christopher. He loved spending summers on his grandparents farm in Robertson county, Tenn. He especially enjoyed riding the train over the ridge.  However his family circumstances were about to change. His grandparents were caught in a typhoid epidemic in Florida. His grandmother died and his grandfather was unable to provide for himself. James E. Allen moved to Rutherford county to live with the Christophers. In the next year, George Christopher’s father and grandfather died. His mother was forced to sell the farm and they relocated to small two-story home in Nashville which Louisa Christopher operated as a rooming house. In addition to George and his mother, there are George’s two brothers, two sisters, a brother-in-law and two nieces. By 1910, George had been working as a messenger for the Postal Telegraph Company in Nashville for three years. George was photographed by Lewis Hine as part of an effort to record Child Labor actions across the U.S.  
This hard working young man continued to work for Postal Telegraph. In 1920, George accepted the position of Chief Telegraph Operator in St. Louis, Missouri.  At that time, his mother, Louisa,  and his brother, Mitchell, joined George, his wife, Katherine and their daughter, Thelma, as they moved to their new home on Olive Ave in St. Louis.  George continued to work for telegraph companies until his death. 
The history of the Postal Telegraph Cable Company is simple. When Mr. John W. Mackay, the famous Bonanza gold millionaire, and Mr. James Gordon Bennett, of the N. Y. Herald, associated themselves together for the purpose of building a commercial cable across the Atlantic, they readily recognized the fact that the existing cable was operated in conjunction with the Western Union lines. Mackay resolved to organize the Postal Telegraph Cable Co., and to provide equipment and  resources which would enable it to compete with any and all existing lines.
“Mr. Mackey, who has thus come forward to assist, even if indirectly, in the task of destroying the powerful telegraph monopoly, is a man of about the medium height, if anything, somewhat above rather than below the average stature, and neither stoutly nor thinly built. His features are somewhat prominent and be token a resoint will. His face is clean-shaven and somewhat florid. He is quiet in manner and dress. He appears like a man who does not hesitate long in forming a decision, and when his mind is made up allow no obstacles to remain in the way of execution. 
The capital stock was fixed at $3,million  which might be increased to $7 million.”

James Gordon Bennett was certainly an adventurer himself.  From 1874 to 1877 he had Henry M. Stanley searching for Dr. Livingstone, in Africa In 1879 he fitted out the Jeannette Polar Expedition. In 1899 he engaged William Marconi to transmit by wireless accounts of the American Cup Races between the “Columbia” and Sir Thomas Lipton's first “Shamrock.” In October, 1906, he used the wireless to broadcast news of the World Series of baseball games,

In 1928, the company became part of ITT under the name of Postal Telegraph & Cable. On October 3, 1943, Western Union merged with the Postal Telegraph and Cable Company. Locally, the telegraph offices remained connected with the local railroad office, until  Western Union opened an office on the corner of 6th and Main, where the Birdie Whirlie store is located. 
Sources: New York Times; NY Herald; Census Records, Nashville American, Christopher Family Records, Library of Congress 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Historic Tennessee Wedding and Traditions

As printed in Then & Now, Robertson County Times 18 Mar 2009
Weddings have been a time for celebrating the marriage of a couple and the joining of two families. This week we will learn about historic weddings of our area.
Stories from the very first weddings in Middle Tennessee were recorded by Jo C. Guild in his book, Old Times in Tennessee (1878). 
The first wedding in the colony which settled at the Bluff, near the French Lick (now the city of Nashville,) was that of Capt. Leiper and his wife [a Miss Susan Drake] in the summer of 1780. They were married by Gen. James Robertson, who was the founder and a trustee of the Cumberland settlement [and namesake for Robertson county.] This wedding was followed by a feast and dancing. It is mentioned that roasting-ears were the great delicacy for the ladies on this interesting occasion. 
A short time afterward, Mr. James Shaw, also a trustee, married on one day, Edward Swanson to Mrs. Mary Carvin [the widow of Ned Carvin], James Freeland to Mrs. Maxwell, Cornelius Riddle to Jane Mulherrin and John Tucker to Jenny Herod [daughter of James and Elizabeth Herod], all in one day. [John and Jenny Tucker moved to Robertson county.] Several traditional stories have survived about the marriage of Cornelius Riddle to the beautiful Jane Mulherrin. The Cumberland settlement was then in its infancy and the settlers were not supplied with the means to make a wedding occasion brilliant. They possessed neither  … “gorgeous dresses, a table laden with rich viands and luxuries to tempt the fastidious appetite, and a fine band to furnish music while the guests ‘tripped the light, fantastic, toe,’ as the older settlements [in the East] could do.” There were those  immediately interested in making this wedding affair as grand and imposing as circumstances would admit, especially as it was among the first weddings in the new settlement. They were well supplied with game of almost every description, but there was neither flour nor meal in the whole colony with which to make bread, nor had there been for six months. In this emergency two of the settlers mounted horses and hurried off to Danville, Ky., for a small quantity of corn in order to supply the wedding table with bread. The couriers returned in a few days, bringing with them each one bushel of corn, which soon found its way to the mortar and pestle, where it was converted into excellent meal. From that meal was baked the first ‘bride’s cake’ of which this new settlement boasted. It was made of pounded corn meal, with the only additional ingredients, a little salt and water. All things were in readiness and the happy pair pledged their love and fealty to each other; their lips and lives expressed the sacred vow that they professed. 
“Amid the dangers that environed the settlement, the hearts of this band of pioneers grew happy while celebrating this wedding with song, dance, and feast, rendered exquisitely delightful by the introduction of the wedding ‘pound cake,’ and perhaps no cake on a similar occasion before or since was enjoyed with more zest.”
One hundred and twenty-one years later, a young couple were married in Robertson county. Let’s learn about Richard and Birdie Qualls from a biographical sketch published in 1922.
On the 22nd of September, 1901, occurred the marriage of Mr. Richard E. Qualls to Miss Birdie Holman. Miss Holman was born January 1881, near Springfield, the daughter of R[obert] S. and [Mary Catherine] ‘Katie’ Porter Holman. Her father was a veteran of the Civil War, having served throughout that conflict in the Confederate army and was still living [in 1922] at the age of eighty years. Mrs. Holman was also from one of the most prominent families in the state. She is still living [in 1922] at age 78 years. Mr. and Mrs. Qualls were the parents of four children: Rayburn W. who was a student at the Peoples-Tucker School; Paul Richard, who [in 1922] was attending high school in Springfield; Katherine Rebecca; and Mary Wilmouth. Mrs. Qualls was a woman of much culture and refinement and was prominent socially. She was a consistent and active member of the Methodist Church. 
A man of good business capacity , R[ichard] E. Qualls, who was owner and active in the conduct of the Qualls Motor Company in Springfield, and the owner of the Ford Agency at Elkton, Kentucky. He was born in Robertson county, 13 March 1878, the son of Jesse E and Emmaline Purcilla (Porter) Qualls, both native of this county. Jesse E. Qualls [in 1922] was 76 years of age and actively engaged in farming 400 acres of valuable and well improved land in the 5th district, near Cedar Hill. His wife, who was a daughter of  Edward  and Cordelia (Henry) Porter of Cedar Hill, was deceased. [Emmaline Purcilla Qualls died 19 Nov 1910.] 
In the acquirement of his education R.E. Qualls attended the common schools of this county until he was 19 years of age. At that time he put his textbooks aside and engaged in farming with his father for two years. At the termination that time, he made his initial step into the business world as bookkeeper for W.T. Henry and taking advantage of every opportunity offered him, he acquired a fine knowledge of salesmanship. For some time he was engaged in selling pianos and organs and subsequently he ventured into the grocery and hardware business of Adams. He was active in the conduct of that business from 1908 to 1914, in which latter year he took the Ford agency at Adams. At the end of two years he saw the necessity of locating in a larger town and moved to Springfield, where he has since resided. In the most recent year, 1922, Mr. Qualls sold 366 cars & 65 tractors. He has sold over 200 tractors in this county. In early life Mr. Qualls learned the value of close application to the thing at hand and he had taken only one week’s vacation in five years. He was a progressive and public-spirited man and conducted his business on a modern basis, making each department self-sufficient. 
Mr. Qualls gave his political endorsement to the democratic party and the principles for which it stands. Fraternally, he was a Knight of Pythias. He was a member of the Methodist church and served as superintendent of the Sunday school and chairman of the board of stewards. He was also active in the Kiwanis Club and in furtherance of every movement for the development and improvement of the general welfare. 
Tickets ($15 each)are now available for “A Historic Presentation of Robertson County Brides” that will include a reception, presented on April 25, 2009 at 2 pm, Robertson County History Museum. Call 382-7173 for more information.
Sources: Old Times in Tennessee, Tennessee, The Volunteer State.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

1909 Air Balloon Race comes to Robertson County Tennessee

(originally published in the Robertson County Times)
J. Mark Lowe - Robertson County Historical Society
Thomas Scott Baldwin was born in 1854. He was a circus trapeze artist in his youth, made his first hot-air balloon ascent in 1875 and entertained at thousands of shows and fairs over the next decade. He is also known as the father of the modern parachute. On January 30, 1885, Baldwin decided to spice up his balloon performance and made one of the first parachute jumps from a balloon in history. 
By 1900, Baldwin was generating motorized balloons. Using a motorcycle engine built by Glenn Curtiss, Baldwin created the dirigible, the California Arrow, which flew around the U.S. in 1904. The Army Signal Corps became interested in the airship and offered him a contract to develop a practical dirigible with navigation potential. He completed that task and the Army designed the craft “SC-1” (Signal Corps No. 1).
When the United States entered the World War I, Baldwin volunteered his services to the Army, even though he was 62 years old. He was commissioned a captain in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. He personally inspected every lighter-than-air craft built for and used by the Army during the war. He was promoted to the rank of major during the war. After the war, he joined the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio, as a designer and manufacturer of their airships. 
Thomas Scott Baldwin visited Robertson County in June 1909. Although his final destination was not formalized, the people of Greenbrier and northern Middle Tennessee participated in a national event.
Follow this account of the Aero Club of America’s National Balloon Race. 
“All Sky Races are Heard From – No Mishaps Reported – Two Parties of Aeronauts Say Kentuckians Shot at Them. Indianapolis – June 7, 1909 – All of the balloons that started in the Aero Club of America’s great national race here Saturday have been heard from. The New York, with A. Holland Forbes, came down at 5:10 today and the Hoosier, Capt. T.[homas] S.[cott] Baldwin, pilot, landed at Greenbrier, Tenn. No details regarding the landing of either has been received. The Indiana, Carl Fisher of Indianapolis, pilot and G.A. Bumbaugh, assistant, had come near enough to ground at Shackle Island, Tenn. at 6 o’clock last night to let down two buckets and get a fresh supply of water. They had then lightened ballast and mounted again to the higher currents to continue the race. Shackle Island is twelve miles north of Nashville. 
The Cleveland, A.H. Morgan, or Cleveland, pilot, and the University City, J.S. Berry of St. Louis, pilot, have dropped out of the big race. The Cleveland landed eight miles west of Columbus, Ind. At 8 o’clock Saturday night, making but little over forty miles and attributing the poor flight to poor gas. The University City landed near Fayetteville, Lincoln county, Tennessee at 7 o’clock Sunday night after being up twenty-five hours and making approximately 340 miles.
Dr. Goethe Link, pilot, and R.J. Irwin, assistant, flying the Indianapolis, won both the trophies in the handicap race which started at 3:45 Saturday afternoon, just preceding the national race.
The Indianapolis just cleared the Kentucky-Tennessee line and landed at Westmoreland, Tenn. , 45 miles northeast of Nashville. The Chicago landed just north of the state line, at the fair grounds in Scottsville, Ky., 16 miles north of Westmoreland, while the Ohio, the third contestant landed a half mile northeast of Nashville, Indiana at 6:20 Saturday night.
The Indianapolis by its flight won the cup offered for the greatest distance by the Indianapolis Merchants’ Association., having approximately 7 miles the best of the Ohio, and she also won the Fisher trophy for time in the air, having a margin of almost two hours on the Chicago.
The victory of the Indianapolis men and their good cubic feet capacity balloon is considered remarkable in as much as they are new in the game and they started on their flight with but five bags of sand or approximately 230 pounds of ballast. They were provisioned very light. They made 335 miles and were in the air nineteen hours. 
A message to the Associated Press from them says their highest altitude was 13,000 feet – approximately two and one-half miles. They were shot as twice as they went over Kentucky, but were not hit. The weather, they reported, was perfect, and the night trip was very pleasant.
A.H. Morgan, pilot, and J. A. Wade, assistant, of the Cleveland, returned to Indianapolis today. They were much displeased over the snowing made by their balloon and while the manufacturer of the craft charge the failure of the flight to a poor quality of gas given that balloon and the Ohio, the two Cleveland men were attributing failure to defective seams.”  
Sources: Fort Wayne Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, June 7, 1909.
Next post: we will learn more about the balloon, the Hoosier, that landed in Greenbrier Tennessee and learn what local residents had to say about the craft from the sky. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Washington Family in Tennessee

Baker’s book turns focus on Washington family
Then and Now • By J. Mark Lowe • Robertson County Historical Society • As printed in the Robertson County Times, December 10, 2008

We have all heard of the Washington family who settled in Robertson county, and the stately homes they built in the Cedar Hill area. The stories and connections to the Washington family are about to be presented in a new, well-researched book written by John F. Baker, Jr. The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantatation: Stories of My Family's Journey to Freedom will be published in February 2009, by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.

John Baker started writing this book about three years ago, but he has been collecting the information contained in this book his entire life. The book begins in 1796 when Joseph Washington, a distant cousin of President George Washington, came to Robertson county and continues with the heritage of the entire Washington and allied families (white and black) until the beginning of the twentieth century.

Baker added, “The title may lead one to believe it is only about my family, but this book tells about the white Washingtons, the black Washingtons and many other families in Robertson county who interacted with those families. Over 700 names are included in the index.”

John is surrounded by very family oriented individuals. “It was always my plan to preserve this family information in a book for future generations.”

John's interest began when a picture of four former slaves in his 7th grade history book attracted his attention. When he learned that two of those individuals were his grandmother's grandparents, he was hooked. As I continued to find other stuff about the other connections on the Wessyngton plantation, I became as curious about other family's history as my own. It will probably never stop. One of the first “older” folk I interviewed was Mattie Terry. She died in 1982 at age 93.

Since I continue meeting people connected with the family and learning about the birth of new family members, the stories about life from the past are meant to be shared. The theme of this book is the importance of family as the key to survival. 
John Baker was born in Springfield, Tennessee to John Baker, Sr. and Georgia Cobbs Baker. 

He graduated from Springfield High School, continued his education at Nashville Tech, worked in the banking industry and developed a career with Verizon for the next twenty years. 

The average Tennessee slaveholder owned three to five slaves. The Wessyngton Plantation and Washington family owned 274 slaves in 1860, making this family the largest slaveowners in this state with the largest tobacco plantation in America. The Washingtons of Wessynton Plantation: Stories of My Family's Journey to Freedom is intended to let the family and others learn about the accomplishments of these former slaves in spite of their hardships. They purchased land and farms, they founded schools and churches. 

The white Washington family kept black family members together during slave times. The records were precise and exact on their family; with farm records detailing information on the slaves and contracts. Descendants will learn about their history. 

This book is filled with stories John collected from older family members and historic records. John related a story of the Antioch Baptist Church just after the Civil War. The church members met to determine for whom they would vote. Every male on Wessyngton was a registered voter, as indicated in Washington Family Papers. 

As John met with family members, he learned new stories and delved deeper into those told. Mary Washington Holly sent a picture of John's Great-Great-Grandfather that he had never seen. She told him stories that her father had shared with her. John also learned that Granville Washington's daughter raised a neighbor of a co-worker of John. The neighbor was 106. Granville's daughter married the neighbor's Uncle and raised this young lady. She knew Granville Washington's wife personally. 

Granville Washington was the son of the slaveowner and a slave. 
John looked for literary agents that dealt in subject matter of the book. He signed with an Agent in April 2007, and began working with that agent in early June. The book contains 17 Chapters with over 100 photographs. It is fully documented and includes the following topics: Civil War, Emancipation, Cherokee removal, Reconstruction, Andrew Jackson, Cheatham family, Nat Turner's insurrection, and a family DNA study.

John great Aunt, Maggie Washington, died in 2003 at age 99. She always encouraged John's research. 

“She always felt that I was destined to write and share this story.” John is already planning his next project. He plans to continue to learn from other descendants, collecting additional photographs and stories. He would also like to develop a genealogy guide for researchers, including children. This book is a compelling tale of survival and understanding in a different time and place

. It will help every family learn to appreciate their siblings. Look for upcoming book signing by John Baker, Jr. in Robertson county. Visit John's website ( to learn more about his book. To learn more about Robertson county and her people, visit the history museums located throughout the county. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.

J. Mark Lowe
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