Thursday, January 28, 2010

Makin’ Do in Hard Times

Spittin’ & Whittlin’
Years ago, sitting in front of the court house on a bench always assembled a unique group of old men.  My dad once called them the Spitn’& Whittlin’ Club.  As a kid, I always thought it would be a great life just to sit on the square, whittle at a bench, and talk.  It seemed the easy life.  These men, donned in faded overalls, were usually chewing Kentucky Twist tobacco with a sharp knife in hand; they were slowly and methodically carving & shaving small pieces of cedar and pine.  Every so often, on a Saturday, we would stop by for small conversation.  One time my dad asked the club what they were talking about.  An old-timer spat his tobacco juice in a marvelous & perfect stream to the side and chuckled, “Hard times, J.R. hard times…but good uns.”  I would ask their names, but sadly today, I can only remember a few.  Though many of  the men now may be nameless, these clubs were prolific throughout the Ozarks.  As I look back on those days, they were a part of the “Keepers of the Flame” – the traditions & stories – just as my elders were.  There are times I look back with regret and angst because so many of those stories have passed on the other side of this world.  Nevertheless, they will be renewed someday when we are gathered with the ones who have gone on before us.

Makin’ Do
Hard times come and go, but they give opportunity to humble and strengthen or crush & devastate the ones on its' path.  I have heard many stories about the Great Depression and how people in the Ozarks got by.

Recently, I was visiting with my Uncle Sie & Aunt Phyllis, and they brought out a relic that evoked stories I’ve heard that recalled past stories.  These were about the days of rationing.
Everyone had their book, and everyone received their ration of stamps.  Hearing stories of hard times in the past, I’ll admit, it is possible to become callus to the past crisis.  The best story I’ve ever heard was the collection of stray cats in the Ozarks to sell to the Army for testing.  More common were the occasions of scouring the country side and looking for scrap metal to sell for the war effort; it was not for esthetic beauty, environmental quality, or political correctness.  It was a necessity in order to make ends to meet.  Yet, when I picked up and held this War Rationing Book, the realization became all the more clear while looking at the stamps for daily sustenance of bread & fruit.
These are some of the remnants of hard times.

Under the Bed
When I was young, once a month my dad and I would take my Granny Anderson to town to pick up her monthly ration of commodities.  She would get her cheese, peanut butter, and other necessities in a box and take them home.  While driving to town, Granny was always concerned about procuring her cheese. I would always chide in with her because that commodity cheese was a wonderful snack with soda crackers.

Granny always had a special stash where she kept her extra commodities hidden, but the whole family knew it was slid under the bed in the third bedroom.  I remember peaking under the white bedspread many times and spying the canned goods of peaches & pears dressed in the plain tin cans with white labels.

Granny always kept this stash for just in case of hard times.  On many a hot summer afternoons, Granny and I would sit on the front porch swat flies and wait for a breeze while she would talk about the Depression and makin’ do.  One time she told me she knew some of her kids may chuckle at her keeping extra commodities, but she wanted to keep them for anyone in the family…just in case… of hard times.

Tough Ol’ Knot
This is an expression I have heard people use when talking about the resilience of character and stamina of the people in the Ozarks who make it day after day.  They didn’t give up.  The Great Depression made an indelible mark on the mind of the people who lived in the Ozarks because it lingered so long after the economy came back.  One reason is the remoteness isolated its’ populace; yet, this remoteness forged temperament & disposition that made people tough.  If they were going to make it, they could not be lazy or a sissy.  They were just like a piece of old blackjack oak or hickory full of knots at the wood pile. They’re tough to split.  They held together.  A Tough Ol’ Knot

As I look back, I can see two things that brought and held this cohesion.

Faith & Family.

They had a personal faith knowing God was ever conscience of their circumstances, and He would see them through.

There was fidelity in family because we were always there for each other.

Over the years, as many of my generation are grown and moved  from Ozark County, I have seen faith and fidelity tested.  Yet, on occasions, it is always comforting to see an aunt, uncle, or cousin and know we have a still have a special heritage that makes us a part of...the Ozarks’ History.

Friday, January 22, 2010

5 Footed Hog

While perusing through old newspaper across the country, I have come to collect a small stack of interesting & humorous stories about animals in the Ozarks.  I have thrown them into a file over time entitled, “Ozark Animal Adventures & Oddities.”  I will start to post these every so often.

I hope you enjoy.

Bennie Dearmore, son of Lee Dearmore, a farmer, who lives west of Mountain Home, Ark., says that he has hog which he has no trouble keeping track of.

It makes a track different from any hog in Baxter county.  It Is a five footed hog, and makes five tracks. The extra foot extends out just below the knee of its right foreleg, and touches the ground the same as the regular foot on that leg. In other ways the animal is normal and large enough to kill.  None of the other pigs in the litter in which was born was deformed.

Work Cited:
“Hog with Five Feet.” Wellsboro Gazette, 45.19 (16 Jan. 1919) 7. Digital Archives of the Green Free Library. Green Free Library, Wellsboro, PA. 10 Jan. 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Our Nation Is to Be Destroyed…Tomorrow-Part 4

This will be the final installment of this topic because the Ozark’s History Trail will diverge to other occasions & events.  In the past three installments, we have looked at national newspaper accounts in the past.  Now, we shall delve into a local newspapers, The Baxter Bulletin & The Cotter Courier , and see how a poor farmer & merchant receives inspiration behind a plow and takes his Ozark family on a world expedition.

Name Spelling
In covering this story, the spelling of Mr. Wilhite’s name can be: Whillhite, Willhite, Wilhite, or White. Fortunately, this story is so remarkable, it was still fairly easy to follow. Therefore, for the sake of documenting in as much accuracy as possible, I will use all the variances of spelling.

If you remember the last blog, Mr. Wilhite had made some might earth-moving statements.

The Baxter Bulletin
Predicted End of World August 31.
The Rev. White, formally of, Hopewell, this country, predicted the end of the world would occur August 31. He left his farm here July 22nd, sailed for England, where he preached on the streets of London until they sent him back to this country. He arrives in New York destitute and was cared for by the Municipal Charity Association. He claims that he is sent by the Lord to preach 40 days and that all who did not hearken to him would be carried off by a strange disease. Mrs. Wilhite, his wife, has expressed her desire to “quit gallivanting” and to go back home.

Now…Back in Baxter County
The Baxter Bulletin
Wants His Homestead Back.
Testimony has been taken before Clerk Eatman Monday in one of the oddest contest cases, in all probability that has ever come before the Land Office in the Harrison District.

The case was Sam White vs. Sarah Bodenhamer, of Hopewell. It may be remembered by many that Sam White is the man who predicted last summer that the United States would be destroyed. Believing in this prediction, he sold and gave away all his belongings. Getting all the ready cash out of these he could, he went to London, England, where he preached his gospel on the streets until the authorities took him in charge and deported him to the United States. He landed in New York and the people there sent him back to Arkansas. The Case in question is about his homestead that he was living on at the time he left. He relinquished to the defendant in this case at the time $25. And now he wants it back. Upon his return he came to Mountain Home and county authorities had him examined. The doctors pronounced him insane and the cause was several bullets in his head. Shortly after he came back he was in this office and stated he was evidently insane at the time he made his prediction and left on his trip. He also stated that his condition was always worse in the summer time than in the winter, the heat seeming to affect him. When he relinquished his homestead it is said he told that party that it wouldn’t do her any good as she would burn up within 40 days. After he was judged insane last fall, his wife was appointed his guardian by the court. Much interest is being taken in this case in this part of the county and the decision will be greatly looked forward to.

The Baxter Bulletin
Whilhite Wins Contest In Local Land Office.
The land office at Harrison, last week rendered a decision in favor of Sam Whilhite, who was contesting for his homestead which he sold for a small sum before starting out last summer to convert the world to his way of thinking. He is the man who went to London, England, and other places predicting that the world was coming to an end on a certain date. The department of interior at Washington has to affirm the Harrison land office decision before he can get possession.
Closing Thoughts…
A Paradigm Shift…The Right Timing.
Inspiration is the breath that gives our souls life; it is one of the qualities that make us unique in all of creation.

Though we may be misguided by others standard, it is where we receive our calling in life.  Although I may not agree with Samuel Wilhite’s doctrine, I honestly respect the willingness to forsake all for his convictions. Nevertheless, Dear Reader, while looking at my past, I cannot throw stones at Mr. Wilhite.  I have missed it, made mistakes, blunders the timing, and sinned.  However, I too, personally, believe we have the capacity and we were created to influence and change lives.

This story harkens me back to the Bible to a man named Elisha.  He was plowing in the field till he met the prophet of God, Elijah.  Elisha knew his time had come; his life would change forever. He was to be Elijah’s protégé; it was on the job training.  Once he received inspiration from the Lord, he burned his plow and sacrificed his oxen.  All bridges were burned as he embarked on his voyage.

I was raised and taught we were made ‘for such a time as this.”

What is the “this” in your life?

Is it time to step out and take a risk in the face of controversy and the fear of rejection?

Though it may seem you are stuck behind the plow of life, your inspiration will come.

Plod on pilgrim. Keep your hand to the plow.

Consistency plows the field. Determining focus will bring the furrows straight.

Keep your resolve to the task. Be committed to forsake all…unswerving.

Do not let Samuel Wilhite’s journey be a point for naysayers, but let it show a hard fought epiphany will not strand even the wayfarer or citizen.

These are the lessons that echo out of our Ozarks’ History.

Comments? My email address is:

Works Cited:
Shiras, Tom. “Predicted End of World August 31.” Baxter Bulletin 6.37 (02 Sept., 1907) A1-1.
Shiras, Tom. “Want His Homestead Back.” Baxter Bulletin 7.8 (02 Feb, 1908) A1-1.
Shiras, Tom. “Whilhite Wins Contest In Local Land Office.” Baxter Bulletin 8.8 (07 Sept., 1908) A1-1

Thank you

I would like to say Thank You to Bobbi Brown and the Mountain Home Rotary Club for their invitation to speak Thursday, January 14th, about Ozarks’ History.   It was wonderful to see true compassion, camaraderie, and hospitality displayed in action.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our Nation Is to Be Destroyed…Tomorrow-Part 3

Thank you again for all your emails, phone calls, and visits concerning last week’s blog: Our Nation Is to Be Destroyed…Tomorrow-Part 2. In next two blogs, I believe some questions may be answered, and on the other hand, new queries will probably arise. If you have not read Part 1& 2 of this blog, please click here.

On a railroad train somewhere between Manhattan and Norfolk, Baxter County, Ark., Samuel Willhite must be pondering this morning over the futility of having visions that do not work out.

First, he had expected to see the world come to an end on September 1. Later he made up his mind that his first vision had become twisted during the transmission process, and a recasting of it set the date, in his mind, for the end of all mundane things as Thursday of last week.

Throughout the latter day Willhite sat on the steps of the Municipal Lodging House, No. 398 First avenue, Bible in hand, waiting for the passing of earth, and at odd moments endeavoring to convince some of the other guests of the city that he was the genuine, real thing in the prophet class. William C. Yorke, the superintendent, much to the surprise of Willhite, continued about the duties of his office, the last of which was to see that the Arkansan, his wife and two little children were safely stowed away for the night. Three other children were placed la the care of the Gerry society immediately after Willhite became an inmate of the municipal lodging house on August 23.

Willhite came out of the Southwest last June. According to his own story, he had been at various times a preacher, a farmer and a merchant. The two latter avocations did not pay very well, though, when on June 1 he "visioned" that the world was soon coming to an end he possessed, a farm which he sold for $400. He was ploughing in the field when the “Message” came to him in this wise: “In ninety days shall the unexpected come to pass. Go thou among the accursed; say unto them that destruction is near. Let them prepare: bid them prepare." Willhite started forthwith.

A second vision directed his steps Europeward, and he took his wife, five children, and passage to London. Just three days did he remain in the British capital. Our cousins, he felt, didn't care to be saved, for he was not permitted to preach his gospel in the streets, and how else could, he let them know the end was so very, very near?

Back to America came the Willhite and family. Of the $400 just $11 remained when he landed here, and William C. Rogers, an inspector of the State Board of Charities, escorted the visionist, his wife and three young children to the Municipal Lodging House. The Gerry Society took the older two. On Saturday afternoon the five were placed aboard a train tagged for Arkansas.

A week ago yesterday Willhite decided to give his vision to the people of Manhattan, and made arrangements to preach in the street near the lodging house. But G. Neuhaus, the inspector in charge, advised against that unless a license were procured. The self-styled prophet thought it beneath his dignity to go to the City Hall and apply for permission to save the world, and he confined his attention to the other inmates. They listened to his talk good naturedly, and deceased the situation with him in apparent seriousness, but not a single man evinced a desire to be among those to linger on or after September 1.

For two or three days Willhite was very restless and when Superintendent Yorke asked him the cause the Arkansas said he was beginning to doubt the accuracy of his prophecy, and that he fell he had made an error m his calculations. One whole day spent over his Bible and &calendar convinced him that he had been wrong, and Willhite startled those about him declaring in the most impressive manner That Thursday was the day of days, and that all those who did not get in out of the wet would then and there be wiped off the map. Still there were no converts, and the "vision getter" decided that it was up to him to go it alone in the new world. Not a convert had he made; no one to busy New York seemed to care whether the world came to an end or not.

Then came the momentous Thursday. Willhite arose early and prepared to watch everybody else shuffle into eternity. Why should he care? No one had heeded his message, and it would serve them right. Anyway, the fewer who remain with him the more room there would be for Samuel Willhite and the five other little Willhite’s, to say nothing of the wife, who never had evinced cast much faith in her husband’s prophecies. He was quite chagrined when Superintendent Yorke and Inspector Neuhaus failed to bid him goodbye, and he couldn’t help casting contemptuous glances, at others who had neglected to save themselves from the irresistible fate that was impending. Anyway, he was safe. And he sat all day long on the steps of the lodging house. When turning-in time came he went sorrowfully to bed, still sure he had been picked out from all the rest as a second Christ, but rather puzzled as to why things had gone awry.

On Saturday, when officer of the State Board of Charities came to escort the Willhite family to the railroad station, the prophet reassured the men in the municipal hotel that the end was not far off, and told them that he would send a corrected date for the shuffling off from faraway Arkansas just as soon as he could borrow a plough and get within range of another vision.


Our Nation Is to Be Destroyed…Tomorrow

Part 4 Coming Soon.

Comments? My email address is:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Our Nation Is to Be Destroyed…Tomorrow-Part 2

Thank you for all your emails, phone calls, and visits concerning last week’s blog: Our Nation Is to Be Destroyed…Tomorrow-Part 1.  In next week’s conclusion, I believe some question many be answered, and on the other hand, new queries will probably will arise. If you have not read Part I of this blog, please click...Here.

From a biblical point of view, I think some points of Mr. Willhite’s eschatology (study of the Last Days) can be reasoned from just looking at the date this occurred.  First, the culminating year of the Willhite Prophecy was 1907.  Why is 1907 significant? It is seven years after 1900.  Why is 1900 significant?  In 1900, many people were looking for the “Second Return of Christ.”  For those who believe in a 7 year Tribulation Period, 1907 may have rung someone’s bell, namely, Mr. Samuel Willhite.  This has happened over many dates in history.  For example, some people were looking for the Anti-Christ in the year 1666. The “666” in 1666 was significant to these prognosticators.  Nevertheless, biblical predictions that have been in error by zealous men do not tarnish The Hope of His Calling & The Revelation in this writer’s eyes.

As I mentioned in last week’s introduction, I ask again, Dear Reader, to tread with me lightly through this chronicle with respect, reverence, and devotion to the Guiding Hand that leads us in this life and the wayfarers along its’ path. It is not my desire to expose another pilgrim’s progress for trivial sport or gain. I pray we may all glean from past mistakes and endeavor to undergird the souls along our path.

Enjoy the story.

NEW YORK, Sept. 1.—Though he is certain the voice of God told him on July 23 that the world would come to an end in forty days and commanded him to go and preach the doctrine of repentance to all mankind, Rev. Samuel Willhite of Baxter county, Arkansas, but more recently of London, went back to Arkansas from the First Avenue Municipal lodging house, not because he has lost faith in the vision, but because Mrs. Willhite is of the opinion that if the world must come to an end so soon it might as well find her in Arkansas.

"Seeing as how Mrs. Willhite looks at it that way and the young ones want to get home, too, and the people here allow they are willing to pay for toting us all back to Arkansaw," said Mr. Willhite. "I suppose we might as well go home, though I don't know where we are going to live when we get there."

Mr. Willhite, who is 35 years old, is a native of the Cumberland mountains of Tennessee, and is about four years his wife's senior. They have been married ten years and have five children, the eldest of whom Is 8 years old and the youngest six months. Up to July 24 they lived in Baxter, where he made a living farming and running a small store.

Saw Vision
The day before their departure, he says, the Lord appeared to him in the form of a loud voice and told him to go forth and tell the world it was to be destroyed in forty days.

"I don't belong to any church," said the preacher, "and haven't for a long time.  When I was 20, I had religion as you folks have it and joined the Baptist church and was ordained.  That wasn't what I wanted, according to the voices I heard from God, so I joined the Campbellites.

They weren't much better, so for the last eight years I have been preaching the word as God has given it to me.

"I usually work for a while and then go away for a short trip preaching. Up to this time I have left the family at home. But this time I gave my farm away and sold what I had at give-away prices and went to London. There they wouldn't let me preach, and after I had a lot of trouble I came home. They didn't arrest me, but kept us moving. London does not want to be saved. I landed in Boston last Thursday and they sent us over here. Then a lady at the Boston sent us to this place.

"No, I never converted anybody but my wife. You had better be converted, though, "for the end comes next Saturday. It sure does, for the voice said so."

Mrs. Willhite is not so enthusiastic over the prospect of the world ending so soon.

I am tired of gallivanting around with these children, with two of them here and the other three in Bellevue, where they are being treated for a little rash the doctors say is due to heat," said she. "If the world is going to come to an end I do not know what it matters whether I am in New York or Arkansas. I have lived God's way and I reckon I will be saved as quickly there as anywhere else. If it doesn't end I'd rather be there with the little ones, anyway."

Our Nation Is to Be Destroyed…Tomorrow
Part 3 Coming Soon
Comments? My email address is:

Works Cited:
“A Vision That Failed.” Los Angeles Herald 34.336 (02 Sept. 1907): 3. Chronicling America. The Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. 11 Jan. 2008

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Our Nation Is to Be Destroyed… Tomorrow-Part 1

Should I?
This is the question that has been rolling inside of me for almost two years. Should I write about this story …or not? To be honest, my opinions, angst, and fears have traveled the spectrum. I remember the day this story came to my attention; I filed it away in a folder. Since that time, I have pondered & prayed, and I believe it’s something to talk about now

I seem to be drawn to this curious turn of events that proclaimed a message from the Ozark hills. This message is documented from its’ genesis in Norfork & Mountain Home, Arkansas, then traveling to New York, London, Los Angeles, and back to Harrison, Arkansas. It is here where finial court decisions were made, while the finial court of public opinion was made in the local newspapers and abroad.

As we walk through this story, I ask you, Dear Reader, to tread with me lightly through this chronicle with respect, reverence, and devotion to the Guiding Hand that leads us in this life and the wayfarers along its’ path.  It is not my desire to expose another pilgrim’s progress for trivial sport or gain.  I pray we may all glean from past mistakes and endeavor to undergird the souls along our path.

"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself."     Galatians 6:1-3

TEOTWAWKI is a popular acronym on the internet that stands for: The End Of the World As We Know It. I have heard “The End” preached from fiery pulpits and the “Glorious Return” echoed from familiar hills as a child, and I still believe it. I am not here to scoff at this doctrine. This is one reason I didn't want to write about this incident. Additionally, I do not want anyone to construe these following articles as such, but they enclose the warning to all to read the scriptures with a heart pointed toward heaven.

Word & Phrase Meanings
As we read along the next few weeks, I hope you will notice certain words & phrases in the coming blogs that are not commonly used in today’s vernacular.  Here are just a few that caught my eye:
• So I joined the Campbellites….So I went to the Church of Christ.
• The long stream of tobacco juice flew unerringly to the adjacent cuspidor, … The long stream of tobacco juice flew unerringly to the adjacent spittoon.
• A petulant wife…A grouchy or ill-tempered wife.
• Spects I’d consider myself doggoned well fooled…I expect I would consider myself a fool.
• He had swallowed a bit of his chaw…He swallowed a bit of his chewing tobacco.

I hope you enjoy the story.

A soiled frayed rather weary looking apostle held communion with his spirit in the Municipal Lodging House, at 398 First avenue, and solemnly declared that Sept. 1, this year, will witness the destruction of the peoples of the new world. Having rid himself of this weighty piece of information he fastened his eyes sternly on his solitary auditor and declared impressively: “And I am the Christ, new-born, who shall teach the people of the old when they cometh, so that there shall be an earthly Paradise.”

Thus saying, Samuel Willhite, thirty –five, residence Norfolk, Baxter County, Arkansas, who for the present is the honored guest at the city’s First avenue hostelry, cocked his feet up on a nearby table, dexterously tilted the long pine bench upon which he sat back until he rested against the wall, and – spat. The long stream of tobacco juice flew unerringly to the adjacent cuspidor, nor soiled so much as a single stain the well-scrubbed floor in its passing.

What else would the people know of me?”

The superb assurance and consummate ease of the man were astounding. By his own confession the total amount of his worldly goods are $11 cash in the safe of the Charities Bureau. A petulant wife and five small children are with him dependent upon him. In less than two months he has spent the savings of years – some four hundred and odd dollars – in traveling from Arkansas to England and back again to New York, merely that he might warn people of their impending doom.

He’s Going to Stay
Appealingly his auditor murmured something about the story of his life and its benefit to posterity

Sternly he made answer: "There will be no posterity, except mine own. From mine own lips shall they know the story – so saith the spirit.”

The pale blue eyes flashed: “I said” the accent on the word was most emphatic – I said I should stay to receive others when they come, from me shall they learn the word of God, my Father. They shall be my people. Of me and mine shall the new world be the home.

Timorously the supposition was put to him: “Suppose this doesn’t happen, Mr. Willhite? Suppose you find us here on Sept. 2, alive and well, what would you do?

Mr. Willhite spat again then answered confidently: “It will come as I prophesy; so saith the spirit.”

“But if it shouldn’t, will you then hold to your faith? Will you think yourself Christ?”

Might Be Fooled, Doggonit
A gleam of something akin to humor shone for an instant in the obstinate eyes. “Spects I’d consider myself doggoned well fooled in that case,” he replied.

It cannot be,” he shouted. It cannot be. I am he that liveth and is dead. Behold, I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of death and hell. I am chosen of God – chosen for the sealed mission set by John the Revelator on the Isle of Patmos. Three seals have been broken unto me – the fourth is in the breaking. Three of them have I well preformed; the fourth I am performing. Beware of the sign of Jonah. I say unto ye, yea to all the people, beware the sign of Jonah, for verily thy time cometh.”

By now the prophet was on his feet and in full action. Brandishing his arms, his eyes flashing, he strode to and fro in the narrow space between the long tables, emitting a continuous flow of scriptural vehemence. Pleas and protastations were unveiling; nothing sufficed to stop him until he inadvertently he had swallowed a bit of his “chaw.” That brought him to a stop: all standing, and for several moments he choked and coughed until tears came to his eyes. When to a degree he had recovered himself, he was meek as a lamb, and readily sat down and reviewed the history of his life.

Jail Was a “Penance”
On one point he is absolutely positive, and that is that his incarcerations in the jail for three months at South McAllister, Indian Territory, was a piece of penance divinely imposed. Quoting the second verse, sixth chapter of Revelations, he declared that he was the man with the bow-bow – not hoe – that he had ridden the gray horse and he had not stolen him as he was accused of doing.

“That was the way I won my crown,” he declared. “Thus I gained the keys of my kingdom.”

The verse in Revelations to which Mr. Willhite alludes reads: “And I came and behold a white horse, and he that sat on him had a bow, and he went forth crying and to conquer. “

It was after reading this verse some years ago, Mr. Willhite declares, that he left his modest little home and family in Cameron, Indian Territory, and went forth into the highway to conquer. His destination was Fort Smith, I. T. – a long distance away for a man afoot. A gray horse appeared providentially in one of the fields by the wayside. To quote the prophet further, he had no sooner saw the horse than he “rode like a lion – so saith the Bible – down upon the man who owned the horse, and preached with such power that he placed the saddle on the horse with his own hands and gave him into my keeping.

Sparing Mr. Willhite’s tears at this point, it will not be related all that happened to him thereafter. To state it briefly, a delegation of citizens waited upon him before he reached his destination, and it was doubtless a rare chance that landed him in jail to be tried as a horse thief rather than – well, that’s the tearful part of it. At any rate he was found guilty by the judge, but sentenced to three months in jail.

A couple of years after his release, he declares he was “preachin’ some, farmin’ er little, n’ mainly merchandising. First one thing, n’ then ernother all the time.” Then came a time when his preaching stirred up the Baptist residents of Baxter County, Arkansas, so powerfully that they gave him “th’ voice to preach.” Which means they all could to encourage him in “regular sermonizing without actually ordaining” him.

But not until Mr. Willhite went into “merchandising” at Norfork, Ark., years ago, did he really begin to prosper. He acquired a store, a stock of goods, twelve head of cattle, a span of horses, and a wagon. It was about this time that his “mission” came to him, and he started to disseminate the words of the seals. (The seals were put on the mission by John the Revelator on the Isle of Patmos.) As often as a seal was broken and its contents revealed to him, he dropped all work and went forth on the highways, spreading their teaching to the ungodly. “Between seals” he sold goods.

Last Message June 1
These messages of three seals did he scatter broadcast in this fashion, retiring each time to his home and family, when on the night of June 1 last, the warning of the fourth seal was made known unto him. Thus spake the spirit, he declares: “In ninety days shall the unexpected come to pass. Go thou among the accursed; say unto them that destruction is near. Let them prepare – bid them prepare.”


Our Nation Is to Be Destroyed…Tomorrow.
Part II Coming Soon

Comments? My email address is:

Works Cited:
Our Nation Is To Be Destroyed.” Evening World 48:16,807 (27 Aug. 1907): 4. Chronicling America. The Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. 11 Jan. 2008

Monday, January 4, 2010

Amazon Women Spotted in Ozark County-Part 3

Wrapping Up Loose Ends
A friend, Mary Belle Green, sent me an email which gave an added boost in tracing down some of the particulars of this past story. She found the information in the Old Mill Run Oct., 1996, Vol. 11, Num. 3, page 4-6. The details are as follows:

The Crabtrees of Ozark County
James Buchanan Crabtree was born in1832. He died in 1904 and is buried at the town in Oil Trough, Independence County, Arkansas. Mariah Hulsey Crabtree was born in 1853. She died in 1931 and is buried Pontiac Cemetery, Ozark County, Missouri. According to the 1860 Census, Mariah was living in Christian Township in Independence County, Arkansas. Believe it or not…it’s next door to Oil Trough, Arkansas. They had one child, James P. Crabtree.

James P. Crabtree (Lottie Graham's brother) was born 18 March, 1886, and died March, 1967, at age 80 in Gainesville, Missouri, and buried at the Pontiac Cemetery. (Mary: "I also show Centerpointe Cemetery, so I’m unsure.")

James P. Crabtree’s parents were James B Crabtree and Mariah Hulsey.
James married Malinda Crabtree.
Their children were:
Pearlie Poe
Richard Crabtree
Jewell Shaw

Malinda Crabtree was born 18 May, 1886, in Marion County, Arkansas. She died at age 76, in Gainesville Missouri, and was buried at the Pontiac Cemetery.

Malinda Crabtree’s Brother: Jess Lance-
Malinda Crabtree’s Sisters: Mattie Porter--Mamie Queen and Delia Reynolds

The Grahams of Ozark County
Frank Micajah Graham was born in 1868, and he is the son of John Graham and Sarah A. Midyett.
[According to the 1880 Census, Frank Micajah Graham was the grandson of Migah & Susan Mydette. This is something that will need to be ironed out.]

Frank Micajah Graham (1868- died ?) is buried in the Sallee Cemetery, Ozark County, Missouri.
[According to the Sallee Cemetery Roster online, Frank Graham is not listed, but there is one grave that has a stone with no inscription, six are marked by fieldstones, and three of the stones are unmarked.]

Lottie Crabtree Graham 1882-1922 buried in the Sallee Cemetery in Ozark County, Missouri

Frank and Lottie were married in 1907.
Frank and Lottie Graham had 2 children:
Gladys Graham was born 1910 and married General Evans.
Linnie Graham was born 1914 and married Ruel Jacob Evans.

Chasing Sister-in-laws
Since Frank and Lottie Graham were married in 1907, they could not have a 10 year old child in 1908…UNLESS Frank had one from another wife.

Lottie had a brother James Crabtree who married unknown--this must be the sister-in law.

I would like to say, “Thank you” to Mary Belle Green and for all those who have emailed me with tidbits of information in piecing together this puzzle. Looks like there is more work from this view of the holler.

Works Cited:
Bias-Hill, Louise. Sallee Cemetery, Ozark County, Missouri. Retrieved: Nov 08, 2000.
Green, Mary B. “Crabtree-Graham.” E-mail to Vincent S. Anderson. 12 Dec. 2009.
Green, Mary B. “Tying Up Loose Ends.” E-mail to Vincent S. Anderson. 03 Jan. 2010.
Map: Ozark County. Retrieved: 16 Nov. 2009.
Robins, Ruby. Old Mill Run 1 Oct. 1996 Vol. 1, Num. 3 ed.: 4+.
Year: 1880; Census Place: Bayou, Ozark, Missouri; Roll T9_707; Family History Film 1254707; Page: 554.4000; Enumeration District 110; Image 0695.
Year: 1920; Census Place: Bridges, Ozark, Missouri; Roll T625_936; Page: 9B; Enumeration District 148; Image 1002.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Well, Good Greasy Gravy

…and ye shall eat the fat of the land. Genesis 45:18b

I know I have taken the above passage from the Bible out of context, but fat, lard, and grease are a few of the basic necessities and lubricants of the Ozark diet.  Many times these simple elements add the sweetness to our cooking and the richness to our culture.  Yet, all the while, they add a littlenthickening of cholesterol in our arteries.  This entry should not be gleaned as the proper diet, but it documents the way food was and is prepared in the Ozarks.  The food is always delicious but not always healthy.

This is also a small testament of how I once ate, but now I have “seen the light.”  The way I changed my eating habits was through the breaking of my stubbornness and pride.  You see, I was raised on bacon grease, ham drippings, and breakfast sausage grease. A big part of my diet was pork until 1997.  At that time, I was having serious stomach problems every time I ate pork or pork products.  I also began to study biblical dietary laws concerning what to eat and what is not considered as food.  I will not go into a deep theological debate on this issue.  But suffice to say, I believe the Good Lord in Heaven was ringing my bell, and I was obliged to answer.  Though my mind and mouth had a hard time listening, I “saw the light” and gave up pork.  Thank goodness for turkey bacon.

Nevertheless, I will now list the 4 basic gravies I was raised on in the Ozarks. In addition, there is one other main staple to make any Ozark Gravy.  It is a cast-iron skillet.  There’s something about the flavor of gravy made in a cast-iron skillet.

Red Eye Gravy
According to an old story, General Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States, was getting hungry for a noon meal and called for his cook over to tell him what to prepare. General Jackson was a common and rugged man that always shot his thoughts straight from the hip. The cook had been drinking “white mule” or "moonshine" corn whiskey the night before and his eyes were bloodshot and as red as fire. General Jackson took a quick look at the man and told the cook to bring him some country ham with gravy as red as his eyes. Some men nearby heard the general and from then on, ham gravy became "Red Eye Gravy."

Red eye gravy is very salty since it is made from frying up a good piece of salty ham. Fried ham will not usually render enough grease in providing the proper amount of drippings for gravy. To solve this problem, add a huge dollop or two of lard and melt it down. Now comes the magic with a little punch. Black Coffee. I can’t tell you how much but add enough. If it’s too strong, add water. For a little extra zip to the flavor to the gravy, add a little bit of crushed clove. If you are watching you salt/sodium intake, this will not help. Serve gravy over boiled new potatoes, mashed potatoes, or just soaking a piece of bread. It’s also pretty good sipping from a coffee cup.

Greasy Gravy
Greasy Gravy is pretty much like Red Eye Gravy. The main difference is that its’ composition is made of bacon grease & coffee. This goes great over hot buttermilk biscuits, twice-toasted toast, boiled eggs, or scrambled eggs with squirrel brains.

Flour Gravy
Flour Gravy is the breakfast staple of the Ozarks.  When I was growing up, I was never allowed to eat cold, boxed cereal during the week.  Hence, a weekday breakfast consisted of three choices:

• Bowl of cooked rice

• Bowl of cooked oatmeal

• Fried eggs, biscuits & gravy, with bacon, sausage, or ham.

If you notice the last meal, grease is a part of every item.

Warning: As you can see by the ingredients listed below, there are no exact measurements to making gravy. It is an art and skill that comes by trial and error.  If it doesn’t turn out the way you think it should, let the skillet cool, crumble up some biscuits in it, take a spoon and eat it out of the pan. Here too is some added advice.  Never let your grandmother, mom, or wife see you eating out of the skillet.

Flour Gravy is also wonderful for lunch or supper time. The only change needed is to use the grease rendered of fried chicken. This gravy is great on mashed potatoes, roles, cooked vegetables, and sliced tomatoes.

Chocolate Gravy
This gravy is thick, sweet, full, smooth, and chocolatey. It’s the kind of gravy that its’ remnants should not be left on the breakfast plate; it should be sopped and scraped clean with biscuits. Some people saythis gravy is nothing more than chocolate pudding, but they're wrong. When this gravy is cold, it can be used as a cake filling, but beware because it softens as it warms. Chocolate gravy is a specialty of mountain families in the Ozark Plateau, Appalachian, and Cumberland Mountains including: East Kentucky, East Tennessee, West Virginia.

What is the origin of this recipe? According to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, it is believed Spanish Louisiana had a trading network in to the Tennessee Valley Region. This trade may have introduced Mexican-style breakfast chocolate to the Appalachians, where it is called "chocolate gravy." (Another possibility is that the very old population of County mixed-race Appalachian Melungeons has preserved the dish from the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish colonies on the East Coast.)"

Chocolate gravy is something I still enjoy. If you have been a reader of any of my past blogs, you may remember my wife’s family is from the countryside of north central New York, near the Catskill Mountains. They were foreign to our southern ways of cooking and never heard of Chocolate Gravy.  Fortunately, my brother-in-law, Michael, married a young lady from Fifty-Six, Arkansas, in Stone County.  She can make Chocolate Gravy just like Granny Anderson.  My kids love going to her house for breakfast because she is known as a great cook, and her Famous Chocolate Gravy is something to talk about.  Below is a recipe for Aunt Mica’s Famous Chocolate Gravy.

May  your New Year be as sweet as Chocolate Gravy.
Works Cited:
Ayto, John. An A-Z of Food and Drink. Oxford U.K: Oxford University Press, 2002. Dabney, Joseph E. Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, & Scuppernong Wine: The Folklore and Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House, 1998.

Davidson, Alan. Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford U.K: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Mariani, John F. Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink. New York, NY: Lebhar- Friedman, 1999.

Smith, Andrew F. Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Volume 1. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004.