Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Sermon

This personal story of a preacher was shared by my sister-in-law, Scarlett. In the words of the Reverend himself:

As a young minister, I was asked by a funeral director to hold a graveside service for a homeless man, with no family or friends. The funeral was to be held at a cemetery way back in the country, and this man would be the first to be laid to rest there. As I was not familiar with the backwoods area, I became lost; and, being a typical man, I did not stop for directions.

I finally arrived an hour late. I saw the backhoe and the crew, who was eating lunch, but the hearse was nowhere in sight. I apologized to the workers for my tardiness, and stepped to the side of the open grave, where I saw the vault lid already in place. I assured the workers I would not hold them up for long, but this was the proper thing to do. The workers gathered around, still eating their lunch. I poured out my heart and soul. As I preached the workers began to say "Amen,""Praise the Lord," and "Glory"!

I preached, and I preached, like I'd never preached before: from Genesis all the way to Revelations. I closed the lengthy service with a prayer and walked to my car. As I was opening the car door and taking off my coat, I overheard one of the workers saying to another, "I ain't never seen anything like that before and I've been puttin' in septic tanks for twenty years."
Flipping Houses

Cheryl and I are holding open house today from 2-4 at 130 NW 62nd Street, which is east of Topeka Blvd. This is a beautiful walkout ranch with 4 bedrooms, a large concrete drive, covered deck, 3 acres and a lovely view. Come see us!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sammy Shelor, The Titanic

Banjo-picker Sammy Shelor (far left) has been named the Distinguished Patrick Countian (Virginia). Buddy, Larry Belcher (left), was recognized for his outstanding service to the community. For those unfamiliar with geography, the plaques are in the shape of "The Free State of Patrick." I grew up in Ararat, which is the furthest west of the communities shown (below, right).

Sammy is a little younger than I, and I don't know if he recalls that I directed, and Karen Duncan Erickson produced, a high school play on the history of our county back in 1976. Sammy and his grandad played between scenes. Legend has it, Sammy started playing at the age of 4 when his granddad fashioned a banjo from the lid of a pressure cooker. I emailed his sister, fellow-blogger Leslie, to verify this information:

Yes, I was astonished when Sammy got Distinguished Patrick Countian; he's in good company. Some awesome people have been honored. Liked that Larry got the Community Service Award, too; I haven't seen Larry in years but he's a great soul! Grandpa did make Sammy a banjo from a pressure cooker lid, coat hanger and some bolts, I think. Sammy still has it.

There you have it, folks. Sammy Shelor, named the best banjo picker in the world no less than four times by the International Bluegrass Music Association, started playing on a pot lid. The first time he won, my Aunt Lucille approached him to autograph a tee shirt she had purchased, and asked him to write something like "best banjo player, 1995." He was so embarrassed. Not sure if he signed all that or not.

Congratulations, Sammy!
Remembering the Titanic

Laurel Hill Cemetery "The Underground Museum"
with Widener University Professor and Resident Folklorist
Dr. J. Joseph Edgette
Saturday, April 12, 2008 starting at 3:00 p.m.

The cost is $25 per person for the tours only, and $75 per person for the entire package, including tours, presentation and dinner. Advance registration is required. Space is limited, so make your reservations early by calling 215-228-8200.

According to the statistics from the existing records of the White Star Line, managing company of the R.M.S. Titanic, there were 98 passengers destined for Pennsylvania on that fateful voyage in April of 1912. Of that number, 45 were from the Philadelphia area. Six of these are entombed or memorialized at Laurel Hill Cemetery:

Olive Potter
Crolius William
Crothers Dulles
Lily Alexenia
Potter Eleanore
Elkins Widener
George Dunton Widener
Harry Elkins Widener

Every year in April, Laurel Hill Cemetery commemorates the solemn anniversary of the sinking of the “Ship of Dreams.” The event commences with a walking tour of Laurel Hill, where we visit the burial places of the Titanic passengers, and hear their unique stories. The tour continues at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, where six additional Titanic-related men and women rest. Following the walking tours, a slide-supported presentation will highlight the connection between Philadelphia and the Titanic. The evening is capped off by a sumptuous feast that replicates the one served aboard Titanic on that final, fateful day.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


As bizarre as the photo above is, it doesn't come close to matching this news story. When I read the headline, my first thought was, "where in the South did this happen?"

Although this is a tragic story, we all know it's just not likely to happen ANYWHERE in the world but the American South. A man in Sedalia, Missouri, was trying to install a satellite dish. Having tried several times to make a hole in the wall, he fired a .22 handgun through the wall in order to run the wire. The bullet struck his wife in the chest and she died. The investigation is continuing and no charges have been filed.
George Hamilton IV
to Perform in Tobaccoville

Buford Kegley is interviewing George Hamilton IV on WBRF Radio, Galax, Virginia. Buford and George will be appearing Saturday night at Turner's Opera House in Tobaccoville, North Carolina. These days, George is probably more well known internationally than locally, but some of my first memories are sitting in front of a small black and white TV watching George on the Arthur Smith show. Before I started school, George's version of "In The Early Morning Rain," touched a chord in my soul. George grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, born to Moravian parents. His dad was vice president of the company that made Goody's headache powders. I have a package of said powders in the cabinet now.

I get so homesick sometimes!
Thoughts from the Net

. . . . Back before there were so many television shows, the preacher could often catch the attention of the audience with reference to the episode of "Gunsmoke" that showed the night before, confident that most had seen it. . . . Rev. Everett Wilson

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Rifleman's Son

While you're watching reruns of The Rifleman on the Western channel, take a moment to wish Johnny Crawford (above) a birthday. Man, did I have a crush on him! Born this day in 1946, the multi-talented Crawford now leads a band in southern California. Read more on Tom's blog:
More Graves for
William Clarke Quantrill

Kudos to the good folks who have placed a memorial stone on William Clarke Quantrill's original grave in Louisville, Kentucky. Thanks to Don Gilmore, Rick Mack, Nancy Hitt, Patrick Marquis and Emory Canty, Jr., the guerrilla's first grave has a marker bearing a poem written by Quantrill himself:

Here's a sigh to those who love me
and a smile for those who hate
and whatever sky's above me
here's a heart for every fate.

Quantrill, arguably the most notable of the Civil War guerrillas, died in a Louisville hospital on June 6, 1865. He was buried, but his grave not marked, and his remains were later moved. And moved. And moved. It's a long, oft-told story, but Quantrill also has graves in his hometown of Dover, Ohio, and the Confederate Cemetery in Higginsville, Missouri. (left, actor Tom Leahy as Quantrill in Bloody Dawn)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hillbilly Smarts

I share with you, dear reader, this parable, sent to me from my friend Christine in Paris:

'Hello, is this the Sheriff's Office?'

'Yes. What can I do for you?'

'I'm calling to report 'bout my neighbor Virgil Smith . . . He's hidin' marijuana inside his firewood! Don't quite know how he gets it inside them logs, but he's hidin' it there.'

'Thank you very much for the call, sir.'

The next day, twelve Sheriff's deputies descend on Virgil's house. They search the shed where the firewood is kept. Using axes, they bust open every piece of wood, but find no marijuana. They sneer at Virgil and leave. Shortly, the phone rings at Virgil's house.

'Hey, Virgil! This here's Floyd....Did the Sheriff come?'

'Yeah!' 'Did they chop your firewood?'


'Happy Birthday, buddy! '

Hillbillies can survive.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Trials and Trails

Fellow blogger, Si, wants to know why my blog's description included saloon girls and he has not seen any. We'll get right on it. I promise saloon girls within the week. Si also passed along a great site that has him riveted:

This website features the transcripts of dozens of famous trials from Socrates to Sam Sheppard. Si has been reading John Brown's trial, I started with American Indian Activist Leonard Peltier's. Peltier (right, escorted by the Feds) was imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth until 2005 when he was transferred to Terre Haute, Indiana. He is serving two consecutive life terms for the killing of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. There are many groups, here and abroad, who consider him a political prisoner. My personal jury is still out. I never met Peltier, but we have mutual acquaintances, many of whom are glad he is behind bars, perhaps not for this incident, however. The website above contains Peltier's lengthy statement, made as he is about to be sentenced to prison. I quote from it here:

. . . I stand before you as a proud man. I feel no guilt. I have done nothing to feel guilty about. I have no regrets of being a native American activist. Thousands of people in the United states, Canada and around the world, have and will continue to support me to expose the injustice that occurred in this courtroom. I do feel pity for your people that they must live under such a ugly system. Under your system you are taught greed, racism and corruption . . . .

I agree with Si. Once you venture onto this site, it's difficult to leave.

Bunny Trails

This is Herman. He lives in Germany with Hans who is holding him. Herman has his own Myspace page, so check it out. Bunnies like Herman do not live in the wild but are specially bred.

I have to be honest, however. When I was in Germany, I caught site of some pretty big hares in the fields. I don't think it took a lot of bio-engineering to come up with Herman.

Happy Easter.

Happy Spring. . . The Netherlands

Friday, March 21, 2008

Whole Lotta Holts

. . . my father and grandfather were actors who played in many Westerns of the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's. In your birthday greeting to Wyatt Earp and reference to Virgil, my dad played Virgil Earp in John Ford's My Darling Clementine.


I had the good fortune of meeting Jack Holt from the Department of Defense a few weeks ago-- good looking guy from Oklahoma who is working in the area of "new media." Well, if only I had known his distinguished lineage, I would have created a one-woman media frenzy. Tom and I are both huge fans of Tim Holt, who indeed played Virgil Earp in the legendary movie mentioned above, as well as Bogie's ill-fated partner in the Treasure of the Sierra Madre (above, Humphrey Bogart, left, Tim Holt, right).

Jack's grandfather, Jack Holt (right), had a career that included silent movies and he also acted with his son in Sierra Madre. He also attended Virginia Military Institute. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Reckon how many guys who attended VMI have achieved such an honor? His daughter, Jennifer (left), also acted in dozens of Westerns.

Go figure that Jack would have all this thespian blood and opt for government service. . . well, if it's good enough for Ronald Reagan. . . .Now that I'm aware of Jack's ancestry, I will pester him for more details and hope to share them with you. One thing is already for certain, it's clear where the good looks come from.

Thank God Al Gore invented the internet! Here I am, sitting in America's Heartland, listening to WBRF in Galax, Virginia. The "Night Rider," Bruce Hodges, is on the air, and if you want a real taste, and sound, of life in the Blue Ridge Mountains, tune in and tell them Deb sent you. He's playing Ed Bruce's new song, "I know." If you haven't heard Ed Bruce sing, your life is simply not complete.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Wyatt Earp

Wild West published this photo of Wyatt Earp and you'll find a description of it filed under "Wyatt's First Star" at Yes, this little man is Wyatt Earp, along with his mother.

"She doted on the frowner," isn't that what Virgil (ala Sam Elliott) said to Wyatt in Tombstone?

Happy Birthday, Wyatt, March 19, 1848. We see why she doted on the frowner. He was handsome thing, even scowling.

By the way, Wyatt was named for Wyatt Berry Stapp, Captain of a company of mounted volunteers from Illinois during the Mexican War. Nicholas Earp is listed as the third sergeant in the company.

Jeb Loved A Ball!

Thanks to Southern Belle and Meade Society member of the Florida Chapter: Pat Crumpler

April 4-5 is a weekend of celebration sponsored by the JEB Stuart Memorial Foundation to benefit the Museum of the Confederacy.

Beginning with a reception at the museum Friday evening, the weekend includes tours to the famous Hollywood Cemetery and to the Maymount Estate. Also available is a walking tour of historic sites in downtown Richmond hosted by a knowledgeable museum staff member. Saturday evening concludes at the Renaissance Center with a ball featuring period dress, dancing and Southern Food. Music provided by not only the Virginia Military Institute's Scottish Piping Band, but The Second South Carolina String Band and Evening Shade.

For information please contact the JEB Stuart Memorial Foundation at JEBStuartMemFound@Yahoo.Com or phone 1 877 887 3235.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Faces From the Past

In the photo above, the baby is six months old, Louise Celine is 4 years old, Norman is 7, and Otto is 9. "Mother's" age is not given, but what I'm wondering is how on earth her neck supports that hat?

These are not my relatives. In fact, I have no idea who they are. But a few years ago, I entered Lloyd Zimmer's book store and came out with a large box of photos. Every now and then, I go through them. I began sorting some last night for a project and wanted to share some with you. The photos of children are my favorites and here's just a sampling. The identity of most of them is unknown to me, but some of the dates are there. The little girl on her pony, left, was taken in 1912.

I don't know the year of the little boy and his dog, below, but on the back is written, "Mickey Jensen and Frosty, age 8." I'm assuming it was Mickey who was age 8 and not Frosty.

When I was 9, our first house burned down. Gone were our baby pictures and Mama went to relatives to copy or replace them. When I was 17, our second home burned (the houses burned for totally unrelated reasons. ) We had gone to the coast to church, a five hour drive. I remember stopping at my sister's bedroom to turn off the light and noticing the triple photo frame on her dresser with a picture of me, one of her, and one of my brother. "I'd like to take that with me," I thought. "How silly!" was my next thought and I turned off the light and left.

There is no name nor a date on the mother lovingly holding the baby, below, but I think this is such a lovely, iconic picture. The emotion flows from her and touches even today, decades later.

Whenever I go to an auction or an antique shop and see old family photos I want to bring them home. The fact that they have been cast aside is so sad to me.

It's silly, I know. I just can't help it.

(Visit Lloyd Zimmer's Books and Maps at 117 SW 6th Street here in Topeka or online at )

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Southerners and Others

Talked to my "brother" Dave Chuber on the phone last night. Dave is the historian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and is originally from Statesville, North Carolina. Short and full of it --and speaking with the same accent--folks just assume he's my brother. Close enough.

Dave just led a staff ride for his non-commissioned officers to the battlefield at Centralia, Missouri. Sadly, the guerrilla war in Kansas and Missouri during America's Civil War is starkly relevant to today's soldiers.

For an account of the battle, click here A very young Jesse James, left, was said to have taken part in the battle and personally killed the Yankee commander. It is difficult to confirm, however, and Jesse had been wounded a couple of weeks prior and might not have been able to take part.

Dave passed out copies of draconian orders issued by America's government in the 1860s, orders designed to quell the growing rebellion but which had exactly the opposite effect. As his men read these documents and considered what their own reactions would have been, the light bulbs went on.

"They got it," Dave said. "They also got it that we have to be careful in the Middle East with the way we treat civilians so that we don't push them into the arms of the insurgents."

Studying history has become not only interesting, but crucial.
Jeb Stuart Birthplace

Our friend Tom Perry is on a tear over the conditions and management of the Jeb Stuart Birthplace back home in Patrick County, Virginia, an entity he created then stepped away from in the hopes other folks would carry on his work. It has not transpired the way he had hoped. Tom believes it would be best if the state or some other public entity took over the site. I side with him on this issue, and this hallowed ground is too important for hagling and neglecting. We need action. Check in at the and share your thoughts and ideas.
Salute, Marmaduke!

Celebrating a birthday this week was John Sappington Marmaduke, right. His name is so unforgettable and so, so Southern!!! Born in Missouri on March 14, 1833, Marmaduke attended Yale, Harvard, and graduated from West Point. He would rise to the rank of major general in the Confederate Army and die in 1887 while serving as governor of the "Show Me State." Ain't he something? Born today in 1767 was another famous Southerner, General and President Andrew Jackson, left. Ain't they a pair? Born on March 16, 1822, was Union General John Pope. One of my favorite quotes of the Civil War was said by Robert E. Lee in reference to the Yankee general: "Pope, the miscreant! He must be suppressed!"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Soldier Stories

Dear Reader, as if I didn't trouble you enough, I have created a new blog: Please visit and contribute. I spent today on business at Fort Leavenworth and heard Gen. Bill Caldwell, who is in charge at the Fort, and British Gen. Simon Mayall address the students. I will be sharing interviews with some of the British officers visiting the post as well as the students who are in residence there.

While there, I ran into John Reichley, historian extraordinaire, who knows just about everything about this historic post and town. He reminded me that Scott Porter is speaking to the Leavenworth Historical Society (Frontier Army Museum) next Thursday, March 20, and is then conducting a battlefield tour on Saturday morning following. We're meeting John at the bar just before hearing Scott speak. Come join us, and stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Abraham and Mary Lincoln Letters

From Antiques and the Arts Online:

R.M. Smythe & Co., Inc, held one of the most successful autograph auctions in its 125-year history on January 17. The sale, featuring the collection of Steven Lee Carson, saw more than 75 percent of the offered lots sell; and, in the end, bidders on the floor, on the phone and at their computers were able to take home a remarkable variety of historical autographs and Americana.

Not surprisingly, the highest hammer price was achieved by a letter written by President Abraham Lincoln, asking Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to approve the resignation of a cavalry captain at the request of the officer's wife. Lincoln, typically a "soft touch" in such cases, makes the argument that "we are rapidly getting an over-proportion of officers." The letter sold for $16,675.

Keeping it in the family, a pair of 1869 letters (one incomplete) from Lincoln's widow, in which she refers to him as having been "from my eighteenth year — Always — lover — husband — father and all, all to me — truly my all," brought $14,950.

We were on the same seminar schedule with Steven Lee Carson a couple of years ago and enjoyed him so much. Steven Lee has delivered addresses in The White House, The Kremlin, The U.S. Capitol, The Lincoln Memorial, Ford's Theater, The Smithsonian Institution, The National Archives, The Library of Congress, The Belfast (Northern Ireland) Parliament, over the Voice of America and throughout the United States. Most of the famous personalities covered in his speeches include the celebrities he has dealt with at The White House or as a member of The National Press Club. I enjoyed his stories immensely. What an incredible collection he has sold!

More on Hillbillies

From fellow blogger, Byron, comes this link for Hillbilly Savants, a great site. Seems lots of folks are in an uproar over the prospective film depicting West Virginians as albino and hunchbacks.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Blogger Confusion

In my previous blog, I announced that fellow blogger Dimitri Rolov found my blog "feisty and entertaining." Afterwards, I received a comment from fellow blogger Drew Wagenhoffer and it was Drew who plugged Tom's book, Bloody Dawn, and commented on my blog. Drew publishes Civil War Books and Authors and Dimitri posts Civil War Bookshelf. I read and enjoy them both and apologize for the confusion. Drew was such a gentleman, and I apologize for putting words into Dimitri's mouth, or blog.

Politically Correct Targets

If you're an albino or a dwarf or a giant, preferably one with a goiter or slant eyes, and have a hillbilly accent, have we got a job for you.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Pennsylvania) ran an article about a film company's seeking odd extras to portray West Virginians. "Holler" people to be exact.

"Some of these 'holler' people -- because they are insular and clannish, and they don't leave their area -- there is literally inbreeding, and the people there often have a different kind of look. That's what we're trying to get," said a company executive in the newspaper. According to the Tribune-Review, the press release said:

"Extraordinarily tall or short. Unusual body shapes, even physical abnormalities as long as there is normal mobility. Unusual facial features, especially eyes. . . . a 9-12-year-old Caucasian girl with an other-worldly look to her. . . .Could be an albino or something along those lines -- she's someone who is visually different and therefore has a closer contact to the gods and to magic. 'Regular-looking' children should not attend this open call.'"

For some reason, West Virginians are offended. So am I. Virginia has always considered traitorous and untrustworthy those counties that seceded from the Commonwealth after the Commonwealth seceded from the United States. West Virginia has been the butt of our jokes since 1863. But there are many commonalities among the mountain folk, many family ties, much culture and tradition in common.

I understand a film company's wanting unusual looking people; what irks me to no end is that they appear to believe their warped view is reality. Also, pity the poor child whose hopeful stage mother drags him or her to this audition, proudly pointing out, "See, my boy's crosseyed!"

My Grandpa worked in the coal mines in West Virginia as a young man, the 1910s and 1920s. He worked alongside Greeks, Italians, Russians, Czechs. The population was as diverse in some areas as New York City. And what about the places without diversity? The places where the same mountain folk lived and struggled since before the American Revolution?

Well, those are my people. I come from the same culture, pretty much the same gene pool, and I'm not apologizing to Hollywood or anyone else. And you know what? I am sick and tired of every body in the world being off limits to ridicule except white Southerners. I don't care who you are, it's okay to pick on them. And I only knew one albino family growing up. Okay, maybe two.

Read the story and the followup comments: Film's casting call wants that 'inbred' look - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review At top, National Geographic photo of albino pygmy monkey twins, born not in West Virginia, but in Sweden. Perhaps there's a role for them. . . .
Pitiful Criminals

The Civil War Bookshelf, authored by fellow blogger Dimitri Rotov, recently linked to a most interesting crime story. Seems a guy in Monroe, Georgia, held up a Kangaroo convenience store by brandishing a “hand cannon,” a Civil War-era cap-and-ball revolver which had a 9-inch barrel. The suspect made off with $55. Turns out he is homeless--but thankfully he kept his highly collectible gun. He should have contacted Ed Kennedy or Dave Chuber who would have offered him more than fifty bucks for the weapon. Would-be crooks--there is a socially acceptable way to show off your Civil War era firearms. Call me next time and I'll put you in contact with a gun nut, er, collector. Okay, okay. . . I'm furthering the Southern stereotypes. . . . Sometimes the shoe just fits.

Speaking of the Civil War Bookshelf, Dimitri recently plugged one of Tom's books and mentioned my blog as well. He said it was "feisty and entertaining." I am so tickled. It has been my lifelong ambition to be considered "feisty and entertaining."

Listen Up

. . . "thou bawdy flap-mouthed whey face!" I'm not exactly sure what a "whey face" would look like, but it doesn't sound pretty. From our friend, Norman Marshall, comes this link for Shakespearean insults. Priceless!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

St. Paddy's Day in Philly

Let's face it. Nothing says "we are blessed" better than a beer company sponsoring a cemetery tour on St. Patrick's Day. Wish we could be with our friends in Philly for this one. We'll toast you from Topeka with Bailey's, dear lads and lassies!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Is It March Already?

My God, where did February go?

There are so many things coming up, I hardly know where to start.

Got our Pony Express Mail from the Patee House, St. Joseph, Missouri. Their 150th anniversary dinner is set for April 12 in the newly renovated grand ballroom. Tickets will be $25 each with the social hour being held in the Buffalo Saloon at 6 p.m. Email for more information. Much of the success and survival of the Patee House is attributed to Gary and Mary Chilcote who have devoted most of their married lives to this historic site. The Chilcotes celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary at the Patee House on March 30. Their son, Doug, daughter, Carolyn, and granddaughter, Hillary, have made the Patee House their obsession as well. We all reap the benefits of their hard work and dedication. Happy Anniversary, Gary and Mary! (Above, right, Gary on the far right, visits with our tour goers at the Patee House.) Other anniversary events will be held throughout the year so stay tuned.

By the way, True West Magazine named St Joseph the "Number 1 Western Town" for 2008. Number 5 on their list was Dodge City. We're proud to have these historic towns so close.
Civil War Missouri/Kansas

From Scott Porter, Command and General Staff College, per my inquiry:


"Action at Camden Point: 1864" is the Fort Leavenworth Historical Society monthly presentation at the Frontier Army Museum. On 20 March, it starts at 7PM. On 22 March, we will rally at the same museum at 0900 and drive to Camden Point. At Camden Point ,we will tour the battlefield and the Confederate Monument (right). Ed Kennedy will be in his Confederate uniform and discuss the weapons used during the battle.


DG-It's always a treat to see Ed wearing his Confederate uniform while brandishing weapons. We hope to join you on both days!
Jay Jackson at SAR

Another bud is speaking this Saturday, so plan accordingly! Jay Jackson, local historian and superintendent of the Missouri City Schools, will be addressing the William C. Corum Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. They meet at 9 a.m., Saturday, in the Pryor Leadership Center at William Jewell College in Liberty. Jay will discuss the Liberty Arsenal, which is thought to be the site of the first Civil War action in Missouri. The breakfast meeting is open to guests. For more information, call 816-781-0614.

Topeka SCV

And on Saturday morning, March 15, I'll be speaking to the local Sons of Confederate Veterans here in Topeka. The meeting is held at Westside Christian Church, 6th and Lindenwood, at 10 a.m. It is interesting, free, and Denver Erickson's wife sends cookies.

Missouri SCV

On March 29, the Missouri Sons of Confederate Veterans are having their annual meeting in Blue Springs, Missouri, and our friend, Ed Kennedy, will be speaking on Black Confederates. Email me for more details on any of these events.

Denver Custer Symposium

On April 18, our friends Doug Scott and D. K. Clark are among the presenters at the Denver Custer Symposium.

Topics and speakers include: Eli Paul, "The 1854 Grattan Fight: Prelude to Blue Water Creek"
Ron Nichols, "The Hilltop Fight: Was Reno in Command?"
Paul Hedron, "The Scourge of Alcohol in the Old Army: Case Studies from the Black Hills Road in 1876"
Doug Scott, "Custer's Heroes: The Little Bighorn Medals of Honor in the Context of the Indian Wars"
Lori Cox-Paul, "A Frontier Army Fourth and Other Holidays"
Dennis "DK" Clark, "The Lost Site of Beecher's Island"

As I told D. K., they always save the best for last. A few years ago, I was scheduled last with my presentation, "Stand By Your Man: Army Wives on the Frontier."
Kansas Cowboy

. . . arrived in the mail a few days ago. The "Official Publication of the Cockeyed Old West Band of Yahoos Society" is published in Ellsworth, one of the state's wickedest cowtowns by the historic cowboy himself, Jim Gray. Jim and his wife, Kassi, operate Drover's Mercantile in downtown Ellsworth and they're the real deal. They ain't just playing cowboy, they walk the walk. Well, mostly Jim tells tall tales but that's a big chunk of COWBOY life! Visit them in Ellsworth or online at
. We ran into Jim and Kassi in January at the premier of Bloody Dawn in Wichita. It's always good to see good folks and we just don't get enough of an opportunity. Jim commented that watching Bloody Dawn was "like Old Home Week cuz jest about everybody in the film was someone that had crossed our paths at one time or another." I agree. We live in a small world, spread out though we be.

Kassi and Jim (left) host the annual "Spring Gather" April 21 - 23, and if you're hankering for a taste of the real cowboy life, this is your chance. Tell them we said "hey."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Black Confederates

Byron from Tennessee reports that all of Knox County has the hacking, hocking, malady from which I have been suffering. Sales of moonshine must be through the roof! "Government liquor," as Grandpa called it, just doesn't have quite the same medicinal quality. . . .

Major Melissa Tune, currently assigned to the Army's Command and General Staff College, is also a TV personality in Augusta, Georgia. She recently interviewed my bud LTC (ret) Ed Kennedy and myself for a special segment on black Confederate soldiers. Also weighing in on the discussing was Ethan Rafuse, from the CGSC's history department. She did an overview of of the subject as well as another story on the removal of a Confederate soldier's headstone in a Missouri cemetery.

It seems that someone called the cemetery claiming to be the descendant of John Noland, a black man who rode with William Clarke Quantrill. The descendant said that Noland was neither black nor Confederate and asked that the stone be removed. Actually, both Noland's race and his service are fairly well documented. Police were called and the incident is under investigation, but let me assure you, the local Sons of Confederate Veterans are outraged that a mere phone call could uproot a memorial marker.

While Tom and I were researching The Day Dixie Died, we stopped in the Augusta Public Library and were reading old newspapers on the microfilm. A black woman and her daughter sat next to me to work on a school project. Being unfamiliar with the machine, the lady asked me if I could help her thread the film. I hoped she wouldn't notice that on my screen was an ad for a slave auction in Augusta, in mid-April 1865. Listed for sale was a girl about the age of her daughter. I was so overcome I had to bite my lip to control my emotions.

And, lest any of you doubt the experts at my beck and call, this email from Col. Kennedy describes the photo at the top of the page:

GREAT Photo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post-war reunion photo:

#1 Not "Battle Flag" but the "Ensign"

#2 Shoes are 20th Century

#3 Canteen is Model 1885 U.S. Army canteen used until 1910

#4 Hat is Model 1875 U.S. Army "kepi" pattern. Used by fraternal and vet organizations

#5 Age of veteran

#6 "Uniform" is veteran reunion suit

#7 Veteran reunion ribbons and medals on uniform