10 Years Ago
Week of July 26, 2012
Children Should Know Where Food Comes From
Canning time is upon one. Raising a garden and preserving vegetables is a hard task, but so rewarding. There is a feeling of satisfaction when the cellar shelves begin to fill with the summer’s goodness and to see the fruits of one’s labor. It must be a tiny part of what the pioneer ancestors felt when they stocked for the winter. With only their labor and resources to rely upon, gathering and preserving food was of utmost necessity. In days of yore, there were no benefits of fans or air conditioning, as they worked just the same over a hot woodstove. Children who grow up helping with the crops and seeing the labor involved in the harvesting and preserving know where their food comes from.
Week of August 2, 2012
Barns Are a Nostalgic Symbol of Simpler Days
No doubt about it, there is something about a barn that warms the heart, as well as whatever’s inside. They have become nostalgic symbols of simpler days. Other than the Amish, few farmers build “barns” anymore, which have a hay mow on the second floor to store forage. Hex Signs found their way to America years ago, with the German immigrants. They are a form of Pennyslvania Dutch folk art, related to “fraktur” barn paintings, with traditions going back to about 1850 when barns first started to be painted. These barn decorations reached their peak in the 20th century. The most popular Hex signs were six-sided, brightly colored geometric designs. The German word for six is “sechs,” and thus this word evolved to the present day hex. “Hex” means “witch” in German, and so Hex Signs were thought to bring good luck, abundance, protection and good fortune to those who adorned their barns and homes with them. The shapes and colors of Hex Signs have special meanings, along with ethnic identity, prde and pure joy in the colorful decorations.
Years ago, all Hex Signs were one-of-a-kind and handpainted. The colors were bright and had special meaning. There is a common thread that blue and black was meant for protection, green for growth and fertility, red for emotions, pasion, creativity and lust, violet for things that are sacred, orange for success in a career, white for purity and yellow for mind and body wellness.
Hex Signs often included stars, compass roses, stylized birds known as “distelfinks,” hearts, tulips or a tree of life. The hearts and tulips were alos commonly fond on elaborately lettered and decorated birth, baptism and marriage certificates known as “fraktur,” tombstones, furniture and plates.
There were many symbolic meanings and superstitions associated with certain paintings, for example, a horse head was used to protect animals from disease and the building from lightning. Other shapes included hearts for love, the eagle for courage and strength, crescent moons for the four seasons, doves for friendship, rosettes for good luck, stars for protection, wheat for abundance, tulips for faith, hope, and charity and scallops for smooth sailing in life. There was a distinct connection to the sun, nature and the celestal beings. All symbols were found within a painted hexagon or octagon shaped painting.
Few Hex Signs remain in the German communities of this county. Modern quilt painting on homes and barns seem to have replaced this aged tradition.
50 Years Ago
Week of August 3, 1972
Of a Forked Stick
impossible but it works
“I know it works, even though I know it is impossible.”
That’s what Albert G. Dowden of Danville, Vt. and Fort Myers, Fla., speaking half-facetiously and half seriously, told members of the Franklin Lions Club abot dousing.
“Dousing, he said, “is searching.”
Also called “divining” and “water witching,” one can search for anything by dousing—underground veins of water, pipe lines, lost articles.
Dowden stopped talking and grasped a forked stick firmly with his hands and began to walk across the room at Thompson’s Restaurant where he was speaking to the Lions Club.
Suddenly the stick began to bend down toward the floor.
“There is a pipe line under the floor at this point,” Dowden said.
Then he graspe another stick which was nothing but the small end of a fishing rod and held it over the spot where he said the pipeline was located.
The stick started to bob. It bobbed up and down nine times. “The pipe line is nine feet under the floor,” Dowden reported.
Next he held two “L” shaped iron rods in his hands and walked over the spot. The rods were pointed forward until he reached the spot where the pipe line was located, and then the rods turned outward in opposite directions from each other aligning with each other perfectly.
“The pipe line runs in this direction,” the demonstrator told the group.
When asked to explain what makes dousing work, he is quick to admit that he does not know for sure.
“It seems to be something within the individual,” he theorized. “I believe your body and mind act as a receiver and pick up some sort of signal, and the dousing rod puts it out where you can see it.”
Saying it anther way, Dowden said it is a response to some kind of outer stimulus, probably both physical and mental—involving the mind, body and spirit—and expressing itself through muscular action.
Dousing, or water witching as it is more often called locally, has long been used in Pendleton County to find locations to drill water wells. But many people think there is nothing to it.
Commenting on the questionable repute of dousing, Dowden said writings found on caves in Africa indicate that it was used 13,000 years before Christ. He sais Martin Luther denounced it, and later approved it.
“Marines have used dousing to find Viet Cong caches in Vietnam, Dowden said, “but the Army does not recognize it. Columbia University used it to find water wells, and most large cities use it to find underground pipe lines.”
Dowden said he learned the art from a man who works for the water department of New York City.
Dousing is one of the most fascinating hobbies I know,” he said. “And what’s more, the instruments cost nothing and they require no batteries.”
60 Years Ago
Week of August 2, 1962
100 YEARS AGO
Braxton Bragg Plans Kentucky Invasion
By LON K. SAVAGE
Editor’s Note—The following is one of a series of articles on the Civil War. Each weekly installment covers events which occurred exactly 100 years ago.
Down from northern Mississippi moved troop-laden Confederate trains 100 years ago this week, crossing into southern Alabama, passing by Mobile, then looping up again through northwestern Georgia and moving back westward toward Chattanooga, Tenn. As the trains rolled Confederate artillery and cavalry moved briskly along the country roads leading from Tupelo, Miss., to Chattanooga.
It was a movement of the Confederacy’s largest army in the West, and behind it was a bold idea conceived by that army’s commander, Gen. Braxton Bragg, a heavy bearded North Carolinian who had spent his adult life in professional soldiering.
Bragg was embarking on another of the Civil War’s major campaigns, a campaign that had been developing in his mind throughout the summer—to invade Kentucky and bring it into the Confederacy.
For more than a month, Bragg had been planning just what he could do with the army he inherited from Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard. At Tupelo, where he had assumed command following Beauregard’s retreat from Corinth, Bragg had listened to stories told him by visiting Kentuckians: stories that Kentucky was ripe for a Confederate invasion; that the people would rise against the Yankees if given the chance. They would get their chance if a Confederate army would come to their rescue, Bragg was told.
Bragg had studied the tactical problems of the campaign, too, and they seemed favorable. The federal army under Gen. Carlos Buell was inching harmlessly eastward across Tennessee along the Memphis and Charleston Railroad toward Chattanooga, repairing the railroad as it went and trying to fight off repeated attacks by Confederate raiders John Morgan and Nathan Bedford Forrest, Ulysses S. Grant’s army was scattered around northern Mississippi and western Tennessee and apparently could be handled by the Confederates under Gens. Earl Van Dorn and Sterling Price.
So Bragg concluded it was time for an offensive. After sending troops into western Tennessee to throw the Yankees off guard, he set his army in motion for Chattanooga. By train and horseback the men moved, easily outdistancing the slow-moving Buell, and Bragg, himself, arrived in the Tennessee city July 29, ready for action.
Next day, Bragg met with the commander of Confederate troops in eastern Tennessee, Florida-born Gen. E. Kirby Smith, at Chattanooga, and the two worked out the details of the plan.
Kirby Smith would move north from Knoxville into eastern Kentucky. Bragg would move straight up through central Tennessee into central Kentucky. They would move out within 10 to 15 days, and if necessary, they could join their armies in Kentucky for the liberation.
Meanwhile, an important development occurred that week in Washington. On August 4, President Lincoln ordered 300,000 more men into the army to fight the Confederacy, and he added a startling new provision: if any state failed to meet its quota of troops, “the deficiency…will…be made up by special draft from the militia….”
In short, it meant that the North, as the Confederacy had been forced to do earlier in the year, now was resorting to the draft to bring soldiers to the lines.
Next week: “Stonewall” Jackson beats an old enemy.
The Sugar Grove Story – – –
Yesterday Pendleton County was about to become the world center of the fascinating young science of radio astronomy.
The county was on the threshold of making a major contribution to our national defense and to the exploration of outer space.
Tourists by the hundreds of thousands, curious to see the world’s largest movable radio telescope, were on the verge of making Pendleton County the greatest tourist attraction in the East.
Today such expectations seem like the unrealistic dream of an opium eater. The instrument which was designed to stand higher than the Washington monument and to listen in on sounds originating 38 billion light years out in space was scratched even before it could hear the ring from Willie Puffenbarger’s anvil less than three miles away.
Not only was the cancellation of the “Big Ear” a blow to the economy of the area and a subversion of the emblem of West Virginia’s 100th birthday celebration, but to the people of Pendleton County during the past five years we had lived with this project and had come to regard it almost as if it were a member of the family.
We became curious when Navy helicopters came into the area early in 1956 and hovered over the South Fork area like red-headed buzzards waiting for rigor mortis to set in; we were fascinated with the sight of huge earth-moving equipment cutting off mountain tops and filling in valleys during the cold winter days in 1959; we were impressed when J. M. Hutchinson of Sandyville haulled in on his 16-wheel lowboy the largest steel casting ever made; we were irked by the metropolitan press which cast aside factual reporting in favor of “local color” and referred to the area as the “boondocks of West Virginia” and to the people as “illiterate hillbillies”; and we were saddened when United States Steel’s rough talking and kind hearted Slim Edmonds, who had become a friend of half the people of the county, was killed in a freak accident on a windy March day in 1961. And all the while the local attitude toward the project was gradually changing—from resentment to indifference and finally to enthusiastic acceptance.
And then the man said: It’s obsolete; and besides, it costs too much.
And suddenly the optimism fostered by the anticipation of business expansion, economic growth and area development became disappointment, disillusionment and frustration.
But it is not the first time we have been disappointed or disillusioned or even frustrated, and no doubt it won’t be the last. And before we begin feeling too sorry for ourselves, let’s remember that although we might not wind up with the “ear to the universe,” now that we have been discovered practically every agency of the federal government is searching for an excuse to cross the Potomac and set up shop here; and national magazines are now including Routes 220 and 33 and Sugar Grove on the West Virginia maps they use for illustrations. Surely some good will come of it all yet.