RSS Feed

Author Archives: Sheila Ingle

Happy Birthday, America!

Posted on

In 1783, President George Washington remarked, “The citizens of this country are, from this period, as the actors on a most conspicuous theater, which seems to be peculiarly designed by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity.”

And with his background of leadership in the founding of our country, he knew the men that he had worked and fought with.

Declaration of Independence (Trumbull) - Wikipedia

We have the privilege of celebrating the anniversary of the signing of our Declaration of Independence this weekend. Twelve colonies had representatives who signed this document, and New York followed suit in August. It was after the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, in fact 442 days after these events in Massachusetts.

The signers were men of conviction who, by signing their names, put themselves, their families, and their land at major risk. Here are some facts that inspire me to remember them.

U.S. Capitol paintings. Declaration of Independence, painting by John  Trumbull in U.S. Capitol, detail II | Library of Congress

Eighteen of the signers were merchants or businessmen, 14 were farmers, and four were doctors. Forty-two signers had served in their colonial legislatures. Twenty-two were lawyers—although William Hooper of North Carolina was “disbarred” when he spoke out against the Crown–and nine were judges. Stephen Hopkins had been Governor of Rhode Island. Although two others had been clergy previously, John Witherspoon of New Jersey was the only active clergyman to attend–he wore his robes to the sessions. Almost all were Protestant Christians; Charles Carroll of Maryland was the only Roman Catholic signer.

Seven of the signers were educated at Harvard, four each at Yale and William & Mary, and three at Princeton. John Witherspoon was the president of Princeton, and George Wythe was a professor at William & Mary, where his students included the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

Writing the Declaration of Independence in 1776 Painting by Jean-Leon  Gerome... | 1st Art Gallery

Seventeen of the signers served in the military during the American Revolution. Thomas Nelson was a colonel in the Second Virginia Regiment and then commanded Virginia military forces at the Battle of Yorktown. William Whipple served with the New Hampshire militia and was one of the commanding officers in the decisive Saratoga campaign. Oliver Wolcott led the Connecticut regiments sent for the defense of New York and commanded a brigade of militia that took part in the defeat of General Burgoyne. Caesar Rodney was a Major General in the Delaware militia  and John Hancock was the same in the Massachusetts militia.

The Declaration of Independence Painting by American School

Five of the signers were captured by the British during the war. Captains Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton (South Carolina) were all captured at the Battle of Charleston in 1780; Colonel George Walton was wounded and captured at the Battle of Savannah. Richard Stockton of New Jersey never recovered from his incarceration at the hands of British Loyalists and died in 1781.

Drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776 Painting by American School

Colonel Thomas McKean of Delaware wrote John Adams that he was “hunted like a fox by the enemy–compelled to remove my family five times in a few months, and at last fixed them in a little log house on the banks of the Susquehanna . . . and they were soon obliged to move again on account of the incursions of the Indians.” Abraham Clark of New Jersey had two of his sons captured by the British during the war. The son of John Witherspoon, a major in the New Jersey Brigade, was killed at the Battle of Germantown.

Eleven signers had their homes and property destroyed. Francis Lewis’s New York home was destroyed and his wife taken prisoner. John Hart’s farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Thomas Nelson (both of Virginia) lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort, but were never repaid.

Those fifty-six signers had no idea what the future would bring, but their conviction was firm. The last words of the Declaration of Independence are quite clear as to what they would sacrifice. “We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” But still they signed their names.

Yankee Doodle Art Print featuring the painting The Spirit of '76 by War Is Hell Store

It sounds like it is time for a standing ovation of several minutes, doesn’t it?

Dr. Peter Marshall once said, “May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” I believe those signers took the opportunity to do what was right.

With leaders like this that we call the Founding Fathers, we have the privilege to sing “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and many others.

And it is a day to party, to celebrate the birthday of the country we call home, the United States of America!

My family had a regular menu for July 4th, and mine is always similar. It was always cold watermelon, barbeque, baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs, and peach cobbler. Sometimes achurn of homemade ice cream was added, just because.

You probably have your favorite day all planned, too, by spending time with family and friends.

Happy birthday, America! Happy Fourth of July to all of you!

A South Carolina Trailblazer

Mary Vardrine McBee was the daughter of Silas and Mary Estelle McBee. Her father was a well-known layman of the Episcopal Church and the editor of “The Churchman.” He was elected Clerk of Court 3 times and invested in cotton mills and railroads.

Mary was named for her mother and grandfather Vardry Alexander McBee.

Her great grandfather was Vardry McBee, one of the founders of Greenville. In addition to a brickyard, quarry, and corn, grist and saw mills, McBee established a tannery to produce the leather needed for saddles and shoes. He also set up a Main Street store that sold saddles, bridles, harnesses and other leather goods, probably including boots and shoes.

When her mother died, Mary, her older sister Estelle, and younger brother Silas went to live with their aunt in Philadelphia. Her father married again, and the children returned to NC.

Mary’s boarding school was Fairmont School for Young Ladies in Monteagle, Tennessee. Since this college was not certified, Mary had to pass college entrance exams before being accepted to Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts.

According to her niece, Mary had been out of school for four years when she made application to take the college entrance examinations. For three long days, she wrote away and passed all except two exams.

In order to be admitted, she had to make up one of these two. Immediately, she sat down and took the algebra examination. She passed!

And so it was that on a cold, rainy Fall day in 1902, a joyful sub-Freshman, who had just passed her algebra entrance examination, picked up her heavy long skirts and hurried behind Dr. Brady, the Latin Professor, across the campus toward the administration building.

She fixed her eyes on Dr. Brady’s old-fashion high boots and saw water fly out in every direction with each step he took. It was in this atmosphere created by the sight of the stern old gentleman wading through the water that the idea, the dream of Ashley Hall was born.

 Miss McBee was then, still, a very young lady, but despite this, she had the determination and strength of purpose to last her through four years of college until her dream was completed. 

Mary then matriculated and graduated from Columbia University with a masters in history and education. But the dream of establishing a girls school in the South never left her. Speaking in Greenville to a Kiwanis Club in 1943, she said,” I went through college with this idea, and everything was connected to it.”

During the year of 1909, she went to Charleston with her idea of starting that school for young ladies. From her own experience, she realized that the South lacked a school which gave the necessary college requirements to Southern girls, and so, on a day in late September, in the year 1909, Ashley Hall began.

The Patrick Duncan House on Rutledge Avenue, owned by the C.O. Witte estate, was for sale, and Mary thought it very suitable, but its asking price was far higher than the $16,000 she could put together at the time. 

McBee was pleasantly surprised when Charles Sloan, a neighbor of the Guerry’s and son-in-law to the late Mr. Witte, personally requested that she submit a bid for the house. The Witte family favored it becoming a girls’ school, since Mr. Witte had raised six daughters of his own and had thought the property a fit setting for just such an enterprise.

 Eventually a deal was struck for $25,000 and Mary had her schoolhouse in downtown Charleston. After some consideration, she chose to name the new school Ashley Hall for the river that coursed to the west and because she felt the house was grand enough to be called a “hall.” She was 29.

Vardrine immediately faced four primary challenges: developing a comprehensive curriculum; employing faculty and staff; fitting out the Witte property for classes and boarders; and recruiting students.

Happy 138th Birthday to Ashley Hall's founder, Miss McBee!

The all-girls school was Mary’s brainchild, and Ashley Hall made her a pioneer in education. Her established motto for the school is Possunt Quae Volunt, or “Girls who have the will have the ability.”

Ashley Hall was the result of Mary’s will and ability. She passed it on to her students.

Facebook

On October 4, 1909, the school opened. There were 14 boarders and 31 day students. The first enrolled day student was Josephine Pinckney, and the first enrolled boarder was Pauline Sanders.

These girls, this class of forty-five students, became the first members of a school which has grown and improved to become one of the outstanding college preparatory schools in the country.

The first year there were no graduates. But in 1911 three girls: Lucille Lebby, Katherine Paul, and Ethel Thrower, were the first graduates. Then in 1912, an industrious young student, Mary Howden, took the college entrance examinations, passed, and gained for Ashley Hall the prominence it needed to become a certified school. And so three years after its beginning Ashley Hall was well on its way to success. 

Ashley Hall: An Innovator and Leader in Girls' Education for 110 Years

Teachers were carefully chosen, and Mary herself taught the history classes. As one student remarked, “the teachers were an impressive group of intelligent, thoughtful, and well-educated ladies and gentlemen.”

More buildings had to be bought and renovated, as the student population grew.

For forty years, until her retirement, Mary McBee led by example. She envisioned a place of learning that would produce educated women who are independent, ethically responsible, and prepared to meet the challenges of society with confidence. And for 111 years this month, Ashley Hall has succeeded.

Ashley Hall events to mark 100 years | News | postandcourier.com

Outside of her roles as founder and head of Ashley Hall, Mary Vardrine McBee was an energetic community leader and social activist. She was instrumental in the creation and support of many valued organizations in the Charleston area. It was once said of her that “there was practically no cultural or civic movement in which she was not a part.”

 Her many accomplishments would constitute an enviable resumé for anyone: that she was a single woman, barely past the turn of the century in an iconic southern city, placed her in the vanguard of women leadership across the nation.

  • Established the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in 1919
  • Served on the Board of Directors for the Girl Scouts of Charleston
  • First woman commissioner to serve on the Charleston County School Board
  • Helped organize Charleston’s first free Kindergarten program for underprivileged children
  • Founder of The Carolina Art Association and the Charleston Free Library
  • Served as vice president of the SC Suffrage Movement and was part of the League of Women Voters

Ashley Hall’s constellation of alumnae extends from confident and intelligent young women to a host of leaders in technology, business, publishing, politics, law and medicine. Among them are authors Madeleine L’Engle and Josephine Humphreys, first lady Barbara Bush and philanthropist Martha Rivers Ingram.

The hallmarks of its graduates are compassionate, intelligent, worldly, creative, collaborative, purposeful, and discerning.

With these qualities within themselves, their community, and the entire world, Ashley Hall girls know who they are and fearlessly pursue their dreams wholeheartedly.

Mary Vardrine McBee, Ashley Hall Founder | Charleston, South Carolina |  Ashley Hall

This year the student body comprises 756 students from age 2-18. There are 73 teachers with a student/teacher ratio of 10/1. Twelve sports are offered and 14 AP courses. Music, art, and drama are required.

A full decade before she could vote herself, Mary McBee looked ahead and founded, not only a girls’ school, but also a legacy of education that continues today. 111 years later her dream is still alive and well.

Ashley Hall School Charleston SC

Though the word suffragette usually applies to women working for the right to vote, Mary pushed the glass ceiling further by establishing a school to raise the whole world of women raised in the South, especially SC.

Mary Vardrine McBee was in the vanguard of women’s leadership in the 20th century, both in SC and across our nation.

SC Historic Properties Record : National Register Listing : Nicholson,  James, House [S10817710083]

Arcadia Publishing offers the book, “Ashley Hall,” by Illeana Strauch. It is full of photos and more information about Mary’s legacy.

Speaking before a Kiwanis Luncheon at the Francis Marion Hotel in 1943, McBee told the audience, “Ashley Hall began on the day I was admitted to Smith College. The school I attended – although a good one – did not have certification privileges and the courses were not laid out to make college entrance easy. After I was accepted and registered at Smith, I went to send a telegram to my father and along the way I decided I would one day return to the South and establish a school that would give the same privileges to Southern girls as Northern girls had. I went through college with this idea,” she said, “and everything was connected to it.”

Her dream became a reality in Charleston, South Carolina. Thank you, Miss McBee!

Struck By Our American History

My grandmother, Lucile Hitt Collins, was a teacher, a homeschool teacher, a reporter, a farmer, and a lover of America and its history. She researched our family lines all the way back to Charlemagne and joined many lineage societies including the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of the American Colonists, the Colonial Daughters of the Seventeenth Century, and the Magna Carta Dames and Barons.

One of the amazing things she shared with me was the stories of our family who lived during these times. At the drop of a hat, she had a story to share about someone who made a difference. Sometimes they were about the choices an ordinary person made. Other times they were about their actions. But they were all about heroes and heroines who stood tall.

“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” Thomas Paine


I was eighteen years old when I finally caught her vision for the American Revolution myself. Our parents took us to Williamsburg, Virginia. This was a side trip on our way to Washington, DC. I don’t remember a lot of details, but I do remember the sense of awe I had as we wandered the dirt streets. It was the first time that history came alive for me.

And it started with the film we watched in the Visitor’s Center.

I have always been a movie buff. I love the stories told in color on the big screen. There was something about that movie, “Williamsburg, the Story of a Patriot,” that brought reality to the stories Lulu had been sharing.

The other day, this movie was shared on Facebook, and I immediately reposted it on my Facebook author page. It not only brought back precious family memories, but also a new sense of why I write about our country’s beginnings. I wanted to share it with you.

Benjamin Rush declared, “Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families.”

I am thankful for all those men, women, and children who left the security of their homes to sail to America in the 17th century. They stepped out with courage and determination to make a better life for themselves and their families. From the time they arrived here, it was a struggle day in and day out to survive.

Then in the 18th century, they fought Great Britain to stay in America as free men, not buckling under England’s boot. Let’s continue to tell their stories and celebrate their lives.

October Poem

Helen Hunt Jackson (also known as Helen Fiske Jackson (“H. H.”) was born on October 18, 1831 as Helen Maria Fiske. She was born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts. Helen grew up in a literary atmosphere, and she was herself a poet and writer of children’s stories, novels, and essays. She published her work under the pen name of H.H.H. Her poetry was the outflow of deep sympathetic thought on the problem of life’s trials and temptations. Her verses were strong and noble, never giving attention to mere prettiness of verse.

As I am looking out from out sun porch this afternoon, I see the bright blue weather of October that she wrote about.

10 Best Places to Visit in October 2020 - Where to Travel in October

“October’s Bright Blue Weather

O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;

When loud the bumblebee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And goldenrod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When gentians roll their fingers tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October’s bright blue weather.

O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.

32 Excellent Things To Do In London This Month: October 2019 | Londonist
Vancouver October Weather | Vancouver's Best Places

Is it any wonder that Anne of Green Gables pronounced, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

First Day of Fall

When the Frost is on the Punkin

BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

Frost is on the pumpkin | Pumpkin, Fall pumpkins, Fall harvest

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

Wheatfield with Sheaves, 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh - Picture Frame Print on Canvas

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

Fall Farm Scene Painting by Cathy Geiger

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Credit: Thinkstock

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! …
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me—
I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the
shock!

Making Apple Cider - Real Food - MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Published in 1911, the poem is written in the speaker’s rural vernacular. As such, there are words and objects that may not be commonly known to those living any place other than the countryside in the late 19th century.

Though some may be confused, “punkin” is actually a pumpkin. To many who are unfamiliar with life on the countryside or have only experienced modern society, “fodder’s in the shock” can be quite confusing. Fodder is animal feed and shock, in this case, is a group of sheaves of grain. The group, made up of twelve sheaves of grain, are tied and stacked so that they support each other.

It’s harvest time, and the speaker obviously enjoys this time of year. This season is a restful one for him. There is beauty and contentment in taking time to stop and observe it. In the details of nature, there is much wonder, if we stop to look.

As another poet Robert Browning wrote, “God’s in His heaven; all’s right with this world.”

Today is the first day of fall, 2020. A breeze is ruffling the leaves, and the squirrels are throwing the pecans to the ground. As the sun rose this morning, I heard one of our barred owls hooting in its hunt for breakfast.

I believe it is time for a cup of apple cider, because….

Hot Apple Cider • A Sweet Pea Chef

Doctoring Before Doctors

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Genesis 1:29

In the early years of our country, there were few doctors. Women took care of their households. No schooling or licenses were required. Some of the remedies were handed down from generation to generation, and others learned from the Indians.

As women cared for their neighbors and kin, and they began to learn the land, exchange occurred—an exchange of culture and knowledge. As these ancestral keepers of herbal wisdom shared seeds and passed along stories about keeping their communities well, a new lineage of herbal trailblazers was born.

18th-century American Women: On Fruits, Vegetables, & Herbs from ...

A knowledge of herbs was the only gift needed. Any woman who had this learning was called a yarb/herb doctor; she knew how to concoct teas and brews.

Sassafras or sassafack, burdock, pennyroyal, catnip, and spicewood made teas. Mullein was a remedy for man or animals. For bruises and rheumatism, horse radish or lye poultices were the treatment.

 

Pennyroyal is a mosquito and flea repellent

 

 

 

And then there was slippery ellum. When it was found, folks would travel for miles to dig the roots in times of sickness. Under the roots of an elm tree was the location.

Lady slipper was for nervousness, and butterfly root would produce heavy sweats in a fever. Dittany tea, balm of Gilead, or pine buds, steeped in whiskey, took care of colds and pulmonary issues. Boneset and wild cherry were for almost any illness.

Tansy water quieted nerves and headaches. Seneca snake root and ground ivy could cure hives. Sulphur and molasses was a yearly tonic for the young and old to thin the blood in the spring.

https://bethtrissel.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/980herbs.jpg

In the Blue Ridge mountains along its many streams are over 800 medicinal pants. Before the Revolutionary War, botanists had found this treasure trove of plants. Specimens were collected and shipped to various parts of Europe.

Perhaps a herb garden would be close to the kitchen. There is nothing more pleasing than the smells in the summer. (I have lavender planted in two pots on my front porch and am delighted to be greeted by this.) Sage, mint, thyme, and lemon balm were handy for adding to soups or freshening the air of a cabin.

 

 

Sage

 

 

 

 

Mint was of benefit to the stomach, and mice and spiders were not fans.

Minze.jpg

18th century herbalist Gerarld wrote about thyme that was considered a cure-all. “It bringeth downe the desired sickness, provoketh urine and applied in bathes it procureth sweat; being boyled in wine it helpeth the ague, stayeth the hicket, breaketh the stones in the bladder; it helpeth lethargie, frensie and madness and stayeth the vomiting of bloud…is good against the wambling and gripings of the bellie, ruptures, convulsions and inflammation of the liver.”

thyme

Lamb’s ear is so very soft to the touch. Though little has been written about it, it was used to dress or bandage wounds–the wooly leaves used in place of lint. The textured leaves could also be used as a washcloth.

The Colonial garden served as the apothecary, perfumery, and spice rack for the average household. In addition to using the herbs fresh, many plants were bound together in bunches and hung upside down to dry from the kitchen rafters. Dried roots were stored for later use. These women planned for having these plants all year; they knew their value.

The adventurer Christopher Columbus even recognized the delicious smells of herbs, saying, Ï believe that there are many herbs and many trees that are worth much in Europe for dyes and for medicines; but I do not know, and this causes me great sorrow. Arriving at this cape, I found the smell of the trees and flowers so delicious that it seemed the pleasantest thing in the world.”

So what about planting some of these herbs at your back or front door? I believe I might need more!

 

 

 

 

 

Patriots in Petticoats

Posted on

At the time of the American Revolution, women’s roles in society were limited. Most devoted themselves to their homes and families. Still many women’s lives changed when this war arrived at their doors.

Charleston Tea Party Protest | Lowcountry Walking Tours

Anna and Charles Elliott lived at 22 Legare Street in Charleston, South Carolina. After the fall of the city to the British on May 12, 1780, Anna nursed the wounded in her home. She gave away her own provisions to help those whose houses had been destroyed or looted and petitioned the conquerors for help for the prisoners.

One afternoon Anna was walking with an officer of the British army in her garden. The man was known for cruelty in his pursuit and treatment of patriots.

Noticing the chamomile bush, the man asked, “What is this, madam?”

“The rebel flower,” she replied.

“And why is it called the rebel flower?” he inquired.

“Because,” she thoughtfully responded, “it always flourishes most when trampled upon.”

Matricaria chamomilla - Wikipedia

From the Lowlands to the Upcountry of the British colony called Carolina, other women also took a stand against the British and determined to fight for the same Patriot cause that their husbands were fighting for.

The mother of eighteen children, Hannah Blair was a North Carolina Quaker who, although sworn against violence by her religion, wanted to support the Patriot cause. She protected soldiers passing through, gave medical help and food, carried secret messages, and mended uniforms.

She was credited with saving the lives of two men when she hid them in a corn crib and continued shucking corn while the Tories searched. On another occasion, she ripped the corner of a feather bed tick and pushed a visiting patriot inside with the feathers. She threw the covers back, so Fanning could see clearly under the bed, sat down, and began mending the torn ticking, saying “Thee may search as thee pleases.”

After a skirmish at Dixon’s Mill in 1779, she learned that several soldiers were hiding in the countryside and took provisions to them. As she was returning, she was taken by Tories who demanded to know where the men were hiding. Insisting that she had only taken food to a sick neighbor ten or so miles away, she was released without revealing the hiding place.

When the Loyalists found her out, they burned her farm down. After the war, Congress granted her a small pension for her services.

Hannah Millikan Blair (1756-1852) - Find A Grave Memorial

 

Jane and John Thomas married in 1740 and moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina in 1749. They first settled on Fishing Creek and then moved to Fairforest Creek in the southern section of Spartanburg County, what is now Camp Croft State Park.

They were a respected couple in the community. John was elected a magistrate and the captain of his militia company. As families chose sides against British rule, he organized a Whig militia called the Spartan Regiment in 1775 and was elected colonel. Most of the men were members of the Fair Forest Presbyterian Congregation. It was only a few months until the Spartan Regiment was called into active service.

As hostilities, skirmishes, and battles escalated across the colonies, Governor Rutledge sent kegs of powder and arms to various Patriot supporters across the colony. Local Tories learned of it and decided to confiscate the ammunition.

The story continues in the words of historian and genealogist, Ilene Cornwell:

“Colonel Thomas and part of the Spartan Regiment were off fighting in Charlestown, while about 25 of the Spartan regulars under command of Captain John Thomas, Jr., were guarding the ammunition and arms in and near the homestead. Tending the home-fires were Jane Thomas, three of her daughters, and her youngest child, William, too young to serve in the Spartan Regiment.

As Tory Colonel Patrick Moore and 150 (one account records 300) men marched toward the home, Captain Thomas and his men gathered as much of the ammunition as they could carry and rode off to hide it from the Loyalists. Remaining in the home to create a diversion were Jane, her daughters and son, and her son-in-law Josiah Culbertson, Martha’s husband.

Jane and her offspring formed a production line and started reloading for Culbertson as fast as their hands could fly. Culbertson, a veteran Indian fighter and noted marksman, moved from rifle slot to rifle slot around the log house, keeping up a steady barrage of fire on the Tories. The gunfire was so fast and furious that the Tories believed the whole patriot guard remained inside.

As the Tories began a final assault upon the home, Jane advanced in front of them, with a sword in her hand, and dared them to come on. They were intimidated and retired.”

This bold woman, considered beautiful with her black hair, black eyes, and fair complexion, stopped the enemy in their tracks with her audacious courage and patriotism. What a sight she must have been with “her hands, mouth, and faceblackened from gunpowder, sweaty, hair awry, and smelling of sulphur.”

Jane Thomas - War Hero

The district around their home was continually robbed and pillaged by the Tories. Horses, cattle, food, and clothing were stolen, but Jane and her neighbors stayed determined in their resistance.

On July 11, 1780, John Thomas and two of his sons were imprisoned in the British jail in Ninety-Six, about sixty miles from their home. Jane chose that day to visit them.

While there, she heard two Tory women in conversation. One said, “Tomorrow night the Loyalists intend to surprise the Rebels at Cedar Spring.”

This camp was only a few miles from the Thomas home, where her son, John, had headquartered about 60 members of the reorganized Spartan Regiment. Knowing lives depended on her news, she rode hard, swimming her horse across the flooded Enoree and Saluda rivers. Delivering her warning, she continued on to her home.

The Spartan Regiment devised a scheme to defeat the larger armed force. The Spartans built up their campfires to burn near empty bedrolls, casting realistic shadows of sleeping men. The soldiers then hid in the surrounding forest. It wasn’t long before 150 British and Tory soldiers cautiously moved into position to attack the sleeping Spartans. The Patriots won in short order after only one volley, because of the faithful courage of Jane Thomas.

Jane Black Thomas died on April 16, 1811, and her steadfast commitment to the United States never wavered. Her obituary in the Carolina Gazette read, “She steadily refused to drink any tea after the Revolutionary War commenced saying, ‘it was the blood of some of the poor men who first fell in the war.”

 Jane <I>Black</I> Thomas

As Abigail Adams wrote, “Great necessities call out great virtues.”

So thankful for these Patriots in Petticoats!

Flag Day – June 14, 2020

President Calvin Coolidge spoke of the US Flag with these words. “We Identify the flag with almost everything we hold dear on earth, peace, security, liberty, our family, our friends, our home…But when we look at our flag and behold it emblazoned with all our rights we remember that it is equally a symbol of our duties. Every glory that we associate with it is the result of duty done. ”

What we know fondly as the “Stars and Stripes” was adopted by the Continental Congress as the official American flag on June 14, 1777, in the midst of the Revolutionary War. Colonial troops fought under many different flags with various symbols—rattlesnakes, pine trees, and eagles—and slogans—”Don’t Tread on Me,” “Liberty or Death,” and “Conquer or Die,” to name a few.

Flag Day (United States) - Wikipedia

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress took a break from writing the Articles of Confederation, and a flag was the fifth item on the agenda that day.

Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.

The Continental Congress left no record as to why it chose these colors. However, in 1782, the Congress of the Articles of Confederation chose the colors for the Great Seal of the United States with these meanings:

  • white for purity and innocence
  • red for valor and hardiness
  • blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice

Living flag, 1911

These children, dressed in different shades of clothing, posed to represent the U.S. flag, becoming a “Living flag” in 1911

One of the first celebrations of our flag was in Hartford, Conn. during the summer of 1861. In the late 1800s, schools all over the United States held Flag Day programs to contribute to the Americanization of immigrant children, and the observance caught on with individual communities.

Flag Day 2020: Why we celebrate on June 14

In Waubeka, Wisconsin, nineteen year old Bernard J. Cigrand placed a 10” 38-star flag in an inkwell on his desk at the front of his one room classroom.  He prompted his students to write an essay about what the flag meant to them, referring to that day, June 14, as the flag’s birthday.

A little over three decades later in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson declared June 14th as National Flag Day.  President Wilson proclaimed, “The Flag has vindicated its right to be honored by all nations of the world and feared by none who do righteousness.”  On August 3, 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress recognizing the holiday of Flag Day and encouraging Americans to celebrate it.

On June 14, 2004, 108th U.S. Congress unanimously voted on H.R. 662 declaring Flag Day originated in Waubeka, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.

Stage.gif

Inspired by decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 – was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

Harry Truman

Star Spangled Banner

Above is the original “Star-Spangled Banner” that inspired Francis Scott Key’s poem. It was moved from Fort McHenry in 1874 and displayed at the Boston Navy Yard until 1907, and has been at the Smithsonian Institution ever since.

Flag Day is a day for all Americans to celebrate and show respect for our flag, its designers and makers. Our flag is representative of our independence and our unity as a nation…..one nation, under God, indivisible. Our flag has a proud and glorious history. It was at the lead of every battle fought by Americans. Many people have died protecting it. It even stands proudly on the surface of the moon.

The American Flag is lovingly referred to by other names, including:

  • Old Glory
  • Stars and Stripes
  • The Red, White and Blue

As Americans, we have every right to be proud of our culture, our nation, and our flag. So raise the flag on June 14 and every day with pride!

Findlay Residents Urged To Celebrate Flag Day - WKXA

I am the flag of the United States of America.

I fly atop the world’s tallest buildings.
I stand watch in America’s halls of justice.
I stand side by side with the Maple Leaf on
the worlds’ longest undefended border.
I fly majestically over institutions of learning.
I stand guard with power in the world.
Look up and see me.

I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice.
I stand for freedom.
I am confident.
I am arrogant.
I am proud.

When I am flown with my fellow banners,
my head is a little higher,
my colors a little truer.

I bow to no one!
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped — I am saluted.
I am loved — I am revered.
I am respected — and I am feared.

I have fought in every battle of every war
for more then 200 years.
I was flown at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Shiloh and Appomattox.
I was there at San Juan Hill, the trenches of France,
in the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome and the beaches of Normandy.
Guam, Okinawa, Korea and KheSan, Saigon, Vietnam know me,
I was there.

I led my troops, I was dirty, battle worn and tired,
but my soldiers cheered me And I was proud.
I have been burned, torn and trampled on the streets of
countries I have helped set free. It does not hurt,
for I am invincible.

I have been soiled upon, burned, torn and trampled on
the streets of my country. And when it’s by those whom
I’ve served in battle — it hurts.
But I shall overcome — for I am strong.

I have slipped the bonds of Earth and stood watch over
the uncharted frontiers of space from my vantage point on the moon.
I have borne silent witness to all of America’s finest hours.
But my finest hours are yet to come.

When I am torn into strips and used as bandages for my wounded
comrades on the battlefield, When I am flown at
half-mast to honor my soldier, Or when I lie in the
trembling arms of a grieving parent at the grave of their
fallen son or daughter, I am proud.

MY NAME IS OLD GLORY. LONG MAY I WAVE.

by Howard Schnauber

Lest We Forget: Memorial Day

Posted on

Memorial Day 2020

There are many stories about Memorial Day, but this one grabbed my heart this morning. Nancy Sullivan Geng is the author. It tells of a teenager who learned about Memorial Day.

I leaned against an oak at the side of the road, wishing I were invisible, keeping my distance from my parents on their lawn chairs and my younger siblings scampering about.

I hoped none of my friends saw me there. God forbid they caught me waving one of the small American flags Mom bought at Ben Franklin for a dime. At 16, I was too old and definitely too cool for our small town’s Memorial Day parade.

I ought to be at the lake, I brooded. But, no, the all-day festivities were mandatory in my family.

A high school band marched by, the girl in sequins missing her baton as it tumbled from the sky. Firemen blasted sirens in their polished red trucks. The uniforms on the troop of World War II veterans looked too snug on more than one member.

“Here comes Mema,” my father shouted.

Five black convertibles lumbered down the boulevard. The mayor was in the first, handing out programs. I didn’t need to look at one. I knew my uncle Bud’s name was printed on it, as it had been every year since he was killed in Italy. Our family’s war hero.

And I knew that perched on the backseat of one of the cars, waving and smiling, was Mema, my grandmother. She had a corsage on her lapel and a sign in gold embossed letters on the car door: “Gold Star Mother.”

I hid behind the tree so I wouldn’t have to meet her gaze. It wasn’t because I didn’t love her or appreciate her. She’d taught me how to sew, to call a strike in baseball. She made great cinnamon rolls, which we always ate after the parade.

What embarrassed me was all the attention she got for a son who had died 20 years earlier. With four other children and a dozen grandchildren, why linger over this one long-ago loss?

I peeked out from behind the oak just in time to see Mema wave and blow my family a kiss as the motorcade moved on. The purple ribbon on her hat fluttered in the breeze.

The rest of our Memorial Day ritual was equally scripted. No use trying to get out of it. I followed my family back to Mema’s house, where there was the usual baseball game in the backyard and the same old reminiscing about Uncle Bud in the kitchen.

Helping myself to a cinnamon roll, I retreated to the living room and plopped down on an armchair.

There I found myself staring at the Army photo of Bud on the bookcase. The uncle I’d never known. I must have looked at him a thousand times—so proud in his crested cap and knotted tie. His uniform was decorated with military emblems that I could never decode.

Funny, he was starting to look younger to me as I got older. Who were you, Uncle Bud? I nearly asked aloud.

I picked up the photo and turned it over. Yellowing tape held a prayer card that read: “Lloyd ‘Bud’ Heitzman, 1925-1944. A Great Hero.” Nineteen years old when he died, not much older than I was. But a great hero? How could you be a hero at 19?

The floorboards creaked behind me. I turned to see Mema coming in from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.

I almost hid the photo because I didn’t want to listen to the same stories I’d heard year after year: “Your uncle Bud had this little rat-terrier named Jiggs. Good old Jiggs. How he loved that mutt! He wouldn’t go anywhere without Jiggs. He used to put him in the rumble seat of his Chevy coupe and drive all over town.

“Remember how hard Bud worked after we lost the farm? At haying season he worked all day, sunrise to sunset, baling for other farmers. Then he brought me all his wages. He’d say, ‘Mama, someday I’m going to buy you a brand-new farm. I promise.’ There wasn’t a better boy in the world!”

Sometimes I wondered about that boy dying alone in a muddy ditch in a foreign country he’d only read about. I thought of the scared kid who jumped out of a foxhole in front of an advancing enemy, only to be downed by a sniper. I couldn’t reconcile the image of the boy and his dog with that of the stalwart soldier.

Mema stood beside me for a while, looking at the photo. From outside came the sharp snap of an American flag flapping in the breeze and the voices of my cousins cheering my brother at bat.

“Mema,” I asked, “what’s a hero?” Without a word she turned and walked down the hall to the back bedroom. I followed.

She opened a bureau drawer and took out a small metal box, then sank down onto the bed.

“These are Bud’s things,” she said. “They sent them to us after he died.” She opened the lid and handed me a telegram dated October 13, 1944. “The Secretary of State regrets to inform you that your son, Lloyd Heitzman, was killed in Italy.”

Your son! I imagined Mema reading that sentence for the first time. I didn’t know what I would have done if I’d gotten a telegram like that.

“Here’s Bud’s wallet,” she continued. Even after all those years, it was caked with dried mud. Inside was Bud’s driver’s license with the date of his sixteenth birthday. I compared it with the driver’s license I had just received.

A photo of Bud holding a little spotted dog fell out of the wallet. Jiggs. Bud looked so pleased with his mutt.

There were other photos in the wallet: a laughing Bud standing arm in arm with two buddies, photos of my mom and aunt and uncle, another of Mema waving. This was the home Uncle Bud took with him, I thought.

I could see him in a foxhole, taking out these snapshots to remind himself of how much he was loved and missed.

“Who’s this?” I asked, pointing to a shot of a pretty dark-haired girl.

“Marie. Bud dated her in high school. He wanted to marry her when he came home.” A girlfriend? Marriage? How heartbreaking to have a life, plans and hopes for the future, so brutally snuffed out.

Sitting on the bed, Mema and I sifted through the treasures in the box: a gold watch that had never been wound again. A sympathy letter from President Roosevelt, and one from Bud’s commander. A medal shaped like a heart, trimmed with a purple ribbon. And at the very bottom, the deed to Mema’s house.

“Why’s this here?” I asked.

“Because Bud bought this house for me.” She explained how after his death, the U.S. government gave her 10 thousand dollars, and with it she built the house she was still living in.

“He kept his promise all right,” Mema said in a quiet voice I’d never heard before.

For a long while the two of us sat there on the bed. Then we put the wallet, the medal, the letters, the watch, the photos and the deed back into the metal box. I finally understood why it was so important for Mema—and me—to remember Uncle Bud on this day.

If he’d lived longer he might have built that house for Mema or married his high-school girlfriend. There might have been children and grandchildren to remember him by.

As it was, there was only that box, the name in the program and the reminiscing around the kitchen table.

“I guess he was a hero because he gave everything for what he believed,” I said carefully.

“Yes, child,” Mema replied, wiping a tear with the back of her hand. “Don’t ever forget that.”

I haven’t. Even today with Mema gone, my husband and I take our lawn chairs to the tree-shaded boulevard on Memorial Day and give our three daughters small American flags that I buy for a quarter at Ben Franklin.

I want them to remember that life isn’t just about getting what you want. Sometimes it involves giving up the things you love for what you love even more. That many men and women did the same for their country—that’s what I think when I see the parade pass by now.

And if I close my eyes and imagine, I can still see Mema in her regal purple hat, honoring her son, a true American hero.

As Nathan Hale, during the Revolutionary War said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

I was thinking yesterday about how my dad, Samuel Moore Collins, entered World War II. His Citadel class were all sent to Officers’ Candidate School after their junior year. He was in the Class of “44 called the Class That Never Was.

During the training that would have sent him into the war as a Second Lieutenant, he hurt his leg. The powers-that-be told him he could not serve. But Daddy would not accept that. After his hospital recovery, he enlisted in the Army as a Private and fought in the infantry until the end of the war. He was committed to fight for our country and wasn’t going to let a small injury keep him out of the war.

I agree with President Ronald Reagan’s words, “…And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.”

Lest we forget….

Charleston, South Carolina

Posted on

This year Charleston, SC is celebrating its 350th anniversary. Its first group of immigrants settled at Albemarle Point in 1670,

By 1672, a half-dozen settlers were given land grants near Oyster Point.

Charleston's 1776 defenses

Above is a copy of a 1777 map, “The Harbour of Charles Town in South Carolina from the Surveys of Sr. Jas. Wallace Captn. in his Majesty’s Navy & others with a view of the Town from the South Shore of the Ashley River.” It shows the peninsula fortified by palmetto logs.

Jim Booth painting of Charleston, SC

This scene and battery continues to capture artistic hands. Above is a Jim Booth painting during the Age of Tall Ships.

Charleston Harbor Painting - Charleston Battery Watercolor by Dan Sproul

Joseph Dalton, a member of the town’s governing council, wrote to Lord Ashley Cooper that the peninsula seemed “very healthy being free from any noisome vapors and the Sumer long refreshed with Coole breathing from the sea.”

Charleston Harbor Painting - Audubon Curlew by Granger

I’m rereading parts of Walter Edgar’s South Carolina and suddenly was stopped by a poem written in 1769 by sea captain Captain Martin.

“This is Charles-town, how do you like
it.” 1769.
Poem by the captain of a British warship, 1769.
Black and white all mix’d together,
Inconstant, strange, unhealthful weather
Burning heat and chilling cold
Dangerous both to young and old
Boisterous winds and heavy rains
Fevers and rheumatic pains
Agues plenty without doubt
Sores, boils, the prickling heat and gout
Musquitos on the skin make blotches
Centipedes and large cock-roaches
Frightful creatures in the waters
Porpoises, sharks and alligators
Houses built on barren land
No lamps or lights, but streets of sand
Pleasant walks, if you can find ’em
Scandalous tongues, if any mind ’em
The markets dear and little money
Large potatoes, sweet as honey
Water bad, past all drinking
Men and women without thinking
Every thing at a high price
But rum, hominy and rice
Many a widow not unwilling
Many a beau not worth a shilling
Many a bargain, if you strike it,
This is Charles-town, how do you like it.

My parents married at the Summerall Chapel on the Citadel campus, and so did my brother. I was born in Charleston, and John and I honeymooned there. This city is my go-to place, whether walking on the Battery or on the beaches. I love the historic churches, the handmade baskets, and watching the artists painting on the sidewalks. Reading a book that takes place in Charleston is a piece of heaven to me.

Author Pat Conroy wrote, “There is no city on Earth quite like Charleston. From the time I first came there in 1961, it’s held me in its enchanter’s power, the wordless articulation of its singularity, its withheld and magical beauty. Wandering through its streets can be dreamlike and otherworldly, its alleyways and shortcuts both fragrant and mysterious, yet as haunted as time turned in on itself.”

Happy birthday, Charleston!