Kate Stone’s Civil War: They call us all renegades

Two carriage accidents, a large rattlesnake, and a dirty house all inspire Stone to call Texas “the dark corner of the Confederacy.”

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Two carriage accidents, a large rattlesnake, and a dirty house all inspire Stone to call Texas “the dark corner of the Confederacy.”

Aug. 30, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

I must record the first instance of liberality that has come under our notice since entering the state. The first night after leaving Tyler we stayed at a Mr. Fowler’s, a very nice place, and they did not charge us a cent. But we were picked up the next night. We lost our way and traveled until 8 o’clock when we asked to stay at a pretty, large, white house, white only on the outside. I despair of giving any idea of the dirt. We tried to eat without seeing or tasting and to sleep without touching the bed. They gave us coffee, a horrid decoction of burnt wheat and milk without sugar, in saucers and water in the halves of broken bottles. The table was set in the dirtiest of kitchens with a dirt floor and half a dozen half-naked little Negroes and numberless cats and dogs scampering through the room and under the table. The rafters were festooned with old hoop skirts and worn-out, rough boots. It surpassed any place we have been in yet. We certainly had found the dark corner of the Confederacy.

We lost our way again one evening and traveled until way in the night, through a wild woods road dotted with stumps. But it was cool and bright moonlight and really more pleasant than a stuffy dirty room, but the mules and Hoccles did not enjoy it.

Our next adventure was not so pleasant. The mules were rushing down a long, rocky, red hill. Hoccles is a wretched driver and lets them do pretty much as they please when crash! over went the Jersey, and we rolled out on the ground, along with a confused medley of baskets, bundles, palmetto, corn, bonnets, and boxes. Fortunately no serious damage was done, and after a few repairs to the Jersey we journeyed on. Hoccles is a right good tinker for wagons.

But our troubles were not yet over. The mules were trotting briskly along through the white sand, Mamma was asleep sitting in the foot of the Jersey, and I was knitting away, when there was a sudden cluck and tearing sound. I looked up to see the whole top of our devoted Jersey folding back like a fan. While Hoccles was nodding in the sultry heat, we had run into a tree and broken the top nearly entirely off. Mamma gave a groan and exclaimed, “Now Hoccles, just run us over a stump and break the wheels and maybe you will be satisfied. You have broken the bottom racing down the hill. But that would not do you. You had to go and break the top. Now run over a rock and break the wheels and you will be fixed!”

I could not help laughing. It was funny in spite of our bad plight, and poor Hoccles looked so humble and apologetic. We thought he would be forced to take the entire top off, but he was equal to the emergency. With hammer, nail, and strings, he patched it up so it lasted until we reached home. But it is a most forlorn, lopsided affair. If we just had our own good carriage, but we hear it is a smallpox ambulance now.

Our last day we just missed driving over the largest rattlesnake, stretched across the road basking in the sun. It was larger than my arm and had twelve rattles. That frightened us most of all. It might have glided into the carriage as we drove over it. …

A long letter from Julia Street was awaiting me. … She says she hates Arkansas and wants to come to Texas. I am sure she will hate this state ten times more. If she is a wise girl, she will stay where she is as long as possible. The more we see of the people, the less we like them, and every refugee we have seen feels the same way. They call us all renegades in Tyler. It is strange the prejudice that exists all through the state against refugees. We think it is envy, just pure envy. The refugees are a nicer and more refined people than most of those they meet, and they see and resent the difference. That is the way we flatter ourselves. …

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Profiles of first ladies / Childfree and loving it / A boring mission to Mars / A Texas-made space telescope / Nixon’s love for Jews

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This week: Profiles of first ladies / Childfree and loving it / A boring mission to Mars / A Texas-made space telescope / Nixon’s love for Jews

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. The First Ladies
C-SPAN | 2013 and 2014
Watch the stunning and fascinating series about the women as intelligent, complex, canny, and noble (if not more so) than the presidents their husbands became.

2. The Choice To Be Childfree
On Point with Tom Ashbrook :: NPR | Aug. 23
“Childless by choice. We look at the trend of couples saying ‘no thanks’ to having kids.”

3. Dating Superman
By Seth Stevenson | Slate | May 2013
“The ultimate superpower would let you find, woo, and mate with the perfect person”

4. Olivia Wilde Takes Center Stage
By Emma Brown | Interview | Aug. 22
Drinking Buddies is Olivia Wilde’s first time carrying a film, but it is certainly not her last. With upcoming roles in everything from Rush to Spike Jonze’s Her and Paul Haggis’ Third Person, Wilde is the girl of the moment.”

5. Danger! This Mission to Mars Could Bore You to Death!
By Maggie Koerth-Baker | The New York Times Magazine | July 2013
“It would be catastrophic if humanity’s greatest voyage were brought low by the mind’s tendency to wander when left to its own devices. ”

6. Some Newly Uncovered Nixon Comments on the Subjects of Jews and Black People
By Elspeth Reeve | Atlantic Wire :: Atlantic Monthly | Aug. 21
“Richard Nixon was like many a Millennial (or middle-aged politician) who’s gotten busted for sending racy emails or sexts — even though he knew everything he was saying would be archived forever, he still said really inappropriate things.”

7. UT, A&M telescope to be 10 times sharper than Hubble
By Robert Stanton | Houston Chronicle | Aug. 21
“This Saturday, the third mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will be cast inside a rotating furnace lab at the Steward Observatory in Tucson, Ariz. It’s the only facility in the world where mirrors this large are being made.”

8. Turkey’s Women Strike Back
The New York Review of Books | Aug. 19
“Just as some Turks have recognized for the first time that violence against the Kurds in the east is no different than the police violence they are now experiencing in the west, they are also becoming aware that state meddling in women’s lives means meddling in the lives of everyone.”

9. Not-so-empty nests: When adult children live at home
By Adriene Hill | Marketplace Life | May 2013
“There are more than 22 million adult children still living at home with their parents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”

10. The End of Second Acts?
By Shadd Maruna and Charles Barber | The Wilson Quarterly | Spring 2013
“The mass warehousing of convicts is a sign of America’s faltering belief in second chances. Considering how individuals atone for their crimes can help us restore rehabilitation as an ideal.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Tracking whale sharks / How Nixon chased women / Dead vice presidents / Man-made eggs, woman-made sperm / Chronicling Syria’s bloodshed / Friday’s blues

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For this week:
Tracking whale sharks / How Nixon chased women / Dead vice presidents / Man-made eggs, woman-made sperm / Chronicling Syria’s bloodshed / Friday’s blues

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Where the Whale Sharks Go
By Christopher Joyce | Morning Edition :: NPR | Aug. 22
“After tagging more than 800 whale sharks over nine years, the team discovered that after feeding, the sharks head off in seemingly random directions. Some travel thousands of miles, and they can dive a mile deep.”

2. How the Nixon Administration Tried to Woo Women
By Emma Green | The Atlantic | Aug. 22
“It turns out that the Republican strategy on women in the 1970s was about as nimble as ‘binders full of women’ ”

3. Have any vice presidents died in office?
By Anthony Bergen | Dead Presidents | August 2013
“Yes, quite a few of our Vice Presidents have died in office, actually — SEVEN out of 47 total, so about 15% of the VPs didn’t survive their term.”

4. Lab-Made Egg and Sperm Precursors Raise Prospect for Infertility Treatment
By David Cyranoski | Nature / Scientific American | Aug. 21
“A technical tour de force, which involved creating primordial germ cells from mouse skin cells, is prompting scientists to consider attempting this experiment with human cells”

5. Syria’s civil war: A chronicle of bloodshed
By Emily Lodish | GlobalPost | Aug. 21
“News of a possible chemical weapons attack in Syria follows a chain of deadly events. Here’s a look at the worst of the worst.”

6. The Latinos turning to Islam
By Katy Watson | Newshour :: BBC World News | August 2013
“With more than 50 million Hispanics living in the US, the Latino community is now the country’s biggest minority. ”

7. Covering Nixon
The New York Review of Books | Aug. 9
“The sheer number, variety, and viciousness of David Levine’s drawings of Nixon provide some sense of his place in The New York Review’s pages during the five and a half years of his presidency.”

8. Bezos, Heraclitus and the Hybrid Future of Journalism
By Arianna Huffington | LinkedIn | Aug. 14
“The future will definitely be a hybrid one, combining the best practices of traditional journalism — fairness, accuracy, storytelling, deep investigations — with the best tools available to the digital world — speed, transparency, and, above all, engagement.”

9. The Man Who Knew Too Much
By Marie Brenner | Vanity Fair | May 1996
“Angrily, painfully, Jeffrey Wigand emerged from the sealed world of Big Tobacco to confront the nation’s third-largest cigarette company, Brown & Williamson. Hailed as a hero by anti-smoking forces and vilified by the tobacco industry, Wigand is at the center of an epic multibillion-dollar struggle that reaches from Capitol Hill to the hallowed journalistic halls of CBS’s 60 Minutes.”

10. Are Apostrophes Necessary?
By Matthew J.X. Malady | Slate | May 2013
“Not really, no.”

******************

TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. Gary Moore — Texas Strut
2. Paul Rodgers & Gary Moore — She Moves Me
3. Dr. Wu — Storm Watch Warning
4. Needtobreathe — Prisoner
5. Rick Huckaby — Can’t Miss Kid
6. The Mark Knoll Band — High Time
7. Preacherstone — Old Fashioned Ass Whoopin’
8. Brian Burns & Ray Wylie Hubbard — Little Angel Comes A-Walkin
9. Cody Gill Band — Crazy
10. Ramblin Dawgs — Worse Without You
11. Pat Green & Cory Morrow — Stuck In The Middle With You
12. Bobby Manriquez — How We Started
13. WSNB — True Love
14. Shane Dwight — Boogie King

Kate Stone’s Civil War: My pen is powerless

Stone had little respect for anyone who lacked her sense of style and bearing. She hardly sympathized with the people of East Texas.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone had little respect for anyone who lacked her sense of style and bearing. She hardly sympathized with the people of East Texas.

Aug. 16, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

We went to church this morning at a tumbledown schoolhouse called Liberty expecting to hear the funeral sermon of Mrs. Alexander, who was a near neighbor. The poor woman has been dead four months, and her husband married again six weeks after her death. But he says he is determined to pay proper respect to dear Mary and so will have her funeral preached, with the new wife sitting decorously near to hear it.

It was the oddest-looking crowd one could imagine, and the very funniest dressing we ever saw. My pen is powerless to describe it: one girl airy in pink tarleton and another sweltering in red woolen; high horn combs with long ribbon streamers waving from the top; immense hoops; and strand after strand of beads, all colors, wound around their necks.

Many of the men were barefooted, and nearly all of their slouched wool hats were decorated with ribbons or an artificial flower. There were few coats but many vests and a display of homemade knit galluses. It was a most unusual-looking crowd, all sitting on puncheons laid on supports, some of them constantly slipping down. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Conquer or die

As a Texas summer storm approaches, Stone angrily vows that the Confederacy will never surrender to the Union forces that shattered her family.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

As a Texas summer storm approaches, Stone angrily vows that the Confederacy will never surrender to the Union forces that shattered her family.

Aug. 10, 1863

Lamar County, Texas

Nearly the close of summer and we are still in our first Texas retreat. We have dubbed it “Elysian Fields.” Mr. Smith has been away nearly a week looking for another location. No matter where we may go, we are almost sure to meet some of our old friends or acquaintances, for everybody about Monroe is moving out this way, we hear, scattering over Texas. How good the sight of a familiar face will be. I would feel like kissing nearly anybody I had ever seen before. …

Our list of victories last month were all a mistake. Gen. Lee has recrossed into Virginia, and our march into Pennsylvania seems to have been barren of results. We do not hold nor have we destroyed a single Northern city, as we so much hoped. A dark hour for the Confederacy. The loss of Vicksburg has stunned the whole country. It is a grievous blow, and there is great discouragement at least on this side of the Mississippi River. But the reaction will come. The people will rally to strike a more deadly blow, to fight till the last armed foe expires, to conquer or die.

Mamma, Sister, and Johnny are just in from their round of investigation. Instead of renting Mrs. White’s house they rented a book. The house was already taken, but she had quite a library of books that she would hire out for fifty cents a week. She would not think of lending them. The book Mamma brought was a most worthless thing, but the engravings in it are fine. Mrs. White is an educated woman, lives in a nice house, and is well to do, but a regular skinflint. She is living from day to day on the verge of the grave, suffering from some incurable complaint, and is still very eager to make money, extorting the last cent. She has one of our women hired to wait on her. She is a Yankee. That explains all. …

We look out tonight on a windy, stormy sky. Dark clouds go scudding by, and the wind whistles through our frail tenement. The boards have shrunken until daylight shines through. Lightning flashes continuously, thunder is rolling overhead, and the whole prairie is ablaze with the fireflies, weaving in and out like fairy shuttles.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Lose our scalps

Stone’s critical eye takes in a town’s beauty, overpriced luxuries, her brother’s love, and a gentleman’s proper language use.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone’s critical eye takes in a town’s beauty, overpriced luxuries, her brother’s love, and a gentleman’s proper language use.

Aug. 3, 1863

Lamar County, Texas

Paris is a clean, pretty place in the edge of Blossom Prairie — clumps of trees and deep white sand in the streets.

We went to church and saw a really nice-looking congregation of refined-looking people. We all liked the place so well that Mamma would rent a place there, but it is too near the borderline, the first point for an invasion and right next to the Indian Nation. We do not wish to lose our scalps in addition to everything else. We saw a large party of Indian men dashing through the town. They are nearly all Southern sympathizers, we hear.

We went shopping. There are several well-filled stores, but the prices are beyond anything. We saw a pretty light calico but Mamma could not afford it at $6 a yard. A penknife was very tempting, but who would give $25 for a little Yankee knife? Our nails will have to grow like eagle’s claws before we can afford an extravagance of that kind. We did get a few articles, absolute essentials, and Mamma indulged me in a piece of extravagance a deck of playing cards at $5. They are a different kind from those the girls use out here, but I fancy they will afford us more amusement than the finest pair of cotton cards.

A gentleman gave us a late Louisiana paper containing Mary Gustine’s marriage on July 21. I know she was a beautiful bride, and our best wishes go with her for her future happiness. I wonder how Brother Coley will stand the loss of his sweetheart, his first love affair. Like most boys, he lost his heart to a girl several years the older — fortunately a disease that never kills a boy of that age.

The Baptist meeting has been going on in Paris for seven weeks, and sixty have joined that church. It seems the strongest church of this section. Sunday morning we heard a splendid sermon, the best since hearing Dr. Marshall preach two years ago. I wish Jimmy could have heard it. It was the first real Baptist sermon I ever really listened to. Have heard the preacher, Mr. Buckner — knows what he believes and is not afraid to preach it from the pulpit.

We have made the acquaintance of another Texas gallant. Dr. Bywaters, introduced as a friend by Mr. McGleason, walked home with us from church. One thing in his favor: he does not say “mile” for “miles,” and he does not ignore the plural of “year.”