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.    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. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

August 2014 Meeting

James County Historical Society

will meet Sunday

August 3, 2014 at 2:30 pm


Ooltewah Methodist Church

The James County Historical Society will meet Sunday, August 3, at 2:30 pm in the Ooltewah
 Methodist Church in the Sunday School addition. 

The program will be presented by Larry Williams. The topic will be the “The Re-birth of a Model T Ford”.

The program will relate to old cars and to roads of the Old Jim County era.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Summer Retreat

After the Civil War, during the Reconstruction Period, several local retreats were built as vacation spots. These hotels were surrounding the many mineral springs at the base of White Oak Mountain.  Families from Hamilton, James and Bradley counties would get away and bath in the mineral spas and enjoy some time away from home. These mineral springs were touted to have many healing powers. Residents who were sick with rheumatism, skin infections, tuberculosis, or poor digestion,  prayed that these medicinal waters would help cure all of their health woes.

One such hotel, the Mineral Park, was built on Highway 11 at the base of the mountain, around 6 different springs. It was located about 3 miles up Old Lee Highway between Ooltewah and Cleveland. This 2 story hotel had one advantage that the other nearby retreats did not have. They were close to the railroad. While others were located some distance from the railway with a steep and uneven hill to climb; Mineral Park was erected near enough to the railway to allow a level plank walkway to the inn. The Southern Railroad that went between Cleveland and Chattanooga would stop in front of the resort and allow vacationers to get off. Hence, this park was easily accessible for the feeble and infirm.

from the archives of Mitch Kinder

Although the Park existed maybe as early as 1899, the Inn, built in 1910, contained 23 rooms and a dance pavilion. There were also several cabins on the property. Moderate rates and modern improvements were also the draw to this location. Below are some advertisements for the Park.

All of these advertisements were found in the Cleveland Public Library
Cleveland, Tennessee

The Springs were used for larger gatherings as early as 1906. Here you see The Independent Order of Odd Fellows, celebrating the founding of the IOOF and their own Lodge in Cleveland, at Mineral Springs Park . Other nearby Odd Fellow and Rebekah lodges were invited to the celebration.

from the archives of Mitch Kinder
Also, from 1910 -1912, Mineral Park was the site for the encampment of the Ocoee Baptist Association. There were more than 500 attendees.  A number of preachers and denominations took part in the 1910 program. The park worked diligently in preparations and construction of a tabernacle on the grounds for these events. This building was their pride and joy. The building must have highlighted the meeting, because the Association continued to come back for another two years.

In the beginning, the Mineral Springs Inn was owned by Charles P. DuVergery.  Dr. H. P. Fitch, while living on Grindstone Mountain, later purchased the Inn and made the improvements necessary to bring in the Ocoee Baptist Association. In 1931, O.J. Lawson, the Bradley County Sheriff, purchased some of the property, fixtures, barn, and houses and began to operate the Mineral Park property. In a effort to keep the resort flourishing, he remodeled many areas and converted the dance hall into a Sunday School room. He also planned to convert the hotel into a tourist home and summer resort for religious gatherings.

But sadly, the popular resort came to an end in March of 1933. A fire erupted in the south wing and spread throughout the entire structure, leaving the building in ashes. Later, the springs were covered to make room for utility lines. 

Becky Eaves, an East Brainerd resident, recalls going there as a child around the early 1930's.  She remembers a very large, enclosed pavilion that was used for picnics. She does not remember seeing any springs. Later, what was left of the park went into disrepair. Families no longer attended any activities there. Men began to go there to drink and fights became a common occurrence. It wasn't long before the park closed down permanently.

There is some controversy as to whether this park was ever in James County or not. It is currently in Bradley County, however, it is directly on the county border. As we know, the Bradley County and Hamilton County borders moved slightly during the James County Era. Where was the line drawn on that road? There are no maps in existence that would show the amount of detail necessary to determine that. However, the existing deeds for this property are in the Bradley courts. It appears as if this property, although directly on the county line, never was in James County.

If you have any information concerning Mineral Park Springs, please leave a comment or contact us and share your corrections or additions.

Mineral Park
Mineral Park Springs
Six Different Mineral Waters
Best Arsenic & Iron Water in the South

*postcard from the archives of Mary Hyde 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chattanooga Delta Workshop This Weekend

Have you signed up for the workshop this weekend. Now that we know the weather is going to be gorgeous, there are no more excuses. If you haven't registered yet, you can come Saturday morning and register at the door. Just $25/$30 will take care of all of your genealogy needs.

We have an awesome line-up covering a broad range of topics including; genealogy, history and methodology. We should be able to meet everybody's needs no matter what your skill set is,  a beginner, intermediate or advanced researcher.

8:30-9:30        Registration
9:30-10:30      Linda Mines- "The War of 1812 and Beyond in Tennessee"
10:30-11:30    Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, CGL - "I Swear Allegiance" - Naturalization Records:                                                                                     1790-1950
11:30-1:00      Lunch
1:00-2:00        Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, CGL -  "More than Land Descriptions: Treasures                                                                                                   Among The  Deeds"
2:00-3:00        Debra Leining - "Tracing your Family History using the The Family History Center                                                              and  Family Search"

No need to worry about lunch. We have you covered! If you want it...Ooltewah has it. Ooltewah has every fast food restaurant that you can think of. If you want to sit down and discuss everything that you learned during the morning sessions, then Ooltewah fills that bill too!  When you can not eat any more, come back, buy a James County Book and settle in for the afternoon sessions.

We look forward to seeing this weekend ! Come join us at the Ooltewah United Methodist Church located at 6131 Relocation Way, behind the Bi Lo.

You don't want to miss it!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Football vs. Genealogy

As we all know, this is the Big Weekend for football fans. It's Super Bowl weekend. GO BRONCOS! You might ask why I care who wins. I am not particularly a big football fan. So why does it matter to me? Well, I'll tell you why. The Broncos have Tennessee's beloved son, Peyton Manning, as their quarterback. If you live in Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee during the Peyton Manning era, as I did (yes, I see you doing the math in your head to see how old I am) then your blood runs deep orange. Peyton Manning has always been the one to paint it orange. A UT alumni will always smile when they hear his name mentioned or see his face on the television set. GO PEYTON! I should say.

Now comes the next question. Why am I posting this on a genealogy/history site? I'm so glad you asked. I have attached a link with the family ancestry of the Manning family. Archie Manning, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning are names that go back many generations. As genealogist, we all are taught about naming patterns, and this practice is still being used in our generation. Even in today's society, people still care about their ancestry. Isn't that awesome!

This is just an example how one can incorporate genealogy and football at the same time.  Now, maybe you can get something done on your research and not feel bad about it, while your husband is watching TV.
GO PEYTON! But, just keep chanting, GO PEYTON!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Winter 2014 Meeting

Well, the entire holiday season has come and gone. Mine, of course, began just before Halloween and has just now ended. It is now time to say goodbye to the holidays and welcome in the new year.

A good place to start will be the next historical society meeting. How many of you feel the same way?
We have another good speaker for you this quarter. His name is Bob George from the Bradley County Historical Society. He will be speaking on the history of Cleveland and its Revolutionary Heroes.Their most important hero was Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, a commander at the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolution.

I must admit that I don't know anything about this. I am looking forward to what he has to say. I just love History! Hope to see you there!

Ooltewah United Methodist Church in Ooltewah at 2:30 pm on Sunday, February 2, 2014.