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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Old Cemeteries

Well, I seem to have a fascination for odd things, among them is a fascination for old cemeteries.  I love walking through old cemeteries and  searching for pieces to my big genealogy puzzle.  Recently I traipsed through one of the oldest cemeteries in Mountain City.  While I did not find anything that fit into my "genealogy puzzle"  I did find a few interesting things.

This marker did not note the date of birth or death and I have no idea who W.E.M. Roberts is.  I searched for the census records but there was no mention of him.  I did find the history of the 2nd W VA Calvary very interesting.

The 2nd West Virginia Volunteer Cavalry Regiment was a cavalry regiment that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The 2nd West Virginia Cavalry was organized at Parkersburg in western Virginia between September and November 1861. The regiment was composed almost entirely of volunteers from Ohio, with 9 companies organized from the counties of Lawrence, Meigs, Jackson, Vinton, Washington and Morgan. The regiment participated in the Grand Review of the Armies and was mustered out on June 30, 1865. Out of this unit, came 3 recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Private Joseph Kimball, of Company B, received his Medal of Honor for "capturing the flag of the 6th North Carolina Infantry" on 6 April 1865. Private Bernard Shields, of Company E, who "captured the flag of the Washington Artillery" on 8 April 1865 at Appomattox, VA. Major William Kimball whose "distinguised services in raid, where with 20 men, he charged and captured the enemy's camp, 500 strong, without the loss of man or gun" at Sinking Creek, Va on 26 November 1862. The 2nd West Virginia Cavalry suffered 4 officers and 77 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded in battle and 115 enlisted men dead from disease for a total of 196 fatalities.

Another grave marker I found very interesting was one of Matthias M. and his wife Mary Fyffe.
Matthais Miller Wagner (aka M.M. and Tice): b. February 15, 1801, in Roan Creek Valley, Johnson CO,TN, d. June 13, 1887, in Mountain City, TN, m. March 9, 1830, in Athens, McMinn CO, TN. 13. Mary Salina Fyffe: b. February 16, 1808, in Yadkin River Valley, Wilkes, CO, NC, d. November 17, 1889, in Mountain City, TN.

Mr. Wagner was a charter member ofThe First Baptist Church of Mountain City.  It is the oldest congregation in Johnson County, Tennessee.  The church was founded on April 20, 1794, at the foot of Rainbow Mountain, the left fork of Roan Creek, as the Roan Creek Church of Christwas housed in a log building. The mother congregation was the Three Forks Baptist Church, Watauga County, North Carolina.

The Church, which served as headquarters for the Confederate Army during the Civil War and on two different occasions for school purposes, has a history older than the county in which it is located.

Before the Civil War members of the Roan Creek Church moved to Taylorsville (now known as Mountain City) and built the present Baptist Church, calling it at the time Taylorsville Baptist Church. When Taylorsville became Mountain City the name of the church was changed too.

Mathias M. Wagner donated a site for the Church and also contributed to the building. On May 25, 1858 a committee comprised of David Kitzmiller, Phillip M. Kiser, and Isaac R. Wagner contracted Bartlett Wood for brick and bricklaying, and with Isaac McQueen for lumber and carpentry work. The building cost $1,240.
The Civil War brought hard times to members of the church and they were unable to finish paying for the building. On October 5, 1861 a committee comprised of John Blankenbecker, R Moore, and Moore Robinson gave the deed of trust to Bartlett Wood and Isaac McQueen to secure the balance due them for labor and material used in building the church.
An old deed shows that payments were made to McQueen as follows: A horse valued $125 and another valued at $115, paid by Mathias M.Wagner; $15 paid by David Kitzmiller and $10 paid by Abraham Johnson. The deed also showed that McQueen himself donated $10 to the debt.

A little over a year later - November 13, 1862, the church was sold a public auction to the highest bidder for the sum of $550.

The purchaser was Mathias M. Wagner. In 1885 Wagner and his wife deeded the church back to its trustees with provision "that if the said property shall cease to be used by the said church (for a reasonable time) as a place of worship, that said property shall revert to said M. M. Wagner and his heirs, free from incumbrance and this conveyance shall be null and void."

The church is still located on the same site and is a familiar landmark that marks the downtown business section of Mountain City.

While doing research on Mathias M. Wagner I found an old photo of his house.

This is a picture of Matthias Miller Wagner. It was taken in Baltimore probably between 1820 and 1840

Genealogy is a very fun and interesting hobby and I love doing the research especially when I find a challenge.  My challenge now is to find more information on Mr. Wagner and to find birth and death dates on W.E.M. Roberts.

That's it for today!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Past

Well, you hear all about Christmas being too commercialized today, the stores start putting out Christmas items in mid October. We hear projected sales of Christmas items in the millions of dollars, phrases like "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday", "Free Shipping" and 50% off sales lure last minute shoppers to many stores. Kids ask for, get and expect lots of toys and clothes.

Back when I was growing up our Christmases were a lot simpler. There was no internet and shopping was kept to a minimum. In the fall we would get the National Bellas Hess Christmas catalog and we would go through and pick all the things we would like for Santa to bring, very seldom did he oblige us though. It wasn't that we were bad, there was not enough money to buy us all a lot of presents. That didn't stop us from having a great Christmas though.

In the weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas we would always have play practice at church for the Christmas Play. I don't remember the names of any of them but there would always be angels and shepherds and baby Jesus. The ladies of the church would sew costumes from whatever material they had. They fashioned angel wings from wire and net and halos from tinsel. Shepherds always got to wear someone's old bathrobe and carry a big stick. Mary was always wearing a blue dress with a white scarf on her head. The baby Jesus was a doll laying on a bed of straw in a basket. The birth of Jesus story was always recited by the children prior to the play. We would practice and practice on our verse until we had it down pat.

On Saturday before the play the adults would gather to fill treat bags for the whole church. There was always an orange or two, an apple, a couple sticks of candy, some years there might even be a banana. On Sunday night the church would be filled with people to see the Christmas play, recieve the treat sacks and pass out gifts under the tree. We always got a small gift. My earliest memory is of recieving a big package containing a doll. I remember it had a pink dress and was almost as tall as I was.

At home there was very few decorations or preparations made for Christmas until the Saturday before Christmas. We would always go traipsing thru the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree. It wouldn't be a very big tree because it sat on the table in front of the window. Sometimes we would find a cedar but most often it would be a pine. We would bring it home and stick it in an old can filled with rocks to make it stand up. If we couldn't make it stand up straight sometimes we would take an old board and nail it to the bottom and then take a string and tie it to the window.

We had one string of eight christmas lights and a box that held about a dozen christmas ornaments. we would make paper chains from construction paper we had used for projects at school. If we didn't have construction paper we would sometimes cut up a few pieces of paper we had used to do our school lessons on and then color those red and green and make chains and snowflakes. We would go out and gather holly berries and string them on a thread. If we had some popcorn we would use it and make a popcorn rope to put on the tree. After that came the tinsel. Someone gave us a box of tinsel one year aand we saved it from year to year. I liked to put it on one strand at a time but after awhile it got to be more work than fun. The star was cut out of the outside of the corn flakes box and covered with tin foil. It was the last thing to go on the tree. We thought we had the most beautiful tree with those eight little lights shining through all that tinsel.

On Christmas eve my uncle and aunt would come. He would always be dressed like Santa Claus and leave us all a gift around the tree. One year my cousin got a blue truck. We just about wore that old truck out playing with it. The living room floor sloped from one end to the other and we would sit on that truck and ride it across the floor. One year we got a viewmaster with some
reels. Another year we got a used sled. It may have been used but to us kids it was just as good as a new one.

My grandfather never had much money but one year he had a little extra and he gave all of his grandchildren a dime apiece. It may not have been much monetarily but it was a great gift from the heart.

In the kitchen my grandmother would be cooking up all kinds of good things to eat like molasses stack cakes, butterscotch pies, and big sugar cookies. On Christmas day we would all gather to have a big family dinner. It was a feast to be sure.

With all these memories of Christmas Past I have to agree Christmas is just too commercialized.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Cow Didn't Jump Over the Moon

Well, in keeping with my promise to the Writer's Group it was time to start my ten pages to be critiqued. I hope they won't be too rough on me. Maybe you won't either. I welcome your comments--good or bad---I'll take them all.

"Old Jerz"

My first experience with cows must have been when I was about four or five. We had a jersey cow which we appropriately called "Old Jerz". My grandmother did all the milking. My first job went we went to milk was holding the cow's tail to keep her tail from hitting my grandmother in the head.

One day we bought a box of oatmeal which had a little dipper in it. Actually it was a 2 cup measuring cup with a handle, but that became my milk bucket. I wanted to learn to milk so my grandfather made me a little stool and gave me that dipper. My grandmother sat on her stool on one side of the cow and I sat on the other side of the cow on my stool.

She taught me how to milk, I would milk my dipper full and pour it into her bucket. I could quit when I had milked two dippers full. For a four or five year old thats quite a long time to sit still. You had to sit still because if you moved around or pulled too hard the cow would kick and you certainly didn't want to end up with her foot in your milk bucket.

My grandmother had a stroke in December of 1955, milking was never the same after that.

Since we had no refrigerator our milk, butter and dairy products was kept in the springhouse. The springhouse was a small building which stood over a small branch from a spring. It had a wooden trough in it that the water ran through.

Once the milking was done we would take the buckets of warm milk to the house and strain them through a white flour sack similar to cheesecloth. We would then pour the milk into gallon jarsand store them in the trough in the springhouse. The water kept the milk good and cold.

The cream came to the top usually two to three inches thick. It was skimmed off to be used for making butter and put it into another jar so that we could make buttermilk. Most times we would churn once a week. So it took quite a bit of cream to make butter. We would pour the cream into a churn. and sit and churn and churn. Finally you would see bits of butter appear. These were all skimmed off and put into a bowl rinsed and salted and then put in a wooden butter press. Usually made about 3 to 4 pounds of butter and then you would also have buttermilk. There is nothing better than a good cold glass of buttermilk.

Sometimes if we had extra milk my grandmother would let it set out and clabber and make cottage cheese out of it. Cottage cheese was a great treat and nothing like you get in those little cartons at the grocery today.

That;s it for today.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Good News -- Bad News

Well, the good news is Don is doing better. He is still in ICU because he needs a heart monitor. Thanks to everyone for good well wishes and prayers.

The bad news is it looks like we will not be going to Alabama or Florida this year. Don's daughter has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease for which there is no cure. Her condition continues to deteriorate and it is not likely we will be able to make the trip.

I will share a few of my previous Alabama photos -- that will put a smile on my face!!

That's it for today.

Friday, December 2, 2011

More News

Well, after last months episode I thought we were through with doctors and hospitals but that is not the case---Don was admitted again last night--so my blogging is on hold for right now until I get back to my computer -- please keep him in your thoughts and prayers
That;s it for today