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A Legend Brought to Life — Patti Shene

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HiStoryThruTheAges

Today I’m happy to welcome author Pattie Shene as she shares some fascinating history about a legendary man.

On Christmas eve 1809 in Madison County, Kentucky, a child was born to Lindsey and Rebecca Carson and given the name Christopher Houston Carson. This young man would grow up to be one of the most notorious legends in the west, the famous “Kit” Carson.

Kit encountered tragedy at a young age when his father was killed by a falling tree when Kit was barely nine.. He had a price on his head while still in his teens, when he ran away from an apprenticeship with a saddle maker who offered a reward of one-cent for the return of the boy in a local paper.

He probably never saw the notice, for he had joined a wagon train that took him to the west he yearned to explore. Kit’s many occupations in…

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“Mary Had a Little Lamb”

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(from a 1903 edition of Mother Goose)
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.
And so the teacher turned it out,
But still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear.
Why does the lamb love Mary so?
The eager children cry;
Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know,
The teacher did reply.
The nursery rhyme was first published by the Boston publishing firm Marsh, Capen & Lyon, as a poem by Sarah Josepha Hale on May 24, 1830, and was possibly inspired by an actual incident. The book, Poems for Our Children, was designed for families, Sabbath schools, and infant schools and written to inculcate moral truths and virtuous sentiments.
Sarah Josepha Hale
The author of this children’s poem was Sarah Josepha Buell, who was born in Newport, New Hampshire, on October 24, 1788. Home schooled from the textbooks of Dartmouth College, used by her brothers, she became a teacher at 18 in her hometown.
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Sarah married lawyer David Hale in 1813, and he encouraged her avid reading and writing. The couple had five children before David died of a stroke in 1822. As a single mother, she worked first as a milliner, a designer and maker of hats, before she started her career as a writer and editor.
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In 1828, Hale became editor of Ladies Magazine, which became the popular Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1837. She worked for this magazine for 40 years and focused on feminine etiquette of the day.
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Hale and Publisher Louis Godey steered away from politics, religion, and social issues, focusing instead on women’s domestic education from health to home to fashion—the magazine was especially noted for its colored fashion plates. See below.
This publication eventually had a circulation of 150,000. She published the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. She also published unknown women authors who wrote about abolition, temperance, and suffrage.

Hale kept attuned to world news. The American public couldn’t get enough information about the increasing royal family, publications such as Godey’s Lady’s Book, always on the pulse of subjects of interest to women, presented the engraving “Queen Victoria’s Treasures” in February 1844, invoking the idea of royal jewels (see below). In the accompanying article, the Queen is observed to “be an example for the women of her own great kingdom, [and] is, therefore, highly important to the world; and we rejoice that she so beautifully exemplifies the best virtues of her sex, in her character as wife and mother.” In order to ensure that there were no questions about viewers’ gaze being directed towards her maternal characteristics the article concludes, “All the regalia in the Tower of London would not so adorn and beautify Victoria in our eyes, as the jewels of her maternal love, which she displays in this picture.”

 

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As an editor, she focused on promotion of causes she also was passionate about: the preservation of Mount Vernon and the establishment of the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston. She advocated for property rights, increased wages for women, as well as expanded educational and career opportunities. She knew first hand what it was like to support a family on her own.
The cover of Godey's Lady's Book in 1867.
What she wanted was to create a new national holiday—the American Thanksgiving Day. In her quest to accomplish this, she sent detailed petitions to five presidents and devoted numerous column inches to the idea in her magazine. More than any other individual, Hale was responsible for the creation of Thanksgiving as we know it, a country-wide day of rest and feasting at the end of November. She campaigned for a Day of Thanksgiving, conceived as a Christian holiday, focused on prayer rather than food.
In 1860, more than a decade after she first started promoting the idea, Hale declared victory. “We may now consider Thanksgiving a National Holiday,” she wrote. So many states had celebrated it so consistently on the same day, that Thanksgiving was no longer “a partial and vacillating commemoration of gratitude to our Heavenly Father, observed in one section or State” but a “great and sanctifying promoter of the national spirit.”
Finally, she retired in 1877 at the age of 89 and then died at her Philadelphia home in 1879. This literary pioneer opened the doors for other women authors and editors, as she worked hard at her job for fifty years.
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In a Vermont Public Radio commentary, the historian Cyndy Bittinger said of Sarah Josepha Hale, “With Hale as an advocate, women began to study at female seminaries and academies, and many contributed original material to her Godey’s Lady’s Book...[By publishing] the works of women [and] giving them a platform for their ideas and advocacy…Hale enabled female reformers of the 19th century to influence attitudes…[of both women and men].”
Sarah Hale said, “The burning soul, the bruden’d mind, In books alone companions find.”
This nineteenth century, American woman is one to be remembered. Her story is one of unending influence, as she maximized her intelligence and creativity.

Our Family Circle

 

I grew up in a family that ate our meals together at the kitchen table or the dining room table. We had assigned seats at each place that I never figured out. The kitchen table was round, and the dining room table was a rectangle. Mother fixed and served our childhood plates.

One of my earliest memories of a catastrophic supper was at our small duplex on East Main Street in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

As an opinionated preschooler, I had decided that I didn’t like the taste or texture of raisins. My two-year-old brother Critt was given the last of the corn flakes; he sat in his high chair munching away. The next thing I knew was that a bowl of Raisin Bran was in front of me. I questioned this decision and made quite a protest. Then I had the audacity to demand a switch with my brother. Neither of my parents listed to me, so I made a decision to take the situation into my own hands. Without thinking about possible end results, I stood up, grabbed the high chair’s tray, and pulled.

The results were not what I expected.

With a noisy crash, the high chair fell forward. Then with an earsplitting scream, my brother announced that his forehead hit the table. Bedlam reigned, as my parents jumped into protective mode. Blood, a high-speed rush to the ER, and stitches were the end result.

No, I never learned to either like or eat raisins, but my selfish, childish actions have caused me embarrassment. A smidgen of this escapade still rattles around the corners of my memories.

My dad was a stickler for manners on all occasions, even at the table. “Please” and ‘Thank you” were phrases that were expected.  If we wanted the ketchup bottle, we had to use the required “please.” If “thank you” was not our next response, the ketchup would be taken away. We learned in a hurry to not forget the phrases.

I clearly remember a few weeks at the supper table that provided distinctive entertainment.

My brother was around three, and I was six. Picking up his milk glass for a drink became a challenge for some reason. He took several sips and then spilled the rest of the glass on the table, the floor, and himself. (Interesting that this accident never happened at any other meal.) Through surreptitious glances in his direction, I remember watching to see when the trouble was going to happen, and then suddenly he just stopped spilling the glass of milk..

Critt was always a jokester and a tease. He particularly relished my gullibility, as he shared tall tales with me. To this day, I don’t know whether the spills were purposeful and he finally grew tired of the game or what. I was sorry the anticipated spills stopped, but am sure my parents were thankful.

Our family meals were not always around a table. Franklin Curtus Justus, known as F.C.,  my grandmother’s brother, enjoyed camping in Pisgah Forest. He and his wife Ina lived in Hendersonville, North Carolina, so the commute was an easy one. They often invited other family members to join them for breakfast on Saturdays.

My dad was convinced that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, so he was eager to accept these invitations to a cooked meal on a creek bank. I can see his smile of anticipation, as we walked toward their camp site.

There is a lush area of cove forests and streams known as the Pink Beds, and this was the chosen place. The area is named for the profusion of pink wildflowers, including mountain laurel and rhododendron, which appears in the spring.

It was the smells that led us to breakfast from the car. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee burst through the air. Shortly behind were the scents of bacon frying in an iron skillet over a cooking fire. Hollers of welcome soon joined the mealtime odors.

Before long, blue tin plates, almost overflowing with eggs, grits, and bacon, were in each hand. Hot coffee or milk was poured into matching mugs. A hodgepodge of forks and spoons were available, and my grandparents (Alex and Edythe Cox), parents Sam and Evelyn Collins, various great aunts and uncles found canvas camp stools, metal lawn chairs, or stumps to sit on. There were always several station wagons, and the tail gates were let down for more seating.

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No one sat far away from the group, because everyone wanted to be part of the conversations. As the plates were cleaned, the chats increased.

Family memories were shared about my great grandparents and the rock house that Pop (Franklin Curtis Justus, 1871-1958) built. He was a contractor for the Saluda Grade that ran through the Saluda Mountain, and he owned acres of land in Hendersonville County until the Crash and Great Depression. A tall, strong man who took what was available in the job market, even if it was bagging groceries, to keep his family together. Hearing his adult children talk about him, their admiration was evident.

Granny (Minnie Fortune Justus, 1875-1970) graduated from Asheville Female College with a degree in Mistress of Arts and Sciences. To make ends meet for their large family of ten children, she took in boarders and used her gift of hospitality to make all welcome. From using clean, ironed cloth napkins at each meal to seeing that fresh room linens were always available, she taught her daughters why sharing the best was important. Even into her late 80’s, all received a warm welcome to her home.

I learned some of my family history at these breakfast picnics. This generation learned how to ride horses, before they drove cars. They plowed, planted, and weeded gardens before they ate the fruit of their labors and sold the access. Fishing, hunting, and raising beef cows, hogs, and chickens added to the vegetables they grew. Being only familiar with grocery shopping, their lives sounded like fascinating tall tales to me, similar to one of my favorite books, Little House on the Prairie.

Mostly I caught and grabbed hold to the love and respect that was an essential portion that tied them together. Though they lacked much in worldly possessions, they relished the retelling of stories about their kinfolk and lineage.

On my dad’s side of the family, we also often shared meals outdoors, rather than indoors.

For years, we spent his week of summer vacation at Mirror Lake Farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Though born in Louisville, Daddy, his two brothers, and sister learned to walk, climb trees, and milk cows on this dairy farm.

My grandmother Lulu and her brother and sister enjoyed getting together. When we visited, we spent one day in Lexington with her brother Owen Hitt. They lived outside the city, and his wife Carrie Lee would prepare a picnic lunch to be eaten on a picnic table under the trees in their back yard. There was fried chicken, an array of vegetables from her garden, hot biscuits with homemade butter, and cobbler for dessert. Sweet ice cold tea was the beverage. It was a feast! Our hostess was full of laughter and energetic. Our next treat was to go to the fence to talk and pat the horses in the field, and the adults joined us.

On another day, we went to Louisville to be with Aunt Kitty. Here we were back to the dining room with the lace tablecloth, silver, and lovely china. Our hostess was conscious of good eating habits, so baked chicken or ham, a couple of vegetables, yeast rolls, and usually a slice of pie were served. Water in goblets and coffee were served. This was where I first saw individual salt and pepper shakers and bread and butter plates and knives at each place, The table cloth and napkins were hand embroidered by her mother-in-law. I felt like a princess here and learned that table conversation can be quiet. Trying hard to be compliant and well-behaved in such surroundings was a challenge worth meeting. Going through the many book shelves in her home were the entertainment as the adults visited.

Lulu prepared a family picnic the day before we left for home. Contributions from everyone led to two eight-foot tables sagging under the weight of all the food offerings. Lulu’s garden served up lima beans, corn, tomatoes, green beans, and beets. Her blackberry cobbler and chocolate pie had to be tasted by all. Cousins came to play, and the yard was our playground. There was no jungle gym, but a tire swing hung from the apple tree. We hung on the rail fence to watch the cows meander back and forth from the barn. A game of softball catch was fun, and we tried our hands of little skill at horse shoes.

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Ladder back chairs and stools were brought out from the kitchen. The cast iron outdoor glider, swing, and chairs were arranged in a circle, so the adults could hear each other. We children were allowed to roam free after the blessing. Laughter and loud talking were in equal measure, as plates were refilled from the lavish tables.

They shared both familiar and new stories. Our ancestor Jesse James, the bank robber, was vilified and defended. Since we had all visited Boonesborough, Lulu would disclose her knowledge about Daniel Boone and his clearing a path through the Cumberland Gap. Then we begged for the story of Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia and his adventures in finding new land in Virginia with his Knights of the Golden Horseshoe. Sitting on the grass, making daisy-chain necklaces, these adventures became real.

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Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap (George Caleb Bingham, oil on canvas, 1851–52)

It is no wonder that I used to pack my little brown suitcase and want to go to “Tucky. Since it was my doll’s luggage, there was little room for anything. But I wasn’t planning on an extended stay; I was yearning for my family and their stories.

American writer, Michele Huey, said “Roots are, I’m learning, as important as wings.”

Our stories are important; let’s share them with family and friends.

 

 

 

Our Spring Gardens

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PLANT THREE ROWS OF PEAS:
Peace of mind
Peace of heart
Peace of soul

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PLANT FOUR ROWS OF SQUASH:
Squash gossip
Squash indifference
Squash grumbling
Squash selfishness

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PLANT FOUR ROWS OF LETTUCE:
Lettuce be faithful
Lettuce be kind
Lettuce be patient
Lettuce really love one another

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NO GARDEN IS WITHOUT TURNIPS:
Turnip for meetings
Turnip for service
Turnip to help one another

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TO CONCLUDE OUR GARDEN WE MUST HAVE THYME:
Thyme for each other
Thyme for family
Thyme for friends

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Water freely with patience and cultivate with love. There is much fruit in your garden because you reap what you sow. ~Unknown

Whether it is a flower garden or a vegetable garden, they both require hard work to flourish. My grandmother Lulu always had a vegetable garden on Mirror Lake Farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Her family and friends ate from its bounty all year long. A ginormous freezer chest in her basement was full at the end of the summer and ready to fill up again in the spring. Besides freezing the vegetables, the sleeping porch was full of Mason jars, always within hands-reach. Even into her 80’s, she worked a smaller plot.

The phrase “garden to table” was not used when Lulu was living, but that was the way she lived. It was her lifestyle.

In the late 1920’s, when she was twenty-eight and the mother of two boys and a daughter, Lulu and my grandfather moved to the farm on Mt. Eden Road. While the two-story farm house was built, they lived in the garage. This wooden building was basically one room. She washed dishes and clothes in a tin tub and cooked on a wood stove. There was a porcelain tub for bathing, and water came from the well. Every day, she fed the workers who built her home. She kept a coffee pot full and made biscuits each day to fill them up.

With all this going on every day, she was active in their church and home schooled her children. Lucile Hitt Collins was a generous, Southern lady, who had the gift of hospitality.

I believe Lulu knew what the above poem is talking about. Her own garden of daily living was an unselfish one, and she gave of her time to make the lives of others better. All through her life, I saw her taking joy from the flowers and vegetables in her garden. Every year, toward the end of February or the first of March, she would call my mom to tell her that the daffodils were finally blooming. Winters in that part of Kentucky sometimes isolated her from her friends and the town, so a sign of spring was time to celebrate. Those daffodils spoke joy and warmth to her.

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So what shall I plant in my daily garden? What about you?

As Roy. T. Bennett said, ““Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”

 

“Charleston Receipts”

I was born at Roper Hospital in Charleston and brought home to a first floor apartment at 128 Wentworth Street (photo below). My grandparents lived in another apartment above us on the second floor.

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From that point on, I have been all about Charleston, SC, even though we only lived there for my first three years.

One of the cookbooks my mother owned, and I now have, is the first edition of Charleston Receipts, published by the Junior League of Charleston. Hers was published in 1950, the first printing., and is well worn. This is the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print. It contains 750 recipes, Gullah verses, and sketches by various Charleston artists. In many ways, I believe it is a history book of my birthplace, not just a culinary history.

Elizabeth O’Neill Verner designed the green cover, and her sketches of St. Philip’s Church and St. Michael’s Church are included. Gullah cooks and Charleston hostesses both served these dishes for decades. The recipes were influenced by the family cooks, many of whom spoke the Gullah dialect, a centuries-old Atlantic Creole language that is illustrated and preserved throughout the pages of Charleston Receipts.
Raised in Kentucky, my daddy had never eaten grits until his freshman year at the Citadel. When he declined to spoon any grits onto his plate at his first breakfast, he was invited by an upperclassman to enjoy the whole bowl. For an extra taste of it, another bowl was provided from the kitchen. From then on, his favorite breakfast was grits, eggs, bacon, and biscuits.
Hominy or grits has always been a favorite in the low country of South Carolina. A poem included in this cookbook with the section on hominy and rice says:
Never call it “Hominy Grits”
Or you will give Charlestonians fits!
When it comes from the mill, it’s “grist”;
After you cook it well, I wisht,
You serve “hominy”! Do not skimp;
Serve butter with it and lots of shrimp.
In 1948, Charlestonians Martha Lynch Humphreys and Margaret B. Walker devoted themselves to compiling family recipes, most of which had never been documented. After four months of compiling and organizing, they decided on printing 2,000 copies. They sold out in four days!
“Yes, it is a collection of recipes, but the word “receipt” was used, and this is why.
Julie Daniels, a past president of the community-minded Junior League of Charleston calls it a document of a different, more leisurely time. “This was when people enjoyed supper at 3 o’clock in the afternoon,” says Daniels, “it’s when you’d bring out the china and the nice silverware. They celebrated the food.” Daniels says “some of these recipes are as old as Southern cooking itself.”
In browsing through this specialty cookbook, I believe that the majority of dishes are what we call comfort food today. Cream, butter, cheese, bacon, and sugar are used in abundance.
This legend was inducted into the McIlhenny Hall of Fame, an award given for book sales that exceed 100,000 copies.

 

Here are a couple of receipts.
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Peppermint Stick Ice Cream Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

1 cup milk

1 pint heavy cream

1/2 pound peppermint stick candy, crushed

Directions:

1. Heat milk in top of double-boiler; add candy and stir constantly until dissolved.

2. Pour into tray of refrigerator and chill.

3. Whip cream until thickened, but not stiff, and fold into chilled candy mixture.

4. Pour back into tray freeze with control set at coldest point, until firm. Stir once or twice during freezing.

5. Serve with hot fudge sauce.

Mrs. John Laurens (May Rose)

The ladies of the Charleston Junior League prepared this dish for Queen Elizabeth II during her 1957 trip to the U.S., and presented her with a copy of Charleston Receipts:

How could you chop off its cute little head?

Cooter Soup

1 large or 2 small “yellow belly” cooters (preferably female)
1 large onion, chopped
Salt, to taste
2 teaspoons allspice
Red pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons dry sherry
4 quarts water
1 small Irish potato, diced
12 whole cloves
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
Flour to thicken

Kill cooter by chopping off head. Let it stand inverted until thoroughly drained, then plunge into boiling water for five minutes. Crack the shall all around very carefully, so as not to cut the eggs which are lodged near surface. The edible parts are the front and hind quarters and a strip of white meat adhering to the back of the shell, the liver and the eggs. Remove all outer skin, which peels very easily if water is hot enough. Wash thoroughly and allow to stand in cold water a short while, or place in refrigerator overnight.

Boil cooter meat, onion and potato in the water, and cook until meat drops from bones – about 2 hours. Remove all bones and skin and cut meat up with scissors. Return meat to stock, add spices and simmer. Brown flour in skillet, mix with 1 cup of stock to smooth paste and thicken soup. Twenty minutes before serving add cooter eggs. Add sherry and garnish with thin slices of lemon. Serves 6-8.

-Mrs. Clarence Steinhart (Kitty Ford)

 

Charleston has a landscape that encourages intimacy and partisanship. I have heard it said that an inoculation to the sights and smells of the Carolina lowcountry is an almost irreversible antidote to the charms of other landscapes, other alien geographies. You can be moved profoundly by other vistas, by other oceans, by soaring mountain ranges, but you can never be seduced. You can even forsake the lowcountry, renounce it for other climates, but you can never completely escape the sensuous, semitropical pull of Charleston and her marshes. Pat Conroy

Delving into Charleston Receipts places Charleston on your own dining room table wherever you live.

Charleston Library Society

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Established December 28th, 1748 by nineteen young gentlemen of various trades and professions wishing to avail themselves of the latest publications from Great Britain, these men wished not only to keep abreast of the intellectual issues of the day but also to “save their descendants from sinking into savagery.” Ten pounds sterling bought their first order.

The initial group consisted of nine mer­­­­chants, two lawyers, a schoolmaster, a physician, two planters and a peruke maker (wig-maker).

  • Alexander Baron, schoolmaster from Scotland
  • Morton Brailsford, merchant
  • Samuel Brailsford, merchant
  • Robert Brisbane, merchant
  • John Cooper, merchant and distiller
  • James Grindlay, lawyer
  • William Logan, merchant
  • Alexander McCauley, peruke (wig) maker
  • Patrick McKie, physican
  • Thomas Middleton, planter
  • John Neufville, merchant
  • Thomas Sacheverell, planter
  • John Sinclair, merchant
  • Charles Stevenson, merchant
  • Peter Timothy, printer
  • Joseph Wragg, merchant
  • Samuel Wragg, merchant

 

First, they ordered pamphlets and magazines from London that had been printed the year before. Then they started ordering books; copies of classical books were a priority. The society was “in a large measure, a social club,” and by 1750 had about 160 members. Leaders in Charlestown’s society coveted membership.

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View of Charleston by W.R. Miller, 1853

Below is a water rice mill drawing view of SC John Drayton, original bound books, and an early painting.

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Image result for water rice mill drawing view of SC John Drayton,

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”

This organization paved the way for the founding of the College of Charleston in 1770; a goal of the membership was to promote education. By purchasing scientific instruments and providing regional exhibits, they promoted the study of the regional natural history. This was the origins for the founding of the Charleston Museum (the first in America) in 1773.

This collection was quite mobile. At first, elected librarians safeguarded the Library’s materials in their homes. In 1755, William Henderson was elected librarian of the Society, and collecting he moved the collections into the Free School (of which he was headmaster) on Broad Street. From 1765 until 1778, it resided in the upstairs of Gabriel Manigault’s liquor warehouse. In 1792, the collection was transferred to the upper floor of the Statehouse, currently the County Courthouse at Broad and Meeting.

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From 1835 until its 1914 move to the current King Street location, the Charleston Library Society occupied the Bank of South Carolina building at the corner of Church and Broad Streets. For their building fund, they sold “brick” memberships to the public.

This video takes us up the steps and inside the Library.

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Open for luncheons, author events, weddings, research, meetings, and whiling away a morning in the middle of another world, the Library is a popular venue in Charleston today. The newspaper collection dates back to 1732. The materials housed in the Library Society’s Archives and Special Collections contain more than 14,500 rare books, 5,000 rare and semi-rare pamphlets, 400 manuscript collections, and 470 maps and plats.

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“In 1914 the Library Society moved to its current location at 164 King Street. This was the first building to house our collection that was designed and built for the Society. Here, in this new building, members like DuBose Heyward, John Bennett, Beatrice Witte Ravenel, Albert Simons, Josephine Pinckney, and many others, studied and read and wrote, diligently weaving the cultural fabric of 20th-century Charleston.”

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Aren’t we grateful that those 19 young men believed in the importance of reading?

Louis L’Amour put it this way, “For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.”

     

 

 

Hobos During the Great Depression — Sheila Ingle

HiStoryThruTheAges

Today I’m happy to welcome author Sheila Ingle as she shares some of the history behind her latest story. Read through to the end to find out how to enter for a chance to win Tales of a Cosmic Possum.

It was the worst of times. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described America during the Great Depression as a nation “dying by inches.”

When the stock market crashed on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, people lost everything. Not only their jobs and their money, but also their homes, cars, and peace of mind.

A hobo is a traveling vagabond who goes on and off trains looking for work. Hobos couldn’t buy tickets, so they sneaked onto trains. They would run beside the train, grab onto to it, and then climb in. Hence, the name riding the rails.

 In Union, South Carolina, there was a hobo camp/jungle where the Buffalo…

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