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Thursday, July 09, 2015

History

If you have read my blog you know that it is made up of posts about things that interest me such as books I've read, Bible studies I've done, some history, my digital scrapbook pages, family times, genealogy, household and home decorating tips, organizing, etc. That's why I called it Sharon Scrapbook. It's the bits and pieces that I find interesting in life. I work a lot on genealogy in the family lines of myself and my husband and have done years and years of work, some of which I share on my blog. So I document our family's past but I also document our family today with my digital scrapbooking. And I'm always aware that what I document of the past and present will be what's shared in the future. So it all goes together for me. Our family lived through the history that you read in the history books. So did yours! And what you are living through today will be what your descendants will look back upon. Everybody has stories that may not be flattering. It's because our family were human beings just like we are and they were a product of their times and their shared experiences. Just like we are today. What will our descendants, those in our family who are in the future, our great great grandchildren... what will they think of us when they look back at their genealogy and see our names written in the turbulent times we live in? Will they understand our mistakes or will they judge us? Will they be proud of us or ashamed of us? If we see it this way, then maybe, we can look back at those who came before us with a more experienced eye. It's silly to say that your family were bluebloods and never had a stain against it's name. Because there is always someone who you might not be as proud to call "family" as others. It's equally silly to say that your family were something to be ashamed of because there is always someone who you can be proud of to call "family". Why? Because we are all human beings who lived during our times and had experiences and circumstances that shaped us. We are all equally born sinners with an evil sinful human nature. We are all equally able to be saved through the Lord Jesus Christ and the work HE did on the cross. Knowing that we all equally come into this world and we all equally leave this world in the same ways. And the fact that we all live just like human beings have always lived, one step at a time, means we should not judge each other harshly. We should be more understanding. Instead we seem to become more and more judgmental of each other instead of less. We begin to pontificate and point fingers as though we were superior in some way. I'm not prettier or no uglier than anyone else. I'm no fatter or thinner than anyone else. I'm no more white or black than anyone else. I'm no more old or young than anyone else. We are who we are. We were born a certain way and we have no input to that. We can't be held accountable for our big feet or our wide hips or our weak fingernails. Then we were raised in circumstances in which we had no choice in the matter. For instance I was born in 1959 and I can't help that I wasn't born in 1984 or 1934. I was born in a small town in TN so I can't help that I wasn't born in NY or in FL. I was born into a good family (which I'm thankful for) but it wasn't due to anything I did. Some of you may have been born into a "bad" family situation and it wasn't your fault. I can't help that my parents stayed happily married any more than you can help that your parents didn't. I was born into a certain middle income and it wasn't anything I could do about it. I wasn't poor but we certainly weren't rich. It wasn't my fault that my Mom made my clothes nor is it your fault that your Mom couldn't sew and you got your clothes from the department store or that you were too poor and had to wear hand me downs (my sisters had to wear my hand me downs). So you see, there are so many things that shape us but which we had no control over. And then there are the things in history that shape us. For instance I remember when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, when Martin Luther King was assassinated, the Vietnam War was going on, etc. These things affected my family and, therefore, me and it shaped me to some degree whether I realized it or not. For instance, whenever I hear a "Special Report" interrupt daily TV programming, I immediately fear that the President has been assassinated and I start saying a prayer under my breath. I was only a little kid when John F. Kennedy was killed but it affected me that way. If it affected me that way, then how do you think it affected our ancestors when war was declared or when Lincoln was assassinated or when the first airplane was spotted over their little town? Being raised in tiny TN mountain towns until we moved to Spartanburg in 1967, I had not seen many black people. I was about 6 yrs old (1965?) when I remember seeing my first black person walking down main street on our way to the Dairy Queen. I had sung the song, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world." But I was actually seeing a human being that had a different color. This was during the Civil Rights era but my parents had protected us from all the bad stuff. And my dear parents, who had been raised in a generation that had seen things VERY differently, were progressive enough to use that time at the Dairy Queen to teach me about how God loved all human beings despite their color. And they very seriously told me that it would hurt their feelings to call them names. I remember it so clearly, how they told me that black people preferred to be called Negroes or Colored People but never call them N***rs. I always had a very sensitive heart and could get my feelings hurt easily so I couldn't imagine hurting someone's feelings deliberately. I just never wanted to inflict that kind of hurt so I was shocked that others would hurt someone by calling them bad names and hating them because of the color of their skin (it's not like they had a choice on their color). So, over ice cream, my parents taught me a very valuable lesson that I clearly remember today. Again, my parents were raised in a segregated South. My father's father had been taught by his preacher that black people didn't have a soul and wouldn't go to heaven! But I never knew my grandfather to be anything but kind and generous to anyone, including blacks, that he had dealings with. And my parents had thought for themselves and realized that God loved all human beings no matter what color and they lived their entire life with those convictions and passed them down to us. But I can't harshly judge others when I know that they didn't have the same raising I had. They grew up in a segregated South and had been taught differently so they may have responded differently. I have to look back and try to understand the times they were raised in. Does that excuse them from terrible crimes? No. If they committed crimes, hate crimes, then there should have been justice. I don't excuse but I try to see a bigger picture when it's called for. I happened to find a young man who was a very distant cousin. His story fascinated me because he and his friend were going from still to still (like going bar to bar today) in the mountains on a drinking binge. They ended up spying a farmer leaving his shack and knew his daughter was there alone and that the man usually had money. So they murdered the girl with an ax and stole the man's money. This distant cousin turned on his friend so I don't know if the cousin or his friend actually murdered the girl because it was basically his word that it wasn't him, he was just the look out. But the friend was hanged for murder and the cousin was jailed and died in jail within a year. The whole trial and transcript was found in newspaper stories as far as Australia! Am I proud that a distant cousin was an ax murderer, drunk and thief? No! Do I excuse what he did? No! Was it an interesting story? Yes. There was no excuse or justification for his actions, but in looking at the larger picture, I was able to see how things worked back then. Because I've studied and thought on history so much I was able to look at the story as though I were a fly on the wall, seeing how things really looked. Not a cleaned up version or a dumbed down version but as things might have really been. You can't do that if you don't have any knowledge of history. For instance, the heat in the un-air conditioned courthouse would have made close quarters and a crowd unbearable! The smell alone (before deodorants, colognes, toothpaste) would have knocked us out. No dentists and modern dental technology meant plenty of missing teeth, foul breath, buck teeth, crowded teeth, rotted teeth. No plastic surgeons so no breast reductions or breast augmentations, birth marks, cleft palates, etc. No hair dyes, little makeup, etc would have made crowds look a lot different than today. I remember signs on businesses that said "No shoes, no service" and this was in my lifetime! People used to go barefoot, at least during the summer, a lot more than they do today. You saved your shoes, if you had any, for church and such. People didn't have indoor plumbing and washing machines like they do today so washing clothes was a big chore. Therefore you protected your clothes by wearing aprons, paper collars and cuffs, sleeve garters to hold your sleeves up on your arm and keep them from getting dirty, even dress shields (like Kotex for under your arms, it soaked up the sweat and was easier to clean than a dress was). You came home from church and took your dress off and spent the afternoon in your slip before putting your dress back on to go back to church. You came home from school and changed into your play clothes so you didn't ruin your school clothes. All these things are so different today when clothes are easier to get and easier to keep clean due to our technology.

As you can see, you can't look at anyone in history without looking at their life as they lived it. A great many things were beyond their control and they were the products of a way of life they had no control over. On the other hand, there were things they could control (like that ax murderer) but because they made the wrong choices they, and their loved ones, suffered from it. It's no different today than it was 100 years ago or 1,000 years ago. We are born into things that we have little or no control over and we make choices, good or bad, that also affect us.

Let's look at the "Confederate Flag" issue. From our point of view today, we may not can understand how slavery was ever allowed in the world. It still goes on today but we, as Americans, see it as evil. And it was used by evil human beings as a way to subjugate people. I do not excuse nor do I belittle the horrible things that were done to slaves. But there is a bigger picture. We don't know it unless we study it. We aren't told about it unless we look for it and study it. As many times as there were horrors done to black slaves, there were good things done for black slaves. I do think that slavery is ripe for abuse. Whenever ANYONE is under the control of another, there is the chance of abuse of power. Whether it's children being abused by parents, women abused by husbands, husbands abused by wives, elderly parents abused by children.... absolute power corrupts absolutely. But you can also say that there are just as many good things done under someone else's "power" as there are evil. For instance, my parents were absolutely wonderful. Not perfect, but wonderful people who protected me, loved me, helped me, supported me, trained me and provided for me even at the sacrifice of themselves. I was a child so I was completely under their control but they did not abuse their control. They used it for my good. All parents aren't abusive. All parents aren't good.



Same for my husband. He is a good man who has protected and provided for me and made sure I had the best of whatever we could afford. I'm disabled. I cannot work or support myself so I'm dependent upon him. He did not abuse his control over me. He used it for my good. All husbands aren't abusive. All husbands aren't good.

My parents are elderly. In a lot of ways they are becoming dependent upon us, their children and our spouses, to take care of them. One sister takes care of their finances and makes sure their bills are paid. I try to buy things they need and take them places they need to go. Another sister goes with them to a doctor's visit and helps take care of their dogs. We all have helped take care of things around the house, etc. We are trying to be good daughters and sons-in-laws (and now good grandchildren) and take care of them. They certainly took good care of us. Could we steal from them? Yes. Could we neglect them? Yes. Could we beat them? Yes. Do we? NO! We don't abuse the control or power we have over them. They didn't do it to us and we won't do it to them in their times of need. All children don't abuse their elderly parents. All children aren't always good to their parents.

As you can see, it's less the institution (of marriage) or the relationship (as in families) that is evil or good. It's the hearts of those in power. So were slaves treated badly? Yes and No. We know that some were treated horribly and there is plenty of evidence of it. But we should also know that many were treated well, even as family members. If I paid $50,000 for a new car would I take it mudding? Some would but most of us would take good care of that car because we invested so much in it and we need it. Same for slaves. Slaves usually cost more than the land they worked. Would it make good business sense to mistreat the workers you depend on for your living? So, even if you thought of slaves as property, rather than as human beings, it wouldn't make good sense to mistreat them. Instead, you should want to treat them well so you get more work out of them and so they are healthy and reproduce for your future needs. So, even if you thought of them as no more than animals, you should have enough sense to treat them well enough for them to be a good investment. Then there were those who did realize they were human beings but with the world that they lived in, black people had a harder time free (how does a free black man/woman make a living in those times?) than they would being the slaves of a kind master. So they were treated well because they were co-workers, companions and friends. And, of course, we already talked about those who abused slaves. This was indulging their worst evils because under no circumstances did it make logical sense, but they did it anyway because they were a naturally cruel person. They would the same ones who would abuse their wives, children, and any other vulnerable person they have control over. We have them today just like we had them in the antebellum South and just as we had them in the Middle Ages. It's those people that give the rest of us bad names!

Can we now look at that time period in history and judge them? We can say that those who committed atrocities against slaves (or any human being) were wrong with no excuse. We can say that there were others who were trapped in their times, were raised in ways, lived in circumstances but they made the best of their lives and treated others kindly and generously as it was in their power to do so.

As far as the Confederate flag issue... I have many, many documented relatives - direct ancestors, brothers of brothers, cousins, and in-laws - who served during the War of Northern Aggression. Very few, if any, had any slaves. Did you hear that? Dozens of my ancestors who fought in The War, had no slaves. Same on my husband's side. They thought they were fighting against a tyrannical federal government just like their grandfathers had fought a tyrannical King George during the American Revolution. I won't go into all the reasons why they thought the federal government had gone amok. Suffice it to say, just as you think it has today, so they thought it had then. They took up arms for independence. They legally and democratically voted for seccession and when Abraham Lincoln refused to meet their delegates, who desired to broker peace, and he sent military  to re-enforce Fort Sumter  on our soil, we fired the first shot and the War of Northern Aggression started. I blame Lincoln for starting the War. But, we will not get into that in this post. What I wanted to say was that our ancestors, who lived and fought, were wounded and died and were taken prisoner; whose lives were forever changed and shaped by that horrible time (and it shaped the lives of Southerners until this day!) deserve to be remembered. I think we should remember how hard the black slaves had it; how hard they worked and somehow they survived. Black people today, who are descendants of black slaves, are born from survivors of that time. To realize what they survived, came through and to have it so much better today than their ancestors had - it is something to be proud of and to celebrate. I have no problem with them having monuments, streets named after, museums, history books, historical societies, etc.

But I'm just as proud of my ancestors as they are of theirs. Mine also worked hard. They didn't sit on a porch and watch their slaves works, they worked fields too. They built their own log cabins, hunted for food, pulled up stumps and cut down trees in order to plant. They lived and died a hard life and they found it just as important to fight in the War of Northern Aggression as had their grandfathers who fought for the American Revolution. Some of those Yankee and Rebel soldiers weren't worth spitting on. But many more were and did their duty as they saw fit and I'm proud of those. Why can't I be proud of them? Why can't I honor them and their sacrifices just like I would those who fought in WWI or WWII or Vietnam, etc.? Why can't my heritage be proudly represented? Currently we have the Confederate flag on a place of memorial on the state grounds of the SC Capitol. There is also a memorial to our black citizens on the same state grounds. But they are saying we should take down our Confederate flag, our Confederate memorials, our Confederate monuments, our Confederate battlegrounds? We are suppose to hang our head in shame for something we did not do and most of our ancestors did not do? I"m sorry, but that's wrong. And it won't stop with just removing it. It was put on our Capitol Building in 1961 at the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the War of Northern Aggression, when SC fired the first shot in April, 1861. It was part of our history and is a big tourist interest. I don't know why we let the NAACP bully us into taking it down from the capitol but at least they compromised by putting it in a place of honor on the Capitol grounds along with the black memorial. But that wasn't enough. Removing from the state grounds won't be enough. Removing it from cemeteries won't be enough. Removing it from the retail shelves won't be enough. The more victory they get, the more they will bully to get their way. That's just human greed and selfishness. We will never please everyone, it will never be enough. So don't start caving in to the unreasonable demands. The pendulum of power has swung way out of balance once again. Roof massacred those innocent people in their church. That was his fault and his alone. He did a despicable thing and he will pay for it legally. He was caught in less than 24 hours and his butt is toast. Justice has been done (or will be done as it goes through the courts). So there is no need to protest against "injustice". SC black people seemed to see that and be satisfied. I thought our state did a wonderful job coming together and being supportive of those who were the victims of this senseless crime. I think blacks and whites came together in sympathy for each other in a beautiful way. UNITL Governor Nikki Haley poured gasoline on a coal. She mentioned the Confederate flag and said it needed to come down. That's all it took. Suddenly, something that had reached a consensus and compromise, something that was water under the bridge, ignited. SHE did the worst thing she could have done. She gave those who, in their grief, are looking for something to blame, a catalyst. So now the flag, a memorial of honor and respect for those who fought, is to blame for racism and the massacre. It's so ludicrous and unbelievable that I would have laughed except that people are taking it so seriously and becoming violent about it. And I blame HER for giving them that catalyst, that gasoline. If she said she didn't realize what she was doing and was sorry, I would understand that she just got caught up in fervor. But the damage is done now. The pendulum of racism is no longer in balance, its swung wide and now it's white people who are suppose to be afraid, ashamed, apologetic, and throw in reparations on top of it.

This is a very sad and volatile time. But I want to put it in perspective. Here are a list of those in my family lines (direct ancestors as well as brothers and cousins and in laws) that I know of who fought for the Confederate States of American (C.S.A.). And this is an incomplete list!
Erwin McCoy Conner
Alfred Webb Ensley
Edward L. Ensley
Merrit Joseph Sluder
John Tyler Williams
William A Brawley
Andrew Jackson Brawley
John Pinckney Barnes
Hiram Lindsey Barnes
Charles Adolphus Barnes
Alexander Barnes
Elias Barnes
Richard Barnes
Elisha Nunnally
John H. Nunnally
James Nunnally
George D. Beck
Lawrence Mansfield Adams
Henry Burton Beck
Lewis F. Beck
Richard Beck
William Monroe Blackwelder
J. Vincent Brawley
Neil Singleton Brawley
Neil Stewart Brawley
Robert M. Brawley
Samuel Sydney Brawley
Sidney C. Brawley
William B. Brawley
Cornelius P. Christy
John Robert Fleming
Lawrence Chalmer Fleming
Joseph Elias Lipe
Jackson Oliver Maxwell
William Rankin Michael
John Rastus Mize
John Silas Overcash
Robert Maxwell Rumple
William Neal Rumple
James William Wood
John E. Wood
Richard W. Wood
William A. Wood
Andrew Jackson Young
D. John Hinson
George Washington Hinson
Wade Hinson
Ambrose Ervin Huneycutt
Darling Ephraim Huneycutt
John K. Ricker
Daniel Ricker
Martin Ricker
Emmanuel Wilhoit
William Carter
Elijah Harrison Dockery
Andrew J. Massey
John Tyler Williams
Anderson "Ance" Miller
Glenn Allen Waddell, Sr.
Sparling Bowman
George Washington Cannon
Andrew Jackson Carlisle
John Madison Carver
James W. Cornwell
Emmanuel Crum
Moses Cutshall
Jacob Marion Glance
Alexander Lamb
John Oliver Lamb
Riley Harland Lamb
William Mills
Zebedee William Morris
Edward M. Nolen
Elbert Southerland
Greene Allen Waddell
Jacob Welty

NONE of these men owned slaves. They fought for Independence! Stan has this much or more who also fought.

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