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The Charleston Library Society

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
• Dr. 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 Charleston’s society coveted membership.

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 also was the origins for the founding of the Charleston Museum (the first in America) in 1773. The 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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow collection in the Archives.
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.

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.

Aren’t we grateful that those 19 young men who 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.”

President Herbert Hoover and the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Kings Mountain

Image result for Battle of King's MountainThis past Friday, October 7, 2016, about 500 men, women, and children met on the top of Kings Mountain, SC. It was a rainy day, and the celebration of the 236 Anniversary was under tents. Some were dressed in Revolutionary War attire, and others were in their Sunday clothes.

On the 150th Celebration of this pivotal battle in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, President Herbert Hoover spoke. His words plainly tell us the significance of this battle to our country.

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“My fellow countrymen:

This is a place of inspiring memories. Here less than a thousand men, inspired by the urge of freedom, defeated a superior force entrenched in this strategic position. This small band of patriots turned back a dangerous invasion well designed to separate and dismember the united Colonies. It was a little army and a little battle, but it was of mighty portent. History has done scant justice to its significance, which rightly should place it beside Lexington and Bunker Hill, Trenton and Yorktown, as one of the crucial engagements in our long struggle for independence.

The Battle of Kings Mountain stands out in our national memory not only because of the valor of the men of the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia, who trod here 150 years ago, and because of the brilliant leadership of Colonel [William] Campbell, but also because the devotion of those men revived the courage of the despondent Colonies and set a nation upon the road of final triumph in American independence.

No American can review the vast pageant of human progress so mightily contributed to by these men without renewed faith in humanity, new courage, and strengthened resolution.

My friends, I have lived among many peoples and have observed many governments. Each has its own institutions and its own ideals, its own spirit. Many of them I have learned to respect and to admire. It is from these contrasts and these experiences that I wish to speak today-to speak upon the institutions, the ideals, upon the spirit of America.

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In the time since the Battle of Kings Mountain was fought our country has marched from those struggling Colonies on the Atlantic seaboard to the full sweep of the Pacific. It has grown from fewer than 3 million people to more than 120 million. But far more inspiring than its growth of numbers has been the unfolding of a great experiment in human society. Within this land there have been build up new and powerful institutions designed of new ideas and new ideals in a new vision of human relations. Through them we have attained a wider diffusion of liberty and of happiness and of material things than humanity has ever known before. Our people live in a stronger security from enemies abroad and in greater comfort at home than has ever before been the fortune of a nation. We are filled with justifiable pride in the valor, the inventions, the contributions to art and literature, the moral influence of our people. We glow with satisfaction at the multitude of activities in the Nation, the State, the local community, which spread benefits and blessings amongst us. We may be proud of our vast economic development over these 150 years, which has secured to the common man greater returns for his effort and greater opportunity for his future than exist in any offer place on the Earth.

In the large sense we have maintained open the channels of opportunity, constantly refreshing the leadership of the Nation by men of lowly beginnings. We have no class or caste or aristocracy whose privilege limits the hopes and opportunities of our people. Science and education have been spread until they are the universal tools of the common man. They have brought to him the touch of a thousand finer things of life. They have enlarged the horizon of our vision into the inspiring works of God.

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This unparalleled rise of the American man and woman was not alone the result of riches in lands or forests or mines; it sprang from ideas and ideals, which liberated the mind and stimulated the exertion of a people. There were other parts of the world even more easily accessible to new invasion by man, whose natural resources were as great as those of the United States, yet their history over this 150 years presents no achievement parallel to the mighty march of the United States. But the deadening poverty of other lands was in the absence of the stirring ideas and ideals which have lightened the path of the whole American people. A score of nations have borrowed our philosophy from us, and they have tempered the course of history in yet a score of others. All have prospered under them.

These ideas and these ideals were in the hearts and inspired the souls of the men who fought the Battle of Kings Mountain. They had spurred the migration of their fathers from the persecutions and restricted opportunities of Europe, had been sustained by their religious faith, had been developed in their conflict with the wilderness, and had become the spirit of the American people, demanding for man a larger mastership of his own destiny. Our forefathers formulated them through the Declaration and the Constitution into a new and practical political and social system unique in the world. Devoted generations have secured them to us.

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It is never amiss for us to review these principles, that we uphold our faith in them, that we search our fidelity to them, that by stretch of our vision over the vast pageant of our accomplishment we should gain courage to meet the difficulties of the day.

Our political system was a revolt from dictatorship, whether by individuals or classes. It was rounded upon the conception that freedom was inalienable, and that liberty and freedom should rest upon law, and that law should spring from the expressed wisdom of the representatives of the majority of the people themselves. This self-government was not in itself a new human ideal, but the Constitution which provided its framework, with the checks and balances which gave it stability, was of marvelous genius. Yet of vastly more importance than even the machinery of government was the inspired charter of the rights of men which it guaranteed. Under them we hold that all men are created equal, that they are equal before the law, and that they should be safeguarded in liberty and, as we express it latterly, in equality of opportunity to every individual that he may achieve for himself and for the community the best to which his character, his ability, and his ambition entitle him.

No student of American history can fail to realize that these principles and ideals grew largely out of the religious origins and spiritual aspirations of our people. From them spring at once the demand for free and universal education, that the door of opportunity and the ladder to leadership should be free for every new generation, to every boy and girl. It is these human rights and the success of government which has maintained them that have stimulated the initiative and effort in each individual, the sum of which has been the gigantic achievement of the Nation. They are the precious heritage of America, far more important, far more valuable, than all the riches in land and mines and factories that we possess. Never had these principles and ideals been assembled elsewhere and combined into government. This is the American system.

We have lived and breathed it. We have seldom tried even to name it. Perhaps we might well abandon efforts to define it–for things of the spirit can be little defined. Some have called it liberalism, but that term has become corrupted by political use. Some have called it individualism, but it is not an individualism which permits men to override the equal opportunity of others. By its enemies it has been called capitalism, and yet under its ideals capital is but an instrument, not a master. Some have called it democracy, yet democracy exists elsewhere under social ideals which do not embrace equality of opportunity.

Ours is a system unique with America–an expression of the spirit and environment of our people–it is just American.

Parallel with us, other philosophies of society and government have continued or developed and new ones have come into the world, born of the spirit of other peoples and other environments. It is a function of freedom that we should search their claims with open mind, but it is a function of common sense that we should reject them the moment they fail in the test. From experiences in many lands I have sometimes compared some of these systems to a race. In the American system, through free and universal education, we train the runners, we strive to give to them an equal start, our Government is the umpire of its fairness. The winner is he who shows the most conscientious training, the greatest ability, the strongest character. Socialism or its violent brother, Bolshevism, would compel all the runners to end the race equally; it would hold the swiftest to the speed of the most backward. Anarchy would provide neither training nor umpire. Despotism or class government picks those who run and also those who win.

Whatever the merits or demerits of these other systems may be, they all mean the destruction of the driving force of equal opportunity, and they mean the destruction of our Constitution, for our political framework would serve none of them and many of its fundamental provisions are the negation of them. They mean the abandonment of the Nation’s spiritual heritage.

It is significant that some of these systems deny religion and seek to expel it. I cannot conceive of a wholesome social order or a sound economic system that does not have its roots in religious faith. No blind materialism can for long engage the loyalties of mankind. Economic aspiration, though it strongly marks the American system, is not an end in itself, but is only one of many instruments to accomplish the profound purposes of the American people, which are largely religious in origin. This country is supremely dedicated, not to the pursuit of material riches, but to pursuit of a richer life for the individual.

It would be foolish for me to stand here and say that our political and social system works perfectly. It does not. The human race is not perfect yet. There are disheartening occurrences every hour of the day. There are always malevolent or selfish forces at work which, unchecked, would destroy the very basis of our American life. These forces of destruction vary from generation to generation; and if we would hand on our great inheritance to our children, we must successfully contend with them.

While we cannot permit any foreign person or agency to undermine our institutions, yet we must look to our own conduct that we do not, by our own failure to uphold and safeguard the true spirit of America, weaken our own institutions and destroy the very forces which upbuild our national greatness. It is in our own house that our real dangers lie, and it is there that we have need to summon our highest wisdom and our highest sense of public service.

We must keep corruptive influences from the Nation and its ideals as we would keep them from our homes. Crime and disobedience of law are the very incarnation of destruction to a system whose basis is law. Both pacifism and militarism court danger from abroad, the one by promoting weakness, the other by promoting arrogance. Failure of many of our citizens to express their opinions at the ballot box is at once their abandonment of the whole basis of self-government. Manipulation of the ballot is a denial of government by the people. Corruption or even failure of moral perceptions in public office defiles the whole spirit of America. Mere destructive criticism destroys leadership and substitutes weaklings.

Any practice of business which would dominate the country by its own selfish interests is a destruction of equality of opportunity. Government in business, except in emergency, is also a destruction of equal opportunity and the incarnation of tyranny through bureaucracy. Tendencies of communities and States to shirk their own responsibilities or to unload them upon the Federal Government, or of the Federal Government to encroach upon the responsibilities of the States, are destructive of our whole pattern of self-government. But these evils cannot shatter our ideals or subvert our institutions if we hold the faith. The knowledge of danger is a large part of its conquest.

It is the first duty of those of us who believe in the American system to maintain a knowledge of and a pride in it, not particularly because we need fear those foreign systems, but because we have need to sustain ours in purity and in strength.

The test of our system of government and of our social principles and ideals as compared to others may in part be interpreted by the practical results of the 150 years of growth that have brought to us the richness of life which spreads through this great Nation. I can give you some measurement both of our standards and of our social progress. In proportion to our population, we have one-fourth more of our children in grade schools than the most advanced other country in Europe, and for every thousand of our young people we have six and one-half times as many in colleges and universities. And I may add that today we have more of our youth in institutions of higher learning than all the rest of the 1,500 million people of the world put together.

Compared with even the most advanced other country in Europe, we shall find an incomparably greater diffusion of material well-being. We have twice the number of homes owned among every thousand people that they have; we consume four times as much electricity and we have seven times as many automobiles; for each thousand people we have more than four times as many telephones and radio sets; our use of food and clothing is far greater; we have proportionately only one-twentieth as many people in the poorhouse or upon public charity.

There is a profound proof, moreover, that the doors of opportunity have indeed been kept open. The posts of leadership in our country, both in government and in other activities, are held by men who have risen to command. A canvass of the leading administrative officials of our Federal Government, of our industries, and of our professions, shows that 90 percent of them started life with no financial inheritance. Despite the misrepresentations of demagoguery, there are today more chances for young men to rise, and for young women too, than there were 30 years ago.

We shall not have full equality of opportunity until we have attained that ultimate goal of every right-thinking citizen–the abolition of poverty of mind and home. Happily for us we have gone further than others on this road and we make new gains every decade.

But these tangible things which we can reduce to statistics and comparisons are but a part of America. The great intangibles of the spirit of a people are immeasurable–our sense of freedom, of liberty, of security, our confidence of future progress, our traditions of past glory and sacrifice, the example of our heroes, the spiritual enrichment of our people these are the true glories of America.

The world about us is tormented with the spiritual and economic struggles that attend changing ideals and systems. Old faiths are being shaken. But we must follow our own destiny. Our institutions are a growth. They come out of our history as a people. Our ideals are a binding spiritual heritage. We cannot abandon them without chaos. We can follow them with confidence.

Our problems are the problems of growth. They are not the problems of decay. They are less difficult than those which confronted generations before us. The forces of righteousness and wisdom work as powerfully in our generation as in theirs. The flame of freedom burns as brightly in every American heart. There need be no fear for the future of a Republic that seeks inspiration from the spirit of the men who fought at the Battle of Kings Mountain.”

The President spoke at 2:30 p.m. to an estimated crowd of 30,000 assembled at the battlefield site in Kings Mountain, S.C. The National Broadcasting Company and Columbia Broadcasting System radio networks carried his message.

Before the Overmountain men left their homes to stop Major Patrick Ferguson from attacking their homes and land, as he threatened to do. Reverend Samuel Doak prayed over those frontiersmen and ended his prayer with,” Oh, God of Battle, arise in Thy might. Avenge the slaughter of Thy people. Confound those who plot for our destruction. Crown this mighty effort with victory, and smite those who exalt themselves against liberty and justice and truth. Help us as good soldiers to wield the SWORD OF THE LORD AND GIDEON. AMEN.

Image result for Battle of King's MountainMajor Patrick Ferguson

The citizen soldiers in the Patriot militia from Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia fought against a group of Tory militia led by Major Patrick Ferguson. It was Americans fighting Americans. In a one hour battle, the Patriots drew a line in the sand to the British army and King George.

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The Patriots meant business. The sovereignty of England was not a sure thing. Civil liberty, freedom to worship, owning land were worth fighting four. These first settlers, after months of fighting proved they could defeat the strongest army in the world. This decisive victory gave new heart and pride to the Patriots; this was the first major defeat in the south.

The Overmountain men made sure their 250 mile walk was worth each step.

As Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s soul’s. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and women.”

Yes, thank you, for your service to our country!


Festifall at Walnut Grove

“The benefits of education and of useful knowledge, generally diffused through a community, are essential to the preservation of a free government.” Sam Houston

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This Revolutionary War Festival has been introducing visitors to life during these early times for 23 years. Reenactors make butter, baskets, and corn husk dolls. They craft wooden buckets and brooms, farm implements from molten iron, pottery vases, and cooking implements. It is fascinating to watch these creations from their beginnings to the finished products.

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Men, women, and children camp out in tents for two nights, and they wear the clothes of the late 18th century. The militia recreate the battle for the house against a group of Tories led by Bloody Bill Cunningham.

Image may contain: one or more peopleThis gentleman was sharing the skills of surveying during the 18th Century. President George Washington was a surveyor.
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These past two days I enjoyed meeting new friends, talking about the women during the Revolutionary War, and signing books. Two visitors shared stories with me that touched this author’s heart.

A former third grade teacher and her grandson stopped by my table, and she said she read “Courageous Kate” in her classroom every year until retirement. Then she passed the book on to her daughter for her to read to her third graders. Another family stopped by, who I have met at different historical events through the years; they home school their children. One of their daughters told me she had read “Courageous Kate” times! I bet she has it memorized by now.

Thank you, readers, for continuing to support my writing. It is so much fun to talk to you about our nation’s history and how we must continue to share the stories with the next generation, as well as each other.

October Events:

October 1-2 – Festifall at Walnut Grove

October 13 – DAR chapter at Myrtle Beach

October 15 – Patriots in Petticoats at Musgrove Mill

Over 350 Million Dollars Given Away

He was fond of saying that “the man who dies rich, dies disgraced,” And so he, turned his attention to giving away his fortune. He abhorred charity, and instead put his money to use helping others help themselves. That was the reason he spent much of his collected fortune on establishing over 2,500 public libraries, as well as supporting institutions of higher learning. By the time his life was over, he had given away 350 million dollars.

Who was this American philanthropist? Andrew Carnegie.

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This industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. Carnegie grew up in a family that believed in the importance of books and learning. The son of a handloom weaver, Carnegie grew up to become one of the wealthiest businessmen in America.

At the age of 13, in 1848, Carnegie came to the United States with his family. They settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and Carnegie went to work in a factory, earning $1.20 a week. The next year he found a job as a telegraph messenger. Hoping to advance his career, he moved up to a telegraph operator position in 1851. He succeeded at each new job; he worked hard, kept his eyes open, and mastered each position. As they say, the rest is history.

My hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina’s first “public” library opened on October 17, 1885, on the top floor of a two-story building facing Kennedy Place; it was a gift to the city. Among the library’s first holdings was Dr. Kennedy’s 600-volume medical library and some 300 other books collected by the citizens of Spartanburg. The yearly subscription fee was $3.

The facility soon was adopted by the Ladies Auxiliary Association, which kept it stocked with books and furniture. By 1899, the ladies realized that Spartanburg was on the verge of outgrowing the little library. They wrote Andrew Carnegie, asking for a contribution to help build a new library. After four years of correspondence, the Kennedy Library Board was notified in June 1903 that Carnegie would donate $15,000 if the city would purchase the land and contribute $1,500 annually in support of the library. And it was done.

His generosity helped communities construct 2,811 free public libraries across America and 13 in South Carolina.

“A taste for reading is one of the most precious possessions of life.” -Andrew Carnegie

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon this earth as the Free Public Library.” -Andrew Carnegie

“The man who enters a library is in the best society the world offers”                  -Andrew Carnegie


In Union, SC  is another library at 300 E. South Street which bears Carnegie’s name.

In Union Carnegie Library History, Jennie Holton Fant describes Carnegie as “a self-made immigrant,” who “succeeded in becoming the richest man in the world, with little education. He believed great wealth begets an obligation to provide for those of lesser fortune and he spent his money making books and information the shared property of all people, rich or poor. His free libraries were built to be a progressive hub of civic and cultural life for all citizens of a community. Fourteen towns in South Carolina benefited from the millionaire industrialist’s generosity between 1903 and 1920. He gave South Carolina $124,700 for thirteen public libraries to be built, and aid to one private library — the equivalent of over a million dollars today.”

The Union Library was the first public library in South Carolina.

Carnegie had a mission. This mission was born in Allegheny City, Pa., where Carnegie worked as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill — his job was to fill the bobbins with thread and oil them for the machines. He was determined to improve his lot, but he couldn’t pay the $2 subscription for a local library that was available only to apprentices (and he certainly couldn’t afford to buy books).

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He sent a letter to the library administrator asking for access to the library, but the administrator turned him down flat. So 17-year-old Andy got the letter published in The Pittsburgh Dispatch.

“He made his case so well that the administrator backed off immediately,” explains Carnegie biographer David Nasaw. “And the library was opened to working men as well as apprentices. He got what he wanted.”

In 1889 Carnegie wrote an article called “The Gospel of Wealth,” in which he spelled out his views on philanthropy: “In bestowing charity the main consideration should be to help those who help themselves.”

I would describe myself as an avid reader. From the early years of reading about Dick and Jane, I have sought out stories. During elementary school years, there was a limit of 15 books that could be checked out of the Kennedy Library in Spartanburg. They could be kept for two weeks. I ravenously read my choices and was always ready to check out more before those weeks were up.

Following in the reading lists of Mother and my grandmothers, I tended to read historical novels and biographies. There was a series of biographies of famous people that were in orange covers that I perused over-and-over. Gwen Bristow, Ken Follett, and Inglis Fletcher enthralled me with places and times I could only read about. Historical fiction is still my go-to comfort, but suspense and stories about my state also have their places on my book shelves. Pat Conroy, David Baldacchi, Kristin Hannah, Anthony Doerr, John Grisham are a few favorites.

Another one of my favorite authors is Charles Dickens, and he said,  “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

Thank you, Andrew Carnegie, for giving so much money away to brighten our lives one hundred years later.




Knights of the Golden Horseshoe

My brother and I grew up listening to the story of Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood and the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe. We never tired of hearing our grandmother Lulu tell this exciting tale.

While on the Internet yesterday, I ran across an event that was celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition, which took place in August and September 1716 and ended at Fort Germanna. Oh, how I wish I could have been in Virginia this past weekend.

Governor Spotswood was a visionary, as well as an entrepreneur. He designed the Governor’s Palace, the magazine,  and St. Bruton’s Church in Williamsburg. Looking for ways to expand the colony of Virginia, he recruited a “company of gentlemen,” to prove that the Blue Ridge could be easily crossed.  And he was the first to cross the Appalachian Mountains.

It was an illustrious group who mounted their horses and rode into uncharted forests, over rivers, and up mountains.

Many of these recruits had sons and grandsons who played important roles in the development of the American Republic. Among them was George Mason, whose son worked with George Washington to draft the Fairfax Resolves, and who designed much of the constitution of the new state of Virginia. Then there was James Taylor, the ancestor of two Presidents—James Madison and Zachary Taylor. Robert Brooke’s grandson became governor of Virginia in 1798, and Thomas Todd’s family helped secure Kentucky for the Americans during the Revolution, and produced a future First Lady for Abraham Lincoln.

We know about their adventures because John Fontaine described  and wrote about them; he kept a diary. Then there were others who recounted the narrative.

The reality started on August 20, 1716. Pack horses carried ample provisions. After all, this was a gentleman’s journey.

(See how Spotswood’s party lived on the trail in the picture to the right.)



Before beginning the ascent, the well-mounted, well-armed company had their horses shod, horses being accustomed to traverse the low country, where there were few stones, without shoes, and then camping and eating and drinking by night and pressing sturdily on by day the party finally reached the mountain’s summit, where they cut his Majesty’s name upon the rock of the highest peak, naming it Mount George, in honor of their sovereign, King George I, and the next highest peak Mount Alexander, in honor of Governor Spotswood.

The men, including the Indian chief, who had led their party sat on various rocks to behold the splendor of Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Governor Spotswood carried his thoughts into the future, and imagined the fine country which he beheld, peopled and glowing under the hands of the husbandman, and all his bright anticipations were more than realized. He could see farms, crops, dirt roads, and villages. At length he turned the man who sat near him not less entranced, and said, “They call me a visionary, but what imagination ever conjured up a vision like that?”

tomajestyFinally they descended to the Valley of the Shenandoah, loaded their muskets and feasted. They drank the health of the King in champagne and fired a volley; the health of the Princess in burgundy and fired a volley; the health of all other members of the royal family in claret and fired a volley, and wound up by drinking to the health of the energetic Governor who had led them to the promised land — not forgetting the volley.

goldenhorseshoe1And then they rode homeward as cheerily as they had set out reaching Williamsburg on September 17.

To commemorate the event and encourage new enterprises and settlements westward, Governor Spotswood gave to each of the company a miniature golden horseshoe, set with garnets to represent nail heads. Upon each was the inscription “Sic juvat transcendere montes” translated “Thus it is delightful to cross the mountains.” (Lulu’s voice took on a sense of wonder as she said these words.)

Thus the members of the expedition were known as the “Knights of the Horseshoe” and any gentleman entitled to wear this golden horseshoe proved he had drunk his Majesty’s health upon the summit of Mount George.

This is the only portrait of Governor Spotswood. The last time I saw it was hanging at Carter’s Grove Plantation. Don’t you love his wig? But his face is so kind. I believe I am going to be sharing more stories about this adventurer, because he was a Renaissance man that helped change America’s history.

Today in 1714: Virginia Gov. Spotswood takes note of new colony of Germans

“Bum, Bum, Bum Here We Come!”

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The serious Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.”

As adults, we don’t play like we did as children, but the memories of those fun days of playing with neighborhood children can suddenly flood our minds.

Yesterday, I went to a PEO meeting and was asked by one of the members where I had been. I missed last month’s meeting, and she had missed the one in July, so we hadn’t seen each other.

What came out of my mouth was certainly unexpected and truly made me smile.

I replied, “Pretty girl’s station” and then went on to recite the rest of that game’s answers.

Sitting in front of me was one of my contemporaries, and we laughed together. Neither one of us could remember how it started, so I went to Google for information today. If you aren’t of a certain age, this outside game might not be familiar to you.

Pretty Girl Station is the game I remember playing in the front yard of our home on Penarth Road. Even though the name is exclusive for today’s time, it was played by the neighborhood children for a slew of years.

Participants are divided into two teams, and being even isn’t important. Even with all the trees in our front yard, it was easy to face each other in a line-of-sorts.

Both sides decide on an occupation they want to pretend to be for the other side to guess. Since this was a children’s game, those jobs were easy ones to guess and portray, like fireman, nurses, etc. Mostly the choices were from television or pictures in books that we were all familiar with.Then Team A, with much fanfare and drama, walked toward the other team, saying, “Bum, bum, bum. Here we come.”

And then the questions and answers begin.

Where’re you from? (Team B)
Pretty Girl Station (Team A)

What’s your occupation? (Team B)
Most any old thing (Team A)

Then get to work! (Team B)

And then Team A plays out their occupation, similar to charades. When the job is recognized Team B, then Team A runs screaming (a most important part of this game) to get back to their side without being caught by Team B. If caught, then a child had to become a member of Team B.

This game continues could while away many hours of a summer afternoon. I can picture the fun, even if I don’t recognize the children.

Besides playing it at school, we also played it on the playground at First Baptist kindergarten.

“Life is more fun if you play games,” said Roald Dahl, and his writing declares that reading can also be fun.

So I might not go to the yard to march around singing, “Bum, Bum, Bum, Here I come,” this afternoon, I will certainly have a book in hand for a while.

Why don’t you join me for a fun afternoon with your book? As Martha Stewart always says, “It’s a good thing.”


Donuts, Birthday Wishes, Starfish, and Turkeys

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We are all touched by the kindness of others.

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” -Mark Twain

My dad loved donuts, as well as all things chocolate and more specifically my mother.

When I was a teenager, I found out that he had a donuts ministry. At random times, he would visit Krispy Kreme to buy several boxes of donuts. Then he would deliver these boxes to his mechanic, his doctor’s and dentist’s offices, and the law offices of men that he worked with. Several times a year, this was his schedule before he went to work at the bank.

I found out about this when he had surgery and couldn’t drive. He asked me one day to help him with some errands. After we picked up the donuts, he shared his route with me. At each stop, Daddy delivered the boxes of donuts. It was quite obvious that he was welcomed by all.

When we headed home, I asked why he was taking donuts to these businesses. His response was simple; “I want to let them know I appreciate them.”

There is no telling how many years he treated his cohorts to a box of donuts, but I do know he gifted them after his retirement.

Then he started another thoughtful gesture with his friends at church. He was a member of a group called the Young At Heart. Obviously this was a group made up of retirees. They met each month for lunch and went on trips together. In their newsletter was listed individual birthdays. Daddy started calling those on the list to wish them happy birthday. Even when his macular degeneration took his eyesight, he would have mother dial the numbers for him and  then greet his friends.

It was amazing through the years to hear the genuine thanks from others for these two small things he did on a regular basis.

You probably remember this old story.

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks.

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”

“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”

My brother had a turkey ministry. He bought turkeys and took them to families during the holidays. Whether they were members of his church or not, he seemed to find out about situations where a turkey would make a difference.

Then when he was going through his last bout with cancer, he took homemade chicken salad or pimento cheese to the those nurses and technicians that worked in the chemotherapy department. No, he didn’t make these Southern standbys; his sweet wife did that. But he never went to an appointment empty-handed. He was grateful they were trying to help him, and he appreciated it.

“There are things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” -Henry James

So shall we be more kind? Can you imagine the difference in our world if everyone chose to be kind?

Whether a box of donuts, a phone call, a turkey, or homemade pimento cheese, kindness takes on its own heart when shared with someone else.