May 21, 2018

The Pandemic Influenza outbreak of 1918-1919

A few years ago, I brought home some pictures of my relatives that was in a box which was about to be thrown out by some cousins who didn't know who the people were in them. I rummaged through the box and brought home all the ones with Smith written on them hoping that someone would help me be able to identify our relatives. 

The picture below was broken off on the lower right corner and the upper portion was missing.  On the back it says: John Smith, Grandfather, Sarah Smith, Amanda, Myrtle, Jim, and Guy. It was taken in the early 1900's. They lived in Marion County, Tennessee at the time of this picture. 

This is the original photograph with a little photoshop work.

In 1918 the world was at war.  In mid November the war came to an end. The soldiers were dispatched back home. And, in 1918, one of the largest, if not the largest Influenza Pandemics took the world by storm. Nearly everyone had a story of someone that they knew who succumbed to the influenza epidemic.  Three children (Amanda, Myrtle, and Guy) of my Smith family passed away in succession. Any yet, you learn almost nothing about the influenza epidemic in school. 

Obituaries of Marion County, Tennessee 1895-1920  (Harris)

There were claims that as many as 50,000 people lost their lives, more than the casualties of WWI. The bubonic plague (black death) killed an estimated 62 million Europeans from 1347-1350. The influenza outbreak moved in swiftly and globally in a short amount of time. It is believed that the returning sailors to Boston was the entering point for this killer of humanity into the United States.  

Image: courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine

As one in four Americans contracted the flu, almost all public gatherings had to be cancelled including church services, schools, and theaters to name a few until the flu ran its course. 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

So, when you start to feel like you are coming down with the flu or a cold. Stay home, rest, and drink plenty of fluids.  I sure would hate to see this kind of thing happen again. 


Tennessee Magazine story by Bill Carey 2014 
Tennessee Encyclopedia story by Allen R. Coggins 

May 16, 2018

Is his name Tom or Edgar? Another name changer in the family.


My great uncle Thomas Woodrow Campbell had another name at birth. His life was a mystery to me for a long time.  I would search and search and couldn't find anything regarding this man. I found him with his parents William Elbert Campbell and Amanda Massey in the 1920 Census in Grundy County, Tennessee, 1930 Census in Walker County, Georgia, and the 1940 Census in Hamilton County, Tennessee.  He was listed as Tom or Thomas on each Census record.  Tom was the only child of my great-grandparents that was born in Kentucky.  My great-grandfather was a coal miner, so, this meant that they moved around a lot. William (Elbert) tried farming, but that didn't work out so well for him and he kept going back to coal mining.

Tennessee didn't start keeping birth and death records until 1910. I was hoping that Kentucky was a bit better about this issue. I put in as many combinations I could think of on and nothing came up. Then I decided to omit the first name of the child but include the parents names. Et voila! I found a birth index. 

You ask why he changed his name. I asked the same question and will never know.  The thing is, this man was able to get into the army, obtain a Social Security card, and a driver's license without a valid birth certificate that matched his name.  How can people do this?  I was able to find his marriage information eventually but I still cannot find when Uncle Tom passed away. I have hope that I will someday. 

Apr 27, 2018

Scotland: The land of stone lifting and burly men in kilts.

Scotland, the land of mountain wildernesses, the thistle, and stone lifting to prove one's manhood. When one of co-workers wheeled himself over to my desk to tell me about Scotland's ancient ritual for men to prove their manhood, I was enthralled. Visions of burly bearded men in kilts danced through my head.

 The stone put is called heavy athletics in the modern day Highland games.  A stone that weighs approximately 20-30 pounds is firmly held with one hand as it rests on the neck of the man before it is flung into the air with amazing agility.  It is said that a clean hand and a dirty neck is the perfect combination for success in this event. 

Stone lifting has been going on in the British Isles, especially Scotland, for a very long time. You were not considered a man until you could life a Manhood Stone to your waist or on top of a stone wall.  The Dinnie Stones are two stones  with metal handles that are lifted simultaneously weighing approximately 734 pounds.  Doing this is not for the faint of heart.  The documentary below is from Rogue and the cinematography is wonderful. Watching this made me want to go to Scotland and witness this manly sporting event.  

Apr 20, 2018

Shhh...I secretly have a crush on Jimmy Stewart

We've all had a crush or two on an actor and I am no exception. It all started a few months ago when The Philadelphia Story was showing at a local theater. They show old movies on the big screen while the audience reclines in large comfy seats.  I have seen the movie several times and never tire of watching it. The second movie was Vertigo. Since it was an Alfred Hitchcock movie I thought that I would preview the movie before I actually saw it in the theater.  Me and scary movies don't get on well together and I may not want to watch it. It was then that I realized I have missed a great actor. 

James Stewart was around 50 years old at the time he starred in Vertigo, which was out in theaters in 1958, two years before I was born. When I was growing up the actors were Burt Reynolds, John Travolta, Tom Selleck, Clint Eastwood, and lots more.

But it was his eyes that made me first take notice. They were an intense blue and I was immediately attracted to him. As I watched this classic film I saw a soft spoken man who wore a suit as everyday attire. His manners were masculine yet not brutish, and he leaned down to talk to those who were not as tall as he while looking directly into their eyes, giving his full attention. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy. 

Jimmy Stewart was popular 30 years before my time. He started his acting career in the 30's during The Depression. His career was put on hiatus when he signed up for military duty, and it was during this time that he became a pilot. A love of his that continued afterwards. 

Since Vertigo, I have seen Rear Window, Harvey, The Shop Around the Corner, It's a Wonderful Life, The Philadelphia Story, Destry Rides Again, and The Glen Miller Story.  This is only a few compared to the numerous films that he starred in during his acting career. 

Maybe we should pay more  attention to those actors who helped shape the industry as we know it today. He was an actor who kept his clothes on and still remained popular.  I like that idea. 

Mar 7, 2018

John Thomas Bolden A.K.A. Jack or was his name something else?

I know that I have shared this before but I have been tracing my ancestors for over twenty years.  It is a lot easier now that we have web sites like Ancestry, Family Search, and others.  Even with all of the information that is available the "find" can still be rather brutal.  I have sat at the computer and searched for information on one person for hours and not come up with anything. Then when I come back to look again I hit a goldmine or not. 

Here is what I had encountered over the weekend.  My grandmother was Azzie Lee Bolden, my mother's mother. She is the young woman in the far right of the picture which was taken around 1922 or 1923.  Her father was Alfred Lee Bolden, the dapper looking man standing behind her. I don't have a picture of Alfred Lee Bolden's father, John Thomas Bolden but wish that I had one. John Thomas Bolden's father was John Thomas Bolden too or should I say Bolding. The name kind of morphed as my ancestors migrated across America.  They started out Bolding and ended up Bolden when they moved. This is where things start to get tricky for me.  

John Thomas Bolden the 1st father was Jonathan Lee Bolding of Pickens County, South Carolina.  J.T. (John Thomas) was born in 1834 in the same county. John met and married Margaret White on August 9, 1855 in Pickens. He enlisted around May 15, 1861 in the Confederate army and fought with Company H, 2nd S.C. Rifles Regiment until his death on June 10, 1863.  J.T. was captured and killed by the Federals in the swamps near Suffolk, VA.  Are you with me so far? Let's continue.  

In 1870 the family decided to move to Forsyth County, Georgia.  John Thomas Bolden the 2nd went by the name of Jack. I understand that the nickname for John is Jack. Jack married Martha Fowler on October 10. 1880 in Forsyth County, Georgia. I am okay with this so far. Then I started trying to put my book in order.  Here is where I nearly lost my sanity. 

I tried to separate both of the John Thomas Bolden\Bolding from each other.  When trying to research a relatives steps I always use the Census.  In general they provide a vast amount of information, supposedly.  It really depends on the Census taker and the person providing the information. 

J.T. was living in Pickens County, S.C. in 1860 with his wife Margaret and four children.  Remember he is killed in 1863 so he will not be listed on the 1870 Census.  He is not the person I am looking for anyway, it is the second John Thomas Bolding\Bolden. In 1870 I find Margaret with four children living in Anderson, S.C. One of her children was named Jackson. Ok, I thought, this is my second John Thomas.  Then in 1880 in Forsyth County, GA Margaret has three children listed. Jackson is now listed as Andrew Jackson. Oh what the hell! I keep searching. In 1900, Margaret is living in Forysth County with her youngest son.  I couldn't find Andrew Jackson anywhere.  I found a marriage certificate for John T. Bolling and Martha Fowler in Forsyth County in 1880. I found John living with his wife in Murray County in the 1900 Census. In each Census thereafter John Thomas was either listed by John Thomas or Jack.  The key name is Jack.  He was always called by this name.  

For years I searched and searched for John Thomas when he was right under my nose all along.  This is not the first relative that changed their name that I have found in my family search and it will probably not be the last. 

P.S. I don't go by my given name either. 

Feb 25, 2018

Go West Jacob Routh

Jacob Routh was born in Dandridge, Jefferson County, Tennessee on December 22, 1818. Dandridge, the home of Douglas Lake, is billed as the second oldest city in the state. The Routh's descended from the Huguenots who had become Quakers by religious persuasion. 

After the death of his father in 1841, Jacob and his brother Joseph operated the farm and grist mill, raising horses and hogs to pay off the bills that their father left. In the off seasons the brothers took turns selling Currier & Ives prints, picture frames, shoes, and feathers. In 1845, Jacob built a house for his mother on the Dumplin Creek Farm. It was sold in 1851. 

Jacob heard the "Go West Young Man" call and headed to Texas October 2, 1851.  The entourage included his mother, sister Elizabeth, brother Joseph, nine year old slave Thomas. They were accompanied by Robert Fleming Campbell's family, wife Mary Ann, infant son, and six children from a previous marriage, plus an elderly slave named Aggy and another slave of whom I don't have a name.  Squire Campbell, a planter, lost all of his crops in 1850 due to a flood and felt that Texas would be a better place to live.  Both families headed west together. They arrived at their destination 45 days later. 

Jacob bought a thousand acres of land on Spring Creek paying $2.00 an acre, and built a house near present day Renner Road and Central in Richardson. While Robert built a house near where Campbell Road and Central Expressway intersect. Routh Road in Dallas is also named after Jacob. 

Love made an entrance to the scene on the long route to Texas. Jacob fell in love with Robert's daughter Lodemia Ann Campbell and they were married in 1853, and in the same year Jacob decided to become a Baptist minister.  Routh founded a church in the one-room log cabin he built for a school-house on his farm. 

Jacob and Lodemia produced nine children from their marriage. His daughter Clara said this about her father in a letter, " Father was a man of great hospitality and home was seldom without guests, sometimes friends, but often people who were passing though the country and wanted a place to stay. He took delight in experimenting with fruits, flowers, and vegetables, not minding work, or expense. He was very affectionate and devoted to his family. Father was a great believer in education and progress in all things."

Jacob Routh passed away April 30, 1879 of Tuberculosis at the age of 61.  A Pioneer who helped to make this world a better place to live in. 


The Jacob Routh Papers, Uniiversity of Texas at Austin

Historic Richardson by Gwyn Gillespie

Feb 18, 2018

Procrastination has a deadline

What is on your bucket list?  We call a list of things that we want to do before we pass away a "bucket list" or before we "kick the bucket." As you age time goes by faster than you realize and before you know it your lifespan is nearly to the end. Most people scramble to get it all in before they are no longer able to able to get around like they did in their younger years.  I want to encourage you to move quickly and not look back.  You are not going in that direction. 

Jan 21, 2018

Empowering Women

The fog never lifted today. It had rained during the night and the ground was still wet. A Women's Rally was planned at 1 p.m. and I wondered if anyone would show up. I was so wrong. 

Several hundred people showed up, men and women.  If it had been a ball game, then at least a thousand men would have lined the streets to support their team.  Aren't we supposed to be a team?

Courtney Tritch, who is a candidate for Congress, attended this gathering, promoting equality for women. 

I was glad to see that a lot of men attended to support the rights of women.  A Muslim man gladly posed for me and thanked me graciously for taking his picture.   

 In Islam, the mother is greatly honored. It is said that paradise is beneath her feet.  All mothers are precious and deserve the highest of honor with or without a rally. 

Fifty percent of the population is female, but it is the other half that has the power.  Men hold more key positions in our economy than women.  Don't get me wrong.  Women's rights have made great strides in the last century.  We can work, own land, vote,and go wherever we want to. The equality in pay still needs some work done. 

Did you know that 75 percent of the teachers in the United States were women? However, only three percent are on the Board. There are more women than men who work in hospitals, but men are generally in the key positions. I could go on and on. 

A couple of HAMILTON inspired signs made me want to sing.  I bet Lin-Manuel Miranda would have never thought that some lines from his musical would be material for the Women's Movement. 

The fact that so many men, young and old, came to support women thrilled me.  Maybe, someday soon, this will be a non-issue. Do you think that men and women can exist equally?

Nov 8, 2017

My own version of Piada's Carbonara Pasta Bowl

There is a wonderful little place to eat in Indianapolis called Piada.  It is Italian street food.  Not the Italian food that is heavily laden with that awful red sauce which every dish on the menu is immersed in. This is healthy stuff.  Delicious to the eyes and the palate.  And every time I am in the area I go out of my way to eat there. I was in Indy over the weekend with a few friends and I literally begged all the way hoping that my friends would try it. They gave in and we enjoyed a wonderful meal, especially me.     

It would be expensive to drive nearly two hours for a pasta fix on a frequent basis. So, I decided to try and make my own version of what I ate. Trust me, this is very simple and why I didn't do this a long time ago is beyond me. 


1 lb angel hair pasta, cooked according to the directions on the box

2-3 chopped tomatoes, I used Roma or use sun dried tomatoes

1-2 tsp Italian blend seasoning or to taste.  Mrs. Dash Italian Medley is my favorite

1/4 to 1/2 cup of spinach leaves or greens of your choice.  You can use a salad mix also (which is what I did)

Pancetta, (Italian bacon) Optional

1 jar of Alfredo sauce or a sauce that you like on pasta

I package of meat balls or 1 lb of cooked chicken or a meat of your choice or no meat at all

Prepare the meat of your choice and set aside. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Heat the Alfredo sauce until it is nice and hot.  Place the pasta in a bowl, toss with the sauce, tomatoes, meat, and greens.  Serve immediately. 

  • You can toss the pasta in olive oil with salt\pepper to taste if you want to save calories.
  • Look around the pasta isle at the store and experiment.  There are hot sauces called Diavolo (devil) if you like a bit of a kick. 
  • add corn, cucumber, olives, cheese, garbanzo beans, etc. 

Oct 17, 2017

Sauteed Dandelion Greens with Cabbage and Onion

Even though I grew up in the North, we ate Southern food. I grew up eating fried cabbage with bacon grease, salt, and pepper.  But as I grew older and didn't have a regular supply of bacon grease on hand, I searched for alternate healthier options to cook my favorite greens. 

A month or so ago a friend and I went to Dearborn, Michigan for the weekend.  While there I tried some Mediterranean food.  Dandelion greens were in the showcase for purchase. When we got back to the hotel I took my first bite.  They were delicious and surprisingly not bitter. I need to learn how to cook these greens!

When I got back home I tried to cook them and failed miserably. The dandelion greens were extremely bitter. Surely there is a secret? I asked a friend what her mother would do to eliminate some of the bitterness. I've had this dish three times in the last two weeks. I am going to share with you what I discovered.

I used  Victoria Taylor's Moroccan spice blend.  I use this in a lot of dishes, especially on baked chicken and vegetables or in fried coucous salad. But you can use whatever spices you prefer on your greens.  


1\2 head of cabbage, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 TSP Victoria Moroccan Spice Blend or to taste, I am very generous with this 
salt\pepper to taste
1 Knorr bouillon chicken cube 
1\4 tsp sugar
2-3 TBS olive oil
2 TBS Ghee, clarified butter or regular, I like the taste of butter and oil together
2 bunches of dandelion greens, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Place the dandelion greens in the water and boil until tender. About 7-10 minutes. Boiling the greens helps to take out the majority of the bitterness. I usually cook two bunches at a time. Once they are done cooking drain in a colander.  Squeeze out the excess water with a spoon by pressing the greens against the side of the colander. 

On medium heat add the oil and butter to a large non stick pan.  Once the oil is hot add the onion. Saute until translucent.  Then add the cabbage.  At this point add the salt, pepper,  Moroccan spice blend ,and bouillon cube.  Cook until tender.  

Move the cabbage and onion mixture to one side of the pan and add the dandelion greens to the other. 

Sprinkle with a little salt and the sugar. Saute for about 5 minutes and then mix everything together in the pan.

Serve immediately.  I like to eat this with beans and cornbread.  If you cannot find the Moroccan Spice blend that I used then use your favorite.  There is no right way or wrong way for this recipe.  You are the chef, experiment.