If you are asking the question WHY would anyone feel that they can destroy property, attack innocent citizens or make the United States of America into a country of rioting and vandalism? You are not alone. Probably many Americans and people around the world are scratching their heads and asking….WHY?…WHY?…WHY?
This blog does not intend to answer that question, but there is a THEORY to why people of all colors and backgrounds…young and older…are acting the way they are.
One young woman cried out to the rioting people to” break glass…take all you want…for it is REPARATIONS for the past!” Is there any truth in what she said? NO, of course not! There are other ways to solve problems… of the past, present and future than to destroy the hard-earned businesses of people of all colors. Blaming a generation for the sins of past generations solves nothing. She is falling into the hands of the anarchists who would destroy our country.
Does she really understand how far the search for fairness to all people living today has come? Does she know that through people like Martin Luther King, Jr. that people began to see the wrongs and our government passed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights for all people? This behavior is only an excuse to do the wrong thing, which results in hurting all people.
You ask, “What theory are you speaking of in all this madness?”
It might be summed up in one Scripture Verse from the Holy Bible:
The Holy Scripture talks about the “sins of the fathers” to the third and fourth generations and even Shakespeare uses this quote in his writing of The Merchant of Venice: “The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children.”
In the small towns of America, there are people, whose early families were immigrants…not slaves, who believe that the “sins of the fathers” should be remembered and MADE RIGHT, as much as possible. I’m going to share with you a true story of a place in the mountains of which I am quite familiar.
Our former VA home was close to the famous Blue Ridge Parkway of the Appalachian Mountains. While living there, I read an article about a man who knew about the slaves that worked the area on the Langhorne farm in Virginia. This was before the Civil War and there was an unmarked burial place near the lovely little village of Meadows of Dan. When the article was written, there was only a small wooden split rail fence where the bodies of the slaves had been buried This also included some small children of the slaves. When the Park Service was building the Blue Ridge Parkway, the land became part of their domain. The headstones had been torn out and thrown in the woods. Nothing remained to show who was buried in this specific spot, but some of the old timers of the area knew.
One afternoon, I went looking for the rail fence, which turned out to be at the entrance to the Parkway at Meadows of Dan. Parking at the local church, I walked over to the area. Nothing was there to identify the graves of the slaves who had lived, worked, and died here. Only a small, rail fence circled the area.
“What a shame that there is nothing to identify it,” I thought to myself. The millions of people yearly, who ride the Parkway, will zoom right by this historical, sacred spot. Most people will travel on to visit places where the old timers settled, like the old Mabry Mill right down the road, but they will never know the history of this place where a plantation owner buried those who labored for him.
In this age of monuments being torn down of the famous men of the Civil War era and the present day stressful problems of racial disharmony, it was heartening to know that there were white people who had been trying to convince the Park Service to do the right thing for many years. Unfortunately, as is the history of all bureaucratic, government agencies, slow or forever slow is the story. It definitely was in the case of these slaves having a proper monument.
After six months away from the Blue Ridge, I rounded the curving entrance to Meadows of Dan and there it was…..the old slave cemetery that I had written about in my book, Old Timers of the Blue Ridge. Now, it actually had a marker! A large, beautiful granite headstone stood inside the split rail fence. 18
My husband and I stopped, walked up to the monument and the last words stood out to me…FOREVER FREE! Yes, they have gone on to be with God, Who made all people…black, white, and every shade of color. They are free at last, but are we living free from the past? Is it possible, no matter how hard people try… to be removed, in this modern world where hate runs deep, from the “sins of the fathers?” This is a question of gigantic proportions!
Hurrying home to check the internet, I had to know the story of how this monument was placed here in the year that I was away from Virginia. This is what I found out: Matt Burnett, an old time resident of the area, had been one of the workers who tore out the headstones for the Park Service and he asked Bob Heafner to make him a special promise. That was thirty-three years ago.
“Burnett asked Heafner if he would make sure that people would someday KNOW ABOUT THE FORGOTTEN SLAVES hidden in plain sight next to a road traveled by millions.
Heafner was young then, a businessman and a publisher who knew people in Meadows of Dan and up and down the parkway. Surely, Burnett thought, Heafner could find a way to place a monument or memorial to those people, so that their lives wouldn’t remain buried in the past….Heafner discovered a will that stated James Steptoe Langhorne had at least five slaves and perhaps owned more than 10 at one time. He also found the names of five other African-Americans who were probably buried in the cemetery. Three of them died enslaved, with history having no record of their last names:
Charles (a child who died in 1858),
John (who was 19 when he died in 1858)
and Ellen (a 1-year-old who died in 1862).
The two other people Heafner documented died after the Civil War:
Guss Langhorne (another 1-year-old who died in 1871)
and Susan Langhorne (born a slave, died free in 1871 at age 28). It is unclear why the latter two had the Langhorne name. 19
It took a number of people to finally get results of placing the granite stone where it should have been long ago, including finding the granite company owner who was willing to make the stone.
This grave site was part of a history of the South. The mountain people strongly defend their history. People come far and wide to see the reenactments of the Civil War between the North and the South near Ararat, VA. The important points of this story are that the Blue Ridge people also believe in keeping their promises and doing right by the slaves that are buried in this cemetery regardless of the actions of the people of the past. Throughout our country, especially in the South, there are many people who feel the same way. They definitely should not be condemned for the “sins of the fathers” when they were not born during this terrible time of history.
Who exactly was James Steptoe Langhorne of Meadows of Dan, the land owner where the slave cemetery is located?
“According to family history, Henry let his son James Steptoe Langhorne choose one of the plantations, and after touring them all, James Steptoe, age about 22, looked out over the 13, 000 acre “Langdale” plantation in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, and said it was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen! In fact, he is credited with giving that area its name, Meadows of Dan—located in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, on the Dan River. He chose to settle there, but was blinded by retinitis pigmentosa – an inherited family disease– within just a couple of years—and never actually saw his beloved land again! James Steptoe Langhorne, called “Grandpa Steptoe” by his grandchildren, married Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro and together they had eight children, and adopted at least two more. Of course, on a 13,000-acre plantation in 1822 Virginia, Grandpa Steptoe owned slaves. It doesn’t matter how abhorrent and embarrassing this practice might be to me today, it is a part of our history. ” It was from Patrick County, VA that he built his massive plantation along with the slaves who worked it. He also gave land and built at least two churches. The Meadows of Dan Baptist church is where he and his wife are buried. His father and original family were emigrants from Wales, arriving in 1666. (credit Helen Houlshouser…relative to James Steptoe Langhorne)
If you are traveling the beautiful Blue Ridge, stop in at the little slave cemetery at the corner of the Meadows of Dan exit. Spend a few minutes considering the long-reaching meaning of who is buried there and give a “thank you” to one of the many merchants down the road in Meadows of Dan that helped promote the erection of the slave memorial stone. We especially thank the man who kept his promise, Bob Heafner.
“Slavery was common in Patrick County. According to county historian Tom Perry, as many as 2,000 slaves were part of Patrick County’s 9,000 residents in 1850. The majority of those enslaved people were owned by the prominent Reynolds and Hairston families. The Reynolds were the founders of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s father owned 28 slaves, according to Perry. Slavery was less prevalent up on the mountain in Meadows of Dan, where five families owned slaves, according to an Appalachian State University research project commissioned by the park service.” 20
Even though time has passed and we live in a new era, those who came out to see the placing of the new marker at the Meadows of Dan, know that it is important to the families of those who may have buried relatives in this grave site. There is a new Database of identities of 3,200 slaves through the historical society of VA that can help people find their descendants. Information can be found beginning with the American colonies in 1619 through unpublished private documents.
The most important thing is to remember the men, women and children who worked the land by force. We must also not forget that African Americans and slaves from other areas were not only those who suffered great injustices. Native Americans endured the Trail of Tears and other horrors. The white settlers who had emigrated from Europe suffered at the hands of the Native Americans and the lawlessness of other Americans. Present day merchants, white and black, suffer when a life-time of work and businesses are destroyed by rioting. We could go on and on.
One may ask, “So where do we go from here? Will people never get over this tragic piece of history?” Because slavery in America may have caused many problems of today, this is a good question. How many generations will be affected by those who did terrible deeds of bringing slaves to America, as well as the off-spring of those who bought and sold them? How many generations will have to find new and better ways to compensate for the sins of the past or is that possible?
The great repentance of a rude, profane Slave Trader, John Newton gave us the beloved song, “Amazing Grace.” In 1748 he wrote “On that day, the Lord sent from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.” Only God’s amazing grace could “Save a Wretch like Me, ” he wrote. 21
The Fathers of our nation and the rich owners of slaves often had children with those they owned. Some of those children have embraced their lineage…become educated, successful and brought honor to generations after their enslaved fore-fathers. Reunions are held by those who can trace their legacy from a white slave owner to their slave mother. Healing is needed in our nation. Maybe owning the past is the answer as the Germans have had to own the Holocaust.
The Sins of the Fathers will only be healed when we find a way to remember that all people are sinners and need the grace of God to combat the past and bring forgiveness to the present. Listen to this promise God has given to all of us.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and WILL HEAL THEIR LAND. 2nd Chronicles 7:14
Throughout the world, no song is more inspiring than the beautiful Amazing Grace. In Christ, our Savior, His grace and forgiveness is a perfect gift to all mankind.
For your ever enjoyment and inspiration from Boyer Writes:
To God be the Glory and we thank Him for His Amazing Grace.
For my readers’ listening pleasure! Boyer Writes
Video: Andre Rieu and Bagpipers
Happy 4th of July from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia
There was nothing HAPPY for the 56 men who signed the American Declaration of Independence at the birth of our nation. Do you know what happened to some of them?
It was brought to my attention today in our church service that there was a price for freedom that these men paid. Some suffered right away when they were captured by British troops and others suffered later through loss of fortune or brutal acts against them. They may have known that they were risking their lives to take such a public stand. Counting the cost is difficult to do before one acts. Regardless of how their contributions in becoming signers of the Constitution effected them and their families, we know from history that their lives were not a bed of roses.
Standing up for freedom and democracy is not popular, even today, with those who would be against it and wish to destroy it. The following gives us an account of a few of these men who made the choice to stand up and be counted:
- Five signers were captured by the British as traitors They were considered prisoners of war while actively engaged in military operations against the British. George Walton was captured after being wounded while commanding militia at the Battle of Savannah in December 1778, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge (three of the four Declaration of Independence signers from South Carolina) were taken prisoner at the Siege of Charleston in May in 1780. Richard Stockton of New Jersey was the only signer taken prisoner specifically because of his status as a signatory to the Declaration, “dragged from his bed by night” by local Tories after he had evacuated his family from New Jersey, and imprisoned in New York City’s infamous Provost Jail like a common criminal.
- Twelve of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had their homes ransacked and burned. Their property was subject to seizure when it fell along the path of a war being waged on the North American continent.
- Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Abraham Clark of New Jersey saw two of his sons captured by the British and incarcerated on the prison ship Jersey. John Witherspoon, also of New Jersey, saw his eldest son, James, killed in the Battle of Germantown in October 1777.
- Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts.
- Properties of William Ellery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Thomas Heyward, Edward Rutledge, and Middleton were looted. The British needed supplies and these stately homes were a good source. Little concern during war time is given to the family that dwells therein.
- Some homes of the signers, such as Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, Benjamin Rush and Robert Morris were occupied by the British during the war. They also were unfortunate victims whose property fell in the path of an armed conflict being waged on American soil.
- Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died of poor health. Francis Lewis represented New York in the Continental Congress, and shortly after he signed the Declaration of Independence his Long Island estate was raided by the British. While Lewis was in Philadelphia attending to congressional matters, his wife was taken prisoner by the British.
- John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children, who were adults at the time, fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead. John Hart of New Jersey, had been Speaker of the Assembly.
Morris and Livingston suffered similar fates. Lewis Morris saw his Westchester County, New York, home taken over in 1776 and used as a barracks for soldiers, and the horses and livestock from his farm commandeered by military personnel of the Continental Army. Shortly afterwards his property was appropriated, looted, and burned by the British when they occupied New York. Morris and his wife were eventually able to reclaim their property and restore their home after the war. Philip Livingston lost several properties to the British occupation of New York and sold off others to support the war effort, and he did not recover them because he died suddenly in 1778, before the end of the war.
For your further knowledge: FIFTY FACTS ABOUT THE SIGNING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE and the listing of all the signers by states.
All of our country celebrates today the wonderful independence that we have as a nation. It is by God’s grace that we can enjoy all that is part of our United States today. We must never forget the founding fathers who risk everything to make it happen and those who have come afterwards to fight for and preserve that independence and freedom.
GOD BLESS AMERICA
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY from BOYER WRITES to ALL OUR READERS
VIDEO Turn on sound:
We are in the Christian season of Lent. Christians take stock of their lives; praying special prayers to get ready for the Great Passion of our Lord….and then the glorious Resurrection.
During Lent, some Christians decide to give up something that they especially like to feel a small taste of the Lord’s suffering. Hardly can any denial of foods or any other thing really have a comparison to the agony on the cross. Regardless, it is really the heart in which God takes a look….the motivation…the desire to do something…some small something to honor and remember Him.
My motivation for Lent is to read something special each day. My friend, Steve, gave me a tiny book of great wisdom. He quotes the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert…such as St. Augustine. I am finding that much of what we say in worship is the wisdom that was given hundreds of years ago. One word that stands out is MERCY.
One definition of mercy is a “kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly.”
Part of the liturgy that we pray from the Book of Common Prayer has a response after each prayer. “Have mercy on us”or “Lord, hear our prayer.” Sometimes we wonder what our prayers to an almighty God should be. He is the maker of the world and all that is in it. We’ve heard recently from scientists about gravitational waves and new discoveries of the Big Bang Theory. However God did it…He was the Author of all we know about the universe. How do we pray to God of such magnitude?
Let me give an example. When we are praying about something that concerns us…God knows about it…so we do not have to have long prayers, but simply say “Lord, have mercy”…about that situation. If it is a desperate situation, we say, “God help and have mercy.” It is as simple as that…for He understands all.
The Christians in the desert of long ago believed that we should find a quietness in prayer. Perhaps this is why Jesus went into the wilderness…to be quiet and alone with his Father in heaven. We can learn from this.
If you are reading this and you think God cannot have mercy because of certain things you are doing or have done, you must remember that “His mercy endures forever.”
God have mercy…Christ have mercy.
For this time of Lent, I would like to share something beautiful. The music you are going to hear played is an unusual instrument. It is called the Pan Flute. The young man playing it is David Doring, who was born in Kazakhstan. His official language is Turkic Kazakh. Enjoy this beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace.
What do the names Zinzendorf, Wilberforce and Newton have in common? They each had a passion to right the wrongs forced on other human beings. The moments they experienced, led them to spend a life-time changing the world.
Slavery was a going business in the world. It brought big money and wealth to those who were in this trade. It brought tragedy to the black families around the world. Unless one walked in the shoes of two, white Moravian Christians who sold themselves into slavery for the purpose of ministering to the slaves, one would never know this existence.
Zinzendorf was German. Wilberforce and Newton were both English.
Starting with perhaps the most dramatic of stories, few may know the life of John Newton even though they have heard “Amazing Grace” in church, funerals and in the entertainment world.
Newton was born in London July 24, 1725, the son of a commander of a merchant ship. In 1744, John sailed in such intolerable conditions on the man-of war, the H.M.S. Harwich, that he deserted. A public flogging occurred when he was captured and demoted from midshipman to a common seaman. He was sent into service on a slave ship that went to Sierra Leone. Being the servant of a slave trader, he was brutally abused. Fortunately, a sea-captain who knew his father, rescued him and he ultimately became the captain of his own slave ship.
The worst conditions imaginable were found on these ships of human cargo. When returning home to England through a violent storm, he recorded in his journal the moment that he experienced his “great deliverance“. It appeared that the ship would sink and all would be lost. He cried out, ” Lord have mercy on us!” He reflected on what he had said. However, God met him in the midst of the raging storm and brought him out of a life of slave trading into a life of faith. . The words that he wrote became a testimony to his life and the changes that God brought.
For twenty-six years, Wilberforce headed a campaign against British slave trade. His was the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone. Sometimes he was criticized for his efforts in anti-slavery abroad and not enough help to the socially deprived at home. However, he persisted. Just three days after Parliament abolished slavery with the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, Wilberforce died and was buried at Westminster Abbey.
Count Nikolaus Ludwig won Zinzendorf:
Fifty years before Wilberforce, a wealthy German visited a museum where he saw a painting of Christ. Under it were the words,” This I did for you. What will you do for me?” This was moment when he dedicated his life a service for Christ. A group of Moravians, who were at the time a Christian sect in the Czech Republic, asked to locate on his land. In 1727, a convent was formed; a twenty-four hour prayer circle begun, which lasted for 100 years. Wilberforce made friends with a former slave who had converted to Christianity. When Wilberforce died, he had organized missions throughout Europe, Greenland, and South Africa.
In the early settling of America, slaves made America prosper. Slaves worked the cotton fields and in other products. Slavery was not only in the South, but other parts of America. Many of our founding fathers owned slaves. Pictures were rare because no one wanted to advertise and document their dark trade . Some slaves were treated more humanly than others.
It wasn’t until later that President Lincoln decided the slave trade would be left to the British and others. He would enforce the law, largely ignored, against the trades of this sort. One of the most notorious slave traders in the USA was Nathanael Gordon of Maine. He was hung for his deeds as a trader in 1862. Here is an account of the conditions on one of his ships, which carried hundreds of men, women and children:
“The slaves were stowed so closely that during the entire voyage they appeared to be in great agony. The details are sickening, but as fair exponents of the result of this close stowing, we will but mention that running sores and cutaneous diseases of the most painful as well as contagious character infected the entire load. Decency was unthought of; privacy was simply impossible — nastiness and wretchedness reigned supreme. From such a state of affairs we are not surprised to learn that, during the passage of fifteen days, twenty-nine of the sufferers died, and were thrown overboard.”
At the end of the lives of Zinzendorf, Wilberforce and Newton, their contributions and work to change the laws around the world saved many human beings from the fate of slavery.
QUESTION: If it had not been for the lives of men like these, would we still have slave ships today?
Most school children have been taught about the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION and President Lincoln in the USA. Do they know about these Christian men who helped change the plight of thousands? I think one knows the answer to this lack of education.
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home… Written by John Newton