29 February 2008

For What It's Worth - #1 on Amazon

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Big Tent

The conservative movement is a "big-tent" - but we still check your credentials at the door.

"One final point about Buckley, and this is the lesson of Buckley to Calvinists: Conservatism is not one nice, neat, orderly arrangement of ideas that can be mathematically tested and scored. The conservative movement included traditionalists, libertarians, anti-communists, Agrarians, Distributionists, isolationists, strong defense advocates, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Chicago School economists, Austrian Economic school economists, states-rights supporters, those who loved Lincoln, those who loved Jefferson Davis, admirers of Thomas Jefferson, and admirers of Alexander Hamilton, those who preferred the anti-Federalists to the Federalists and vise versa, literary critics, economists, political pundits, theologians, and every other variety of the conservative rainbow." ~ Ben House

28 February 2008

A Real Skeer

I had a real scare yesterday folks. I was enjoying a noon luncheon with some associates when someone who I’d not had a lot of opportunities to converse with suddenly looked at me and asked, “Are you originally from Virginia? Your accent doesn’t sound like what I’m used to hearing in Virginia.”

“Yes ma’am, 9 generations deep,” I replied proudly. But then I asked with great trepidation, “What does my accent sound like?” fearing that I’d finally succumbed to that great and boring homogenization of the "American accent"—a descent into blandness causing me to sound like a Brian Williams or a (God forbid) Matt Lauer. I awaited her reply with fear and trembling, knowing that she could dismiss my “Southernness” with an answer like, “New Jersey” or “The Midwest.”

Finally, she smiled and said, “You actually sound more like you’re from North Carolina.” Hallelujah! I took that as a compliment since a NC accent sounds even more Southern than someone from Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Whew, what a relief.

A Full Schedule

I never cease to be amazed at how rapidly I can go from a rather empty schedule, regarding various history projects, to being completely covered up. Suddenly, I have 4 speaking engagements coming up, just had an article published in a homeschooling magazine, have another in the pipeline for the Washington Times, and have recently booked two large tours for Lexington--each one will include over 40 participants.

But the most exciting thing coming up involves an invitation I received late Tuesday night to submit an article to a very reputable, national publication about some subject matter that has been of keen interest to CW buffs and historians in recent years. The piece will involve some new material and at least one very rare photograph. It will involve three individuals. It will include a few surprises. It will also be a challenge for me.

I won’t say any more now, but, if accepted for publication, the article will be out before summer’s end. I’ll make the official announcement when and if the piece is accepted.

27 February 2008

Gone - William F. Buckley, Jr.: 1925-2008

"I propose, simply to expose what I regard as an extraordinarily irresponsible educational attitude that, under the protective label 'academic freedom,' has produced one of the most extraordinary incongruities of our time: the institution that derives its moral and financial support from Christian individualists and then addresses itself to the task of persuading the sons of these supporters to be atheistic socialists." ~ William F. Buckley, Jr. from God and Man at Yale

And the irresponsibility continues today.

Help Please

Does anyone reading this happen to have a copy of the June 2003 issue of Civil War Times? If so, I'm interested in an article appearing in that issue which I believe is titled: "The Man Behind the Myth" - I'd like to get a copy, if possible.

Please email me at stonewallbook(at)yahoo.com or post a comment here.


Jackson Symposium

My friend Susan Church will be speaking at the Stonewall Jackson House's symposium this year. Susan was the person responsible for inviting me, along with director Ken Carpenter, to come to Jackson's Mill, West Virginia to film the Jackson documentary and to come back one year later for the premier screening. I would encourage as many as possible to attend this year's symposium in Lexington:

Jackson House Makes Plans For Symposium In April

Thursday, January 31, 2008 9:48 AM CST

The Stonewall Jackson House has announced plans for the 12th biennial Stonewall Jackson Symposium sponsored by the Stonewall Jackson Foundation April 18-20.

The symposium will feature authors and historians currently involved in research, including Susan Church of Philippi, W.Va.; John Coski of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond; Dale Harter of Bridgewater College; John Hennessy of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park; A. Cash Koeniger of the Virginia Military Institute; Eric Mink of Fredericksburg; and D. Jonathan White of Northport, Ala.

The weekend’s events will conclude with a Sunday morning tour of Jackson’s Lexington by Fred Bloom.

This popular program, first offered in 1986, attracts students of the Civil War and Jackson aficionados from all across the country, who enjoy a weekend of lectures, tours and conversation about the Confederate general.

For registration information, call 463-2552 or visit www.stonewalljackson.org. Registration and fees must be received by April.

(Announcement from the Lexington News-Gazette.)

26 February 2008

The Word Gatherer

What: Augusta County Historical Society’s Stuart Speaker Series
When: Thursday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m.
Where: Smith Center for History and Art, 20 S. New St., Staunton, Virginia
Program: Author Carol DeHart will speak about her new book, John L. Heatwole: The Word Gatherer
For more information: ACHS office 540-248-4151

Folklorist and Artist John Heatwole Remembered in Book

John Heatwole will long be remembered in the Shenandoah Valley as a master craftsman—both of wood and of words. And, although he was a renowned wood carver, Heatwole’s lasting legacy is in the folkways that he helped preserve. Many of the stories, history and culture that he gleaned through oral histories in western Virginia and neighboring West Virginia would surely have been lost without his efforts. But what about John’s own story? On Thursday February 28 at 7 p.m. at the Smith Center in Staunton, author Carol DeHart will shed some light on the story of John Heatwole at the Augusta County Historical Society’s fourth Stuart Speaker Series program.

DeHart, who recently published John L. Heatwole: The Word Gatherer, began writing journal entries at an early age. Following her early childhood years in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan she became a Virginian, graduating from high school in Arlington in 1975. After attending Prescott College in Arizona, she settled for good in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley. The stories told to her by her neighbors in Criders sparked her initial work with oral histories, many of which are now part of the James Madison University Library’s Special Collections in Harrisonburg.

Several years before his death in late 2006, Heatwole sat down with DeHart and gave her his own personal oral history. The pair had planned to publish the book together, but upon John’s untimely death due to cancer, DeHart had to carry the project through to completion without him. Included in the history are a number of photographs of Heatwole’s carvings and other artwork.

Following DeHart’s program, visitors will have an opportunity to purchase The Word Gatherer and have it autographed. The Thursday night program, which is free and open to the public, is the fourth in the society’s newly launched A.H.H. Stuart Speaker Series held in the Smith Center and focusing on topics of local historical interest. The newly restored railroad hotel houses exhibit galleries, classrooms, a research library and a lecture room. The series is named for one of the most prominent men ever to live in Staunton, Alexander H.H. Stuart, a local attorney, member of the Virginia General Assembly, Secretary of the Interior under President Fillmore, and a member of the Peace Commission that tried to prevent the outbreak of the Civil War.

For more information on the program, call the historical society office at 540 248-4181. The Smith Center is located at 20 S. New Street. Ample parking is located at the new Staunton parking garage across the street and is free in the evenings.

25 February 2008

Small Town Southern Man

I have never been much of a country music fan. Frankly, with a few exceptions, I find almost ALL pop-culture music idiotic. That includes country music. Before my conversion, I was an Allman Brothers/Marshall Tucker/CCR/ type. Admittedly, some of the Allman Brothers and Marshall Tucker tunes have a distinctive "country flavor" to them, but more specifically were classified in the "Southern Rock" genre, "Southern" being the operative word here. Those days are far behind me now, as my real love is now for Gospel Bluegrass--American music at its purest. But I have always been a fan of Bluegrass--even as a teenager, sneaking into my first Bluegrass concert (Orange Blossom Park in Dooms, Virginia - what?! never heard of it?) when I was just 15, while many of my peers were weirding out at Alice Cooper concerts.

That being said, I've recently come to admire some of the music of country music legend Alan Jackson. I don't care for his honky-tonk ditties as those types of songs bring back unpleasant memories--at least the ones I can remember. However, Jackson's lyric writing abilities are, in my opinion, poetic and profound, if I may be so dramatic. Consider his latest single, "Small Town Southern Man."

Every stanza brims with simple, yet beautiful, subtle (and not so subtle) meaning. As reviewer Chet Flippo has opined about this song:

"There is no other word than 'grace' to mark the skillful writing and economy of words in lines such as this: 'And he bowed his head to Jesus/And he stood for Uncle Sam/And he only loved one woman/He was always proud of what he had/He said his greatest contribution/Is the ones you leave behind/Raised on the ways and gentle kindness/Of a small town Southern man.' "

No need to expound on the obvious, but I will anyway. Many "small town southern men" still "bow their heads to Jesus and stand for Uncle Sam." The South is still the Nation's Bible Belt and still sends more men--proportionally--to the armed forces.

As I write this, I realize many will roll their eyes as they condescend such sentiments. "Cornball, redneck hokum, 4 wheel drive, shotgun-totin', rural backwoods simpletons, etc, etc." I'm immune to such elitist attitudes--it used to make me angry. Now it just bores me.

Flippo continues:

"In some ways, Jackson has become the Ernest Hemingway of country music. In writing, that is. Not necessarily in lifestyle. At Hemingway's best, he told stories very simply, getting directly to the point. He knew his subject inside out, whether it was bullfighting or deep-sea fishing and could brilliantly tell a vivid story about it in as few words as needed. Similarly, Jackson, has staked out his turf and can write and sing about it in a simple and direct style."

Here are the complete lyrics to this soon to be classic Southern/Country theme song:

Born the middle son of a farmer
And a small town Southern man
Like his daddy's daddy before him
Brought up workin' on the land
Fell in love with a small town woman
And they married up and settled down
Natural way of life if you're lucky
For a small town Southern man

First there came four pretty daughters
For this small town Southern man
Then a few years later came another
A boy, he wasn't planned
Seven people livin' all together
In a house built with his own hands
Little words with love and understandin'
From a small town Southern man

And he bowed his head to Jesus
And he stood for Uncle Sam
And he only loved one woman
(He) was always proud of what he had
He said his greatest contribution
Is the ones you leave behind
Raised on the ways and gentle kindness
Of a small town Southern man
(Raised on the ways and gentle kindness)
(Of a small town Southern man)

Callous hands told the story
For this small town Southern man
He gave it all to keep it all together
And keep his family on his land
Like his daddy, years wore out his body
Made it hard just to walk and stand
You can break the back
But you can't break the spirit
Of a small town Southern man

(Repeat Chorus)

Finally death came callin'
For this small town Southern man
He said it's alright 'cause I see angels
And they got me by the hand
Don't you cry, and don't you worry
I'm blessed, and I know I am
'Cause God has a place in Heaven
For a small town Southern man

(Repeat Chorus)

The song is rich with rural, Southern themes. The upbeat melody combined with the sawing fiddles sets the song's mood perfectly. For those of us who grew up in the South, attached to a local church, a close-knit family whose connection to the land is generational, while immersed in the region's hard-core patriotism, it would be hard to imagine a song better suited to voice these sentiments: "Son of a farmer", - "daddy's daddy", - "working on the land", - "married up and settled down", - "pretty daughters", - "a house built with his own hands", - "keep his family on his land", -"bowed his head to Jesus", - these simple, yet profound words paint rich images for many Southerners. Its very easy for us to relate and grow wistful about the images conjured up by Jackson's moving lyrics. I was born in a small Southern town. I have four pretty daughters. I built (along with the only woman I ever loved) the house in which we live. I'm the great-grandson of farmers. I am patriotic. And I've bowed my head to Jesus.

It is these cultural sentiments and values which seem to be under constant ridicule and attack in modern America. Yet, strangely, in many ways, these sentiments remain respected and honored; at least outside of academia and Hollywood. And it is these same values that I strive daily to pass on to my children and grandchildren believing, as Alan Jackson does, that the "greatest contribution is the ones you leave behind."

23 February 2008


"I want to see political correctness die in my lifetime, but first...I want to watch it suffer." ~ Brad Stine

Positive Values vs. Perverted Venues

Here's a link to an interesting story about Franklin Springs Media and the director of Still Standing - The Stonewall Jackson Story. While many publications, blogs, websites, and other media outlets take great joy in impugning and making fun of our Nation's heroes and mock the values that made this Country great, it is refreshing to know that there are still American companies out there making a positive impact upon our culture. The positive values enforced in Carpenter's films stand in stark contrast to some of the sick perversion being pumped out over the web, by Hollywood, and other pop-culture venues - including "educational" institutions. The use of common four-letter words, crude and base sexual references, and gutter humor that one used to hear only from drunks and prostitutes, is now common fare on TV, over the web, and in public places. Franklin Springs, and companies like it, is providing what used to be the rule rather than the exception. The culture war rages on.

Mr. Carpenter is doing the Lord's work. Godspeed to him and Franklin Springs. I hope I have the privilege of working with him again at some future point.

(Image is of the Ken Carpenter family - Photography by Will Jordan)

22 February 2008

Cedar Mountain Event

I recently received an invitation from Mrs. Virginia Morton to appear at a fund-raising event for the "Friends of Cedar Mountain." This preservationist group will be screening Still Standing – The Stonewall Jackson Story. I will give a short talk about the making of the film, as well as the research surrounding the book upon which the film was based. This event will be held 4 April 2008 at 7 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the Parish Hall in Culpepper, Virginia. I believe this is one of the oldest churches in the area and that Jeb Stuart worshiped there on several occasions. Admission is free and the public is cordially invited to attend.

21 February 2008

Uh Oh

There's trouble brewing out West gentlemen:

"In a joint resolution from the Montana leaders, including Congressman Denny Rehberg, they caution that should the Supreme Court decide to change the U.S. interpretation of the 2nd Amendment and allow those rights to apply only collectively, it would violate the contract under which Montana entered the union as a state."

And they're serious. Read their resolution here.

Hmmm . . . what is the implied threat here? I just watched a Kit Carson documentary on my local PBS station Monday night (next week's documentary will be about William Cody, a.k.a. "Buffalo Bill") and them boys out west mean business.

Story here.

(And yes, I know, Carson fought for the Union.)

Award - Link

I'm pleased to announce that the Old Virginia Blog has been included in "The Best History Sites" directory here. I humbly accept this most coveted award and promise to maintain the highest standards of amateurism for which my blog is widely known and loved by all.

Chaplains Museum Press Release

Below is the text for a recent press release regarding the appointment of Dr. John Wesley Brinsfield, Jr. to the board of directors of the National Civil War Chaplains Museum:

Civil War Chaplains Museum Attracts National Figure to Board

Contact: Kenny Rowlette, Director, National Civil War Chaplains Museum, 434-582-2087, kgrowlet@liberty.edu

LYNCHBURG, Va., Feb. 20 /Christian Newswire/ -- The board of directors of the National Civil War Chaplains Research Center and Museum Foundation at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia recently voted unanimously to accept the nomination of Chaplain (Colonel) John Wesley Brinsfield, Jr., Retired, as a member of the board. Col. Brinsifeld is the Chaplain Corps Historian at the Army Chaplain School, Ft. Jackson, South Carolina.

Brinsfield is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and a member of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. He has a B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University, a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, a Ph.D. in Church History from Emory University, and a D. Min. in Ethics from Drew University. From 1972-73 he held a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship at Mansfield College, Oxford, and a Leopold Schepp Fellowship at Wesley House, Cambridge.

Dr. Brinsfield served on active duty for 28 years as an Army Chaplain. He taught history, ethics and world religions at the US Army Aviation School, the Army Chaplain School, in the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and at the U.S. Army War College as Director of Ethical Program Development.

His military awards include a Bronze Star, a Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster, six Meritorious Service Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, one Army Achievement Medal, and numerous service ribbons.

He is the author or co-author of seven books including Religion and Politics in Colonial South Carolina; Encouraging Faith, Supporting Soldiers: A History of the Army Chaplain Corps, 1975-1995; Faith in the Fight: Civil War Chaplains; The Spirit Divided: Memoirs of Civil War Chaplains—The Confederacy and the Union; Courageous in Spirit, Compassionate in Service: The Gunhus Years 1999-2003; and A History of the Army Chaplaincy: The Hicks Years, 2003-2007 as well as numerous articles and editorials for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times.

He is a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendents in New York and the Atlanta Civil War Roundtable.

The mission of the National Civil War Chaplains Research Center and Museum is to educate the public about the role of chaplains and religious organizations in the Civil War; to promote the continuing study of the many methods of dissemination of religious doctrine and moral teachings during the War; to preserve religious artifacts; and to present interpretive programs that show the influence of religion on the lives of political and military personnel.

For further information, contact:

National Civil War Chaplains Museum
Kenny Rowlette, Director
PO Box 11182
Lynchburg, VA 24506


Press release here.

20 February 2008

Gods & Generals 5th Anniversary

Tomorrow marks the 5th anniversary of the official release of what James I. Robertson, Jr. has called "The greatest Civil War movie I have ever seen, and I have seen them all." It was on 21 February 2003 that Gods and Generals was released with great anticipation to theaters nationwide. I, along with my youngest son, had the privilege of attending one of the Virginia premiers on the campus of Virginia Military Institute. There, sitting on the straight-backed wooden pews in Jackson Memorial Hall, we watched this epic film.

There was something very special about viewing the film at VMI--for obvious reasons. Seeing the various company flags flutter in the breeze as the film opened in the historic hall and listening to the sound of booming cannon echo off the massive rafters during the battle scenes was a unique experience which I will never forget. Experiencing it with my son made it all the more special. The black tie event was well attended and included Dr. Robertson, the film's chief historical consultant, Stephen Lang, who portrayed Jackson, and Director Ron Maxwell. There were several other cast members there as well. I was actually there on assignment doing an article for two magazines, one which was later published in Homeschooling Today Magazine. I had the honor of interviewing both Dr. Robertson and Mr. Lang.

Though there were some things I did not like about the film, i.e.- I thought some of the acting was a little "stiff" - as if the actors were trying too hard. Jeb Stuart's appearance at Jackson's tent was one of the worst examples. Nonetheless, I would have to agree with Robertson's assessment. It is the best CW film ever made.

It seems that most viewers either love or hate the film, few are ambivalent about it. I do find it instructive that many of the folks who absolutely trash the film have made it quite clear that they find little about the South and its way of life to admire anyway, thus their credibility as a critic is questionable at best. Their criticism seems to be based more on politics, prejudices, and stereotypes than anything else. Making fun of the South and her people is now officially one of the annointeds favorite pastimes. I guess that should be expected. Maxwell refused to follow the modern template which requires all public media to trash the South and all associated with it; thus he suffered the wrath of the "critics."

Ted Turner, who funded the financially unsuccessful film, was able, for the most part, to escape the wrath of the critics. He's paid his penance to enough liberal causes that he was quickly forgiven. Oddly enough, Turner's studios also produced another film which raised the ire of the anti-South crowd: The Hunley. In my mind, that is the 2nd best CW film ever produced and one I would recommend to all.

Two scenes that stand out in stark contrast in my mind in Gods & Generals is of Confederate General Jackson and Union General Chamberlain "praying" before a battle. In the first scene, Jackson is seen looking into an open field early in the morning, no sounds of war around, all peaceful and quiet. It's the Lord's Day - the Sabbath. Jackson asks God to prevent a battle on this holy day, but, if necessary, Jackson voices that he is willing to surrender to God's will. Contrast that with the scene of Joshua Chamberlain (played by Jeff Daniels) preparing to lead the 20th Maine into an engagement. Chamberlain (Daniels) draws his sword and offers this creepy statist entreaty: "Caesar, we who are about to die, salute you" - which was the
phrase traditionally used by those Roman gladiators about to die in the service or entertainment of Caesar. The message is clear: Jackson is fighting for his God, and so is Chamberlain. Its just that they have different gods.

Perhaps I'm just uninformed, (I'm certainly no film critic) but I've not seen any critic, pro or con, make note of this contrast. It is, in my mind, one of the not so subtle messages of the film. What motivated these men on both sides? Love of God? Love of country? Love of home? Love of government? Pro-slavery? Anti-slavery? Of course, there were some elements of all of these feelings in the Confederacy and the Union, but where did the various sentiments hold sway with the majority of soldiers? Some answers are obvious, some are not.

Regardless of your viewpoint, Gods & Generals is a must see for all those interested in the WBTS. The film's 5th anniversary would be a fitting occasion to do so.

PS: I'm still eagerly anticipating the release of the uncut, 6-hour, director's version. :)

19 February 2008

Post Number 400

To celebrate Old Virginia Blog Post Number 400, I offer a special quote to my readers by one of my favorite intellectuals, Alphonse Vinh:

"The civilization of the South was orthodox Christian, agrarian, aristocratic, and rooted in Western European culture. The developing civilization of the North, heavily influenced by the values of the Northeast, was in its time, home to every liberal and radical 'ism' that, in different dress, continues to plague our modern culture. The desacralised mind of New England, shorn of its Calvinist piety, adopted first, Unitarianism, the father of modern day liberal heresies, and then bourgeois corporate capitalism. The utopianism of . . . New England is the direct precursor of modern day liberal social engineering."

18 February 2008

NASCAR & Moonshine

Fellow CW blogger Eric Wittenberg doesn't understand NASCAR. Before you can understand NASCAR, you have to understand the history of moonshine and its historic connection to NASCAR and Southern culture. Watch this History Channel video clip about this connection and ye shall be enlightened. As one commentator states, "One sure way to get a hillbilly to do something is to tell him not to do it." (Especially if it's the federal government telling us.) Sorry, it's in our genes. We can't help it.

Much of that romanticism and bravado remains, though even a lot of modern fans don't fully understand why either. But most Southern fans do understand because many of our fathers and grandfathers are still around to remind us.

PS: No, I'm not a fan of NASCAR and, like Eric, find it boring. I do find its history fascinating though. That being said, until you've seen a REAL race on an oval dirt track with cars good ole boys have built in their garages at night and on weekends, you haven't seen a race. Modern NASCAR has become yuppiefied.

16 February 2008

I've Known It All Along

"Based on strikingly irrational beliefs and emotions, modern liberals relentlessly undermine the most important principles on which our freedoms were founded," says Dr. Lyle Rossiter, author of the new book, The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness. "Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave."

Credentialed too! - "For more than 35 years he has diagnosed and treated more than 1,500 patients as a board-certified clinical psychiatrist and examined more than 2,700 civil and criminal cases as a board-certified forensic psychiatrist. He received his medical and psychiatric training at the University of Chicago."

Story here. I'll have further comments on this book later.

15 February 2008

Three Greats

Here's a rare and interesting photo I came across recently. Pictured here are Generals John Pershing and George C. Marshall. The occasion? A speech and wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of Stonewall Jackson on 18 June 1920. Pershing both delivered the speech and laid the wreath.

A Page A Day

I heard John Grisham say the other day that in order to be a successful writer, an author had to write a page a day. I assume he was referring to fiction and don't know if that would apply to non-fiction works. I doubt it. Lord help me, I'm writing a novel purely for my own entertainment and relaxation - yes, I know, what a weird way to relax. *I'm no where near a page a day, but I am going to give that a try and see what happens. I figure that is roughly 400-450 words. Any other writers out there have any input on this?

*Update - I completed over 400 words yesterday. I guess I'm on my way.

14 February 2008

John Jasper Day This Sunday

This coming Sunday, 17 February 2008, Richmond's Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church will once again celebrate "John Jasper Day." Jasper was a slave preacher before the WBTS and in 1867, at the age of 55, founded Sixth Mount Zion in an abandoned Confederate horse stable on Brown's Island in the James River. The church went on to become the largest African-American church in the South by the time of Jasper's death in 1901. The church is still a vibrant ministry today. Several years ago, I was honored by being asked to "bring greetings" at this annual event. I, along with the church's historian, Mr. Benjamin Ross, wrote the text for a historical highway marker that was placed near Jasper's birthplace in Fluvanna County. During the war, while he was still enslaved, Jasper made the unusual request to minister to wounded Confederate soldiers in Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond. My own great-great grandfather, John Meredith Crutchfield was, at the same time, a patient in Chimborazo. Grandpa Crutchfield died there in March, just before the fall of Richmond.

Jasper has been one of my heroes since I first learned of him. His story is quite inspiring.

13 February 2008

Eternal Rebels

"Since Prohibition, southwestern Virginia has been a hub of moonshine production, along with North Carolina and a few other Southern states. The tradition extends to the English and Scotch-Irish colonists who settled western Virginia and made grain-based whiskey and the Germans who specialized in apple brandy. When Franklin County was formed in 1786, the first county court met in a house with a tavern."

Some of my more unsavory ancestors of the Coffey clan were moonshiners in Nelson County. Before I became a Christian, white lightning was my beverage of choice. The strongest think I drink now is a little hard cider at Christmas. :)

Story here.

The Power of the Gospel

"He bought the house of his former owner where he was raised, and he lived in it for the rest of his life," Rowland said. "One of the most interesting episodes in that house was when Mrs. McKee, who was the former owner of the house -- elderly, somewhat impoverished, and apparently somewhat addled in the head -- returned to her home to stay.

Robert Smalls owned the house, and his family was living there; and rather than turn her away, Robert Smalls brought her into the house, put her up in the bedroom that had been her bedroom before the Civil War, and served her." Smalls died in 1915 at the age of 76.

"Religion was a part of his life," Billingsley said. "It wasn't that he spoke about it all the time, but the way he acted and the things he did were reflective of that."

I was somewhat familiar with the story of Robert Smalls and his daring escape from Charleston, South Carolina. I watched a dramatization of his escape on PBS the other night. It is quite a story and Smalls was an amazing man who lived his religion.

Full story here.

12 February 2008

Exit, Stage Left

Some may recall an earlier post about lefty William & Mary College President, Gene Nichol, and the debacle over the Wren Cross. The Christian cross, located in a chapel, might "offend" someone, so it had to go; while an on campus "Sex Worker's Art Show" was ok. I could not make this stuff up.

". . .
in a letter to students and staff members he wrote that his decision to take the cross out of the chapel was governed by principles he found in the U.S. Constitution. He also credited the Constitution for his decision to allow the sex workers show on the publicly funded campus." Talk about twisting to adapt, this man's middle name should be Gumby! No to Christianity, yes to perversions. Political correctness is just a myth, don't you know?

Well, it seems Mr. Nichol's antics have finally caught up with him:

Richmond, VA (February 12) Gene Nichol resigned today as President of the College of William and Mary. The Board of Visitors decided not to renew Nichol's contract for another term, thus Nichol decided to resign immediately. (Sounds to me like he had a temper tantrum.)

Virginia House Delegate Tim Hugo stated, "I appreciate Gene Nichol's service to the College of William and Mary, but I think for the good of the College, he made the best decision by resigning."

Hugo continued, "Unfortunately, his tenure has seen an unending string of political controversies. He is a nice man, but, I do not believe that he ever made the successful transition from political activist to college president. I wish him well in his future endeavors."

As do I, but would also add, good riddance. Full story here.

Historic Amnesia

Brits are losing their history (and perhaps their collective mind), according to a recent poll which showed that nearly a quarter think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority believe that Sherlock Holmes was real. While I love to watch old Sherlock Holmes films, this is not a little shocking:

  • The survey found that 47 percent thought the 12th century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth.
  • 23 percent thought World War II Prime Minister Churchill was made up. The same percentage thought Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale did not actually exist.
  • Three percent thought Charles Dickens, one of Britain's most famous writers, is a work of fiction himself.
  • Indian political leader Mahatma Gandhi and Battle of Waterloo victor the Duke of Wellington also appeared in the top 10 of people thought to be myths.
  • 58 percent thought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective Holmes actually existed.
  • 33 percent thought the same of W. E. Johns' fictional pilot and adventurer Biggles.

Sadly, recent news suggests Americans aren’t much brighter.

The Virginia Primary

I voted in the Commonwealth's primary early this morning for Mike Huckabee. Though he would not have been my first choice were it within my power to hand pick the next President, he is, in my opinion, the best choice available. I made my choice based on my values and logic and not for non-specific, touchy-feely, "lets get on the band-wagon" reasons. Specifically, the following *positions taken from Huckabee's website is why I gave him my vote:

1. TAXES/ECONOMY –Governor Huckabee supports The FairTax because it will restore the “Made in America” label, making American goods 12-25% more competitive, boosting economic growth, increasing our exports, and securing American jobs. It also prevents criminals or illegal aliens from avoiding taxes, and makes the taxes we all pay 100% transparent.

2. GOVERNMENT SPENDING – Governor Huckabee is committed to reducing government spending. One way he’ll do this is by reducing the cost of welfare. Governor Huckabee will work with states to reduce welfare roles through programs like the one he implemented in Arkansas, which reduced welfare roles by 50%.

3. HEALTH CARE –Governor Huckabee will implement a consumer-based healthcare system that emphasizes preventative medicine and wellness. Because 70% of our $2 trillion dollar healthcare costs is spent treating chronic, preventable diseases, this approach will make healthcare more affordable for everybody while keeping us healthier.

4. FAMILY VALUES –Governor Huckabee supports a federal constitutional amendment to protect the right to life. He Successfully fought for Arknasas’ marriage amendment and strongly supports a similar, federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

5. IMMIGRATION –Governor Huckabee will secure the border (with physical barriers, electronic surveillance, and more border-patrol personnel and detention facilities). He will also end sanctuary cities and increase penalties on, and enforcement against, employers who hire illegal immigrants. Governor Huckabee will make sure the border patrol has adequate funding to end our “catch and release” system so that everyone caught trying to enter illegally, overstaying their visa, or committing a crime will be held until they’re tried, convicted, and deported. Gov. Huckabee has also signed the Numbers USA "No Amnesty" Pledge.

6. WAR ON TERROR AND IRAQ – Governor Huckabee knows it takes a large, well-equipped military to ensure our national defense and to deter conventional military confrontations. He also knows we need large, well-equipped intelligence and Special Forces operations for our national offense – so we can effectively find and eliminate terrorist threats at home or abroad. Governor Huckabee will be a Commander in Chief who knows that IF WE HAVE TO FIGHT A WAR, our President has to fight it the way our GENERALS tell him it can be won, not the way we want it to be won.

7. ENERGY INDEPENDENCE –Governor Huckabee will implement a program to end the import of foreign oil in the next ten years by increasing domestic oil production in the short term, and then replacing oil-based energy infrastructure with alternative and renewable energies.

8. CLEMENCIES – Arkansas Governors grant clemency, but the parole board grants parole. Wayne DuMond’s parole was granted by the board and NOT Governor Huckabee.

9. TAXES –When Governor Huckabee left office, the tax rates remained exactly the same as when he first came into office. Governor Huckabee returned almost $400 million to Arkansas taxpayers, and he also DOUBLED the standard deduction for individuals and married couples, DOUBLED the childcare tax credit, and eliminated the marriage penalty. He also repealed capital gains taxes for home sales, lowered the capital gains rate by 25%, expanded the homestead exemption, and set up tax-free savings accounts for medical care and college tuition. Gov. Huckabee has also signed the Americans for Tax Reform's pledge not to raise taxes.

• Lifetime member of the NRA, member for over 15 years
• First Governor to have concealed-carry permit
• Removed restrictions on carry permit holders
• Protected gun manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits
• Opposes reauthorization of the Assault Weapon Ban
• Opposes expansion of the unconstitutional “Brady Bill”
• Opposes waiting period for purchase of firearms
• Opposes background checks on private firearms transactions at gun shows
• Will nominate judges who interpret the constitution as the Founders intended, rather than as a “living document reflecting current political trends or opinions”
• An avid hunter and conservationist, and a member of the Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation and BASS.

*I am not in complete agreement with all of Huckabee's positions.

09 February 2008

A Sad Announcement

Some reading this may already know, but I just discovered that Bud Robertson's wife passed away after a long illness. Please keep Dr. Robertson and the rest of the family in your prayers. I've never met a finer gentleman in my life and I know this comes as a great blow to him.

Below is Mrs. Robertson's obituary:

Elizabeth (Libba) Green Robertson, 77, of Blacksburg, died Wednesday, February 6, 2008, at Kroontje Health Care Center.

She was born in Danville, Va., on April 30, 1930, to the late Howard P. and Alma Wells Green. She is survived by her husband, James I. (Bud) Robertson Jr., of Blacksburg; daughter, Beth Brown, of Blacksburg; sons and daughters-in-law, James I. III and Tricia Robertson, of Tega Cay, S.C., and Howard W. and Beth Robertson, Oakton, Va.; seven grandchildren, David and Heather Brown, Courtney and Christopher Robertson, Payton, Ethan and Ansley Robertson; sisters and brothers-in-law, Ann and Jack Walton, of Danville, Bobbie and Courtenay Harrison, Virginia Beach, and Gayle and Joe Miller, of Danville. Also grieving is her loyal companion, Bubba.

Special thanks go to loving care-givers, Lorraine Elliott and Lois Hubbard, to the helpful providers of Good Samaritan Hospice, and to the staff of Kroontje Health Care Center. Libba never met a stranger or made an enemy.

Funeral services will be conducted at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 10, 2008, in the Blacksburg United Methodist Church with the Rev. Reggie Tuck officiating. Interment will follow in the Westview Cemetery, Blacksburg. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any children’s charity.

The family will receive friends from 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday evening, February 9, 2008, at the McCoy Funeral Home, 150 Country Club Drive, S.W., Blacksburg, Va.

08 February 2008

Horn Toot - Currently #2 on Amazon Books About Lee

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Hot, Cold, Hot, Cold, Hot, Cold . . .

"Not every scientist is part of Al Gore's mythical 'consensus.' Scientists worried about a new ice age seek funding . . ."

I think we have a credibility problem here.

See story here.

(A word about my cultural and political posts . . . while this blog is primarily about my interest in Virginia's history and her role in the WBTS, my banner also states that posts also include my "musings & wandering thoughts." Sometimes these subjects intersect, sometimes my mind wanders, sometimes it leaves altogether.)

07 February 2008

Booker T. Washington

Virginian Booker T. Washington's inspirational autobiography Up From Slavery is available online here.

Beam Me Up Scottie - And Hurry

Ok, this is a SOS. I've been abducted by aliens and taken to a parallel universe. I'm calling on my readers and fellow bloggers - those of you who are still sane and, assuming I'm not the only one left on the planet: HELP!! Some of today's headlines on a popular website include the following:

What's weirder is that some will read these and say, "So what's the problem?"

Help. And please hurry.

P.S. I promise more WBTS posts starting tomorrow - lots going on. (If I make it back from whatever planet I'm on now.)

Budget Shortfall - Duh

Virginia legislators spend over $140 million building Richmond's version of the Taj Mahal and then wring their hands over the "budget shortfall." Gee, what a surprise. Of course, they're wanting to bleed the Commonwealth's "citizens" once more for their extravagance. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Yes, I favor historical preservation, but if you dig into the details of what was done at the Capitol Building, you will discover that it's a pretty cushy dig for our masters. In their renovation, they actually destroyed much of the original grounds and history there.


My apologies for a lack of posts this past week, but other projects have needed my attention. I'll be back at it by tomorrow.

05 February 2008

Historian Quote of the Week

“Those who believe in God are at present being subjected to a barrage of atheist propaganda, directed particularly at Christianity." ~ Historian Paul Johnson

01 February 2008

No Comment Necessary

BAGHDAD (AP) - "Two mentally retarded women strapped with remote-control explosives—and possibly used as unwitting suicide bombers—brought carnage Friday to two pet bazaars, killing at 73 people in the deadliest day since Washington flooded the capital with extra troops last spring. The coordinated blasts—coming 20 minutes apart in different parts of the city—appeared to reinforce U.S. claims al-Qaida in Iraq may be increasingly desperate and running short of able-bodied men willing or available for such missions."

Full story here.

(Back to CW and history posts tomorrow.)

Brits Saying No to Patriotism

Patriotism is now considered "too controversial" to teach in British schools. I swear we are living in the twilight zone, my head is going to explode. "Since all national histories are at best morally ambiguous, it's an open question whether citizens should love their countries."

Unbelievable. See press release here.

I'll bet there are plenty of folks here in the good ole USA that agree. Please, someone tell me that I'm not the only sane person left on the planet.

The Market Rules

"Movies with very strong Judeo-Christian values, capitalist ideals, patriotism and pro-American attitudes do much better at the box office than movies promoting socialism, Marxism, left-wing political correctness and atheism," said Ted Baehr, publisher of MOVIDEGUIDE©: A Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment, and chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission ministry in Hollywood." Full story here.

This sentiment is obvious in the historical realm as well. "Professional" historians may cringe at such a statement, but Americans still prefer uplifting, heroic stories that inspire and are not on a mission to discredit our Nation's heroes. David McCullough's work is a good example. This, of course, does not mean you distort the truth or ignore the faults of heroes, but there is an obvious anti-hero slant in many modern works. The market appears to be saying--and saying very strongly--that the only place where political correctness and liberalism sells is in academia and government. Since both institutions are, for the most part shielded from market realities, many of those who work in them exclusively tend to be detached from this reality.