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Author Archives: Sheila Ingle

The Poignant Sounds of Yesterday

In January, 2017, I posted about the Chick Springs Hotel in Taylors, SC. Today I found a poem written about this hotel that I thought you might enjoy. With old photos, a narrative spoken by the springs, and an easy melody, it walks us back to yesterday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYl4vO7r4NQ

As I continue to read and research the stories of our South Carolina history, I am seldom bored with the variety of the silent men and women who changed its trails for all of us.

As Warren Buffet said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Building Bridges

THE BRIDGE BUILDER
An old man going a lone highway
Came at the evening cold and gray
To a chasm vast and deep and wide;
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him.
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man, ” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your time with building here.
You never again will pass this way;
Your journey will end with the closing day;
You have crossed the chasm deep and wide;
Why build you this bridge at eventide? ”
The builder lifted his old gray head
“Good friend in the way that I’ve come, ” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way,
This stream that has been as naught to me
To the fair-haired youth might a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I’m building the bridge for him. ”
Author unknown
Edited by Margaret S. Lipscomb (Mrs. R. E.), Mullins, SC, an

A Late Bloomer: Mary Granville Delaney

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The Flowering of Mary Delany’s Ingenious Mind: At Age 72 She Invented Collage!

She invented collage. Above is a sea daffodil she created in 1778, not long after her patron King George III lost thirteen troublesome colonies.

When John and I visited the SAR Museum and library in Louisville, Kentucky a couple of years ago, I bought a scarf in the store. I was intrigued by the pattern and delicacy of the flowers on the black background. The story of the creator Mary Delaney, who started a career, at 72 in the 18th century amazed me, and I thought you might be, too.

Imagine starting your life’s work at seventy-two. At just that age, Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (May 14, 1700-April 15, 1788), a fan of George Frederic Handel and his harpsichord pupil, a sometime dinner partner of satirist Jonathan Swift, a wearer of green-hooped satin gowns, and a fiercely devoted subject of blond King George III, invented a precursor of what we know today as collage.

One afternoon in 1772 she noticed how a piece of colored paper matched the dropped petal of a geranium. After making that vital imaginative connection between paper and petal, she lifted the eighteenth-century equivalent of an X-Acto blade (she’d have called it a scalpel) or a pair of filigree-handled scissors — the kind that must have had a nose so sharp and delicate that you could almost imagine it picking up a scent. With the instrument alive in her still rather smooth-skinned hand, she began to maneuver, carefully cutting the exact geranium petal shape from the scarlet paper. (She ignored her arthritis and poor vision.)

Then she snipped out another.

And another, and another, with the trance-like efficiency of repetition — commencing the most remarkable work of her life: a series of almost a thousand cut paper botanical collages, each flower composed of hundreds of dots, squiggles, and moons of bright paper on dramatic black backgrounds. Each flower steps forth as onto a lit stage and takes center stage.

Seventy-two years old. It gives a person hope. It gives me hope of the other books and articles I want to write.

When Mrs. D. picked up her scissors, grief was the chief prompt. After the death of her beloved second husband Dean Patrick Delany in 1768, which followed the death of her sister Anne in 1761, she wrote that she considered each of her flower portraits to be “an employment and amusement, to supply the loss of those that had formerly been delightful to me; but had lost their power of pleasing; being depriv’d of that friend, whose partial approbation was my pride, and had stampt a value on them.”

“I have invented a new way of imitating flowers,” Mrs. D.

The Paper Garden is a biography of this woman, and here is her portrait at age 40.

The Flowering of Mary Delany's Ingenious Mind at Debra Eve's LaterBloomer.com

Surviving an arranged marriage at 17 and then a loving second marriage, she combined propriety and inner fire when she designed her own clothes, crafted exquisite embroidery, took drawing lessons with Louis Goupy, cultivated stalwart, lifelong friends (and watched her mentor William Hogarth paint a portrait of one of them), played the harpsichord and attended John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, owned adorable cats, and wrote six volumes’ worth of letters — most of them to her sister, Anne Granville Dewes (1701-61), signifying a deep, cherished relationship that anyone with a sister might understand.

She created 985 life-size botanical prints now held by the British Museum.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2PszSKnErc

I am amazed at what she did. No, she didn’t live in the colonies, as they were called then, but in the middle of London society, she chose her own path and created beauty through paper blooms. I love my scarf. Every time I wear it, I remember this indomitable woman who created a new art for all to admire.

I wonder what new styles, fashions, or grandeurs she might have started in Charleston if she had lived there?

Her challenge to all of us is in her words, “An ingenious mind is never too old to learn.”

The Flowering of Mary Delany's Ingenious Mind at Debra Eve's LaterBloomer.com

 

South Carolina Revolutionary War Heroine

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Andrew and Elizabeth Jackson were living in Boneybefore, Ireland, in 1764. They were tenant farmers and not making enough money from their crops and sheep to make ends meet. Taxes continued to go up, and the weather continued to cast a blight on their harvests.

The Scots-Irish, Presbyterian couple worked hard, but life under the British rule was a hard-scrabbble existence. Taxes were high, and disrespect for their religion of Presbyterianism was difficult.  Scots-Irish couldn’t own land or hold public office. The English lords’ boots were heavy on their necks.

Both Elizabeth and Andrew’s parents were weavers, and Elizabeth supplemented their income by selling her woven cloth. Rents of the land were due on a regular basis. More often than not, they scraped it together.  Andrew began to question not following in his father’s footsteps. But Andrew wanted to make a living on the land.

They decided to move to Carolina, one of the thirteen colonies in the New World. Elizabeth already had four sisters there, and making a living from farming would be a prosperous one.

In April, 1765, Andrew and Elizabeth Jackson crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the colonies with their two children. Hugh was two, and Robert only a babe.  The eight week voyage from Larne, Ireland to Charles Town, was uneventful. The regular diet of salted beef, bread, and potatoes was monotonous. But this was temporary, and they looked forward to starting fresh.

Red haired and blue-eyed Elizabeth was excited about seeing her four sisters who already lived in the upcountry of Carolina. The Waxhaws was a settlement of other Scotch-Irish, and it was about 150 miles northeast from Charlestown on Waxhaws Creek, a tributary of the Catawba River. There was already a Presbyterian meeting house, and the community was large.

Land was bought and cleared close to family, and a small one-room cabin erected. Help in settling came from family, and soon crops were planted. Happily for two years, the Jacksons worked hard and struggled to eke out a living in this red clay, but in March, 1767, an accident occurred.

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While chopping wood on a cold, spring day, Andrew Jackson had an accident and died shortly thereafter. Elizabeth, nine months pregnant with their third son, was a widow at thirty with all the responsibilities of a single mother in 18th Century America.

In 1710, William Byrd described the typical colonial woman, “She is a very civil woman and shows nothing of ruggedness, or immodesty in her carriage, yet she will carry a gun in the woods and kill deer, turkey, bear, etc., shoot down wild cattle, catch and tie hogs, knock down beeves with an axe, and perform the most manful exercises as well as most men in those parts.”

Though small in stature, Elizabeth was strong and resilient in spirit. She adapted to life’s changes and disappointments and put other’s needs before herself. Working hard and pushing forward through challenges was the model she set for her sons. She protected and provided for her family.

After Andrew’s death, her sister and brother-in-law, Jane and James Crawford, beseached Elizabeth to move in with their family. Jane had been sick for several years and needed help with the housekeeping. Their eight children needed more supervision than she could give, so the Jacksons joined the Crawford household.

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Busy with the daily chores of planning and preparing meals for 14 individuals in a fireplace, tending to the needs of 11 children and her ailing sister, mending, spinning, managing a garden, churning, etc., Elizabeth continued to weave cloth for the community. She earned money from the neighbors by selling her excellent cloth and was known for the quality and expertise of her work.

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Elizabeth learned about wildcrafting, which is finding and using wild herbs. e.g. a mixture made of huckleberries, wild onions, wild greens, and chestnuts. There was an abundance of ducks, geese, squirrels, turkeys, rabbits, pigeons, etc. (“putting meat on the table” was a proactive endeavor each day) Raising cows, hogs, and chickens was a daily exercise that started at dawn. She saved seeds from season to season: corn, squash, beans and dried extra for the winter. Corn became meal which became cornbread, corn dodgers, Johnny cakes, hasty pudding, etc. which took the place of the Ulster Scots oatmeal and oat cakes. (The New World offered new possibilities, and the land was fertile.) Over a fire pit or a large indoor fireplace, a pot of stew that cooked all day and maybe into the next gives a possible source to the nursery rhyme, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”

Jane and James had five girls, and Elizabeth taught them housewifery: the skills needed to be a homemaker. Much hand work, whether knitting, carding, darning, or with needle and thread, was demanded. Learning how to make soap out of ashes, churning the daily butter, feeding the chickens, cows, and pigs, etc. Children had to work like everyone else in the house to earn their keep. In other words, they worked in order to eat, have a safe place to sleep, and help their families.

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James kept the boys in line by instructing them in riflery, hunting, mending fences, crafting tools, shearing sheep, and farming.

Elizabeth wanted her sons to have a formal education. All three attended the church and community school, but Hugh and Robert had more aptitude for outdoor activities, and they wanted to farm. Andy learned to read at an early age, and his mother thought he might become a minister. His personality was not for a scholar’s life though, and the Revolutionary War interrupted his education.

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Elizabeth’s faith in God and His Providence were a major ingredient in her character. She had a small Bible that she kept in her pocket and prayed often.  She taught her sons the importance of obedience to the Bible’s teachings and encouraged them to in their loyalty to each other and the rest of their family. Elizabeth urged deeds and words honoring God, family, and country.

As well as being active in the Waxhaw Meeting House, her best friend was the pastor’s wife. When scandal rocked the close community, Elizabeth stood by Nancy Richardson. Rampant rumors accused Nancy of murdering William, the pastor. No one wanted to believe he had committed suicide, as appeared.

The Scotch-Irish reveled in music and storytelling.

Patriotism and allegiance to kin were also crucial traits in the Scots-Irish, and this was perpetuated to the next generation through tales and legends. The courage of gallant and courageous heroes was the model for the younger generation.  Elizabeth told stories of the legendary Jack and his exploits and the true accounts of William Wallace; Hugh, Robert, Andy, and their cousins yearned for opportunities to prove their bravery on a battlefield fighting for their country. They wanted to be called patriots and prove their loyalty.

The Waxhaws settlement was connected to Charleston via the Catawba Path, also known as the Camden Salisbury Road, with many travelers. Merchants and Indian traders carried their wares to markets. Farmers drove their cattle to sale. New settlers in the Conestoga wagons or on foot were daily visitors. All of these travelers kept trade, culture, and news flowing into the upcountry where the Jackson family lived. Because of the proximity of the Crawford home to the “road,” visitors kept them in the know with information and intelligence.

The South Carolina Gazette was published in Charlestown, and couriers took its pages over the state to the upcountry. News from the other colonies was coveted. Reading about the Boston Tea Party in December of 1773 and The First Continental Congress in Philadelphia the following fall assured them of knowledge of the changes happening in the colonies. In June, 1775, George Washington was named Commander in Chief, and he assumed this position in the Continental Army the next month.

War came closer to the Carolinas and to the Jackson/Crawford family in 1776. The Battle of Sullivan’s Island was fought, and James Crawford, as well as other Waxhaws’ militia, saw combat there.  He returned with first hand reports of British warships and the building of a fort out of local palmetto logs. James regaled his sons and nephews with the sights and sounds of battle for their freedom. He spoke of the might of the British, the encouragement of William Moultrie, how all the men worked hard together, and of the one man named Jasper who raised the Liberty Flag when it went down.

James’ battle story inspired and reassured his family that fighting the British was the right choice.

The battles for our independence stayed to the north after the Battle of Sullivan’s Island, but the militia continued to drill and prepare. On Muster days, the Crawford/Jackson clan would meet in front of their meeting house. The women would prepare camp fires and meals; this was a time of visiting and catching up with each other’s lives. As Elizabeth watched her sons practice their maneuvers and marksmanship, fear must have gripped her heart. She wondered how soon her oldest, sixteen-year-old Hugh, would be in the sight of enemy sharpshooters.   

And it was the next month, June, 20, 1779, when Hugh died after the Battle of Stono Ferry near Charlestown. The two hour battle was not a win for the Patriots, but the militia fought bravely. Hugh was not wounded but died of heat exhaustion. He was 16.

The sounds of war stayed miles away until Monday, May 29, 1780.

Colonel Abraham Buford and his 3rd Virginia Regiment of Continentals had been ordered to North Carolina after the fall of Charlestown. His supply wagons and field artillery were the first noises heard by the nearby Crawford’s household.  Shrieks of men and sounds of firearms ricocheted nearby. Along with other women and children within the echoes of battle, Elizabeth, Robert, and Andy traveled cautiously toward the sounds. What waited them on the Camden-Salisbury Road was a massacre of Patriot soldiers.

On the ground were the bodies of 113 American soldiers and 3 British soldiers. The 17th Light Dragoons, the British Legion Infantry, and the British Legion Calvary, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Banaster Tarleton. The Americans were given no quarter.

The women and their children took over the care of the wounded in the June heat. Water was brought, and bandages quickly made. Robert and Andy Jackson both carried water to the wounded; they saw the horrific wounds. Comforting words were spoken. Elizabeth must have thought of those who tended her oldest son Hugh when he died after a battle as she moved from one injured and bleeding soldier after another.  When the Reverend Jacob Carnes ran in on the horrific scene, his words of reassurance from Psalm 23 must have been encouragement to all who heard him.

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     One of those Virginians taken prisoner was my ancestor Captain Thomas Davis. I am glad to say that he didn’t lose his life that day.

     From that month on, the British made forays and attacks into the Waxhaw region. Horses were stolen, and fields were plundered. Livestock was eaten, and homes were burned. The farmers soon had little left. Elizabeth and other women and children would escape into North Carolina until the British left. Then they would creep back to salvage what they could. Scraping by on left overs was the new survival mode.

Robert and Andy were under the command of the experienced Major William Richardson Davie. Because of his youth, only 13, Andy served as a messenger. He also took care of the horses during the battles. Guerrilla war fare and destruction was the aim of both sides, and enemy neighbors were paying back old insults.

Then in the spring of 1781 both Robert and Andy were captured by the British, along with others in the Waxhaws militia. They were taken to the Camden Jail. Smallpox was in every cell, and before long both were afflicted. Lieutenant Colonel Francis Rawdon was the commander of this prisoner of war jail.

Elizabeth Jackson was determined to rescue her sons from this hell hole. She audaciously marched in to see Lord Rawdon and asked for him to add her sons’ names to a prisoner exchange that was in the works. He was not unhappy to release two sick prisoners.

Elizabeth had brought two old horses with her to help get the boys home. Since Robert was so sick, Andy let Robert ride and Andy walked. Their mother nursed them for several weeks, but Robert was too weak and died. She never left Andy’s side until he could walk by himself.

  Horrific tales about how the Patriots were being treated on the British prison ships in the harbor of Charlestown began to circulate. Elizabeth found out that several of her nephews were on those ships suffering with cholera. Knowing their chances to survive were small without some kind of nursing, Elizabeth and a couple of women from the Waxhaws community decided they needed to go help the young men. In the fall of 1781, the three women left home on a mission of mercy.

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Elizabeth’s nephews survived, but she did not. She caught cholera and was buried in an unmarked grave. Her son, Andrew Jackson, later President of the United States, never found where his mother was buried.

 Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called Common Sense. In the introduction, he wrote,

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in the crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he who stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of men and women.”

Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson stood it.

Elizabeth taught her sons the (1) difference between right and wrong,  (2) reverence for truth, justice, and freedom, and (3) deep patriotic devotion to country.

As we look toward celebrating our country’s birthday in two days, I am grateful for the men and women who chose to fight for my liberty. No, they certainly didn’t run from opportunities to make a difference; they ran toward the enemy.  They loved their homes and country too much.

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As James Otis said, “One of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one’s house. A man’s house is his castle.”

 

 

Family Roots and “Christy”

My mother’s parents and great grands were all four born in Hendersonville, NC. This small, mountain town, only twenty-two miles from Asheville, still has a simple and nostalgic atmosphere about it. Everywhere benches and tables invite its visitors to “set a spell.”

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When we would visit my grands, there always seemed to be time for an excursion downtown. There was never an agenda; it was only a stroll. But somewhere in the roaming was a stop by McFarlan Bakery.

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No one can walk by the open doors to McFarlan Bakery. The smells will drag you in the door. All items are made from scratch daily; this family-owned bakery uses the same recipes from their past sixty years ago. Their salt rising bread, toasted with butter, is one of the best ways to start any day; it doesn’t require preserves or jelly.  A piece of  lemon meringue pie is the perfect conclusion to any meal. Decorated or undecorated cookies, cakes, donuts, and special orders are always available. As a child, I always chose a sugar cookie. Now as an adult, it is hard to make only one decision.

Besides sharing with me a love for her birthplace, Nanna, my grandmother, loved historical novels of all eras. She introduced me to famous women authors like Inglis Fletcher, Gwen Bristow, and Catherine Marshall. All three wrote about strong women who faced life with gumption and faced its challenges with passion.

Christy was one of her favorites when it was published in 1968, and it soon became mine. This was my first read about Appalachia and the struggles with daily life in this region. There is drama a-plenty in this novel that would be categorized with a coming-of-age theme. Catherine Marshall retold the story of her mother, Leonora Whitaker, and her time in Cutter’s Gap.

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In 1912, and against the wishes of her parents, nineteen-year-old Christy Huddleston leaves her life of privilege and ease in Asheville to become a missionary teacher in an impoverished and isolated valley in the Smoky Mountains. Cutter Gap is the fictional community. The job turns out to be more difficult than she had anticipated, as she comes to know and care for the wild mountain people with their fierce pride, terrible poverty, dark superstitions, and their yearning for beauty and truth.

The villagers have old-fashioned ways. For example, they maintain rules and vengeances similar to the Highland clans of old Scotland. They also have a strong belief in folk medicine. Sprinkled with Appalachian sayings, like “twitter-witted,” as a husband calls his wife and son, realism takes a front seat. Teaching in one-room with 70+ children made me grateful for the class sizes in my profession.

http://members.tripod.com/~Constance_2/Christy/moc31.jpg

Christy never took her eyes off her goal of teaching. Daily choices like how to get new books for the children or how to buy a black hat on her salary line up beside feuds, moonshine whiskey, rape, and the death of a baby. Her faith is severely tested—by her students and by the suffering of the people she comes to love. When her dearest friend dies during a typhoid epidemic, Christy questions the sovereignty and power of God.

The story line pulled me into this unique sense of place, people, and culture, and I fell in love with Appalachia for the first time. It’s time to read Christy once again.

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Ahh, Chocolate!

Ahhh Chocolate!

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February is the time of year when we consume even more than usual, often from heart-shaped boxes gifted by an admirer.

Daddy gave Mother a box for her birthday in November and for Valentine’s Day.  She didn’t share these boxes, but hid them. Whenever her craving prompted her, she would have her choice from those in the Whitman Sampler box.

Probably one of the most universally loved foods, the average American consumes roughly 11 pounds of the stuff a year!  It is hard to imagine a world without chocolate and this love of the heavenly substance stretches all the way back to our country’s colonial roots. Before the mid-1800s, if you had a craving for the world’s favorite sweet, you drank it!

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Chocolate has its origins in South America where archaeological evidence indicates it was being cultivated and consumed over 3,000 years ago.  The Spanish were the first Europeans to try the spicy chili and chocolate beverage of the Aztecs.  They introduced it to Europe in the 1600s where, with the addition of sugar, it became the height of fashion.

The first printed evidence we have of Chocolate being used in London is in the notice in the Public Advertiser in 1657: “In Bishopsgate St is an excellent West India drink called chocolate to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time, and also unmade at reasonable rates.”

By the end of the Commonwealth in 1659, Thomas Rugge, a London diarist, was writing in his Journal about coffee, chocolate and tea as new drinks in London, and referring to chocolate as ‘a harty drink in every street’.

Drinking chocolate of the 18th century was different from our ubiquitous modern day cup of cocoa.  It was made with either cacao nibs or blocks of compressed chocolate that were then grated or ground to a paste and dissolved in a warm liquid inside a dedicated ‘chocolate pot’.

Cocoa NibsThe chocolate was added to any combination of water, milk, cream, wine, or even brandy for an extra kick.  This mixture was combined with sugar, though less than we use because it was an expensive import in colonial America.  Other common ingredients included chili pepper, vanilla, nutmeg, or allspice.  This resulted in a rich, sweet, spicy, and bitter drink that the colonists couldn’t get enough of.

We know that many early Americans were fans of chocolate, but it wasn’t available to everyone.  In the 1700s, chocolate was still a fairly expensive drink, similar to tea or coffee, making it a beverage of the upper and middle classes.  It was seen as a nutritious and filling health food, commonly had with breakfast.

In1757 George Washington ordered 20 pounds of chocolate from British merchant Thomas Knox.  While living at Kenmore Plantation, George’s sister Betty Washington Lewis ordered a gallon of chocolate.

The chocolate would have been delivered in chocolate bars.

Alan Ramsey holds a pressed cake of chocolate wrapped in paper, a common form it was sold in the eighteenth century.

It may seem strange to us that there were special cups just for drinking chocolate.  However, since it was a luxury good enjoyed by the upper classes, it had a specific set of objects associated with its preparation and consumption.  A teapot or teacup could have easily functioned for drinking chocolate but the purpose of this specialized material culture was to show off wealth and sophistication.  For this reason, a well-to-do colonial household would have separate sets of vessels for the making and consumption of tea, coffee, and chocolate.  Using the right one in the right way let your peers know you were a well-educated gentry woman or man.

Chocolate cups and pots were often made of fancy material like silver or porcelain to show off the wealth of the owner and reflect the nature of the luxury ingredient. Chocolate cups can be identified by their straight sides, unlike the gently sloping sides of a teacup.

JPL Jean Pouyat LIMOGES CHOCOLATE POT 4 CUPS SAUCERS HandPainted 1900-1906 GOLD

Similarly, 18th century chocolate pots generally are taller and have straighter sides compared to contemporary teapots. They also have a shorter spout with no strainer and often have a straight handle that juts out from the body.

The most recognizable feature of a chocolate pot however is a hole in the lid where the chocolate mill, or molinillo, would be inserted and rubbed between the hands to briskly stir the chocolate, creating a delicious froth on the top

Kind of makes you want to try eighteenth century chocolate drink, doesn’t it?  The next time you’re enjoying a bite of a candy bar or sipping your instant cocoa, think of the lofty origins of that treat and be grateful to the sweet-toothed colonials who so prized delicious chocolate!

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I grew up with hot chocolate being a treat on cold nights, and marshmellows were added for a topping. Even now, I will make us a cup during the winter months as a treat. Whether with that white addition or not, hot chocolate seems to be a comfort food to be enjoyed.

“Some days you get up and you already know that things aren’t going to go well. They’re the type of days when you should just give in, put your pajamas back on, make some hot chocolate and read comic books in bed with the covers up until the world looks more encouraging. Of course, they never let you do that.”
Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection

Uncle Cling

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Cling Ingle was born in 1877 in Yancey, North Carolina and raised on Unaka Mountain in Tennessee. As an adult, he bought this land in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There was a foot path to this holler and a foot log across his creek. Walking was the mode of transportation.

Roan Highlands from Yellow Mountain Gap

Raising hogs, chickens, and goats put meat on the table. A cow or two provided milk and butter. In the garden were rows and hills of corn, snap beans, okra, squash, turnips, rhubarb, butter beans, melons, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Year-round hunting with a musket added to the fixings with deer, rabbit, squirrels, turkeys, pheasants, and grouse. Along with the hunting, the men and boys fished for mountain trout and perch. The main sweetener was sour wood honey from a couple of bee hives; it was called long sweetening. Strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries grew wild and were picked by all.

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Cotton provided first the thread and then clothes for the family. A spinning wheel and then a loom helped Cling’s five wives create the cloth.

Uncle Cling buried five wives and some children; they all drowned in floods. He lived in the days before Tennessee Valley Authority/TVA built dams and water reservoirs to control the water.

Besides keeping up with his home place, Cling worked as a brakeman on the CC& O railroad. His train traveled from Ohio to the train yard in Erwin, Tennessee, where the cars were shuffled to go off in different directions on separate rails. Cling’s run started in Erwin and ended up in Columbia, SC. Each car had a brake to slow it down if needed. Though small in stature, his arms were strong from cutting wood and had given his arm muscles the strength to handle an iron brake.

CSX 850 load coal south end Erwin yard

Every summer, he rode this same train to Union, South Carolina, to visit his brother Make who worked in the Union Mill. Cling stayed with Annie Mae and Roy Bobo, the daughter and son-in-law of Make. They owned a boarding house. The families would gather every evening to hear his stories; both children and adults were entertained by his holding court. Sipping on his home brew/cough medicine to “wet his whistle” broadened his story lines into funnier endings.

One year he bragged about his monthly check from the government. The US needed land to build a short-wave repeater to relay their communications over the mountains. They built a metal tower to hold the transmitter and the receiver; there was no supervisor. Cling liked the idea of the government paying him.

With his heavy eyebrows, large nose, and tight mouth, Thomas Clingham Ingle was a determined and self-sufficient man, but he had a kind heart and looked after his friends. Whether it was fire wood or a jar of honey, he was a good neighbor.