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Yahoo to the New Book Cover of “Tales of a Cosmic Possum”

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Can I say this book cover wasn’t what I was expecting?Book Cover.jpg

But then I didn’t know what I was expecting either, and it is perfect for Tales of a Cosmic Possum.

My surprise was real, as I gazed at the mountain-blue nuances. The dark coolness of shades drew me into the Appalachian range where the Ingle family lived with its customs, food, and sayings that were once foreign to me.

When Make and Lizzie Ingle left Erwin, Tennessee, to work in Tucapau Mill in Startex, South Carolina, they left their open, mountain shelter behind for the clacking noises of cotton mill workers. Not far behind them, Amanda and John said good by to their hand-to-mouth struggle on a small, North Carolina farm in the hills and moved to the sweltering. work environment of Clifton Mill #2.

Neither the mountains or the farm land could support either family any longer. A weekly pay check was necessary for survival, and so they moved to the Upstate. These cotton mills, where they worked, changed their families’ lives for four generations.

Their stories show these unknown women as heroines. They all have fortitude, hardiness, and gumption, which they passed on to their children, because that is what Appalachian women do.

And, so the countdown begins until I hold my fifth book in my hands. Thank you, John, for sharing your family’s stories with me! It’s been another adventure.

What a Day to Celebrate South Carolina in Virginia!

Thursday, March 30, was the day to celebrate South Carolina during the Revolutionary War at the American Revolutionary War Museum in Yorktown. For their grand opening, each day for thirteen days, they celebrated one of our Thirteen Colonies.

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It was a privilege to honor SC with our SCDAR State Regent Dianne Culbertson. Kim Claytor,  Past Regent Comte de Grasse Chapter, NSDAR, made us feel most welcome.

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She had a table ready for us to set up a display of colonial toys, a picture of Kings Mountain, and a pastel John painted of a colonial woman on a horse. There were classes visiting that day, and they enjoyed playing with the toys.

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It was a dream to sign my books for the book store and to be part of a panel that talked about our SC Rev war history for four hours that afternoon. Believe it or not, some of our audience stayed for the whole program. South Carolina historians David Reuwer, Tray Dunaway, Doug McIntyre, Robert Dunkerly, and I tried our best to cover eight years in this limited time. and the evening speaker was author John “Jack” Buchanan.

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There were about 50 South Carolinians that attended the flag raising ceremony. What a delight to see it proudly waving over the encampment! The fife and drums opened this part of the day, and a cannon salute closed it.

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The exhibits inside and outside are designed to educate and entertain.

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I will look forward to another day honoring SC’s part in winning the Revolutionary War at Yorktown.

 

Snow Cone Cart

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Newland Teague retired from Monarch Mill in Monarch, South Carolina. Being restless and without any hobbies, he started a new business for those in his community. This entrepreneur first built a snow cone  cart.

Using scrap lumber from his wood shed, he put together a cart, painted it white, and attached two bicycle wheels to it. He attached handles to push the cart with. (Maybe I would call it a glorified wheelbarrow.) The word, “Snow Cone,” a painted picture of a snowball, and the price five cents was on each side of the cart, so all would know what was available.

Ice was kept in a tin pan. He bought an ice chunk from the ice house on Perrin Avenue. With a cast iron scraper, he scraped the ice into the cone-shaped cups. Pouring the requested flavor over the ice, he hand delivered his product to his customer.

Along the inside of the cart was a shelf with holes to put the bottles of flavoring in. The choices were lemon, watermelon, and strawberry; each person along his route had their favorite.

There was a shelf that pulled down from the side. He served from the shelf. Mr. Teague had carved four small holes in the shelf to hold snow cones, while children dug in their pockets for their nickels.

On hot, summer days, he meandered around the town. Though his customer base was primarily children, all available adults would stand in line for this icy treat, also. This low stress, low overhead business was fun for Mr. Teague. All of his customers were greeted with his smile of welcome. Parents and children stood around visiting while they enjoyed the snow cones.

In the humid and hot South Carolina afternoons, Mr. Teague took an oasis to his neighbors and friends.

In larger cities, men chose established places on the sidewalk for their snow cone carts.

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It’s a business many people try today. America is dotted with snowball-selling sheds in parking lots and along roadsides. Sometimes, snowballs are sold from folding tables set up outside a home, just like a homemade lemonade stand. Stands traditionally serve snowballs in one of two ways: with crushed or shaved ice.

We can even make them at home now.

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Mr. Teague was certainly a good neighbor. Don’t you believe he was one of the most popular in his community?

So many truths can be read in books; this appears to fit herre.

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Buffalo Mill in Union, SC

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Construction for Buffalo Mill began in 1900, and the two seven-story towers were completed in 1901. The engineering firm of W. O Smith Whaley was the designer. The Romanesque Revival detailing was popular during this time. The typical industrial design included arches and brick work.

This large complex of buildings included the main mill,  mill office, power house, ice factory, company store, warehouse, and company bank/drug store. Besides operative and supervisor houses in the mill village, a baseball park and school were built.

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Power House

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Clock Tower

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Ice Factory

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The stain glass dome, Terrazzo floor, and marble fountain were a touch of elegance to the office building.

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Thomas Cary Duncan founded Union and Buffalo mills. He was known as Union’s pioneer capitalist and industrialist. He connected Union and Buffalo mills with his own railroad. Hundreds of families moved to Union from North Carolina and Tennessee and spent their lives working in these cotton mills. This investment introduced the textile industry to this land that once was hunting grounds for the Cherokee.

Thomas Cary Duncan

T. C. Duncan inherited Keenan Plantation from his grandparents, which he renamed Merridun. Remodeling this family property became important. Adding to the piazza resulted in 2400 square feet of porch space. He refurbished the 7900 square feet Georgian floor plan which included a stunning curved staircase, large foyers on both floors, a music room, parlor, library, dining room, kitchen, 7 bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, and a third story cupola. Frescoed ceilings in the music room and dining room, mosaic tiles and turn of the century stenciling and faux graining in the main foyer, and beautiful chandeliers enhanced the mansion’s beauty.

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Perhaps you are wondering why I have shared this information with you today, and it really is back-to-the-past.

My husband John grew up in Union, South Carolina. His father, mother, as well as extended family members, worked in the Union and Buffalo cotton mills. This May, 2017, you will be able to read about their lives in my new book, Tales of a Cosmic Possum.

And on my fiftieth birthday, John treated me to dinner at the Inn at the Merridun with some of our friends. What a fun time it was! The house was lovely, as you can see by the above photos.

Below is one of the best chocolate muffin recipes I have ever tasted, and the owner of the Inn shared it with me. Since Valentine’s Day is in just a few days, I thought to share it with you. I believe you will like/love it. As you know, chocolate is my favorite. Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
Makes 24 regular muffins or about 7-8 dozen mini muffins

I had the privilege of having this recipe included in an innkeepers’ cookbook – Chocolate for Breakfast and Tea. As much as I love chocolate, I’m not always fond of chocolate muffins or breads—this is one exception. They are rich and moist, and our guests gobble them up.

½ cup butter, softened
1-1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1-1/3 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
¼ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line muffin pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt all at once. Mix just until ingredients are blended. Stir in mashed banana, chocolate chips and walnuts.
  3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 to ¾ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean—be careful not to hit a melted chocolate chip! Cool for 5 minutes; then remove muffins from tins, and place them on a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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The Battle of Huck’s Defeat, July 12, 1780

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At Brattonsville, SC, this Saturday, July 11, will be an all-day celebration of the Battle of Huck’s Defeat.

You can find more information at http://www.chmuseums.org/battle-o.. Visit the original house, and walk where this family worked and lived.

I thought you might enjoy some of the back story of the Revolutionary War heroine, Martha Bratton, who made sure this battle happened. You can read more of her story in my biography about her called Fearless Martha.

In 1765, William, his four brothers and their families, and his sister and her family moved to Upcountry South Carolina from Rowan County, North Carolina. They purchased land grants and moved as a clan. Settling side-by-side, they soon became part of the community. They chopped down trees to build cabins and plant fields and joined the Bethesda Presbyterian Meeting House.

At the time of the Revolution, a woman’s role in society was limited. Most devoted themselves to taking care of home and family, and the men dealt with the political arena.

Still, many women became involved in events because they war came into their front yards. Some were Whigs – believers in independence for the colonies. Others were Loyalists – supporters of Britain’s king. All of the Bratton family, both men and women, were staunch Whigs.

Life wasn’t easy on the home front. With the men away at war, women had to protect their families, see to the crops, and defend family property. This was in addition to their normal every day routine that started before sun rise and ended long after dark. I believe the saying, “a woman’s work is never done” might be used to describe their daily lives. There were constant demands.

There is little known about the early life of this fearless woman, Martha Bratton. Traditions say that she was born onboard a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland to America about 1750. She was taught how to heal with herbs and had a gift for home health. When she and William moved to this area, known as the New Acquisition in the 18th century, there were no doctors. Because of her expertise, she treated and cared for her family and her neighbors.
The Bratton family brought little in the way of earthy goods with them, but they brought a strong allegiance to God and family, as well as a fierce love of liberty. Their Scots-Irish heritage was a clannish one, and their loyalty to each other was real.

Most of the factual information we know about Martha is during the summer of 1780. Charlestown fell to the British in May, and British and Tory soldiers were ordered to quell any rebellion.

Martha’s husband William and his militia were away for much of that summer at General Thomas Sumter’s camp, so Martha was in charge of their children, their home, and their land. Elizabeth, young William, young Martha, Jane, and Elsie were their children.

Two specific stories are told about how Martha stood up to the enemies of her new country. Both were in the summer of 1780.

A British soldier, Captain Christian Huck, was constantly attacking homes, meeting houses, and people in the New Acquisition. He had a hatred for the Scotch-Irish and made it clear with his words and the violence of his attacks.

In June, Huck had burned Reverend John Simpson’s home and killed a young neighbor. William Hill’s Iron Works was the headquarters of the Whig militia, and Huck burned it and the Hill home. His house-to-house raids struck fear in the whole community.

Soon it was July and time to get the wheat crop in. The crop was necessary to their livelihood, and there were only three days to get the wheat in before it would go bad. Besides using the wheat for baking, the stalks were fed to the livestock.
Martha and her four oldest children, as well as some of the older men including her brother-in-law Robert, were hard at work in the Bratton fields on July 11. It was a back-breaking job. The adults, as well as Elsie and Jane, all leaned over and cut the stalks as close to the ground as they could. Young Martha and William bundled them together. They all worked hard, but kept a watchful eye out for any British troops.

Word had come to the family that Huck was on the move that day. Martha knew that William and the rest of the men of the New Acquisition militia needed to know about these new atrocities. William’s militia was with Brigadier General Thomas Sumter at a camp. She sent Watt, one of their slaves, on a mission to alert the men that their homes and families were in danger.

Captain Christian Huck, a thirty-two year old lawyer, had been given new orders that read he was to “push back the rebels as far as you deem convenient.” His goal was to do just that.

When Captain Huck, his British soldiers, and Tory militia of over a hundred men galloped up the road to her home, everyone in the field hurried to the comparative safety of the house.

Martha hung the sickle on the outside wall, and stood with her loaded musket awaiting the intruders. Her children were with her, along with her brother-in-law. The wait was not long; within minutes enemy soldiers were standing beside her.
“Where is your husband?” was the quick question.

Martha’s reply was just as speedy, “I do not know the exact whereabouts of my husband.”

As she finished speaking, an unknown Tory soldier grabbed the sickle and Martha. He put the sharp sickle to her throat and asked again about William. Once more, Martha refused to give any information. The angry man tightened his grip, but Lieutenant John Adamson, another Tory, knocked the sickle away with his sword. Within seconds, the lieutenant used his sword to make sure the unruly soldier was off the porch and on the ground.

That afternoon Captain Huck tried his hand at finding out where William Bratton was, but he was not successful either. Martha didn’t know where the camp was, but she made it clear she wouldn’t divulge it even if she knew. Huck was nice to young William for a few minutes and allowed him to sit on his knee and play with his watch, but Huck’s anger at Martha’s uncooperativeness landed William on the floor with a bloody nose.

As a mother, Martha must have been angered by the man’s carelessness that caused injury to her son. But she knew she was not in a situation to aggravate him further. She had to protect her children, not put them in more jeopardy.
Huck demanded Martha cook a meal for him and his officers. I wonder how hard that was for her. If you have visited Brattonsville, you know how small the keeping room is. She cooked and served the enemies of her family and country at the same table where her family usually sat. It is said she considered poisoning the meal, but again that might have brought on more danger. Martha chose to protect her children by not taking this chance.

Finally Huck left. A guard was posted around the Bratton house. Doubtless, it was a long night.

Colonel Bratton did receive the news that Huck was wrecking havoc in his neighborhood and his family was in danger.
133 men under the leadership of William Bratton, John McClure, Andrew Neil, and Edward Lacy set out to protect their families and their land. There was a half moon that night of July 12, 1780, but the militia didn’t need it. They were in familiar territory, and anger drove them against the enemy.

Surprise was on the Whig side. The British forces were camped around the home of John Williamson. Huck had 35 British Legion Dragoons, 20 New York Volunteers, and 60 Loyalist militia. The four posted guards were shot quickly, and then the Whig militia marched in.

 Huck ran outside and was clearly seen in his white shirt. He mounted his horse and raised his sword to rally the troops. Seeing he was surrounded, he and several of his dragoons tried to escape. Huck was killed by a single rifle shot by John Carroll.

Within five minutes, the battle was over.

John Adamson was wounded.

Adamson feared for his life and asked someone to get Martha. He knew she would tell about how he saved her life. When she recognized John Adamson, she did not hesitate on telling her husband and the other soldiers about his actions on her front porch. She insisted that the wounded be taken to her home.

Besides nursing Captain Adamson back to health, Martha also nursed the wounded from both sides. She turned her home into a hospital. Martha demonstrated mercy to her enemies and the enemies of her country.

The winning of this battle encouraged the Whigs and gave hope to the Brattons and their neighbors that the enemy could be defeated. More volunteers joined the Whig cause, and these part time soldiers continued to taste victory. The defeat of the dreaded British Legion gave new heart to the Upcountry.

This battle could be called a turning point in South Carolina. During the rest of 1780 and early 1781, more than 35 more battles were fought in South Carolina. And the best part of that news is that 30 of them were Whig victories.

Besides her part in the Whig victory of the Battle of Huck’s Defeat, it is told that Martha stood up to another group of Tories the next month in August.

Before Charlestown fell to the British, Governor John Rutledge had sent around kegs of gunpowder to different citizens to hide until it was needed. The Brattons had a keg hidden on their farm.

Tory soldiers came to find the gunpowder to use for themselves, but Martha was warned ahead of time about their mission. She raced to the tree where it was hidden and blew it up just as the enemy arrived.

Of course, she was caught. There was nowhere to hide. Struggle against the arms that held her was as futile as escape. Angry voices asked her who had blown up the powder. The soldiers looked for a man, and they demanded the whereabouts of the traitor from Martha.

Martha boldly told them she was responsible with the words, “It was I who did it!” Though outnumbered once again by the enemy, she bravely announced her actions.

Martha was willing to pay the ultimate price for independence and freedom, but this was not required of her. Though she was threatened, Martha was fearless and never wavered in being a firm supporter of freedom. It is said that she encouraged her family and neighbors to stand tall.

William and Martha Bratton’s children obviously were proud of their parents.

On July 12, 1839, there was a celebration of Huck’s Defeat at Brattonsville. Dr. John Bratton, William and Martha’s youngest son, believed that the Whig victory should be celebrated. Many words of remembrance were spoken and toasts of spring water were offered to the Whig soldiers that were involved in this battle. I believe the toast made to Mrs. Martha Bratton on that day is worth noting.

“To the memory of Mrs. Martha Bratton – In the hands of an infuriated monster, with the instrument of death around her neck, she nobly refused to betray her husband; in the hour of victory, she remembered mercy, and as a guardian angel interposed in the behalf of her inhuman enemies. Throughout the American Revolution, she encouraged the Whigs to fight on to the last; to hope on to the end. Honor and gratitude to the woman and heroine, who proved herself so faithful a wife, so firm a friend to liberty.”

The Bratton children also had inscribed on William and Martha’s stone, “This Marble is erected by the children of the deceased in mournful testimony of their affection and respect for their dear parents Col. William Bratton and Martha Bratton.”

Along with her children, I believe we owe Martha Bratton “respect” as we remember her valiant fight to give us the freedom and liberty we enjoy today. I salute her fearless courage and encourage you to do the same.

As Abigail Adams wrote in a letter to her husband, John Adams, “Remember the women.”

A Living Link to the American Revolution: South Carolina’s Marsh Tacky

 

In June 2010, the Marsh Tacky horse, a breed now on the verge of extinction, became the official State Heritage Horse of South Carolina. If you’ve never heard of Marsh Tacky horses, you’re in good company. This horse is a living link to the history of South Carolina.

Most people haven’t, but I found out about them when researching Elizabeth Jackson. She and her sons rode Marsh Tackies, just like General Francis Marion and his troops did. Over and over the sure footedness of these horses kept the British from capturing Marion in the Low Country swamps during the Revolutionary War.

 

Listen to David Grant talk about his Marsh Tacky herd.

 

As Mr. Grant said, Marsh Tacky horses are descendants of the horses Spanish explorers left behind on the south Atlantic coast in the 1500s, which bred with the stock Spanish settlers later brought to the New World. They are native to our state.

They are beautiful animals. John and I visited a Marsh Tacky farm in the lower part of the state several years ago and watched them enjoying themselves in a field.


Marsh Tackies got their name from the fact that they live in marshy areas, and the term tacky, which means common. Feral herds adapted to the conditions of America’s southeastern coastal regions. Sturdy and smaller than many common breeds at only 13 to 15 hands high, Marsh Tackies adapted to swamps and wooded wetlands, surviving on marsh grass and other available forage that couldn’t sustain most breeds. Their distinctive gait provides a greater stability in the terrain, and when stuck in quagmires. This is called the “Swamp Fox Trot.” They learned to lie down on their sides, pull their feet free, and get up, instead of panicking as most horses would.

Marsh Tacky’s habitats originally ranged from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. They were widely used in the Gullah community for transportation, farming, and hunting until cars and trucks became prevalent.

During the Civil War, these horses became popular again. Because the Marsh Tacky was such a quality worker, he was seen in every yard in those days. They delivered the mail, plowed fields, brought people to visit and functioned in every way required of a horse in a community. During WWII the Tacky and his rider roamed the SC seacoast looking for German U-Boats.

But by the mid twentieth century they could be found only on outlying islands. Fewer than 300 Marsh Tackies remain today, none in the wild, and efforts are being made to save the breed from extinction.

For some beautiful pictures of these horses, visit http://www.carolinamarshtacky.com/.

The Carolina Marsh Tacky Association was formed in 2007 to preserve and promote the Marsh Tacky horse; check out their Facebook page for information about their work.

 

We need to pay attention to what we read and hear about these Carolina horses; the Marsh Tacky is ours.