Aug 28, 2016

Art in the Park weekend at the Old Fort

It was humid and hot today. But that did prevent the natives from getting out and enjoying the yearly Art in the Park two day display of fine art in the city. However, I spent most of my time at the Old Fort.  

Back in the 80's I used to go to The Fort and take pictures of all of the interpreters. This was the site of the original fort that was built in 1815.  I would fill albums with pictures from this place.  

Now it is only open on special occasions. I stood around a while and observed the interaction the interpreters had with each other. 

This took me back in memory of my trip earlier in the year to Colonial Williamsburg where the audience was actively involved in the presentation. I was ready to pack up and move by the time I left that day because I wanted to be around people that appreciate history.  

The Shawnee Indian tribe was represented  today. The interpreter traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio to participate this weekend. I made the mistake of asking him about his "costume" he grimaced and I had to change my word to "clothing". Then I was given an explanation of the skins that were used to cover his feet and legs and got a peak at his loin cloth. 

I, then, walked a few blocks to where the streets were lined with food vendors and those who were selling their creations.  Overall, I preferred the atmosphere of days gone past.  

Aug 21, 2016

In Search of my Southern Smith Connection

Downtown Morristown

My nephew and I drove for hours to reach a small city in Northeast Tennessee called Morristown located in the county of Hamblen. I was hoping to find where my great-great grandfather was buried in 1906 and any other information that I could find. His name was Pleasant Thomas Smith, a Civil War vet. 

Downtown Morristown

We traveled up and down hilly streets to reach the only library in town. I carried my two large binders inside that contained all of the information that I have on the Smiths. The library was small, so very small.  I asked if they had any newspapers on the microfiche from 1884 and beyond. There was some juicy information on a relative that involved a barn burning, jail, and a divorce that I wanted more information on. They placed me at a table in front of a reader and I began my search.  I looked through every date that I could muster but didn't come up with anything. It was then that one of the librarians suggested that I go to the archives at the courthouse.  I gathered my things and off we went. 

Morristown, upper level

The archives were located in the basement, which meant that I had to carry my binders down a flight of stairs and I was not looking forward to the descent. Once inside, I was greeted by two elderly women who were ready to research.  I was pelted with questions on dates, names, and locations. After a little while it was suggested that I go to the next county for research because we couldn't find anything on my ancestors.  Even though my great-great grandfather married his second wife in Hamblen County, they lived in Jefferson County before the county boundary changed. 

Morristown upper level with my nephew

Instead of going to Jefferson County that day we walked around downtown Morristown. Main Street was lined with flags and hanging flowers. There is an upper level with shops all along the top.  I have never seen anything like this before and I thought it was awesome. 

The next day we headed to Jefferson County to a little city called Dandridge (the second oldest city in Tennessee, Jonesboro is the first). I was here once before many years ago. There was a country restaurant in the heart of the city was all that I remembered. Today it is out of business. I did visit an old plantation house that was on a back road somewhere but was not feeling that adventurous on this trip. We repeated our steps from the previous day. But this time was more productive.


I met a man who has been researching the Smith line from the county and he was due to arrive early in the afternoon. Timing was perfect in this instance. His name was Ray, a soft spoken southerner with gray hair, smiling eyes, and a firm handshake ( I always judge a man's character based on his handshake). A retired professor who loves genealogy is someone that I was looking for. There was a large folder in the archives for the Smith's. I looked through the folder and found land records that I hadn't seen before. I was thrilled. At least I was going home with more than one piece of paper. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses.    

Barn in New Market, Tennessee

Sadly, Tennessee didn't begin recording deaths until 1914. I came home with some information that I didn't have before with hopes of eventually finding my great-great grandfathers grave.  I am determined to find him and say that I haven't forgotten you or your life.  Pleasant deserves at least that much from me. 

Aug 15, 2016

Zoo: A habitat for unhappy (maybe) animals.

Yesterday,  I went to the zoo with my nephew, a strapping 22 year old with intense blue eyes that stands over 6 foot tall. He is a gentle soul and I wonder why he wants to spend time with me.  Anyway, we toured the large complex. We went on an African safari, hiked through the Indonesian rain forest, and enjoyed an Australian outback adventure.  Over the years the inmates at the zoo has dwindled down in size.  Where once there was a large cage for birds where visitors could roam around freely is now no larger than 14 foot square with only a couple of birds. But, still, there are plenty of animals to see. 

I know that zoos are well intended places for people to come and see animals from all over the world. At least, that is what I want to believe. I wandered the zoo and observed the animals.  How can a being be happy in such a place? Bars are everywhere. The Komodo Dragon lay listlessly on the cool rocks during the hot and humid morning, while I was drenched in perspiration. 

I had never noticed how beautiful a tiger really is.  The intensity of his brown eyes and the stripes that lay meticulously on top of the golden fur was almost too much beauty to behold. This beautiful cat lay on top of the wooden bench while its partner paced their area of confinement.  

I didn't mention that a little farm was included in the things to see at the zoo. These animals we see on a regular basis if we live close to farms.

By the time the tour of the zoo was over, I felt very much like the pigs and wanted to snooze.  

I am nearly done with the photography certificate program and a few of my pictures (hoping a few more) have been chosen to be on display at the local art museum in January. This is exciting news for me and confirms I am going in the right direction.