N.W.BOYER…Christian Author

Posts tagged “Civil War

Memorial Day Words by Gen. MacArthur…Relevant Today

In 2015, I posted this tribute to those who serve. I think it is good for another year and maybe many more to come….for we must not forget.

On this MEMORIAL DAY,  Boyer Writes honors all those who responded to the call of duty to country and all freedom stands for….especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

After viewing the slide presentation, you may want to look at the different wars throughout history where and when the United States has sent troops to fight.   We are just one country.  Multiply this country and all wars of all countries in the world ….to make us one big, warring globe.

There are reasons, of course.  Some fight for their independence.  Others fight to maintain their freedom.  Many fight to rule over the weak, sick, and impoverished.

There are those who fight and murder in the name of God…religious wars.   Read your history and you will not be surprised for it happened when Muslims fought Christians; Christians fought in the Crusades; nations have tried to rid the world of Jews.

The Holy Scriptures tell us that we will call for “Peace…Peace….but there is no peace…”    Those who make predictions believe that before the coming of Christ to the earth a second time, there will be the greatest of all wars….in the Middle East.   This is not something for optimism.   Nevertheless, we are also told to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”….and the world.   We cannot control governments, groups, or individuals who hate and destroy…but pray we can do.

General MacArthur, the great general of World War II made this statement about war.  

” I pray that an Omnipotent Providence will summon all persons of goodwill to the realization of the utter futility of war. We have known the bitterness of defeat, the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned that there is no turning back. We must preserve in peace, what we won in war. The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery has in fact now reached a point that revises the traditional concept of war. War, the most malignant scourge, and greatest sin of mankind, can no longer be controlled, only ABOLISHED! We are in a new era. If we do not devise some greater and more equitable means of settling disputes between nations, Armageddon will be at our door…” 

 

 

A MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE   

( Click on arrow; turn on sound and enlarge picture for best viewing.  Music by St. Olaf Choir) Warning: disturbing scenes of war wounded)

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 Choose and click on a war listed to read information.

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“Forever Free” Slaves of the Blue Ridge

Our VA home is close to the famous Blue Ridge Parkway of the Appalachian Mountains. It was not too long ago that I read an article about a man who knew about the slaves that worked the area on the Langhorne farm before the Civil War and their 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, which included some small children.  As the Park Service was building the Blue Ridge Parkway, the land became part of their domain and they moved the headstones.

One afternoon, I went looking for the rail fence, which turned out to be at the entrance off the Parkway to 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.  The little rail fence just 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.

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 harmony…or disharmony, as the case may be, it was heartening to know that someone had been trying to convince the Park Service to do the right thing.  The headstones had been torn out and thrown in the woods when they were building the Blue Ridge Parkway.   Unfortunately, as is the history of all bureaucratic, government agencies, slow or forever slow is the story.   It definitely was in case of slaves and 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.

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slave stone at meadows of dan

 

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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…or is that possible?

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. I also felt that I needed to write about the most difficult subject of race relations in our country today.  The Roanoke Times (Ralph Berrier article) answered that question about the new monument.

 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 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 hiding 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.

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.  To try to list all people involved is not my purpose, but the entire story with names from the Roanoke Times can be read here.

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. ( See book on the reenactments)

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.

Who exactly was James Steptoe Langhorne of Meadows of Dan, the land owner where the slave cemetery is located?

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James Steptoe Langhorne

“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. ”  (credit Helen Houlshouser…relative to James Steptoe Langhorne)     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.

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. 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.”  (Roanoke Times credit)   * of the Reynolds Tobacco Co

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 gravesite.  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.  LINK

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?

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.slave-market-memorial-P

The Holy Scripture talks about the “sins of the fathers” to the third and fourth generation 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.” 

The Fathers of our nation and the rich owners of slaves often had children with those they owned.  Some 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.

Just down the road from our home in Virginia is the Reynolds Homeplace, Rock Spring Plantation.  This is the ancestral home of R.J. Reynolds, the founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.   On this property is a slave cemetery.  Here are some of the facts concerning one of the slaves who lived there:

Kitty Reynolds Slave on Reynolds PlantationA portrait of Kitty Penn Reynolds hangs in the Reynolds Homestead plantation kitchen. The most well-known member of the enslaved community, she is credited with saving her master, Hardin Reynolds, from a charging bull. She was also responsible for providing daily care for the Reynolds’ children. After emancipation, she maintained a close relationship with at least one of the children. R. J. Reynolds, founder of Reynolds Tobacco Company would provide transportation for Kitty and other members of her family to visit his family in Winston-Salem, NC. Kitty was born on the nearby Penn Plantation and was married to Anthony Reynolds, an enslaved man at Rock Spring Plantation. Besides rearing the Reynolds’s children she served as a midwife on the plantation and bore 18 children of her own.     Kitty Penn Reynolds should also be remembered as a “mother” of civil rights. Two of her children, Burwell and Lee, were arrested after a scuffle they were involved in resulted in the death of a white man, Aaron Shewell. The brothers were defended by Andrew Lybrook (who was married to Mary Reynolds – one of the children Kitty had cared for) and William Martin. The case eventually resulted in the 1879 Supreme Court act Ex Parte Virginia, which upheld the federal government’s right to enforce Civil Rights legislation in the states. 

 (Credit: Virginia Tech website  Her Great Great Grandson, Kimble Reynolds, is today an attorney in Patrick Co, Virginia)

Slavery was not only in Virginia but in various parts of the country.

General-Map-United-States-1857 and slave states

This map of 1857 shows the free (green) states and the slave states (shades of red).

2nd Chronicles 7:14   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.

What was it like to be bought into a plantation as a slave?   The history of life in a Tennessee plantation and the road to freedom is explained in the video below.

VIDEO  (Turn up sound)

 

Another link:    An Attorney in Louisiana has made it his mission to use a plantation he purchased to tell the slaves’ stories and to “own” the sins of the fathers.  They were not his sins, but he feels a responsibility if there is to be healing in our nation.   VIDEO link about Whitney Plantation in Louisiana  Voice is of the Whitney Plantation owner,  John Cummings and Dr. Ibrahima Seck, Director


The Fabric of America

My writing has taken me into a new series called, The Blue Ridge Mountains.  It is a collection of books that celebrate the life and work of the people who live in and around the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia and North Carolina.  In researching my stories of the books, it has been my privilege to interview a number of people whose roots go back generations.  Many small, family grave plots can be seen in the hills. Some have a small flag or stone that reads that the person was a Civil War member of the Confederacy dating back into the 1800’s. They are proud of their history and do not think of their confederate flag as a symbol of racism or bigotry, but of the bravery of the men who fought against those who had invaded their land and homes.

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Hearing their stories has brought to mind how tied the people are to their mountains and their history. The “Yankee” troops that marched through these valleys and hills during the Civil War, marched on afterward to return to their northern states.

The people of the South pulled themselves up to endure rebuilding and hardship, becoming a strong part of “one nation under God”.   Slavery was no more.  The long road to equality began far after the ships arrived with its human cargo from Africa.

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As an retired educator, I know the emphasis that I put on history in the classroom, but it has almost become, in recent years, politically incorrect to talk about slavery…even the Emancipation Proclamation which freed them.   It appears that the climate of the country is to bury our heads about the past. Remembering it no more must be the road to the future. I think that this way of thinking is wrong for we should learn from our past.   In all fairness, the nation must have believed that they had passed racial tensions and elected an African American President twice to follow in the footsteps of Presidents like Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. When we see violence in our streets and children who can’t walk to school in our large cities without the fear of being shot, one wonders if we have learned anything from the strife of the past.

We have a fabric in America that is woven from many different threads and backgrounds. Most school children today probably do not know that there are descendants of Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence, who meet each year to celebrate who they are and to tell their stories. Many are highly educated because education was placed as a priority. (See video at end)

thomas-jefferson-3rd-pres-of-u-s-1801-1809Who exactly was Thomas Jefferson?  He certainly was a man of great contradictions. A graduate in law from the College of William and Mary, he at times defended slaves seeking freedom, but owned a large number of slaves himself.  He represented Virginia in the Continental Congress…drafting the law for religious freedom…served as a governor and became the U.S. Minister to France…served as Secretary of State under President George Washington.  He penned  “all men are created equal.” and had a strong belief in states rights.

Jefferson also became the 3rd President of the United States. There were many issues to deal with, as there are today, for this nation.  Jefferson’s were concerning trade and pirates. He doubled the size of the country with the Louisiana Purchase.  Not only was there controversy with slavery, but he began the removal of Indian tribes to the newly organized Louisiana Territory….but signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves.  (Yes, a difficult, but talented man to understand in the midst of a growing, new nation. )  Jefferson’s talents were in mathematics, surveying, horticulture and mechanics.

He was a Christian well versed in linguistics and spoke several languages.”Baptized in his youth, Jefferson became a governing member of his local Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA.  Influenced by Deist authors during his college years Jefferson abandoned “orthodox” Christianity.   In 1803 he asserted, ‘I am Christian, in the only sense in which Jesus wished any one to be.’ Jefferson later defined being a Christian as one who followed the simple teachings of Jesus.”

He was the founder of the University of Virginia after leaving public office.

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(Story behind picture of Lucy Cottrell was the daughter of Dorothea (Dolly) Cottrell, a house servant at Monticello who, after 1826, became the property of George Blaetterman, a professor at the University of Virginia. About 1850 Dolly and Lucy Cottrell went to Maysville, Kentucky, with the professor’s widow, who freed them five years later. In this daguerreotype Lucy Cottrell is holding Charlotte, daughter of Blaetterman’s foster son.)

Jefferson must have taken it literally that all of his hundreds of slaves belonged to him to do with as he liked.  After the death of his wife in 1782, he had a relationship with Sally Hemings and fathered at least one of her children. This may have been the beginning of those who now have Jefferson as part of their heritage.  Nevertheless, despite the events in his life that makes him controversial, he is consistently ranked as one of the countries “Greatest Presidents”.   Presidents are often making decisions to foster their own legacy.  History will play out whether the time in office points to greatness or the lack thereof.

Video.  Turn on sound and enlarge for best viewing.

 


Stop Whining..It could be worse.

You may decide that you have heard enough…horrors of war with decapitations; politics with vulgarities; fleeing people from disasters; secession of countries from the all-world scene and the fact that nothing seems right with the world.

It’s time to take a check of all that has gone before, for history is perhaps the best teacher of attitudes.  Many generations are now alive because someone in a concentration camp was determined to live.  The Civil War in the U.S.A. was one of the bloodiest with  brothers fighting against brothers.Our women today are not working in sweat shops to keep a war effort going, as did my Mother’s generation during World War II.

“Roughly 1,264,000 American soldiers have died in the nation’s wars–620,000 in the Civil War and 644,000 in all other conflicts. It was only as recently as the Vietnam War that the amount of American deaths in foreign wars eclipsed the number who died in the Civil War.”  (Civil War Trust)

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Many college students today cannot give simple facts about history…including the suffering or life style of those going through the Great Depression or during the Great Dust Bowl.  Here are a few pictures that can tell them a story or two.  Perhaps they may stop whining about college tuition or having the latest cars or cell phones if they take this part of history seriously. Even older people can review our history and what our forefathers and mothers endured.

Even some of the sayings that we take for granted have a historical meaning.  A friend of ours sent us a few worth noting.  I’m certain that we or the “millennials”of today would not want to live this way.

“Dirt Poor” …when dust and dirt covered everything during the Dust Bowl. Old house in dirt

 

“Piss Poor” because there were no bathrooms and used a pot instead if they could afford a pot.  Some will remember these days of using a pot. Living in a hut

 

No deodorant. Baths once a week, if then,  in a common tub. The babies were last and may be the start of the saying ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!’

Why do you think a bride carried a flower bouquet in the favorite month of June when flowers were blooming?   The smell of the flowers might hide the body odor.Depression Family

 

 

“Upper Crust”  Bread was so hard to get that families had to divide whatever they had. Workers got the burnt bottom part; the rest of the family got the middle and only the guests got the top “upper crust” which was the best.  Try making any child or young person today wait without whining for what is left over…especially because guests are to be treated with total respect.

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Living where one can…the Great Depression

Taking care of our world and each other, while appreciating what we have been so richly blessed with, is a top priority for this generation and the next.  The next time you look at a beautiful green tree, think of the Dust Bowl.  The next time you want to lash out from some injustice, think of this command.  “… Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Philippians 4:8

It may be a difficult thing to do, for we are used to getting what we want when we want it. Try disciplining yourself to not allowing a whine to come out of your mouth for just a week.  This challenge is for me also. After the week, see if it has made a difference in your life.   Let me know if you can do it.   (Boyer Writes  at boyerwrites@yahoo.com)

Click for  VIDEO explaining the Dust Bowl of 1930’s.

Credits: Video History in the Headlines