Category Archives: Just Because
Thrilled to have been invited to share the Patten House and Gamble Mansion story today for educators in Escambia County. Florida history matters and that was 100% validated by the 400+ participants at Raise the Bar 2020. THANK YOU!
Looking through some memories and stumbled upon this one… The last time I donned my 19th century mourning ensemble. Being that it’s Halloween season again, I thought this worthy of sharing.
Below is a photo from the last time I portrayed a woman in mourning… for the 2016 Halloween event at DeSoto National Memorial Park called DESOWEEN!
Needless to say, I spooked many a trail-walker that night. As they rounded the dimly lit path, I stood at the water’s edge weeping and howling for my husband who’d been lost at sea. I was told it was quite creepy. My son, also dressed in 19th Century garb, appropriately played my grief-stricken son. He was amazing, unsuspectingly weaving in and out of the groups of visitors like a specter himself. There were more than a few screams.
The wearing of all black for mourning seems particularly spooky to us in the 21st Century. Perhaps at the time, it was somewhat creepy, too. But it served a very important role. It gave a somber tone to a somber time. And if mourners were seen in public, there was no mistaking them. Onlookers knew at a glance to be extra mindful of someone in the throes of grief.
Today, without such customs, we could be standing next to someone in the produce aisle who is suffering a tremendous loss, and have absolutely NO IDEA. Every day we should treat one another with the utmost respect (Golden Rule and all), but we don’t. It would help if we could readily recognize mourners and give them the extra TLC they require, don’t you agree?
Anyway, as the final weeks of October bring us to All Hallow’s Eve, remember these things: Death is inevitable and should therefore probably not be such a taboo subject and those skeletons you see as part of all the decorations… Well, every human has one and they all look the same… another reason to be KIND.
In recent years we have watched natural disasters create chaos and sadness all over the world. Just last year Hurricane Irma scared the dickens out of us. We feel truly blessed to have narrowly escaped what could have been a real worst-case scenario.
We have talked about an emergency prep station. I actually pinned the one featured below back in 2013. FIVE YEARS AGO!
So, for my birthday (which is next month) we have decided to follow the plan and little by little gain the confidence having a preparedness station like this will bring. We are comforted to know we already own most of these items… Trouble is, these things are stored in scattered areas of the garage or interior closets and not in one central, easy-to-get-to location. The clincher is The Binder. Having all our papers copied and safely stored. Do you have this peace of mind already in place? I am ashamed to admit, if the roof blew off today I would panic. I don’t want to ever feel that.
My guess is that you wouldn’t want to either. I am sharing this in case one of you has thought about this and like us, just not gotten around to making it happen. Hurricane season ends on November 30. Many folks won’t think about this stuff again until next June. This time around, we plan to be truly READY and hope we don’t ever need it.
Headline: First Book on Flowers Published in the U.S. Was Written by Elizabeth Washington Gamble Wirt
I love history. Sometimes in my research I stumble upon things that just send the Dopamine levels in my blood sky high. This discovery is one of them.
In researching the family lineage of Robert Gamble, Jr. who built the Gamble Plantation in Manatee County in the 1840s, I have found many notable Americans. His grandfather, for whom he is and many other men in his family are named—which, by the way, makes it incredibly difficult for researchers—was Col. Robert Gamble, a Revolutionary War hero and a successful and respected merchant in Virginia after the war. Robert Gamble, Jr. had a cousin, also named Robert, whose mother was Letitia Breckinridge. Her father was General James Breckinridge, Brigadier General in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. He later became a U.S. Representative from his home state of Virginia. His brother, Letitia’s uncle, was John Breckinridge who served as U.S. Attorney General under none other than President Thomas Jefferson.
This is only the tip of the gathered research iceberg.
But, last night (or was it early this morning?) I found out something that I truly was astonished to see. Robert Gamble’s aunt, who was named by her father, Col. Robert Gamble, after his esteemed colleague General George Washington (I found the letter to prove it!) was an author. Yes. Elizabeth Washington Gamble married U.S. Attorney General William Wirt (see what I mean?) and in 1829 a book she had lovingly compiled for personal use had become so beloved by her friends that she could not keep up with the requests for copies. (Remember this is before computers and copy machines.) She was surprised to find a publisher in Boston who was more than happy to publish her little book. He even found the perfect illustrator for it. The book was highly successful.
This “little book” became what is reported to be the very first book on flowers published in America. Elizabeth’s book is entitled Flora’s Dictionary and it is still highly regarded as a botanical resource nearly 190 years later. In fact, the book has had numerous reprints and is still in print today. I just bought a paperback copy of it on Amazon. (What would she think of that?) Original, illustrated copies are listed for sale online to the tune of $3,500!
Anyway… There is so much more I can say about this and probably will one day soon. But for now, I feel compelled to tell the world that when we talk about Robert Gamble at the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park in Ellenton, Florida we rarely delve into his family’s remarkable lineage. Visitors hear that he came from Virginia to Tallahassee then to Florida where his sugar plantation failed so he moved back to Tallahassee where he died. People learn that his family was wealthy, his father a banker… But there is SO MUCH more to tell. So many more, delightful, engaging facets, as is true with most any family. However, this family, even at a glance, seems a veritable Who’s Who in American History.
I am excited to share this family’s stories with you.
153 years ago, the Battle of Franklin was fought and would become known as the bloodiest five hours of the American Civil War.
40 years ago, Dr. W. D. Sugg and his wife, Ruth Dickenson Sugg, donated the house known as Carnton and ten acres to what is now called the Battle of Franklin Trust to preserve, restore, and open the home to the public.
Thanks to Dr. & Mrs. Sugg, over 100,000 people from all over the world visit Carnton each year. The home became the largest field hospital after the Battle of Franklin, and the McGavock Confederate Cemetery adjacent to the family’s private burial grounds, is where over 1,500 Confederate soldiers were lovingly re-interred, cataloged, and honored by the McGavocks in 1866.
No matter your views on this war, it cannot be lost on any human heart that these men (on both sides) boldly and courageously entered what they knew would be a high-casualty engagement and many died of point-blank wounds as the sun set over the smoke-covered battlefield. It cannot be dismissed that Carrie McGavock, who was already grief-stricken at the onset of this massacre, bravely and unselfishly worked to make the dying men as comfortable as possible. She then spent the rest of her life dedicated to the memory of those who perished.
To watch a wonderful video about Carnton, click here.
Dr. & Mrs. Sugg purchased the property in the 1950s, hoping to retire to the hills where W. D. had spent his youth—where his grandfather had fought and been captured during the Battle of Franklin, where his father had been a rural doctor and dairy farmer, where W. D. studied at BGA and Vanderbilt. When it became obvious they would not retire there, donating the home and land had been Mrs. Sugg’s desire. We are so grateful to her and to Dr. Sugg’s love of history and community. We admire their ability to give generously so that we and future generations can touch another time and be made to better understand the events which molded our lives.
At long last, my grandaunt’s stories are off the shelf and into a published book!
When my grandmother’s sister, Aunt Mable, shared her stories with me back in the early 1990s, I had every intention of editing and revising them for publication. I could almost see the stories being on the best seller list or made into a film the likes of Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes.
Instead, I got sucked into the vortex of life and the pages sat quietly on a shelf, just waiting.
Lovingly illustrated by my daughter who just recently turned thirteen, these stories are now published and available for family members (and anyone who enjoys tales of the American experience) on Amazon.
The book is a true labor of love. In addition to the delightfully told tales of early 20th Century rural life in Mississippi, the book contains long-lost family photos and a family tree for reference.
Who knows, perhaps Steven Spielberg is looking for a new manuscript to option into a blockbuster feel-good movie.
Until then, I am happy knowing it has made my Aunt Mable proud to hold a copy in her hands. That makes it all worthwhile.
Driving home from the school drop off loop, I spied this scene in the western sky. I was vexed by the realization that I had forgotten my iPhone at home. No camera. So, I decided then and there to go old school. I committed the beautiful scene to memory and the minute I returned home… grabbed paper and watercolor pencils… It can’t compare, but the sliver of rainbow balanced between two pristine white clouds was a sight to behold. Camera or no camera.
Fabulous points that ANYONE can utilize.
So, my daughter discovered this 1884 five-cent piece in her pickle jar of pocket change. We all marveled at its smoothly worn surface. This coin apparently has been circulating for 133 years. Think of the stories it could tell.
That got me to thinking about not only where had this coin been, but what could it alone have purchased in 1884 when a nickel had way more purchasing power than it does today.
And then, even later, in the 1880’s when this very nickel was shiny and new:
Imagine! This is an ad proclaiming that the circus was coming to town! How exciting that must have been. Hicks & Hopler hoped you’d stop into their Half Dime Lunch Room while you were in Hartford. (By the way, the term half-dime was old fashioned by this period and was used to express a feeling of nostalgia.) There one could eat, quite well mind you, for the price of one of these nickels.
Times have changed and a nickel doesn’t even get a kid a piece of candy anymore. But, it sure is fun to hold this old coin and imagine the prospects it might have offered someone 100+ years ago.