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Archive for April, 2012

QUEENS CREEK REVISITED

I had occasion a few days ago to be in West Virginia, and with a day to spare, decided to return to an area that I have visited many times on this site  through memories of spending a good part of my early life learning much of what would stand me in good stead in later years.  It is good for the soul to go back, sit on a sunny hillside, and think and observe.  Think of the past and of the people; think of the good times and the bad times; and most of all, think of what you learned from it all.  Observe.  Observe all of the changes that have come about because of mechanization, population shifts, and a desire of people to attempt a return to their roots or to times gone by.  Sometimes the changes are good but not always, or, perhaps that is all in the eyes of the beholder.

The first thing I noticed after turning off of Big Hurricane Creek road (we used to call it the “hard road”,  a term I haven’t heard in many years) was that there were Fort Gay High School alumni living there.  Not only living there but also expressing their pride in their roots by painting their mail box orange and black and stenciling a Viking head on the side.  It had to someone loyal to the memories of the old high school to boldly exhibit that pride and loyalty in such a manner.

The first thing you notice is the increase in the population.  It seems that the trend is reversed of people moving from rural areas to the city or urban areas.  There are several new houses that have been built in recent years or are being built.  They seem to be built in clusters.  I assume it is adult family members deciding to retreat from the hustle and bustle of life in more populated areas.  With the highway improvement it is only a short commute to jobs that in my time would have taken perhaps an  hour or more.  When I lived there many years ago, there was one house per small farm and that was it.  While Queens Creek road is not a “super highway” it does at least have a  black top surface.  In my time it was a road of deep, muddy ruts in the winter and a series of dry, dusty, gut wrenching bumps in the spring and summer.  The county highway department would run a road grader over to smooth it somewhat at or about election time, the remainder of the time it was take your chances.

Another big change I noticed in the small farms was the size of the equipment they had to do farm chores.  There is equipment there now that makes me wonder how one could justify its cost when considering the potential cash crops that one could raise and the return on the investment.  Outside of just living there it is hard to imagine doing much other than subsistence farming on the small plots of bottom and hillside land.  This might indicate that most of the folks living there now are working other jobs or that they have chosen this area to live for their retirement.

When we occupied the farm on Queens Creek our farm equipment was limited to what you could manhandle by yourself or with a team of horses.  The most important item would have been a horse or horses.  They towed the different types of farm equipment that one owned plus provided a means of transportation when the roads became impassable during floods or times of mud and snow in the late fall, winter, and early spring.

The farming equipment would have consisted of a wagon, a couple of sleds, a couple of turning plows, (one hillside and one bottom land) a cultivating plow, a plow for laying off planting rows, a disc harrow and a spike tooth harrow for breaking up freshly turned ground, a mowing machine, and a hay rake.  All of the above were powered by the two horses that you owned.  Trees were cut for firewood with a two-man saw, (BOY, was that hard work) and split with an axe or a wedge and sledge hammer into small pieces for firing the kitchen cook stove.  If the field you were going to harvest oats from happened to be located on a  high hill that was not accessable to a mowing machine then you were really in for a hard day,  a  tool called a cradle would have been brought out.  It is difficult to describe other than it was a scythe type of device with four or five wooden fingers that allowed one to catch the oat straws as they were cut.  To cut with it one simply took long sweeping strokes and then dumped the oat straws that had been cut at the end of the stroke.  I am sure that it is or was a tool that may have been around for perhaps centuries.  Someone would follow the reaper and tie  the oats into small bundles and then place them into hay stacks for later feeding to the farm animals in the winter.  Very slow and hard labor.  There were many other small tools used but nothing with a motor or electrical power, it was simply done with mans efforts and the help of the  horse.

I went through a couple of farm gates, when I was young they would have been bars, bars being simply long saplings cut to length between two posts to keep the live stock in the pastures.  I climbed a steep hill on top of which lay the old family cemetery.  It is not large and not well maintained since the death of my dad.  What once was a lawn like surface is now occupied with weedy growth.  We are able to at least keep the weeds cut short.  As so often happens with old family cemeteries, when family is gone, there simply isn’t anyone left who is near enough to care for it as my dad once did.  It contains  twenty or so lonely graves, the last burial there having occurred forty or so years ago.

There was a large flat rock outside the cemetery gates and it provided a place to sit for a while and reflect on all of the memories that suddenly came flooding back.  I could remember traipsing these pastures as a child barefooted.   I  remembered the big rock as being one which on a chilly morning with a heavy dew on the grass that  and bringing the cows in from the pasture for milking and feeding, I would stand on it with my bare feet and soak up some of the warmth stored in the stone from the previous day.  Sitting there I could almost hear the voices of long gone neighbors out doing the morning or evening chores.  Perhaps someone on a near hillside field plowing with a horse and shouting out commands of gee, haw, and whoa.

On the hillside under the cemetery was at one time a large grove of hickory trees where as children we would harvest the nuts for later use in baking and candy making.  I recall there was a large butternut tree nearby.  I have not seen another one since leaving the farm.  They were very much like walnuts but perhaps a little richer and oval-shaped rather than round as a walnut.  Nearby were low growing hazel nut trees, blackberry thickets, paw paw trees, and persimmon trees, all providing food for the winter larder.

Standing behind the cemetery is a low line of cliffs.  At the time we lived there it provided an excellent battleground for us to have great battles.  You fought with whatever weapon was at hand.  Perhaps a stick weed sword, a walnut or hickory nut or other object that could be thrown and called a hand grenade.  Rocks were out, that was one unspoken rule, you did not throw rocks. It mattered not whether you were running down hill simulating chasing an enemy airplane or the Lone Ranger astride his great horse Silver chasing a band of outlaws or renegade indians, you were only limited by your imagination.   As I sat there, I  could almost see kids on the rocks,  again still fighting the battles that we never won.

At the bottom of the hill and across the road in a bend of the creek  at one time stood a large sycamore tree.  It shaded the largest hole of water on Queens Creek.  It’s large roots overhung the water hole and provided a great place to fish for the catfish that gathered around this tangle of underwater roots.  With a piece of string and a pin made into a fish hook you could generally catch a few but that’s not what it was all about.  It was easy sitting there as a kid to imagine yourself fishing in a great river, lake, or even the ocean and really hauling in some monster fish instead of the ten or twelve inch catfish that you might drag out of the shaded hole of water.  The same site would provide a cool place to go swimming  after a hot day in the fields of planting, cultivating, or harvesting a crop.

It is fun to go back and to sit and reflect on your youth, your old friends, and the many activities and chores that you were involved in back then, but, at some point you must open your eyes and face reality that what once was can never be again.  But, it can be again  in your memory if you so choose to find a spot that is reflective in your memory and once again sit and enjoy the long ago.  Pleasant memories never die.

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Hi!  So what do you think?  Remember me?  I am the one with the bare feet in a recent Chronicles.  I have noticed that my Granddad the Great has been a little remiss in his writings on the Viking Chronicles.  I asked him about it and he mentioned something about writer’s block.  I have no idea what that is but if it is anything like diaper rash, I surely don’t want it.  Granddad the Great told me that diaper rash is about like sitting down in a briar patch, on the briars of course, and if it is as bad as he describes it I think my Mommy will take all of the steps necessary to see that it doesn’t happen to me.  I think I will check my dogs Fergie and Zep the next time they stop by to lick my ear and see if they might  have diaper rash.

I asked Granddad the Great if it would be ok if I helped him write a little bit about what is going on with my group of friends and in my life recently, and he gave me a “high five” and said to “knock myself out”.  I think in big people talk that means sure, go right ahead.

I am sorry you caught me in my “jammies” , but it is getting late and I will be getting to bed soon so I thought I would dress for the occasion and when I get tired of writing, I can just “hit the hay”.  I don’t know about you, but I have a late night snack or an early breakfast about three or four o’clock every morning and that means I really have to sleep fast to get any sleep at all, if I am up late night.  I may be sweet but without my sleep I can be “grouchy”.

Lets see, I hardly know where to start since I was last allowed to write in the Chronicles.  A lot has happened so far in my short life, mostly good, I might add.  I went to visit the doctor on my second birthday.  Not years,  silly, but months.  WOW, something right must be going on.  I had gained about 4 pounds and grew two inches in height.  My Mommy and Dad are really taking good care of me.  I am wondering how big would I be if they would spring for some ice cream sometime.  This doctor was much different from the doctor who delivered me.  He is a guy like me and I really like him, BUT, he has one bad habit.  It seems that every time I go to his office, I get something called a shot.  Ever had one of those?  I am here to tell you it stings.  They say that it will make me healthy.  Well, if stinging like that means you are healthy, how bad is going to hurt when I get sick.  Something seems a little mixed up here.  My Mommy is a big “chicken” when I get a shot.  She leaves the room and puts the job on old Dad to be in the room with me.  But hey, we guys can take it.

In the last two months I have been on the road a lot.  Mom and I just hop in the car and do all sorts of neat stuff.  If we are going to visit someone for a couple of days then old Zep and Fergie have to go with us.  I get to ride in the back seat with Mom and Zep and Fergie hop in the front seat with Dad and away we go.  Old Zep is a big old lazy dog but I think he really likes me.  If you think I sleep a lot you should see him sleep.  He wanders down stairs early each morning,  plants himself someplace comfortable,  and then he is out of it until about noon.  Fergie is a little different.  She is a bit “high- strung” and her favorite thing is to watch TV and if an animal appears on the screen, she goes “nuts”.  She is much older than me but even I know that those things are not real on the TV.

I had a really exciting event in my life a week or so ago.  That is me on the left all dressed up for it.   My Mom had an event in celebration of my being her and Dad’s little boy.  It was something called a “sip n see”.  Ever heard of it?  Neither had I.  She invited all of my out-of-town relatives, and believe me  I have several, friends, and just about anyone that wanted to stop by.  It works like this.  For about a week prior to the event she, my Mom, starts baking, planning, buying lots of interesting looking food and beverages, and decorating my house.  I think even the dogs get into the act.  I noticed that they had “spruced up” dog collars.  On the day of the event all who are invited come by my house for “sipping” refreshments and seeing the baby.  The baby, that would be me, is the centerpiece of the event.  It seems as if I were up all day and night getting hugs and kisses.  I LOVED IT!!!  Granddad the Great says it was the biggest and most exciting event he had seen since the time the time the squirrel got loose in the Baptist church.

I got a new toy just a few days ago.  It is something called a jogging cart and it is all mine.  Has a nice padded seat, convertible top to keep out sun and weather, and really moves down the street.  It runs faster than my Mom or Dad.  When I am riding in it, cart always goes in front of them and they are running trying to catch up.  It is very quiet so I think it might be one of the new hybrid vehicles.  I can’t wait to take it out and cruise a drive-in or two.  Granddad the Great says that it would look great parked in front of the “Honky Tonk” and would probably draw the attention of all of the Louisa girls.  He kids around a lot.  He is always saying things like I am the “bees knees” and funny stuff like that.

Well, here I am all ready for my first day of school.  My Mom had to go back to work and I am going to the cool school.  They call it day care but I like the term school better.  I have only been there for a few days but I already have a couple of cute girls my age giving me the once over.  I have decided that I will take cute girls over ice cream any day.

  What you are seeing on the left is me putting on my “cute” act.  Any time I want hugs, kisses, and a bit of petting I put on this show.  Granddad the Great asked me if I thought it would work for him.  I had to be honest and tell him that I didn’t think so but that I loved him anyway.  I do a lot of smiling and laughing.  I find that the kind of look you see on the left will get a lot of attention so I use it on special people and at special times.  I have learned to turn on my tummy, turn on my back, and push myself around.  My teacher at school calls me a “rolling machine”.  I think the girls at school are pretty impressed also.  I have lots of fun at school.  We get to lie and look at ourselves in a mirror and probably do a little bit of flirting with each other.  Maybe I could get my Dad to help me develop a couple of looks, if you know what I mean.  

I go to school pretty early each day and my Mom or Dad picks me up in the evening.  I am always glad to see them because I know that when I get home it is going to be play time and I will get to see my dogs Ferg and Zep.  After some play time, a good meal (milk), some tv and a bath, and it time to “hit the hay”.  Morning comes early at my house and I need to catch lots of zzz’s which they tell me are necessary for my growing.

I get to see my doctor next week for my four months check.  I have heard rumors that he might add some rice to my diet.  I don’t know what that is  but I understand that they eat a lot of it in Asia.  My Great Granddad told me that he ate a lot of rice when he was a kid.  He said that it was really good cooked with raisins but I probably will not get many of those with my rice.  He called it depression food.  I am not sure what that means but then he never ceases to amaze my with some of the funny things he says.  I am sure that as I get older, that he will  tell me what they mean.  I don’t know if the dreaded shots will be brought out or not at next weeks doctor visit, but if they are I am pretty tough now and I can take it.

I am in Kentucky this weekend visiting my Greats and my Grands and I just had to show you a new look that I have developed.  I also have on some new threads, that is what Great Granddad calls them. The girls love the new me.   I think it makes me look mysterious, sort of like maybe Clint Eastwood, maybe an espionage agent,  or maybe even a rock star.  Any of you guys out there that needs help in developing a new  look and a new ward robe, I am available to advise.  I am not much into rock music yet but I do have a lot of musical things that turn and make pleasing  sounds.  I love visiting Kentucky, especially when a sporting event is going on at U of K.  I have become quite a Big Blue basketball fan.  I saw several of their games in their march to the national championship.  My Mom and Dad get more excited at a basketball game than I do in getting a clean diaper change.  I have this cool picture of me dressed only in a blue University of Kentucky neck tie.  Maybe next time when Great Granddad lets me write, I will put a picture of me on the Chronicles with my U of K tie.  I will have to check with Mom and Dad about that, so there is something for you to anticipate.

Well, Great Granddad says it is about time to get our of here and “put this rag to bed”.  I think that means to finish up in newspaper talk.  I do thank all of you Viking and Marshall fans for letting me write for the Chronicles.  Great Granddad says I can come to the reunion with him this year but I don’t know if Mom will let me.  I can see me now, flying around the golf course in my golf cart.  So, I will leave you with one word,  actually two words , “GO HERD”.

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Reid, Frederick Lunsford Jr. “Col. Potter”
82, of Mesa, AZ passed away on April 2, 2012. Born June 25, 1929 in Williamson, WV, he obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Marshall University and a Masters of Business Administration from Syracuse University. He was known to all as “Colonel Potter” because of his dedicated military service. He retired after 24 years with the U.S. Army in 1974, and he then worked for 14 years as Assistant Director of Housing at Arizona State University. He is survived by his wife Jane Johnson; son Richard and wife Rebecca; daughter Catherine Burnett and husband Bruce; son Curtis and wife Dina; stepdaughters Debbie Richards and husband Philip and Marcia Fohs and husband Ron; stepson Mark Johnson and wife Kathryn; sister Dorothy Noe; brother in law Robert Nelson; nieces Loretta Noe and Karla Nelson Stallings; nephew Robert Nelson and wife Lisa; former spouse Barbara; 4 granddaughters: Ashley Reid, Alexandra Johnson, Brit Reid, and Camille Johnson; and 1 grandson, Reece Reid. He is preceded in death by his parents Frederick and Hazel; sister Lois Nelson; and son Frederick Lunsford Reid III. Military honor services will be held
on Tuesday, April 10, at 3:00 PM in the Valley Presbyterian Church Chapel, 6947 East McDonald Drive, Scottsdale. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in memory of Frederick Lunsford Reid III to: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 6931 Arlington Road, 2nd floor, Bethesda, Maryland 20814.

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Below is an article that I accidentally ran on to while surfing the internet.  It is from the Charleston Gazette and proves that even after more than a century of time, that wrongs may be set right.  Certainly the period of slavery itself was a horrible time in our history and it makes one cringe that in that time adults might go into another state and kidnap children and take them to another place and sell them into slavery.  Today that would be called kidnapping and would be a capital crime.  

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Wayne County Circuit Judge Darrell Pratt will hold a special hearing Friday about an unusual case that involves kidnapped children who were sold back into slavery in the 19th Century.

The case focuses on events that occurred in the 1840s and 1850s inWest Virginia,KentuckyandOhio.

James Hale, who worked for CSX Railroad for 32 years before he retired, filed the case. Hale, a relative of those children sold back into slavery, lives nearHuntingtontoday. He filed the case to prove his ancestors were freed slaves before the Civil War even began.

“I will have family members from all over the country coming in,” Hale said on Wednesday. “I am hoping everything will be resolved on Friday.”

Hale is “seeking closure” in the case, which remains open inWayneCounty.

“We are seeking a ruling that the children were free, because they were former slaves who were illegally captured, then sold back into slavery,” he said.

Sean Maynard will be Hale’s lawyer during Friday’s hearing, which begins at 2 p.m.

In January 1847, David Polley, who lived in Pike County, Ky., owned Harrison, Louisa and Anna Polley — the children of his slaves — before he died.

Harrison Polley is Hale’s great-great grandfather.

Upon David Polley’s death, David Campbell and Nancy Polley Campbell inherited his property, including his slaves.

Douglas Polley, a freed black man and the father of Harrison, Louisa and Anna, then bought his three children from David Campbell and freed them.

Part of the deal included money that Douglas Polley gave to David Campbell to pay off claims thatCampbell’s creditors held against him. Those claims included the propertyCampbellinherited from David Polley, including the children.

After making the financial deal, the three children won their freedom.

“They leftPikeCountyin 1849 and went toLawrence County,Ohio,” Hale said, but lived with their parents for only a year.

On June 6, 1850, a man named David Justice, who was Nancy Campbell’s cousin and a slave trader, came intoOhioin the middle of the night, Hale said.

“With a group of six men, he kidnapped eight children, including one grandchild, Mary Jane Polley, who was only 9 months old and was freeborn inOhio.

“They took the children and sold them back into slavery inKentuckyandWayneCounty… which was part ofVirginiaat the time.”

In 1854, the Kentucky Court of Appeals inFrankfortfreed four of the children who had been sold inKentucky, Hale said.

“They also sold four of them inWest Virginia… to William Radcliffe inWayneCounty,” he said.

After a trial inCabellCounty, which lasted from 1851 to 1853, a jury pronounced those four children free, including Harrison, Nelson, Anna and Louisa Pauley.

“In 1855, Radcliffe appealed theCabellCountydecision, which was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in Lewisburg in September.

“The higher court overruled the previous decision because the case was tried inCabellCounty, instead ofWayneCounty, where Radcliffe resided,” Hale said.           

When that ruling was later appealed, it involved only three of the Polley children, because Nelson Polley died in 1855.

“But it never came to trial inWayneCountyand the last legal entry we found in the court’s documents was dated in 1859.

“John Laidley — who had Laidley Field inCharlestonand Laidley Hall atMarshallnamed after him — was the attorney for the Polley children inWayneCounty,” Hale said. “They were kept in slavery inWayneCountyuntil after the Civil War, when they left and went back toOhio.”

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It is with a great degree of sadness that I am reporting the passing of one of our honored alumni.  Fred Reid, class of 1948, passed away on Monday, April 2, 2012.  Fred and his wife Jane had been long time residents of Mesa, AZ.  Fred has had health issues for some time that worsened over the December holidays and necessitated his being recently placed in a health care facility.

Fred was a friend to all that he met.  Life to Fred was always about helping someone else, whether through his church in Arizona or as an early board member of the FGHS Alumni Association and the Associations efforts to help provide college educations for area students.  Fred, Charles Toppings, Charles Frasher, and myself met in Louisa, KY in the mid 1990’s and hammered out the initial plans and name for the FGHS Memorial Scholarship.  He was a part of the success it has become.

I am sure we all have memories of some of the things that Fred said or did.  Fred was an accomplished fisherman and a golfer “wannabe”.  I well remember his shotgun putter, a putter with a shotgun shell on the end of the shaft, it got comments but didn’t seem to do a lot  for his game.  He was about the only golfer that I could keep up with.  I believe that Fred was part of the  efforts of creating the veterans park just outside Fort Gay on U.S. Route 52.

Fred had an accomplished military career.  He retired as a Lt.  Colonel, U.S. Army and was very proud of his country and the privilege he found in serving it.  Fred had the distinction of being the first Commander of the ROTC Corps of Cadets while a student at Marshall University.

There are pages and pages that could be written about Fred and his accomplishments, but I think that the greatest complement that one could receive was having been know by Fred as his friend.  Fred, you will be missed by all.

Our sympathies go out to Jane, and to she and Fred’s children.  May God Bless all.

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