The Jackson Purchase Historical Society will meet on January 26, 2013 at the Wrather West Kentucky Museum on the Murray State University campus in Murray, Kentucky. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. with refreshments and conversation. The formal session starts at 10:30 a.m. during which Dwain McIntosh will present a program on High School Basketball in the early 1950’s. The sport of basketball was “King” in the Jackson Purchase at that time for many high school teams. All are welcome to join us for this presentiation on an exciting era in Kentucky’s sports history.
Call to Order:
President Gilbert Mathis called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.m. at the Weldon Public Library in Martin, Tennessee with approximately 21 members and guests in attendance. The meeting was preceded by 30 minutes of coffee and donuts, an innovation initiated by President Mathis whom we thank.
Business: The 2010-2011 Secretary Melissa Earnest and current Treasurer Marvin Downing had prepared the minutes and treasurer’s report and distributed copies to those in attendance. Marion Claybrook moved, Bob Lochte seconded, and JPHS approved both sets of information. Membership dues remain the same as in 2010-2011 and are payable to Downing for the 2011-2012 year.
Journal Editor’s Report: Editor Melissa Earnest is elated to have three articles already! Though a good start, she readily welcomes other items prior to the May 1, 2012 submission deadline.
Publications Committee: Vice President Bob Lochte reported Kate Reeves and Bill Wells have agreed to serve, a situation that left one vacancy. Shortly Dieter Ullrich volunteered for duty without saluting.
Program Committee: Chair Bob Lochte announced the January program will be at the Wrather West Kentucky Museum in Murray, and it features author Judy Shearer talking about her book All Bones Be White, a creative nonfiction narrative, a biography, of Cassy, a woman who was a slave in Kentucky and who was tried for murder in 1833.
Bill Evans, Vice President of News for Paxton Communications, has been working on a history of WPSD, channel 6, Paducah, for some time now. He will give an illustrated presentation about this in a location in Paducah TBD at either the April or the July meeting.
Dwayne McIntosh, retired journalist and PR man, will give a presentation about high school basketball in the Jackson Purchase in the 1940′s and 1950′s, when local teams were the best in Kentucky. I spoke with him about November back at the WratherMuseum, but the date is not firm. Kate Reeves is interested in doing a museum exhibit about high school basketball in conjunction with Dwayne’s talk.
Bill Wells is looking into some program possibilities in Mayfield with no specific date yet.
JPHS officers proposed to amend the bylaws in order to clarify meeting procedures. They offered separate motions for JPHS and the Board of Directors of JPHS. Members decided to vote on the two motions separately.
The first one acted on was: “Motion is made to change the by-laws of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society to allow for Executive Committee meetings to be conducted either in person or by any electronic/telephonic means convenient for the purpose and available to the public.” Claybrook moved, Lochte seconded, and the motion carried.
The second one acted on was: “Motion is made to change the by-laws of the Board of Directors of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society to allow for Board meetings to be conducted either in person or by any electronic/telephonic means convenient for the purpose and available to the public.” Lochte moved, Claybrook seconded, and the motion carried.
West Tennessee Historical Society.
President Mathis asked WTHS President if it had business to conduct. According to WTHS members, there was not a WTHS quorum, so no business could be conducted. They did indicate availability of back issues of the WTHS Papers had been digitized. They can be accessed by going to the Shelby County [Tennessee] Register of Deeds website under “Exhibits” and clicking on the WTHS Papers. Those WTHS records have been digitized. They can be key word searched and downloaded and/or printed out. They also encouraged attendees to sign a WTHS form as a part of its procedures.
Mathis then called on Downing to introduce our speaker. He expressed appreciation for Dr. Michael Gibson filling in for the previously scheduled Dr. Stan Dunagan whose family had an important gathering related to a sibling’s medical crisis. Dr. Gibson graduated from the College of William and Mary with a B.S. degree before earning an M.S. at Auburn University and then a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He is thoroughly professional in the classroom, in field work, and research publication. Within the past month he was the keynote speaker at the Tennessee Academy of Sciences in Jackson, Tennessee. For many years his wife Edie has been Executive Assistant to the UT Martin Chancellor. The Gibsons have a daughter Kesley who will soon graduate from UTM and enter a graduate program in Marine Biology. Their son Brandt is also a UTM student dual majoring in Biology and Geology.
Gibson first related Dunagan’s regrets at missing the meeting. He had looked forward to an exchange of ideas. Perhaps there can be a future session.
Gibson launched into the geological background of the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes, the strongest in U.S. history. As a pre-people geologist, he quickly took us back millions of years to explain the circumstances that ultimately lead to the formation of ReelfootLake from deep fault and rifts in the Mississippi River valley generally and more specifically in the Gardner and Dresden communities only a few miles away. He elaborated on how old geological features were being impacted by more recent forces.
Actually Reelfoot Lake precedes the 1811-1812 quakes as evidenced by the old cypress trees in that water. Though the core of some trees are rotten, rings indicate some are over 600 years old.
The 1811-1812 quakes were the most recent large shakes. Between December 16, 1811 and February 11, 1812, there were over 200 tremors/incidents but few were felt. Six events exceeded 7.0 on the Richter scale with 2 events around 8.0. Some 2,000 landslides resulted. Church bells rang in Canada and Mexico, according to newspaper accounts. Due to those conditions tree growth was slowed for several years. Those events produced “earthquake Christians,” as people suddenly and relatively briefly became quite religious.
How bad were those 1811-1812 quakes? Gibson described conditions in a relatively sparsely populated area and compared predicated impacts in the 21st Century. He switched to a relatively new damage evaluation model and explained damages at various levels.
Like other geologist, Gibson warned that it is not a question of if a large New Madrid earthquake will happen but when. He counseled everyone to become prepared for such. A level V shake on an XI point scale of relatively little damage might be good to alert us to potential damages and dangers. He advised everyone to have a minimum of 2 weeks supply of food and water. The upside of his comments is that government agencies and individuals are now much better prepared than 5 years ago. In fact, Dr. Gibson will be one of the first responders, an ambivalent situation for him and his family. His point in part is that a large quake has great social implications, too!
Call to Order: President Marion Claybrook called the meeting to order at the Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky with approximately 20 members and guests in attendance.
Business: Secretary Melissa Earnest and Treasurer Marvin Downing had prepared the minutes and treasurer’s report and distributed copies to those in attendance. Bob Lochte moved to accept the minutes as presented with Lonnie Maness seconding the motion. The motion carried. John Robertson moved to accept the treasurer’s report as presented with Bob Lochte seconding the motion. The motion carried. Membership dues have remained the same and are payable to Downing for the 11-12 membership year. Earnest, the Journal editor, thanked Ann Adams and the personnel at the University of Tennessee Martin printing department for another wonderful printing of the Journal. Earnest noted this year’s edition was truly a page-turner! Cecelia Edwards showed the progress she has made on the quilt. It basically needs the border and the quilting completed to be finished. In new business, Claybrook presented the following slate of officers for 11-12: President – Gil Mathis; Vice-President – Bob Lochte; Secretary – Cecelia Edwards; Treasurer – Marvin Downing and Member-at-Large – Melissa Earnest. John Robertson and Bob Lochte moved to accept the slate of officers by acclamation. The motions carried for each office.
Program: Claybrook introduced John Robertson as the guest speaker. Robertson has lived in Paducah for more than 50 years, researching its history for many of those years. Robertson added Vonnie Shelton of the McCracken County Public Library had been assisting him in transcribing the letters of Jennie Fyfe. Fyfe arrived in Cairo, Illinois, on her way to Paducah, Kentucky to work as a nurse during the Civil War era. The letters she wrote to her family provide an eyewitness account of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s arrival in Paducah. Fyfe wrote about the Paducah raid while she was in hospital #2 where she could see the rebels arriving. Fyfe eventually began a new part of her life in the spring of 1865 after the Civil War ended. She started working as a teacher and supported the recently freed African Americans in their quest for education. Fyfe was part of the movement devoted to the advancement of freed blacks, especially in Louisiana. She was an accomplished woman in her own right and died from complications of cataract surgery. Fyfe’s grave is in Lansing, Michigan and her letters belong to the University of Michigan, but Robertson and Shelton obtained permission to transcribe them and to have the information presented at the JPHS meeting.
Adjournment: The fall meeting will be held in November in Martin, Tennessee, in conjunction with the West Tennessee Historical Society. Dr. Stan Dunagan will present a program on the New Madrid earthquake. Members and guests were encouraged to take advantage of the half-price admission to the Quilt Museum after the meeting was adjourned.
In conjunction with Paducah’s Annual Emancipation Celebration McCracken County Public Library will present, African American Genealogical Research: Tips and Tools to Help you Find Your Black Roots, with Stefan Jagoe on Thursday August 4, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. in the library meeting room. Because of the dismantling of families during slavery and the fact that Africans brought no surnames as we know them to America, doing African American family history research can be quite a challenge. Most of African Americans were not included by name in the Federal Census until 1870. Jagoe will present the basic principles of genealogy research and the most common sources utilized, including census records and birth and death records. He will also examine some alternative sources for the African American researcher, particularly for those predating 1870. Jagoe is a Paducah native and avid genealogist. He is a retired officer with the Paducah Police Department and is actively involved in the community serving as Youth Minister at Grace Episcopal Church.
On June 24, 1861, the Inspector General of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Simon Bolivar Buckner, orders Captain Lloyd Tilghman and six companies of the State Guard to Columbus to preserve the neutrality of the state and to guard the western river port. Tilghman resigns in protest and returns to Paducah to recruit men for the southern cause. Captain Benjamin Hardin Helm assumes command and sets up a camp near Columbus. The camp quickly dissolves, however, and accomplishes little to preserve neutrality. By the end of the month, Tilghman is regularly sending new recruits to Camp Boone on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Tilghman joins his men on July 5 and accepts an appointment as Colonel of the 3rd Regiment of Kentucky Volunteers. Buckner and Helm would follow his lead and join the Confederacy in the coming months. It is estimated that Tilghman may have recruited over 5,000 men from Kentucky prior to his departure, most having served in the State Guard.
Dr. Marvin Downing will be addressing the society at the quarterly meeting. In anticipation of the upcoming talk, we talked with him about his 34-year career as a professor of history at UT Martin, his civic activities he performs and his research and knowledge of Christmasville. It was the town that time forgot, nestled away in the Tennessee woods. It would fail to take advantage of technology in railroads and slowly die down to nothing but a post office until 1903 and then nothing after that.
Join us as we take a look at a now forgotten part of the Jackson Purchase.
Elementary school children know that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492, but not when the day to celebrate this event was set aside, thus giving them a holiday from school. A day to commemorate this event wasn’t made a U.S. national holiday until 1937 after intense lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal benefits organization. In 1971, the celebratory day was set as the second Monday in October. This day is also celebrated in Spain, the Bahamas, Costa Rica and other areas of the Americas under similar names and in Canada the U.S. holiday falls on the same day as the Canadian Thanksgiving.
In many cities of the U.S. this day has become a day of celebrating Italian-American and Catholic heritage because Christopher Columbus was an Italian-born, Catholic, explorer sponsored by the Spanish royalty, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
In the 19th century, anti-immigrant groups rejected the holiday because of its association with Catholicism and most recently Native Americans and other groups protest celebrating this holiday because Columbus’s discovery led, howbeit indirectly, to the colonization of the Americas which resulted in death by European diseases and warfare and the institution of slavery of native peoples.
Regardless of how history treats Columbus and his discovery, it cannot be argued that his voyages to the Americans did light a fire in Old World imaginations which began 150 years of European exploration and colonizations in the Americas.
(This posting created from the following resources: What Every American Should Know About American History, 200 Events that Shaped the Nation, by Dr. Alan Axelrod and Charles Phillips, 1992; Internet sources at http://en.wikipedia.org and www.history/com.)
SONG OF THE NEW YEAR
I heard the bells at midnight
Ring in the dawning year;
And above the clanging chorus
Of the song, I seemed to hear
A choir of mystic voices
Flinging echoes, ringing clear,
From a band of angels winging
Through the haunted atmosphere;
“Ring out the shame and sorrow,
And the misery and sin,
That the dawning of the morrow
May in peace be ushered in.”
- James Whitcomb Riley
(The Complete Poetical Works of James Whitcomb Riley, Indiana University Press, 1993)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!
“Three or four years ago tryouts were being conducted for parts in the Nativity Play to be staged by the children of the Second Presbyterian Church. There was brisk competition for all the roles except that of the innkeeper who told Mary and Joseph that he didn’t have room for them.
For some reason the kids seemed to think the innkeeper was a sort of bad guy and no one wanted to be saddled with the part.
‘But he wasn’t really mean,’ one of the teachers explained to the four-year-old boy chosen for the role. ‘All the rooms in the inn were taken and he just didn’t have a place for Mary and Joseph to stay.”
That appeased the boy somewhat, but when the play was staged he felt constrained to underscore the innkeeper’s innocence by ad-libbing his lines just a trifle.
‘I’m sorry I don’t have room for you, I’m really sorry,’ he said when Mary and Jospeh stopped by, ‘ but won’t you come in and have a drink?’”
(Excerpt from the book Crossroads and Coffee Trees, a Legacy of Joe Creason, 1975, The Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times, page 21. Joe Creason was born in Benton, Kentucky in 1918, and wrote “Joe Creason’s Kentucky”, a popular local column in the Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY, from 1963 until his death in 1974.)
John Christmas McLemore, Christmasville, TN
Well, his name anyway. Our Marvin Downing is the historical consultant for a PBS segment on Christmasville, TN and John Christmas McLemore. Marvin says that means “a person might catch my name when the credits are run”!
The segment will air on Christmas Eve and again on the following Sunday morning after Christmas. If you don’t have access to Nashville Public Television, after the segment airs, it will be on the website a few weeks via You Tube and you can check it out at www.tennesseecrossroads.org.
John Christmas McLemore was one of the founding fathers of Memphis, TN. He also lent his name to a town, created by an act of the Tennessee legislature, to be founded on the north side of the South Fork of the Obion River in the vicinity of “McLemore’s Bluff.”
Marvin wrote an article for the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture on McLemore and also an article, Old Christmasville (Tennessee): Its Lure and Lore” published in the JPHS Journal, Vol. VII, June 1979.