Tuesday, August 9, 2016

An Ooltewah Wedding

This is an article from The Atlanta Constitution (pg 3) on 26 August 1887.

I have been trying to figure out the rest of the story for you. I know that both families lived in James County, although they got married in Ringgold, GA. I have also found their marriage certificate showing that they married on the 13th. However, what followed, I would love to know, so I can share it with you. If anyone knows anything about these two families please contact me here or on the Facebook page. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

May 2016 Meeting

Oops, I did it again. Sounds like a song, but it's not. It's an apology to you for not giving you more notice about our meeting. When the meeting is on the first, it sneaks up on me and it's here before I know that it is even the first of the month. The older I get, the faster time seems to fly.

Without further ado.....

The meeting is Sunday, May 1st at the Ooltewah Methodist Church at 2:30 pm. Dennis Billings will present "Early Times in Old Jim County"  I hope to see everyone there.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Oil on the Mountain

Jackson Citizen  April 12, 1887
Struck Oil in Tennessee
Associated Press Dispatch
Chattanooga, Tenn, April 7- A brief dispatch in the papers, announcing that oil had been found in James county, twenty miles from Chattanooga, threw this city into a good deal of excitement, and at Ooltewah, where the well was drilled, the people are fairly wild. Two months ago James Laman & Co, of Pennsylvania, began to bore for oil in the White mountains, but they attracted no especial attention until yesterday, when the oil began to flow. There is no doubt that oil has been struck. Two companies were formed here a few months ago to bore for oil and gas, and the discovery has had a very stimulating effect, as they will begin work at once.

I found this newspaper article that stated that an oil company from Pennsylvania was drilling in James County and had actually found the black gold. Immediately, I have this vision of the iconic picture of oil pouring out of the top of the well and and everyone dancing around in their new found wealth, similar to the television show "Dallas" or the movie "Giant" with James Dean and Rock Hudson.

As, we have already learned, James County was a poor and underdeveloped portion of East Tennessee. So in reality, oil on the mountain was more similar to "Beverly Hillbillies" (without the riches). The well most likely looked like these rather than the large oil derricks from Pennsylvania.

circa 1880
Library of Congress

The Drake Well from the
Library of Congress

At this time, the oil companies were pushed by the demand for kerosene and oil lamps. These companies were looking for oil everywhere, even in the mountains of East Tennessee. The video below tells of the history of oil.

I wonder where this oil was found. Who owned the property and what became of it? How much oil did this well bring to the property owner? I would guess that there was not an abundance of oil, since Ooltewah did not become the boom town surrounding this find, as other oil well locations had. Does anyone have any information concerning this? If so, please contact me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February 2016 Meeting

I just wanted to run a quick reminder by you that the meeting is Sunday, February 7th at 2:30 pm at the Ooltewah Methodist Church. Our presenters for this quarter are Gene and Ruth Merkel. They will speaking about our early American flags. They will also entertain us by coming dressed as George and Martha Washington. How cool is that?

By know, everyone on the email list should have gotten their meeting notice via email. If you would like to be included on the email list so that you can receive an email notice, please notify me and I will get you set up. 
Those that are on the list and are not receiving their email, please be sure to check your spam folder and then contact me to verify your email address.
 I look forward to seeing everyone there.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Remembering our Veterans

On this Memorial Day, I would like to take a few moments out from our holiday dinner with the family to remember the men and women who have made our American way of life what it is today.

I have chosen two young men from Ooltewah who fought in the Vietnam War: Billy R. Farrior and Billy L. Long. Remember these names, they gave their lives for you and ALL Americans.

Billy Randy Farrior

Billy was born to Jimmy and Lillie Mae Farrior on Jan. 24, 1951. He married and became a father at a very young age. He left for Vietnam in July of 1970, at 19 years of age, leaving behind a pregnant wife. His wife, Betty Jo gave birth 4 months later to his daughter, Audrey. In those days, there was not an internet, where he could have seen his daughter, while he was overseas. He never did get a chance to get to see or know his daughter.
Billy drove the heavy vehicles for the 444th Transportation Company, 8th Regiment, 27th Battalion, in the United States Army. A vehicle crash tragically took his life and his passenger's life on the day after Christmas in 1970 in Phu Yen, South Vietnam; just one month after the birth of his daughter, and just 6 months after arriving in Vietnam.
You can find his memorial on the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC under the name of
Billy R Farrior, located on Panel 5W and Row 8.

Freddie Leron Long

Freddie was born May 16, 1948 to a family with many brothers and sisters, some still living today. His parents raised very patriotic children since others served in the Armed Forces, as well. Freddie served in the United States Army as a rough terrain forklift and loader operator in the Special Four Unit, 87th Engineer Co., and the 198th Infantry Brigade.

He tragically lost his life at 22 years of age on the first of January, 1969 at Long Khanh, South Vietnam in a non-combative incident.

You can find his memorial on the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC under the name of
Freddie L Long, located on Panel 15W and Row 13.

Although I have only mentioned two servicemen here, there are so very many other heroes that have come from the James County and by this time, Hamilton County area that fought in the many wars the United States were involved in.

Do you have any memories of these young men that you would like to share?  Leave a comment at the end of this blog post as a memorial for all to see.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The History of The American Thanksgiving

Here we are again. Another Thanksgiving Holiday. Turkey, Family, Friends, Football, Pumpkin Pie, Vacation. Prayer and Giving Thanks. Isn't it wonderful! We anxiously await it every year. But how did we get here; to what it is today and how we celebrate it?

We believe the first Thanksgiving proclamation was made by Governor Bradford of Massachusetts in 1623, just three years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth.

"Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."

William Bradford
Ye Governor of Ye Colony 

The first National Thanksgiving Proclamations were those issued by the Continental Congress between 1777 and 1784.  From 1785 to 1788 there were no National Thanksgiving Proclamations. George Washington issued the first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to
obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and
favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested
me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and
prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of
Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form
of government for their safety and happiness."
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to
be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being,
who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we
may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind
care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation –
for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence,
which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree
of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and
rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of
government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately
instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we
have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and
various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications
to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and
other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform
our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national
government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just,
and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and
guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us)
and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the
knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among
them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal
prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our
Lord 1789. GO. WASHINGTON.

The annual practice continued, by the government, to issue proclamations for a day of Thanksgiving. However, during the Civil War, in 1862 and 1863, President Lincoln tended  to give thanks for victories in battle. Confederate President Davis also became involved after the Civil War began. In 1861, his proclamation issued a "Day of Fasting and Humiliation"

WHEREAS, it hath pleased almighty God, the Sovereign Disposer of events, to protect and defend 
us hitherto in our conflicts with our enemies as to be unto them a shield.
And whereas, with grateful thanks we recognize His hand and acknowledge that not unto us, but 
unto Him, belongeth the victory, and in humble dependence upon His almighty strength, and 
trusting in the justness of our purpose, we appeal to Him that He may set at naught the efforts of 
our enemies, and humble them to confusion and shame.
Now therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, in view of impending 
conflict, do hereby set apart Friday, the 15th day of November, as a day of national humiliation and 
prayer, and do hereby invite the reverend clergy and the people of these Confederate States to 
repair on that day to their homes and usual places of public worship, and to implore blessing of 
almighty God upon our people, that he may give us victory over our enemies, preserve our homes 
and altars from pollution, and secure to us the restoration of peace and prosperity.
Given under hand and seal of the Confederate States at Richmond, this the 31st day of October, 
year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty one.
By the President, Jefferson Davis.

Issued by the departments of the Federal Government, employees would be given the day off.  Not just the President, but Governors of the individual states would also issue their own proclamations and wishes. However, the states would declare one date and the President would declare another. There was much confusion and families could not celebrate together because of these inconsistencies.

There were regular requests to the Government to set a firm date for the entire country to celebrate. One woman in particular is credited for finally getting through to the President of United States to set one date for the holiday.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor of Godey's Lady's Book, wrote a letter to President Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the

"day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She explained, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritative fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution." 

 In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale's request immediately. Lincoln's upcoming Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 puts in place our first National Thanksgiving. The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise. Please listen to what he had to say.

A few years later, after the assassination of President Lincoln, President Johnson carried on the tradition. In 1867. Johnson contends in his speech that the rebuilding of the country after the war is progressing. He also asks the country to move past the horrors of the war and to forgive. However, the scars of the war were still deep. The citizens of the south did not agree with the rosy picture Johnson described.

www.newspapers.com    The Hillsdale Standard (Hillsdale, Michigan) · Tue, Nov 12, 1867 · Page 2

After Thanksgiving became a National Holiday, and the healing finally began, the fourth Thursday of November would evolve over time as we, the citizens of the United States would evolve.  It once began as a day of celebrating the harvest, progressed into a religious holiday and then into our civil holiday.

By the early 1900's, the holiday could now include all branches of the family tree, since everyone celebrated on the same day. Family and loved ones now became the holiday's focus. As families gathered, more time was spent around the dinner table and the food was a large part of that. Much time was spent preparing old and treasured family recipes, passing on culinary traditions to the younger generations. In preparation of the holiday, families would save their money and store their valuable pantry items for months in advance. (The future wars ensured that  this became a necessity.) The fine china would be set out, the silver would be polished, and the cooking would begin weeks in advance.


Eventually, football entered the athletic arena, as well as, the television. Not surprisingly, football became an integral part of the Thanksgiving holiday as the turkey itself. 

As you read this, imagine how your family traditions have changed during your lifetime. What was it like for your ancestors and what will it evolve into for your future generations? Think what you can leave behind for them so that they can include that into their holiday traditions. This is a family holiday and let's do our best to keep it that way.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Civil War from Above

How did I get here? It s an interesting story. I was looking at articles in the newspaper archives about James County and its towns; when I ran across this newspaper story.

July 16, 1863 Thursday  The Richmond Enquirer, Richmond, VA

There were many things here that caught my eye that I would like to explore. But the one sentence that really excited me was about  the balloons. I had heard of the balloons before, but I had no idea that they had been in this area during the Civil War.

Union ballooning activities were much more extensive than those of the Confederacy. They were far more successful and better organized. The Confederates experimented with it for only a year, while the Union dropped most of its activity after 2 years when Lowe left the corps.

Thaddeus Lowe caught President Lincoln's eye when he offered to demonstrate his ballooning skills on June 16, 1861. Lowe jumped into his basket and rose to 500 feet above the ground across the street from the White House. He then sent a telegraph to the President telling him what he saw from the air. 

This was the beginning of the Union Army Balloon Corps with Lowe as the Chief Aeronaut. He then set about developing stronger and higher quality balloons that were needed for military service. He also developed mobile hydrogen gas generator wagons so that the balloons could be inflated and deployed more easily in the field. If they were near a large city like Washington or Richmond, the balloons could be inflated with city gas. The gas wagons were charged with diluted sulfuric acid and iron filings; when combined; the two created hydrogen. 

courtesy of the Library of Congress

The balloons were used for reconnaissance of Confederate positions, artillery spotting, aerial map making and the movement of troops. The aeronaut would then telegraph his observations to the commander or use signal flags to report back his findings.

courtesy of the Library of Congress

The balloons ranged in size. The small ones would hold only one man. But their advantage was that they were smaller and easier to transport. More importantly, they could be inflated faster and more easily. This would put them aloft in a shorter amount of time. The largest could carry up to 5 people. Although these larger balloons allowed for observers and telegraphers, it took much more gas and time for it inflate. 

courtesy of the Library of Congress

The balloons had the ability to soar up to 1000 feet above the landscape. The riders could see for miles around. They could see above the trees and topography. Also they could see above and through the smoke from the gunfire. This gave a decided advantage to the side that had the aerial observation.

courtesy of The Library of Congress

These balloons were meant to be tethered to the ground, since they did not have control of the balloon and its destination, if set free. They could easily follow the wind into enemy territory.Although tethered, the balloons were never in danger. They were positioned well behind enemy lines, and at an altitude of nearly 1000 feet, balloons were difficult targets for the opposing armies.

By the summer of 1863, when Lowe resigned, there had been over 3000 Union flights using six gas inflated balloons. The Eagle, Constitution, Washington, Union, Intrepid and Excelsior had served their country well. The Confederacy employed an unknown small amount of balloon flights, They feared them, and after the capture of one of their balloons, they chose to disband the use of the balloons.

There have never been documented proof that armies used these balloons for transportation, as this article suggests. We do know that Rosecrans was very technologically advanced and used "toys" such as this to increase the Union's strength. It makes sense that he would have continued the use of the balloons even after the Balloon Corp was disbanded. The article above was written a few months after Lowe resigned. 

And as far as we know, the balloons were never used by the war photographers and journalists. Why? Maybe because the balloons were always moving with the weather and photography in those days needed stillness. We may never know why. Transportation and photography would have been excellent reasons to have continued the balloons lofty rides. Those additions to the entire war could have changed history.

As far as James County history is involved, I would love to know what the inhabitants of the county thought when they saw the balloon flying overhead.

This has been a teaser into the Military Balloons of the Civil War. I have included a short 3 minute video of all of this for you, as well.