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I did not set out to write a multi-part series on the Blue Ridge Mountain evictions, but as the original post became longer and longer, I decided to split it into parts, all of which I will post in upcoming days. Be sure you read parts can you buy Lyrica at walmart, cheap beer lyrics, and buy me a boat lyrics.

My Blue Ridge Mountain Home Eviction: Part 4

Blue Ridge long

When things are our own, they tend to become a little more valuable, a little more beautiful, a little more precious. Just like we believe with our whole heart that our team is better, even if the score shows different, and we will defend them, and our belief in their superiority, to the end.

This would be key, of course, when the men from Wbuy Lyrica canadaashington came calling on my Blue Ridge ancestors with their bags of pennies and chewing gum, thinking a few treats for the kids, a few dollars for their parents, and a rational appeal would lure them from the land.

They thought it only logical that these people would want to be upwardly mobile, to move to a newer home on more fertile land. But they would be wrong. It would not be that easy.

Mountain living isn’t for the lazy or unspirited. Up there the winds howl louder, and colder. The ground is nearly impenetrable, the few inches of soil stony and too young to be nutritious to non-native plants, and at any rate little more than highly acidic ground leaves or needles.

Temperatures fall about 5.5 degrees for every 1,000 feet higher in elevation, making growing seasons shorter and crops smaller. cheap Lyrica canada

Water is a constant source of worry, whether from solid bedrock that makes a dug well impossible, life-giving springs and streams that occasionally run dry, or life-sucking drought. Winters are cold, sometimes bitterly so, and neighbors and supplies that must be bought are, for better or worse, miles away.

I’ve read that the Scots-Irish and the Germans took to the Blue Ridge because the lower, more fertile land was all taken. If bottom land was available, it was at prices these mostly poor immigrants couldn’t afford.

So they came to the mountains, where only the hearty would thrive, and who were more hearty than the Scots-Irish and Germans? They carved their homes from the mountainsides and began life anew in the Blue Ridge, and after a few years or a few generations, could not even imagine living anywhere else.where to buy Lyrica cream

Work on a mountain farm is constant, as it is on any farm. But the results are more meager. Our ancestors could grow little past what was necessary to feed the children, though some years there was enough for a pair of new shoes for each of them.

Maybe the mountaineers didn’t work harder than we do. Everyone I know works hard. But the mountaineers’ work was more desperate. If my friends don’t work hard, they can’t afford $200 dinners once or twice a week. If the mountaineers didn’t work hard, they wouldn’t bring in enough food to last the winter. If my friends don’t work hard, they can’t afford their $400 shoes. If the mountaineers didn’t work hard, they couldn’t afford any shoes.

But to the hearty souls who carved into Green Mountain or Piney Mountain or Grindstone Mountain, this was not dispiriting. My grandmother, Florence Collier Merica, spoke of how hard she and her sisters worked on their parents’ farm on the mountain above Naked Creek. cheap date lyrics

They, as I’ve written elsewhere, “hoed corn all day and danced all night.” They looked forward to “visiting day,” when neighbors from over the mountain, or from the next hollow up, would come a’visiting. Each family put out food, for every guest to those homes, invited or not, must be offered food. It was the Blue Ridge way.  You never knew who would come. They’d stay a while, catch up on news and gossip, then move on down the trail.

Yes, there was time for dance, and fun, and love, and they did all that. A cousin related at several points by both blood and marriage, Bela Lam, who went on to record his music in New Yorkbuy you a drank lyrics and Richmond, played music at their parties, as did others in this music-loving neck of the woods.

One year my grandfather cooked up the idea of a Halloween party to keep the kids from going out and getting in trouble, and asked Bela to play. It worked. A different cousin collected folk song sheet music and lyrics, and had a vast store of them in an upstairs bedroom of my great grandmother’s home. I wish I knew what became of them when she died.

On Saturday nights neighbors would come to my grandparents’ home because they had the community’s first radio. It was in the parlor, and my grandfather took chairs from the dining room and set them around.My grandmother put a couple of straw mattresses and blankets in the corner, and that’s where the children sat.

Later in the evening, after Amos and Andy, and well into the Grand Ole’ Opera, the children drifted off to sleep. After the show was over, their parents gently picked them up and carried them home. My mother’s mother let her sleep there the entire night sometimes.

Their home was farther out from the mountain’s base, down Naked Creek and around the bend at Fleeburg. Thbuy Lyrica europeis is where Florence Collier and Thomas Merica built their home when they got married and came down from the mountain.

Even before the park evictions, most of the homes were not high up, they were in the greater valley, or gathered at the lower elevations, inside the hollows that cleave the mountains, the houses clustered there as if they all slipped down the mountainsides and came to rest nearly on top of each other at the bottom, dotted on opposite sides of a rough trail, or better, a streambed.

Even deep within the mountains, most residents lived in the hollows: Hensley Hollow, Weaver Hollow, Turner Hollow, Crow Hollow, Allen Hollow, Fox Hollow.

Around them, these farmers planted crops and gardens in the more fertile topsoil that flowed down from the mountaintops with every creek and cloudburst.

But whether on the mountain or in the hollows, they raised corn and beans, planted orchards of apples and plums, raised their famiZerkelImagelies and buried their old, and often their young too, in cemeteries just a few steps away. Midwives delivered babies, herbalists consulted on medicine, and occasionally, the fortune teller up in the woods near Waynesboro read nervous young women’s futures.

My great grandmother used mustard plaster for colds, wild cherry bark for coughs, baking soda for stomachaches, and a little brandy in hot water for winter’s chill. To this day, I use cherry cough drops, baking soda in water for stomachache, and warm brandy (without the water) for a deep chill.

The mountaineers supplemented their diets with food gleaned from the forest. Chestnuts, berries, morels, venison, squirrel, raccoon, horseradish, sassafrass. I think of horseradish as a relish or lightly-applied sauce, but my mother told me of a young poor girl she saw who had nothing but a bag of wild horseradish to eat for lunch. She never forgot that girl, and now I don’t think I will either.

In some ways buy Lyrica from mexicomy Blue Ridge ancestors and their neighbors lived their lives nearly free from outside contact. That wasn’t unusual for many communities, mountain or not, before rail or the automobile. But changing ways was inevitable once the auto started to become popular.

That kind of progress can’t be stopped, and neither can the change that comes with it. Even if the government didn’t take their lands, change would have started happening more and more rapidly for my Blue Ridge ancestors, and maybe their culture would have been lost by now just the same. We’ll never know for sure.

What we do know is that hindsight is everything. Even the Park Service wishes now that the men and women who came to record how these Blue Ridge people lived would have hcheap flights lyricsad more respect for their customs and folkways; would have preserved the way of life as best they could, because now it is irretrievably lost.

But the park builders had their deadlines, and so we can never go back to see our great grandparents’ homes. But the shiny side of that coin is that today we can see the mountains as they were when our fifth and sixth great grandparents first saw them and decided, “Here we will live.” And, oh, did they ever!

Who else can say that?!

You can read Part Five of My Blue Ridge Mountain Home Eviction can you buy Lyrica from canada. Or access the whole series can i buy generic Lyrica. To make sure you don’t miss any installments, go to the “subscribe” form at the top of this page.

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I did not set out to write a multi-part series on the Blue Ridge Mountain evictions, but as the original post became longer and longer, I decided to split it into parts, all of which I will post in upcoming days. Be sure you read parts Lyrica cheap price and buy me a rose lyrics. I also want to thank Jon Bilous for the use of his exquisite Blue Ridge photos. You can see his entire Blue Ridge portfolio cheap sunglasses lyrics.

My Blue Ridge Mountain Home Eviction: Part 3

buy the stars lyricsMost Americans blow away from their family trees like fall leaves in a high wind. They drift to wherever jobs and prevailing winds take them, commence flying the local colors and rooting for their new local team, and forget any loyalties they ever had elsewhere, remembering family only as a holiday obligation.

But we’re not all like that, are we? I was born of a 10th generation Virginian, my mother’s Meador ancestors first arriving in Virginia from England in 1636. They’ve now stayed in Virginia for 378 years and counting. In fact, the family name moved more than the family did, morphing from Meador to Meadows sometime over their first two centuries here.

By 1743 the Meadows family moved from Virginia’s coastal plains at the Rappahannock to the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, on Hightop Mountain, near Swift Run Gap, and thus I was born not just to a 10th generation Virginian, but to a fifth generation Blue Ridgian. Indeed, seven of my mother’s eight great grandparents were from those mountains, the origins of the eighth being so far unaccounted for.Blue Ridge - Big Meadows - Jon Bilous

This is not unusual in the Blue Ridge. In fact, it’s typical. What is unusual is that my mother moved all the way to California. It’s unusual because most people born to the Blue Ridge don’t leave. It’s unusual because she is the only one of nine children to leave. It’s unusual because… here it comes… 94 percent of those born in Appalachia (of which the Blue Ridge is part) are descended from families that have been there since the American Revolution, five, six generations ago.

I am from California, where everyone is from somewhere else, and so to me that is an astonishing testament to the bonds that tie my mother’s family and other Blue Ridge natives to their homes and families. I should add that I am not just astonished, I am envious. My childhood home is gone, vanished, my clan disbursed like dandelion seeds in the wind to take root elsewhere. From six or more related households within a few miles of each other in Encinitas and Leucadia, California, we blew outward to Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, the High Sierras, Alaska, and elsewhere. No one is left in our little hometown. Even our home is gone, torn down to make way for something bigger.

cheap trick lyricsWhat are these ties that bind some so firmly to family and place? Why are Blue Ridge natives (for I’m interested only in Blue Ridge natives, not Appalachians in general) so different from the rest of the country? I found a Facebook page that’s open only to those whose ancestors are from that one small area of Virginia. It’s an active site and its members are amazingly knowledgeable about their and even their neighbors’ ancestors. I’ve never seen that anywhere else. They are historians, and clearly love their work. They are also clearly proud of their ancestors. There are certain surnames that have prestige, the honor of a long history in the Blue Ridge. The Breedens, Lams, Eppards, Turners, Deans, Meadows, Hammers. And some, like the Hensleys and Shifflets, are genealogical royalty, their families spread across those mountains for centuries, like history’s icing.

We’ve all seen people who proudly announce their ancestors are this president, that king, some other inventor or explorer. When telling you, they have a pleased expression, as if thinking that genetic connection makes them smarter, or more important in the scheme of history. But it’s different in the Blue Ridge. When those descendents proudly point to a photo of their ancestor, you’re likely to find yourself looking at a worn-out looking man or woman dressed in old, maybe tattered clothes, maybe sitting in front of a barely-standing shack in a dirt yard.

Lyrica to buyI get that. Those are my ancestors too, at least on my mother’s side. Within this Blue Ridge genealogy group on a Facebook page, I have that same pride. The blood of these strong, determined, American pioneers runs through my veins. They climbed the mountains, hacked their homes from the wilderness, raised strong families, fended for themselves, helped their neighbors, never infringed on anyone else and asked only to never be infringed upon. Their clothes were raggedy, but yours would be too if you had just made America. While Thomas Jefferson and John Adams may have been the brains that created this country, these people were the backbone that gave America its strength and character.

They made their homes in the mountains of Virginia, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen on the five continents I’ve traveled, and so grand a place that their descendents have stayed through half a dozen generations, staying as close to those original Blue Ridge mountain homes as they can. They’re bound to that place by some undefinable force. Way out here in California I feel it too, pulling me back to a place I’ve never lived.

When I was growing up I would sometimes say that my mother was from the South. That gross inaccuracy always rankled her, and she would correct me, “I am not from the South, I am a Virginian.” That is an important distinction, something she’s always been proud of. She is equally proud to be from Shenandoah, and if there were some sort of shorthand way of saying it so others would understand, I’m sure she would proudly tell people she is from close to where her grandparents and great grandparents and great great and great great great grandparents lived their entire lives, back to five generations ago.

Unlike the 94 percent who remain there all their lives, she didn’t want to stay. She wanted all the experiences a bigger world could give her. But she took Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge with her, and then she passed them on to me. Like I say, I have Blue Ridge in my blood. I feel richer for it. And who knows, maybe some day I will live there.

You can read Part Four of My Blue Ridge Mountain Home Eviction Lyrica tablets buy online. Or access the whole series can i buy generic Lyrica. To make sure you don’t miss any installments, go to the “subscribe” form at the top of this page.

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I did not set out to write a multi-part series on the Blue Ridge Mountain evictions, but as the original post became longer and longer, I decided to split it into parts, all of which I will post in upcoming days. You can see Part Onebuy Lyrica online europe.

My Blue Ridge Mountain Home Eviction: Part 2

buy Lyrica 300 mg onlineOther states claim the Blue Ridge, especially North Carolina, but to me they belong to Virginia, and particularly to the Shenandoah Valley, and specifically to that section that lies between Massanutten and the Blue Ridge, the Page Valley. That’s mine. I own not a bit of it, but it is in my blood. More accurately, then, I am it’s.

A view of the Valley’s softly rolling hills, farms dotting the landscape, river glistening like a slow waving sparkler down the Massanutten side, a low sun Shenandoah Valley5casting long shadows from its woodlands, that endless green like a carpet of rumpled velvet, and those blue-tinged mountains beyond, brings a tear to my eye for such beauty.

My family came into the Blue Ridge hundreds of years ago, some from the Virginia Colony, some along the Great Wagon Road that carried Scots-Irish and German immigrants to their promised lands from Pennsylvania to Virginia and beyond.

I could write of so many ancestors who lived in those mountains, like my fourth great grandfather, John Dietz; or my third great grandfathers, Johannes Markey, Ellis Turner, and Zachariah McDaniel; or my second great grandfathers, Mitchell Meadows and David Turner. But I’ll follow the trail of Francis Meadows, my fifth great grandfather, who came from Orange County, Virginia and was in the Blue Ridge by 1743, one of the earliest settlers, and built his home on the side of Hightop Mountain, near Swift Run Gap.buy Lyrica 75 mg online

Francis was the fifth generation of Meadows’ born in the Colony, the first being Thomas Meador, born in Virginia Colony in 1638. Somewhere along the line the Meadors became the Meadows, and it stuck.

The mountains stuck, too. Francis’s great grandfather owned something like 5,000 acres near the Rappahannock River out on the coastal plains, but I get the impression that Francis came to the Blue Ridge with scant wealth. He owned his property, bought from the original land patent holder, and married a woman who was said to have fought off a bear with a broom. Their family grew up, got married, and stayed in the mountains, as did their children, and their children’s children.

Five generations later, the Meadows were still in the Blue Ridge. It was in their blood, as it is still in mine, though greatly diluted.

buy Lyrica overnightIt was undoubtedly a hard life, and theirs was a poor family, living on a small farm attached to the side of a mountain. I don’t know why they stayed there. The soil quality was far inferior to the valley below, the weather more extreme, more changeable. Crops didn’t grow well in the rocky soil. Seasons were shorter because of their elevation and the 5.5 degrees that temperatures drop per 1,000 feet in the Blue Ridge. For better or worse, town was several miles away, making it hard to bring in supplies. If they had a cow at all they were lucky, and if their children got a new pair of shoes a year they were fortunate.

Francis Meadows rock wall Swift Run Gap 1700sMary Meadows, daughter of Mitchell Meadows and great great granddaughter of Francis Meadows, was born in 1864 in the Blue Ridge, just up from Jollett Hollow, which sits on the eastern edge of the great Valley of Virginia, the Shenandoah. There she grew up, and there she married William Durrett Collier, whose people also came to the mountains early.

They could have left the mountains. After the marriage, Durrett (as he was called) could have grabbed Mary’s hand, looked over to her with a gleam in his eye, said, “Come on,” and run with her down the mountain, through the hollow, along Naked Creek and into Elkton or Shenandoah. They could have found a train to Richmond, or Newport News, or Chicago, or San Francisco.buy Lyrica tablets

They could have gone to the booming industrial centers of the North and found factory jobs, or followed the Oklahoma land rush to make a new start out West. They could have left that place forever. People did. But they didn’t. They stayed.

I don’t know why they stayed, if it was for love of the spectacular scenery, love of community with mountain people like them, love of communion with the mountains and forest, or was just all they knew how to do. Or maybe it was that inability to make change that befalls families who must work so hard that they don’t have the time or energy to even think of anything else. They are trapped by hardship into further hardship, an endless cycle that feels hopeless, and so you lose any hope you once had for a better life.

I think that plenty of outsiders believe that’s the case, that to see a family living in a log house chunked with mud, children barefoot, clothes stained, beds of hard pallet, that family must be unhappy. But they would be wrong. Money can indeed buy episodes of happiness, but it can’t buy contentment or belonging.

From all indications, Durrett and Mary kept their hope and kept their humor. They worked hard, played some, brought home the bacon, paid their bills, had their ups and downs, and went about their Steve Hajjar valley4days like their parents and their grandparents and really, like you and me, a version of the American life, if not the American dream. They raised five girls and a boy, all hard-working but fun-loving youngsters who, my mother quotes her mother, Durrett and Mary’s youngest, as saying, “hoed corn all day and danced all night.”

So there they lived, and there they stayed, five generations into a Blue Ridge dynasty, until one day they walked down from the mountain with all their belongings, chased off by the powers of eminent domain when Franklin Roosevelt wanted to create a national park of the Blue Ridge.

buy Lyrica belfastThanks to Jan Hensley for her photos of the Francis Meadows homestead.

You can read Part Three of My Blue Ridge Mountain Home Eviction buy Lyrica cheap. Or access the whole series can i buy generic Lyrica. To make sure you don’t miss any installments, go to the “subscribe” form at the top of this page.

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I did not set out to write a multi-part series on the Blue Ridge Mountain evictions, but as the original post became longer and longer, I decided to split it into parts, all of which I will post in upcoming days.

My Blue Ridge Mountain Home Eviction: Part 1

buy Lyrica 300 mg onlineMy great grandparents lived above the Shenandoah Valley, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, a stretch of peaks, gaps, glens, hollows, creeks, coves, falls, meadows, forests, thickets, and woodland that reaches from Georgia to Pennsylvania. The mountains are like frozen swells of the ocean, billions of tons of rock and soil blown into soft curves by an eternity of wind and rain.

They’re the oldest mountains in the world, and there’s just not that much left of them. These days they rise only about 2,000 feet from the Shenandoah Valley floor, hardly an awe-inspiring height, and about what we out West would call a foothill. But while their height from sea level, 6,685 or so in their bare feet, isn’t inspiring, their serene beauty is.

Blue Ridge Dave AllenThey are gentle, welcoming, not at all intimidating, as are our Sierras that separate California from the rest of the country like a knife edge.

That’s what age does; it rounds our edges, softens our need to be the biggest or the toughest, slows us so we can see others, then opens our arms to welcome them.

Hundreds of years ago early settlers named this mountain range the Blue Ridge. It’s a beautiful name, and exactly the right one. The mist that shrouds its hillsides and hangs in its valleys colors the mountains in shades from dark sapphire to pale azure. Like undulating ribbons they lie in sequence, one overlapping the other, until they simply disappear into distance’s pale mist and you can see them no more.

All the mountains’ detail, the trees and rock outcrops, meadows and streams, fade into blue outlines of mountains. You can swear at times they are transparent, how the mist rises to leave nothing but the shape of a ridgeline in deeper blue than what lies either nearer or farther beyond it. Mona_Lisa,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci

In the 1400s Leonardo da Vinci noticed a blue haze hanging above the hills of Tuscany. He painted it, and the art historians called those backgrounds hesitant or insubstantial, that he painted them in haze so as not to divert focus from the central theme.

But it was not just a technique, it was a feature of Leonardo’s beloved Tuscan landscape. Da Vinci speculated in his notebooks that the blue haze might have been caused by minute and nearly invisible mists of water emitted from the trees.

There are two other mountain ranges in the world named for their blue mists, one in Australia and the other in Jamaica, and both named the Blue Mountains.

They and the Blue Ridge are all treed with woody plant species that emit their essential oils into the air around them. Known as isoprene, the oil creates the blue-tinged haze that give all three ranges their name.Leonardo_da_Vinci_attributed_-_Madonna_Litta

There’s debate as to the reason the trees release their isoprene, but this we know: There is a purpose. Nature is economical. Nothing is given or taken without good reason.

One hypothesis is that isoprene protects the photosynthesis of tender leaves from heat stress. Yet once released, isoprene mixes with chemicals in the atmosphere to create ozone, which is harmful to the trees.

Science cannot yet explain this costly tradeoff. Perhaps if the genius painter Leonardo Da Vinci were around today he could. Some surmise that the blue haze he wrote of that hung over Tuscany was isoprene.

No matter. The beauty of the mist is not in its science, but in what it does to our souls when we view the mountains through its filtered light. Blue Ridge shortThere is a profound silence telling you that secrets hide here, covered by mists and time and the forests that reclaim their pristine past.

The secrets belong to our ancestors, those hearty people who traversed the ridges and crawled through the underbrush to finally come out on a flat or a meadow where they would build a home, a Blue Ridge home they never planned to leave.

You can read Part Two of My Blue Ridge Mountain Home Eviction buy Pregabalin 75 mg capsule. Or access the whole series can i buy generic Lyrica. To make sure you don’t miss any installments, go to the “subscribe” form at the top of this page.

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While writing a series about the evictions of Blue Ridge Mountains residents to make way for the Shenandoah National Park, which you can see buy Pregabalin usa, I came across a unique book, Burnaby’s Travels Through North America, which relates the Reverend Andrew Burnaby’s impressions of America in 1759.

You can find copy of the entire book, from its 1904 printing, on the wonderful website, archive.org. The book is here. Burnaby’s feelings for the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah are represented perfectly by the exquisite photos of Jon Bilous, below. You can see all his Shenandoah photos cheap sunglasses lyrics.

The wide-eyed reverend from the Church of England toured Virginia and other parts of the British Colonies, keeping careful notes of what he saw and experienced. From landing on these shores at the Chesapeake Bay, he traveled with Colonel George Washington, who showed the British gentleman around the Old Dominion. Of Shenandoah and the Shenandoah River, he wrote:

It is exceedingly romantic and beautiful, forming great variety of falls, and is so transparent, that you may see the smallest pebble at the depth of eight or ten feet.

Codorus Park PA - Jon BilousOf the Blue Ridge, he wrote:

When I got to the top, I was inexpressibly delighted with the scene which opened before me. Immediately under the mountain, which was covered with chamoedaphnes in full bloom, was a most beautiful river: beyond this an extensive plain, diversified with every pleasing object that nature can exhibit.”

Shenandoah and Massanutten - Jon BilousAnd of Shenandoahans, he wrote:

I could not but reflect with pleasure on the situation of these people; and think if there is such a thing as happiness in this life, that they enjoy it. Far from the bustle of the world, they live in the most delightful climate, and richest soil imaginable; they are everywhere surrounded with beautiful prospects and sylvan scenes; lofty mountains, transparent streams, falls of water, rich valleys, and majestic woods; the whole interspersed with an infinite variety of flowering shrubs, constitute the landscape surrounding them: they are subject to few diseases; are generally robust; and live in perfect liberty: they are ignorant of want, and acquainted with but few vices. Their inexperience of the elegancies of life precludes any regret that they possess not the means of enjoying them but they possess what many princes would give half their dominions for, health, content, and tranquillity of mind.”

Blue Ridge - Big Meadows - Jon BilousI couldn’t agree more.

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Her Careless Naming of Human Property

Slaves

I’m venturing toe-deep into the subject of slavery. I cannot even begin to write eloquently about that atrocity; too many people have said it better than I ever could, and I don’t want to dive into it if I can’t do the subject — and my feelings about it — justice. So I will only write of this one, brief encounter I just had with historical slavery, and the visceral revulsion that came over me.

By simply being aware of the daily news you become aware of the vastness of modern slavery. Sex slavery, the bondage of smuggled illegal workers, child soldiers, and debtors’ slavery are all rampant problems worldwide. Not long ago I learned of more than 100 slaves who were held for a year inside a warehouse in Los Angeles, less than 60 miles from me, and forced to work as garment sewers. And only a month ago a woman of foreign royalty, living not ten miles from me, was deported for holding domestic slaves here.

Whipped backSlavery is illegal in every country in the world, but not so long ago it wasn’t. Emancipation was only 57 years old when my mother was born, and she remembers the community’s animosity for a woman known as “Granny,” because she had been a slaveholder. That community, by the way, was in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the South’s breadbasket, and the place burned to the ground by General Sheridan’s Northern troops during the Civil War. These small farmers, Mennonites, Methodists, and United Brethren, which included my mother’s family, opposed slavery, and some opposed all war as well.

But nothing about slavery has touched me as viscerally as this has. I just read the will of my fifth great grandmother and found that she was a slave owner, and it gave me the shivers. That will gives proof that there was slave ownership in my family, that it was this close to me — this close to being my generation’s responsibility.  If things had gone differently with the Civil War, those slaves might still be in bondage, five or six generations later. What would I do?

Elizabeth Newton Berryman, like her husband before her, was a slave owner, and in her will she writes of the distribution of her human property to her heirs in the same breath as the disposal of an “old silver tankard.”

She lists over 50 slaves, including, “Old Negro Jack and Grace and their ten Children.” For each of the bequests of slaves, she begins, “I give to my son,” then lists the slaves’ names, ending, “to him and his heirs and assigns, forever,” meaning that the son and his heirs will own those slaves and their children and their children’s children forever. A family eternally damned to live as possessions, like cows or pigs or old silver tankards. Buying-Slaves-Havana-Cuba-1837_jpg

She writes that two of her daughters do not receive any slaves, because, “my daughter Sarah Douglas has had her part of the negroes and my daughter Katharine Vowles has had her part of the Negroes.”

I can only hope that my ancestors were not cruel, though slavery itself is the ultimate cruelty, and so any leniency heaped on slavery is of scant solace. Even now I feel a ridiculous and hopelessly useless anger at the will’s careless naming of human property. This is the will; the bold is my addition:

In the Name of God Amen I Elizabeth Berryman of the County of Westmoreland being weak in body but of sound and disposing mind and memory do constitute and appoint this my last Will & testament in manner following. Whereas my husband Benjamin Berryman by his last Will authorized me to make distribution of all his slaves to his six sons or the survivors of them and whereas three of the said Sons viz Newton, John and Henry died before they came of age and was not possesst of any of their fathers estate and whereas William, James and Maximilian are the surviving sons I give all the slaves with their increase to be divided as follows, Advertisement of Slave Dealer, Charleston, South Carolina, 1835_jpgImprimis I give to my son William Berryman Old Negro Jack and Grace and their ten Children and bob which in his possession and Sall which I delivered to him as part of his fathers estate some years past but being a little Negro girl, that attended me I desired my son William to let her stay and wait on me which is now with me, as also I give him Rachel and Nel & Beck their Mother, to him and his heirs and assigns forever and allso my fathers Old Silver Tankard without a lid and also my fathers coat of arms. Af (&?) alsSlave houseo I give to my said son William Berryman all the lands I bought of Cossom Bennett in the County of Westmoreland which I have given him by a deed and do confirm to him his heirs and assigns forever.

Item I give to my son James Berryman, Negro George, Jack, Anthony, Ben, Aaron, Suke, Nace, Mary, Tim, Ned, Jude, Peg and her youngest Child Gerrat, Winney, and Bettey to him his heirs and assigns forever.

Item I give to my son Maximilian, fourteen Negroes which he has in his possession as also Salley, Lilla and Frank which are yet in my possession, to him his heirs and assigns forever.Slave Auction.GIF

Item my will and desire is that my stock and household stuff of what kind soever Tobacco Corn Money etc shall be equally divided between my three children that is to say William James and Katherine Vowles.

Item my son Benjamin Berryman had his part of his fathers estate before his death, Item my daughter Rose Taliaferro had her part of her fathers estate before his death.

Item my Daughter Frances Foot has her part since her fathers death according to his Will and gave a receipt for it.slave-ship-loading-plan

Item my daughter Sarah Douglas has had her part of the negroes and my daughter Katharine Vowles  has had her part of the Negroes, the reason of my giving son William Seventeen Negroes and my son James but sixteen is because some negroes that my son William is possest of are very Deficient for old Jack & Grace are almost past labour, and one negro fellow with One eye and one hand, and another cripled Lad of very little use, therefore I think the division I have made will make them equal according to quantity and quality.

Item I appoint my sons William and James Berryman executors to this my last will and testament.

In withness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 14th day of June 1762 –
Elizabeth E Berrymen (her mark)Man and brother

Signed Sealed and delivered In presence of Gerrard Blackstone Causeen
Josias Causeen
Thomas Clark
William Staples
At a court held for Westmoreland County the 22d day of February 1763,

This last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Berryman decd was proved according to law by the Oaths of Josias Causeen and William Staples . Witnesses thereto and Ordered to be recorded and on the motion of said William Berryman One of the executors named in the said Will who made Oath according to law and together with Willoughby Newton his Security entered into and acknowledged Bond with Condition as the law directs Certificate is granted him for Obtaining a probate thereof in due form liberty being reserved to James Berryman the Other executor named in the said Will to join in the probate when he shall think fit -TesteAuction poster

Nothing could feel more foreign than owning another human being, and yet that chapter of our nation’s history was only 150 years ago, so near our time that the last group of Civil War veterans lived until the 1950s; so near our time that my own mother knew former slave owners.

It’s doubtful that, even without the Civil War, slavery would have lived into our time. But it’s not impossible. Look how unsanctioned slavery thrives still, a tragic disgrace.

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Not a Free Spirit, Yet His Mind Wandered Free

You can see Chapters 1 and 2 of this story here, here, and here.

FRANCIS OTTO EGGLESTON: Chapter 4

Francis Eggleston spent his childhood on an Ohio farm, in an era when it was common for parents to take their children out of school after the fourth grade, or to skip sending them to school altogether.

OneRoomSchoolhouseFrancis’s family was different. For grammar school they sent their two boys to the “District School – all in one room from primer to as big as the teacher, but less learned.”

In his biography, he wrote that, “It meant a walk of more than one mile, but there was commonly company much of the way.

“The school house,” he went on, “was a frame building painted white. It was heated by a ‘box’ stove and when you were cold you held up your hand and asked if you could ‘go to the stove.’Harvey's Grammar

As with nearly every school of the time, “The curriculum consisted of reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic and geography and that crazy business of grammar, in which you parsed sentences after the ideas of the teacher and ‘Harvey’s Grammar’ – sentences about as scientific as a beech and maple woods.

Still, “It was good exercise for one’s brain cells. Once in a month you ‘spoke pieces’ and so learned to use your voice. There was singing if the teacher was a singer but no organ or piano.”

Twinsburg Institute original school buildingAfter this Francis and his brother both “went away to school,” to the Twinsburg Institute, a noted college preparatory school run by education reformer Samuel Bissell.

Though he never said specifically in his biography, Francis made it clear that he was not cut out for farm workand that, “I was a book worm of sorts from early days. A reader of the poets and dramatists; of Emerson, Theo Parker, Carlyle, Ruskin, and the like.” 

He was eager for all education, and entered one of the territory’s several colleges, Oberlin College, “at 16 or 17.”After reading Emerson and Carlyle and Ruskin, the poet, the dramatists, “and the like,” he was eager for more. His own reading could take him only to a certain level, and after that he needed a teacher to help him decide what it all means, and where to go from there.

But instead of finding it a temple to mental expansion, he found the university constricting, a place where a young man’s intellectual explorations were not encouraged, but were directed toward a set of values and beliefs.Oberlin 1906.pngNot that he believed any other university would be an improvement. “The educational enterprise as conducted in colleges in those days,” he wrote, “was that of channelization of the human mind — much like the ‘breaking’ of a colt to work in harness.”

Francis was a responsible young man who bowed to duty always, yet his mind wandered free and formed its own ideas, respective of prevailing doctrine or authority. He formed his own interpretations of the world, and was not easily subdued.

“I have always been a seeker,” he wrote, “rather than a safe deposit compartment.”

It’s because of this free-spiritedness that his life was a succession of one radical change after another. But because he was also dutiful, he tried to be a free spirit within the confines of the roles his place in society dictated.

Francis O. Eggleston, circa 1883

Francis O. Eggleston, circa 1883

As a son, a husband, and a father, his roles were clearly defined. How, then, could he find space for his spirit to soar within those defined edges?

“I readily inclined to the actor’s calling,” he wrote, “but human nature cuts many capers and we all have our own temperamental twists…. I was not so much a scholar as I was a lad for special occasions that called me out.”

He quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Our moods do not believe in each other.”

After matriculation at Oberlin he taught school for several years, but, as was written in his obituary 70 years later, “the pedagogic life was not to his complete satisfaction, and he entered Western Reserve University, from which he obtained a medical degree.”

He then married the one and only sweetheart he ever courted, and ventured from Ohio to Knoxville, Kentucky to begin life as an adult.

There, Francis Eggleston started his adult life as a physician, but after practicing medicine for three years he decided against continuing on in the profession.

“As for medicine and surgery,” he wrote, “I tire of butchery as an occupation.

“You never know what you will run into, the disintegrated flesh and scattered remnants of humanity make me prefer less sensitive elements.”

Indeed, he was too sensitive to practice medicine, and so he went back to Oberlin College to study a subject through which his spirit could soar, theology. He emerged a Methodist minister, and served for many years in churches in Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Francis Eggleston was certain in his beliefs, though those beliefs were always evolving. He constantly questioned beliefs, and especially, systems of belief, which is what brought him from Methodism to Unitarianism. He was a devoted student of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who at that time was famously Unitarian.

In his autobiography I found many references to the evolution of ideas, and of things. This must have been hard to reconcile with the life and duties of a Methodist minister, and perhaps it was part of the reason he evolved from that religion to Unitarianism.

FOE Eggleston bio page excerpt - change but cannot dieDarwin’s On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, yet it wasn’t until the 20th century that Darwin’s explanation of life was widely accepted by even the scientific community.

I don’t know if Grandfather accepted Darwin’s theory the first time he read it, or if he had to come to terms with it slowly, but at least by 1940 he was all in. He wrote:

“A changeless world could not exist — except as a dead moon. It could no have life even in its lowest forms. It may be said of all living things…. Only those who were alive before 1860 can measure the advances in many fundamental ideas and loss of fears from that remote period to 1941…. Mankind has advanced even more from the loss of superstitions than from the gains of positive elements…. I must accept this faith of human science or life will dwindle and hope perish.”

In another place, he wrote:

“Only a living world could be self-existent, or creative and progressive. The static conception of creation was of necessity mechanistic. Life is not for a moment inactive or finished. Such a world would contradict itself. In a living world man himself becomes a project: an enterprise. Society, made up of living persons, becomes a major project of measureless scope and infinite hope.

“We know now what a biologic continuum is and how it acts in our natures. Science is very explicit on this point. We do carry along germs of inheritance generation after generation — vital parts of ‘what we were before we became ourselves.'”

And in another place:

“I began life orthodox, and end a naturalist.”

“…the world is infinitely unfinished…life must be progress. The businessman may aspire to a competence and retirement from the grind of business. The student has no such wish. I have an expanding horizon, and no valued and cherished consistency.”

My great grandfather, Francis Otto Eggleston, was incredibly well read, as his biography includes references to and quotes from poets and thinkers ranging from ancient Greece to  the modern-day, all used to clarify or demonstrate his thoughts.FOE Eggleston bio excerpt - mental stimulation my need

If he had been brought up in a different place, or had he attended a different college, perhaps he would not have found such societal constriction of his spirit. Still, this was the Victorian era, and social pressure was great all across this country, in and out of its institutions.

As it is, Great Grandfather Eggleston found an outlet for his unconstricted thoughts and beliefs as a columnist and commentator for the Bergen Record, of Bergen County, New Jersey. He had free reign to speak his mind, and had a large audience with lively discussion through the readers’ responses in letters.

The Bergen Record’s obituary would have pleased Great Grandfather, with is headline” F. O. E. Of the Forum Dead; Woodcliff Lake Philosopher.” The article’s subtitle, though, reflected his constant, life-long search: “Eggleston, 90, In Turn A Teacher, Doctor, Clergyman, Writer.”FOE Eggleston obituary 1st paragraph

In the obituary, the paper wrote that,

“He was renowned for the lofty style and the finish of his communications, which were generally reminiscent of the Emersonian manner and viewpoint.

“It was a technique which many readers found absorbing. Some said they read F. O. E. before they read the day’s news.”

I’m glad Great Grandfather’s mental wanderings were finally given an appreciative audience. He wrote for the paper for 15 years, up until four months before his death at 90.

He lived those years in a happy household with his daughter and her husband, and his twin grandsons. I wrote briefly about that family nest in the post, I Have Been Talking with the Trees.

Great Grandfather Eggleston died in 1944. Two of his three grandsons were “somewhere in the Pacific,” and would not return until the war with Germany and Japan was over. He had one great grandchild, my oldest brother, one year old, with whom he spent many delightful days.

F.O. Eggleston, Tad&Ted Berryman Woodcliff Lake c1918_CU.rI never met The Old Gentleman, as he was known around town, but I feel that I know him, and for that I am richer.

The End.

 

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