Category Archive 'Mississippi'

02 Apr 2021

A Bit of History From Our Mississippi House

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“Cedarhurst”.

A neighbor forwarded a newspaper item involving some of our new house’s Civil War history.

Grant occupied Holly Springs in late November or early December of 1862. He made the town his new supply base for the Siege of Vicksburg.

On December 18th, Confederate General Earl Van Dorn raided the Union base at Holly Springs with 3500 cavalry, capturing 1500 Union troops and burning Grant’s supplies.

Lacking supplies, Grant was compelled to retreat for a time, and Vicksburg remained uncaptured until the following July.

The fiery rebel was Catherine Sherwood Bonner, who later became secretary and muse to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and a successful novelist and regional author in her own right.

Many thanks to Bobby Mitchell!

31 Mar 2021

Cedarhurst’s Kitchen & Servants’ Quarters Will Be Next

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National Park Service Team

Our neighbor in Mississippi, Phillip Kyle Knecht yesterday posted on Facebook:

“For the last week, a team from the National Park Service’s National Center for Preservation Technology and Training has been in Holly Springs, documenting and scanning various extant slave quarters, slave cabins and tenant/sharecropper housing. The team used a really fancy 3D laser scanner, that will create 3D images of the exterior and interior of these structures. Eventually, they will be able to create “virtual reality” tours of these structures.

Thank you to the members of the team, Isabella Jones, Sreya Chakraborty, and Ina Sthapit, for coming to town and performing this invaluable service. Thank you also to Pam Zelman, with Preserve Marshall County and Holly Springs, Inc., who did much of the heavy lifting locally, arranging access to all of these sites. Thank you to the homeowners who graciously opened their doors to the team. I acted as a sort of local historical advisor at a few of their stops. Chelius Carter, with PMCHS, was instrumental in getting the team to town, and allowed the team to stay in the Hugh Craft House.

The team has a few more stops before they leave town on Friday, so if you see them around, welcome them to town! This is really important historical and preservation work.”

Our new home, Cedarhurst, has the old Antebellum kitchen and servants’ quarters in the backyard, remodeled in recent years with little architectural regard, alas! into an auxiliary apartment.

Karen contacted the Park Service team, and they are going to survey the Cedarhurst kitchen next!

03 Mar 2021

A Sample of Sherwood

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Sherwood Bonner 1849-1883 (left) — Lee (right).

Our new house in Northern Mississippi had previously been the home of a fairly distinguished female regional author, Sherwood Bonner, who had also been secretary, friend, and muse to the very famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Sherwood Bonner wrote mostly (now unpopular) dialect stories, and essays and sketches for periodicals like Harper’s and Lippincott’s. She left only one novel, Like Unto Like, whose plot superficially resembles Miss Ravenel’s Conversion: patriotic Southern belle, in aftermath of defeat, falls in love with Yankee.

I’ve just started Like Unto Like, and I find Sherwood Bonner a pretty good read. Her descriptions of her Southern town are perceptive and interesting and I like her active and observant outlook.

At the point I reached late last night, it is summer, a year or so after the war, Yankee troops are being transferred from New Orleans to “Yariba” in northern Mississippi (Holly Springs, fictionalized) to escape the summer heat. The Tollivers are in bad odor with local Society, having been forced by financial stress to accept a Yankee officer, Colonel Dexter, and his family as boarders. Our heroine, Blythe Herndon (recognizable as Sherwood Bonner’s fictional alter ego) is destined to fall in love with Roger Ellis, a Northern friend visiting the Dexters.

The tension in town is alleviated when old Mrs. Oglethorpe (the acknowledged head of Yariba society) makes a point of calling upon (and thereby accepting the society of) Mrs. Dexter. Mrs. Oglethorpe has decided that it is her Christian duty to promote reconciliation.

Mrs. Oglethorpe’s gesture provokes a conversation between Blythe and the Tolliver family. Blythe explains her family has put off calling on Mrs. Dexter due to her grandmother’s irredentist attitudes. She lost a son, William, and the South’s defeat caused the old woman to break down emotionally, lose interest in everything, nearly to lose her mind. She paced the halls at night, walking in her sleep, “as white as a ghost.” A year later, she has only slightly improved.

Poor soul!” said Mrs. Tolliver. “If William had been spared she wouldn’t have felt so. I’m sure I don’t think I could have had them in in my house if Van had been killed.”

“I don’t think Uncle Will’s death made any special difference; I think it’s the ‘Lost Cause’ grandma mourns. I can’t understand it. I think it is a great deal better to forgive and forget; don’t you, Van?”

“I don’t want to forget,” said Van throwing back his head with a spirited action peculiar to him. “We made a good fight for our rights, and I’m glad and proud to have been in it. But as for bearing any malice against the men that whipped us –not I. The war ended. I would just as soon have shaken hands with General Sherman as with Joe Johnston.”

“Or with Grant as with Robert E. Lee?”

“No,” said the young man, with a sudden reverence in his tone, “for I would have knelt to Lee.”

17 Feb 2021

Snow in Northern Mississippi

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A neighbor was kind enough to forward a picture of our new house in Mississippi yesterday after the once-in-a-lifetime snowstorm.

05 Feb 2021

We Bought a New Retirement House

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It’s called “Cedarhurst,” built 1857, in a small town in the Hill Country of Northern Mississippi. This region is the home country of William Faulkner and of the great Memphis sporting author Nash Buckingham.

The property has ten acres and is located near the territories of two fox hunts.

Read the rest of this entry »

02 Apr 2019

At the Mississippi Legislature

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Then he ought to have done “Dixie.”

13 Mar 2013

Harry Weathersby Stamp’s Obituary Went Viral

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the late Harry Stamps with unknown woman. (His sister-in-law, Betty Williams, writes to explain that the photo shows Harry with his wife of 50 years photographed together after the destruction of their home by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.)

The obituary of Harry Stamps, written by his daughter Amanda for the Gulfport Mississippi Sun-Herald, is being linked everywhere and is widely described “as the best obituary ever.”

Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler, died on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

Harry was locally sourcing his food years before chefs in California starting using cilantro and arugula (both of which he hated). For his signature bacon and tomato sandwich, he procured 100% all white Bunny Bread from Georgia, Blue Plate mayonnaise from New Orleans, Sauer’s black pepper from Virginia, home grown tomatoes from outside Oxford, and Tennessee’s Benton bacon from his bacon-of-the-month subscription. As a point of pride, he purported to remember every meal he had eaten in his 80 years of life.

The women in his life were numerous. He particularly fancied smart women….

He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, Lane cakes, boiled peanuts, Vienna [Vi-e-na] sausages on saltines, his homemade canned fig preserves, pork chops, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread.

He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking, eradicating mole crickets from his front yard, composting pine needles, living within his means, outsmarting squirrels, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and reading any history book he could get his hands on. He loved to use his oversized “old man” remote control, which thankfully survived Hurricane Katrina, to flip between watching The Barefoot Contessa and anything on The History Channel. He took extreme pride in his two grandchildren Harper Lewis (8) and William Stamps Lewis (6) of Dallas for whom he would crow like a rooster on their phone calls. As a former government and sociology professor for Gulf Coast Community College, Harry was thoroughly interested in politics and religion and enjoyed watching politicians act like preachers and preachers act like politicians. He was fond of saying a phrase he coined “I am not running for political office or trying to get married” when he was “speaking the truth.” He also took pride in his service during the Korean conflict, serving the rank of corporal–just like Napolean, as he would say.

Harry took fashion cues from no one. His signature every day look was all his: a plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom, his black-label elastic waist shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam’s on Highway 49, and a pair of old school Wallabees (who can even remember where he got those?) that were always paired with a grass-stained MSU baseball cap.

Harry traveled extensively. He only stayed in the finest quality AAA-rated campgrounds, his favorite being Indian Creek outside Cherokee, North Carolina. He always spent the extra money to upgrade to a creek view for his tent. Many years later he purchased a used pop-up camper for his family to travel in style, which spoiled his daughters for life.

He despised phonies, his 1969 Volvo (which he also loved), know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who used the words “veranda” and “porte cochere” to put on airs, eating grape leaves, Law and Order (all franchises), cats, and Martha Stewart. In reverse order. He particularly hated Day Light Saving Time, which he referred to as The Devil’s Time. It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest.

14 Jan 2013

Southern Living: 1939

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January 1939. “Sunflower Plantation. Son of tenant farmer in corner of living room. Pace, Mississippi.”

From Shorpy’s.

21 May 2012

Misissippi Fife and Drum Blues

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The New York Times attends a very special event in rural Mississippi.

Tamke and I are at the annual Otha Turner Family Picnic, a legendary jam session that takes place every summer behind a tumbledown sharecropper’s shack deep in Mississippi’s hill country. The interracial crowd is a few hundred strong and drawn from nearly every stratum of local life — bikers, college kids, workingmen, toughs, gentlemen farmers. And then there are a couple dozen like me: urban cosmopolites eager to hear the deepest roots of the blues. Tamke calls himself “a redneck,” and he’s attacked me because I’m from The New York Times. Shouting into my ear over the music, Tamke makes me his megaphone for what he wants the outside world to know: “Our races have melded together, we share everything,” he says, voice trembling. “We love each other.” He’s squeezing my skull so hard it feels like it might pop, and it’s clear that he’s under the influence of something very powerful. The moonshine or the music, I don’t know. Finally, when it seems something is about to crack — my neck, or Tamke’s tenuous hold on sanity, or both — he lets me go. “It’s sacred,” he says, choking up. “It’s ancient, man.”

“It” is fife and drum, an African take on colonial English marching songs, and one of the oldest forms of distinctly American music, played by the slaves of Jefferson’s Monticello and still played today — by one family, once a year, at this, one of the last of the traditional farm picnics celebrating the end of the growing season.

Hat tip to Tom Weil.

26 Apr 2011

The Informal Yet Effective Approach

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Brandon, Mississippi is the county seat of Rankin County, and boasts of having furnished the state of Mississippi with more governors, senators, congressmen, judges, district attorneys, physicians, and teachers than any other town of its size (population 16436) in the state.

Not only is Brandon an exemplary source of leadership for its state, Brandon is apparently capable of setting an excellent example of how to deal with the kind of vexing and legally complicated issues which successfully tie the urbanized American establishment up in theoretical knots.

The funeral of 28-year-old Marine Staff Sergeant Jason Rogers, a married resident of Brandon killed during a combat patrol in Afghanistan, on April 14th attracted the unwelcome attentions of the crazies from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, who have since 2005 made a practice of seeking media attention by the outrageous tactic of picketing military funerals.

A commenter on a University of Mississippi discussion board who signs himself weblow.sixpackspeak explains how a small town in Mississippi dealt with the problem informally and effectively.

A couple of days before, one of them ran his mouth at a Brandon gas station and got his ass waxed. Police were called and the beaten man could not give much of a description of who beat him. When they canvassed the station and spoke to the large crowd that had gathered around, no one seemed to remember anything about what had happened.

Rankin County handled this thing perfectly. There were many things that were put into place that most will never know about and at great expense to the county.

Most of the morons never made it out of their hotel parking lot. It seems that certain Rankin county pickup trucks were parked directly behind any car that had Kansas plates in the hotel parking lot and the drivers mysteriously disappeared until after the funeral was over. Police were called but their wrecker service was running behind and it was going to be a few hours before they could tow the trucks so the Kansas plated cars could get out.

A few made it to the funeral but were ushered away to be questioned about a crime they might have possibly been involved in. Turns out, after a few hours of questioning, that they were not involved and they were allowed to go on about their business.

Rankin [County] deserves a hand in how they handled this situation.

A video with a musical background to Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Elmo Townsend’s dash camera view, recorded as he escorted the funeral procession via Airport Road and along U.S. 80 from Pinelake Baptist Church to the Old Brandon Cemetery has been widely linked on the Internet. Hundreds of people lined the local highways to pay their respects.

Hat tip to the Hay Ride via I Hate the Media and Trending Right.


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