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One of Many Reasons to Celebrate Him: Dr. W. D. Sugg Saved Carnton

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.

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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Just Because

 

Labor of Love

 

Book Release PhotoAt 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.

Until now.

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.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2017 in Just Because

 

Old School Imaging

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.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Just Because

 

12 Things I See Happy People Do (that unhappy people do not)

Fabulous points that ANYONE can utilize.

Rev. Shane L. Bishop

I have been thinking a lot about happiness of late, partially because so many people seem unhappy.  I think that was my first epiphany upon entering the world of Social Media; people are unhappy and there are a lot of them.  Now don’t get me wrong, we all know some people who wouldn’t be happy, were they not unhappy but I am not talking about them.  We will just let them be.  I am also not thinking theologically here (i.e. juxtaposing happiness and joy), today I am going to err on the practical and pragmatic side of things.  With that being said, let’s get going.

I think most people want to be happy; they are just not quite sure how to get there from their present location.  Many people honestly believe that happiness is a lucky bounce; a sunny disposition or favorable circumstances but I disagree.  Happiness is a choice…

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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Just Because

 

When A Nickel Was More Than Just A Nickel


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. 


This menu, from 1866, shows several options one could enjoy for a mere five cents before visiting the Free Reading Room. 

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. 

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2017 in Just Because

 

Not Granny’s, But Close

One of my most cherished memories of Christmases past is savoring sweets at Granny’s house. She was famous for her beautiful holiday spice cakes, with pristine white frosting with perfect pecan halves and delicately cut and placed maraschino cherries in red and green to resemble Christmas flowers. I don’t recall liking the spice cake itself; it was too, well, spicy for a kid’s palate. But she also made awesome cookies. She made three kinds of cookies at Christmas: decorated sugar cutouts, black walnut cookies, and these… my personal favorite. I have her recipe. It is a perfect from-scratch recipe. But I tried this hack one year and never looked back. 

Hope you will try it and it’ll make you and your family smile Year after year. Granny would like that. 

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Just Because

 

On Memorial Day

Memorial Day 1917

Today is May 30, 2016—99 years to the day after this postcard was presented. That Memorial Day, we were in the throes of yet another war, The Great War, what we now know as World War I (1914-1918). Imagine the people of our nation setting aside a day to remember those who had given their lives in previous wars while being worried sick about their loved ones overseas fighting what seemed a more horrific war… not being able to get news as quickly as we do today, not knowing the war would carry on another full year and a half. This war was a major turning point in history. Men coming back from this war experienced a change in class division. Shattered were the societal rankings of First, Second, and Third Class. An era had abruptly come to a halt because of the war. This war also saw the advent of taking the battle into the air, an additional battlefront, and the use of chemical warfare.

Yet still, in 1917, Memorial Day was a must. There were, at the time, many living veterans from the American Civil War and the war in the Philippines. Combined, those two conflicts saw a loss of over 2% of the entire U.S. population with roughly 630,000 men dying from wounds and disease, all while fighting for their homeland.

Decoration Day Postcard

Decoration Day was the name given the first memorials for fallen soldiers, both in the north and the south after the Civil War. There is some dispute as to who truly started the ritual, but the fact remains that just three years later, similar activities, started mostly (and indisputably) by ladies and ladies’ organizations like the United Daughters of the Confederacy, were taking place all over the country. On May 5, 1868, a proclamation was called for “Decoration Day” to be observed annually and nationwide. Weeks later, on May 30 of the same year, it was observed for the first time by all on the same day. The story goes the date was chosen because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle. It’s also said May 30 was selected because it was the optimal date for flowers to be in bloom.

Notice nowhere did it say Decoration Day meant going to the beach or having a cookout or party. It was a day to decorate the graves of those who died defending our homeland (be it the American colonies seeking freedom, the American Southland seeking freedom, or the American soldiers in any conflict seeking to preserve the union of states and/or its united freedom.) I have a theory as to why this changed. Why we now feel more comfortable treating this day as a day off from school or work… a day for sales at retailers and a day for crowding local beaches and parks. My theory is simple. We are now too UNCOMFORTABLE talking about death.

Do you agree? Back in the Victorian Era and beyond, death was treated with reverence and a level of intimacy that we simply cannot fathom. People typically died at home and the dead were cared for by loved ones, mourned, and buried locally. The woman of the house bathed and dressed the deceased herself and laid them out in the parlor for the mourning period. Loved ones sat up with the dead for a set period of time in case they “awoke” (hence the term “wake”) just before the funeral. This made sense because of the very real fear of being buried alive (they still had no understanding of consciousness or comas). Everyone in the house would don black mourning attire, the mirrors would be shrouded with black material, clocks stopped at the time of death, wreaths hung on the doors, shutters shut, food served was minimal and bland. There were rituals to follow and people adhered to them. Mourners wore black clothing for extended periods of time out of RESPECT for the deceased and to show the outside world they were hurting. Can you imagine? How many people are there at any given moment at your local grocery store who would appreciate you knowing they were sad? Think you might treat them a little more gently? My guess is plenty and yes, of course.

Back then people embraced death as the natural part of life that it is. They openly prepared for it and respectfully demonstrated their feelings. Interestingly, on the other hand, they NEVER talked about sex. Today, we openly talk about sex, show our belly buttons to strangers, and have no concept of death. I venture to guess very few of us have ever seen a dead body (not that we want to). Being so separated from this natural progression of life has caused us more harm than good. Death is now kind of a mystery… Your friend is here one minute and gone the next. Yes, some still have open caskets and visitations for closure. But there’s no intimacy. No coming to terms with the passing. We quickly move through it, and then pretend it doesn’t bother us. We go right back to work. We jump right back into normal everyday life and try to keep it all together and you can’t. It doesn’t work that way. The Victorians knew this better than most.

The American Civil War ushered in a new problem. So many families lost loved ones away from home… with thousands not even able to be identified, so loved ones could be notified by letter. Imagine. Your son, your brother, your husband, neighbor or friend goes off to battle and is never heard from again. How do you properly mourn him? There’s no closure. And for a culture steeped in religious principles, that was even more painful. These men did not die a “good death”, at home surrounded by loved ones, able to make a dying wish or final statement. They were unable to be blessed by the clergy before being placed into the earth for a final rest before judgment day. This wracked the hearts and minds of many during the American Civil War. It is said that at one period in late 1864, there were an estimated 80,000 women in black in the state of Alabama alone. So much mourning. We can’t wrap our modern heads around that.

Memorial Day COKE ad

So, while we are planning our picnics and slathering on sunscreen for a day on the boat, we need to take a moment to consider the true meaning behind the moniker. It’s Memorial Day. A day to remember those who gave their lives so that we could live the way we do—FREE to take a six pack of Coke to the party. The further we get from a war where there was great loss of life, the softer we get. Just in our era, we had an outpouring of patriotism following the attacks on September 11, 2001. But where is that sentiment today, just 15 years later? We’re getting soft again.

Please, be sure at some point on this day to stop and really take in the day’s meaning. Share it with your spouse and your children. Make sure you at least take a minute to give thanks and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Remember the saying, “All gave some, some gave all.”

That is truly something to think about, at least one day a year.

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Just Because

 
 
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