Jun 17, 2017

In the year 1812: On being a widow and the Lover's Eye

The war of 1812 isn't discussed much in the history books.  At lease, that I can remember. A few days again I encountered this woman at the Old Fort in Fort Wayne.  The Old Fort was up and running filled with actors portraying people from the time period.

As we walked towards the Fort we encountered a woman sitting in a tent with shear curtains all around it. It had several chairs inside so that when someone came in they could sit and chat a while. The woman was wearing very heavy white makeup, rouge, and thickly drawn eyebrows. During that time period the white foundation was made with lead and fats, which could be deadly. But beauty must come at a cost. Only the wealthy women during the 1800's wore this kind of makeup. 

She called herself Lady Liddington. On this day she was my history teacher. 

On her left hand there was a black onyx ring with a diamond in the middle to show others that her husband has passed away. A tiny pin fastened to her dress in the front contained a lock of hair from both she and her husband. A part of him will always be with her. The dark purple dress signifies that she is still mourning but not deep mourning. This also means that she is not interested in training another husband, because the first one was difficult enough. 

By the widow's side a miniature portrait of Lord Liddington was securely fastened into a picture frame and draped with a black scarf sitting neatly on a small table. The detail of the portrait was amazing for an item that was so small. Lady Liddington went on to say that during the same time period portraits were drawn of an eye. This eye miniature could be that of a child, spouse, lover, etc...These portraits could we worn as a bracelet, necklace, brooch, ring, or pendant. The fad began in the 1700's and the miniature became known as "Lover's Eye." Sometimes a lock of hair was incorporated into the portrait. This sounds a bit romantic to me. 

Jun 15, 2017

Ketner's Mill, Whitwell, Tennessee

I think that is was love at first sight for me when we drove up the road trying to find an old mill that we had heard of.  The dam was built on the Sequatchie River in Whitwell, Tennessee by early settlers to the area. 

In 1824, three orphans, David, George, and Elizabeth Ketner arrived in Sequatchie Valley, Tennessee. 

Ketner's Mill is named after David's son Alexander, who built the mill in 1868 and it ran fairly steady until 1992 when the mill closed its doors.  

The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The mill is surrounded by small mountains and an abundance of trees. On the third weekend in October a fair is held at Ketner's Mill and people gather together to buy and sell their arts and crafts.  This year the country arts fair will take place October 21-22.  

But if you need to get away for a couple of hours before then, bring yourself a chair, sit down, and listen to the sound of the running water.  I would like to be there right now. 

The address is 658 Ketner Mill Lane, Whitwell, Tennessee. 

Jun 4, 2017

Silverdale Confederate Cemetery, Chattanooga, Tennessee

While visiting Chattanooga last weekend my cousin and stumbled upon a cemetery that I had never heard of before. 

It is located at 7714 Lee Highway next to McKay's Books, which was our intended destination.  As we flew down the street my cousin saw the Confederate Cemetery first and I was just as thrilled as she was to explore it. This was our first time seeing a cemetery like this. 

After loading the car with at least 50 books and DVD's we headed back down the street.  We turned onto the narrow driveway and hoped that no one else was coming back down. 

There are 155 unknown soldiers who are buried in this small graveyard.  Can you imagine that many men who have not been returned to their families? Relatives not knowing where their husband, son, or nephew is buried.  This was disturbing to me. 

Once inside there was only a few markers.  Initially the soldiers had wooden markers with name, rank, and division but they decayed over time. There were no records of the men who were buried there.  The cemetery is surrounded by a stone fence with a large gate in the front. 

From what I understand the soldiers fought in the Battle of Perryville and were brought back to Chattanooga to recover. 

All of the burials took place between July-December of 1862. Below is an excerpt from Thunder Creek Harley Davidson web site that gives a brief synopsis of the cemetery. 

General Braxton Bragg succeeded General Beauregard as commander of the Army of Mississippi shortly after the Battle of Shiloh and on July 21, 1862 ordered 27,816 men to Chattanooga, Tennessee in preparation for his famed Kentucky campaign. These men had been in camps in northern Mississippi where poor water, shallow wells, mosquitoes and dysentery had made many of them sick. The number of troops made it necessary for most of them to be located outside of town. 

The men buried at Silverdale are from General Withers’ division hospital. His division consisted of men from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The hospital was housed in 100 tents. It remained at Tyner’s station and in control of Withers’ division until after it was moved to Cleveland, Tennessee in December due to the weather becoming too cold for the men to remain in tents.

 If you like history, you will find this off the beaten path cemetery a fascinating place.  I would like to go back again to sit down and listen for the voices of the men lying beneath my feet.  Maybe they have something to say if only someone would listen.