Friday, August 24, 2007

"Come Gather For God's Great Supper"

The title for the cycle God's Great Supper comes from the book of Revelation Chapter 19 Verse 17. Revelation is a book in the New Testament. And not just any book, it is the final book of the bible. It is the retelling of a vision that John had (the same John who was a disciple of Jesus and who penned the Gospel of John). Interesting that it is the recounting of a vision and that its content recurs in Jed's dreams in the play.

Here is the section of Revelation 19 (with verse numbers included) referring to God's Great Supper:

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter."[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great."

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

Suffer the Little Children

In God's Great Supper, Jed quotes the Gospel of Mark Chapter 10 Verse 14 in retalitation to his father Ezekiel, showing not just a perfect application of a New Testament teaching, but also speedily holding his father to the doctrine of the same bible that Ezekiel claims to believe. Ezekiel's response, not surprisingly, is to dismiss it and turn the phrase into a threat, "Oh he'll suffer alright." A look at the KJV and NIV translations of the original Greek sheds some light on the meaning:

King James Version (KJV) - "But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."

New International Version (NIV) - "When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

Dr. Thomas Walker's Journal, 1750: 1st Coal Discovered in Kentucky

In 1749, Peter Jefferson (father of future U.S. President Thomas Jefferson) and Joshua Fry, along with Dr. Thomas Walker of Albemarle County (1714-1794), James Maury, Thomas Meriwether (grandfather of Meriwether Lewis) and others, established the Loyal Company with the purpose of petitioning for a large grant of land west of the Allegheny Mountains.

On 12 Jul 1749, the Council of the Province of Virginia authorized the Loyal Company to enter and survey 800,000 acres of the public domain on the "western waters" (located along the southern border of Virginia, now southeastern Kentucky), but with a provision that required settlement of the land within four years, during which time period the Company would be permitted to make surveys and returns.

Dr. Walker was employed by the Loyal Company to determine the locations of the settlements, not only because he was a member of the company, but also because he was an experienced surveyor and had already traversed the western country at least once, in 1748 in the company of Col. James Patton, Colonel Patton's son-in-law, John Buchanan, Charles Campbell and longhunter John Findlay, at which time they had explored the western country as far south as the "Fork Country of the Holston" (present-day Kingsport, Sullivan County, Tennessee).

Dr. Walker's journal of his 1750 travels was preserved by his family, and first published in 1888 by his descendant, William Cabell Rives, a limited edition according to Williams, who published the Tennessee portion of the Journal (21 Mar - 14 Apr) in his "Early Travels in the Tennessee Country" (The Watauga Press, Johnson City, Tennessee, 1928, pp. 165-174). The following year, Lewis Preston published the journal in his "Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769-1800," (Vol. I, pp. 8-26, Abingdon, Virginia, 1928). Williams's edition included an introduction to the journal, and both Williams and Summers footnoted heavily.

Dr. Walker noted in his journal that the "region is rich in cola, several seams underlying the surface of the ground." Walker does not indicate that he foresaw that coal would be by far the most valuable product of the region.

God's Trombones: a fire-and-brimstone retelling

In God's Great Supper, Ezekiel refers to the book of Revelation like a fire-and-brimstone preacher of God that he claims to be.

Click here for an 8-minute YouTube piece with Jim Stark acting the role of an old-time fire and brimstone preacher. The description says the message is called "Judgement Day" from the book, God's Trombones. The book God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse was written in 1927, by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938). Click here for a bio on the author.

Matthew Brady Civil Way Photographs

The other night during table work, David mentioned Matthew Brady the Civil War photographer. Click here to peruse a photo journal of the Civil War by this famous photographer and experience some of the images that Jed may have witnessed during his military tenure. (Note: the Civil War started in 1861, the same year at the start of God's Great Supper.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fire in the Hole!!! And Typhoid Info

Tonight David blocked most of Fire in the Hole and the cast ran through the blocking. Typhoid figures prominently in this cycle.

Updated note on Typhoid symptoms and fatality (source: Typhoid Fever is treated with antibiotics which kill the Salmonella bacteria. Prior to the use of antibiotics, the fatality rate was 10%. Death occurred from overwhelming infection, pneumonia, intestinal bleeding, or intestinal perforation. With antibiotics and supportive care, mortality has been reduced to 1-2%.

What are the symptoms of Typhoid Fever? The incubation period is usually 1-2 weeks and the duration of the illness is about 4-6 weeks. The patient experiences: poor appetite, headaches,
generalized aches and pains, fever, and lethargy. Persons with typhoid fever usually have a sustained fever as high as 103 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (39 to 40 degrees Centigrade).
Chest congestion develops in many patients and abdominal pain and discomfort are common. The fever becomes constant. Improvement occurs in the third and fourth week in those without complications. About 10% of patients have recurrent symptoms (relapse) after feeling better for one to two weeks. Relapses are actually more common in individuals treated with antibiotics.

Click here and here to read more about Typhoid Mary. And click here for information on Typhoid fever from the Centers for Disease Control in D.C.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Christian Scripture References

There are many spiritual and scriptural elements in The Kentucky Cycle that this post begins to explore cycle by cycle. I plan to update it with more references in the text, but if you have a line referring to scripture and cannot wait, a tool that I have found handy for researching biblical text in its various translations is

Masters of the Trade
& God's Great Supper

Michael Rowen refers to Psalm 121 in Master of the Trade. The Psalm follows (i.e. the King James translation).

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Earl Tod immediately counters with his belief in "an eye for an eye" and Michael Rowan responds "Ahh, an Old Testament man, are ya?" and "The New Testament, it's, a little watery now isn't it?" Subtext and foreshadowing is overflowing here.

Surely Michael Rowan would have a problem with the New Testament where the Gospel of Matthew states:

Matthew Chapter 5, verses 38-39 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Hence the expression: turn the other cheek.)

But perhaps looking at the context of the "eye for an eye" quote could shed light on the Old Testament cultural climate in which it arose. Interesting how it makes mention of a man hitting a pregnant woman, neighbors mistreating neighbors, general abuses that seem to cycle through generations and through our cycles in Kentucky...

Note: Image from The Houston Chronicle's editorial cartoonist and demonstrates the possibility for extremist radicalism regardless of faith or culture.

Exodus Chapter 21 verses 22-25 "If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Leviticus 24: 18-20 "Anyone who takes the life of someone's animal must make restitution—life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured." Deuteronomy 19: 16-21 "If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime, the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."

But like any bible scholar will advise, it is crucial to consider the social and political context and also view the text in its greater context within the Old and New Testaments. Because looking at the New Testament, we see a lot of what Michael Rowan might consider "watery" but what evolved as the central message of the gospel of peace embodied by Jesus:
Matthew 5:43-44 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies..." Luke 6: 38-39 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Titus 3: 1-5 "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy."

Ties That Bind
The story of the Samaritan in referred to in this cycle. The parable follows from the Gospel of Luke Chapter 10:
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Yes, certain Rowans seem to be a little weak in their New Testament doctrine.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Prohibition in the 20's

With Fire In The Hole set in 1920, it is useful to note that prohibition started at that time.

Click here for a look at prohibition and the history of alcohol.

Note: this image comes compliments of eBay. A 1925 Prohibition Prescription written for one pint of Whiskey...Oi (1 pint)...Sig. Zi repeat at end of 3 hours if needed. In prohibition times, this was the only legal way to drink liquor in the U.S.

Kentucky pre and post Civil War

(Source: PBS website)

Before the Civil War, Kentucky was primarily an agricultural state, with extensive hemp and tobacco plantings. After the war, the hemp industry declined but the tobacco industry boomed.

1860 1870

Number of Farms 83,689 118,422

Value of Farm Land $291.5 million $311.2 million

Number of Factories 3,450 5,390

Value of Manufactured Products $37.9 million $54.6 million

Data source: University of Virginia Geospatial and Statistical Data Center. United States Historical Census Data Browser.

About Sharecropping

Click here for info on sharecropping including a mini-documentary!

Click here for Q&A by historians on slavery to sharecropping.

Click here to view a sample contract.

Rifle History and Images

Click here for a pretty succinct history of the rifle. The flintlock appears to be the rifle of choice and necessity in the 1700's.

There are two types of flintlock rifles applicable to the 1700's: the Brown Bess (pictured above) and the Kentucky Rifle (pictured below).

About the Brown Bess: "The first truly famous, or perhaps infamous, gun in history was a flintlock, the "Brown Bess." The British actively employed the Brown Bess during the American War for Independence, the French and Indian War, and the War of 1812. However, Brown Besses still ended up in the hands of American militiamen in the Mexican War and even in the American Civil War! The Brown Bess still had no provision for aiming, but its weight had been reduced to around 8lbs. This allowed quick firing by most soldiers in the range of three shots per minute."

Info on the flintlock known as "The Kentucky Rifle" and a photo follow:

Surprisingly, one of America's earliest triumphs in artistic and functional design, the "Kentucky rifle," was not invented or generally fashioned in Kentucky. The name was coined from a hearty stock of Americans who plied it.

Native Americans called Kentucky the "Dark and Bloody Ground" because of the unending wars between Iroquois and Cherokees for its possession. New worlders thought of the first wild west as a hunter's paradise. In 1752, a stalwart American Indian trader named John Findley, traveled the Ohio River documenting the valley's beauty and abundance. In 1769, a bold young explorer and skilled marksman, who was given an American-made flintlock rifle at the age of twelve, hired Findley and four other woodsmen to guide him through a wilderness country road between Kentucky and Tennessee which is now know as the "Cumberland Gap." In 1775, (Daniel) Boonesborough, Kentucky was established.

During the Revolution, demoralized English officers wrote home about a new type of American-made long-barreled "rifle" backwoodsmen used with astonishing skill. When the war was won, the new government paid debts to its officers by offering land grants in untamed land. Claiming their acreage, these adventurers brought their rifles to Kentucky with them.

Near the end of the lost War of 1812, American spirits were raised when five thousand Americans, including two-thousand frontiersmen with long barreled guns, under the command of General Andrew Jackson, defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans. A popular song called "The Hunters of Kentucky or The Battle of New Orleans" (no doubt, written by a proud Kentuckian) forever named America's rifle.

"But Jackson he was wide awake, and wasn't scar'd at trifles, for well he knew what aim we take, with our Kentucky Rifles."

The Kentucky rifle was invented and predominantly made in Pennsylvania. A good shooter cost half a man's yearly wage. Most were used for hunting on a daily basis. They were handed down from generation to generation, and are often found in worn condition today. Antique dealers like myself call this "patina" and charge additional fare for it. Many of the early "flintlock" rifles were converted to the improved "percussion" system in the 1830's. This does not ruin the value of a Kentucky rifle. It is simply a chapter of its life.

Age, artistic beauty, and condition are the most important factors in gauging the value of the world's most sought-after firearm. A classic specimen is stocked in native American tiger stripe maple. (Dealers note* Tiger maple is almost never found in European furniture and thus is evidence of valuable American origin.) A rare colonial "transition era (1715-1775)" flintlock specimen in a plain grain of maple, walnut, cherry, or birch, can command a huge sum. Keep in mind, most plain-wood Kentucky rifles found today were made during the third generation "percussion era.(1825-1860)" These are generally, thousand dollar rifles, not five figure antiques.



"Original flintlock. Although unsigned (as are a great many Kentucky rifles) this fine early American longarm typifies the work of Wolfgang Haga, of Berks County, Penna. (died 1796), among the very earliest of Kentucky rifle makers. The brass mountings and patch box and a toe plate identical to those found on most Haga rifles (and exactly as shown on pages 200-202 of classic work on the subject “Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age” by Kindig, 1960). An excellent example of an 18’th century specimen of this historic American rifle in lovely condition by one of the earliest makers."

Kentucky Flintlock Rifle, USA, 19th Century

"The name “Kentucky Rifle” is largely a misnomer - they were primarily made in Pennsylvania, although Maryland and Virginia gunsmiths contributed a fair share. The “Kentucky” name came about as a result of the Battle of New Orleans (click here for info on the battle) which was substantially won by these rifles, in the hands of two thousand frontiersmen from Kentucky. While the design was influenced by the German Jaeger rifles and the slender English and French fowling pieces of the early 18th Century, the Kentucky is uniquely American. This non-firing version shows the graceful lines for which the Kentucky became renowned."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tall Tales: Baucis and Philemon

JT is well read and adept at navigating sticky situations. The tall tales that he tells seem strategically selected. By telling a tale from Ovid (click here for the story of Baucis and Philemon) he not only leverages his knowledge of Greek mythology but uses a tale with the name of a biblical book (click here for Philemon commentary) referenced as well. Not just any book, it talks of receiving a stranger as a brother. That may sway bible-quotin' Lallie to become vulnerable to his fiscal seduction.

The Value of Money Then and Now

The question came up last night about the sum that JT pays Jed in Tall Tales for the "mineral rights" to his land, and what that would be worth today.

Here's a handy fact:

A lump sum grows in value. The Rule of 72 states that an investment at a particular interest rate will double in a certain number of years. You can easily determine how quickly your investments will double simply by dividing 72 by the interest rate that you anticipate receiving in a given investment. For example, an investment that will yield 10% per year will double approximately every 7.2 years (72/10 = 7.2). A 12% yield would mean your investment doubles every 6 years.

Using this math and assuming a 4% interest rate over time, the sum that JT pays Jed Rowan in 1885's Tall Tales would double every 18 years (72/4). Anyone want to venture a guess at its value today?

Big Coal by Jeff Goodell - NY Times Book Review Excerpt

Review: Black Cloud by COREY S. POWELL

There is perhaps no greater act of denial in modern life than sticking a plug into an electric outlet. No thinking person can eat a hamburger without knowing it was once a cow, or drink water from the tap without recognizing, at least dimly, that its journey began in some distant reservoir. Electricity is different. Fully sanitized of any hint of its origins, it pours out of the socket almost like magic.

In his new book, Jeff Goodell breaks the spell with a single number: 20. That's how many pounds of coal each person in the United States consumes, on average, every day to keep the electricity flowing. Despite its outdated image, coal generates half of our electricity, far more than any other source. Demand keeps rising, thanks in part to our appetite for new electronic gadgets and appliances; with nuclear power on hold and natural gas supplies tightening, coal's importance is only going to increase. As Goodell puts it, "our shiny white iPod economy is propped up by dirty black rocks."

Coal has become near-synonymous with electricity because it is cheap and abundant. A pile of coal containing one million B.T.U.'s worth of energy costs $1.70. The equivalent amount of natural gas runs about $9. All electricity looks the same, so why pay more? Even by Goodell's explicitly conservative estimates, America has enough coal to keep its power plants humming for decades to come. And compared with prospecting for oil, finding the black rock is a snap. In Wyoming's Powder River basin the coal seams run 50 to 100 feet thick and lie so close to the surface they can be scoured in open-pit mines.

Unfortunately, coal is also dirty and dangerous. One of the highlights of "Big Coal" is Goodell's outraged account of the catastrophic 2002 flooding of a mine in Quecreek, Pa., run by PBS Coals. His story follows Randy Fogle and Blaine Mayhugh, two of nine workers who survived. Mayhugh, shattered by the experience, left to become a maintenance engineer at a wind farm. Fogle, who came from a long line of miners, returned to the work that had already taken the lives of his grandfather and his wife's grandfather. PBS Coals eventually paid a $14,100 fine for negligence that may have triggered the accident while receiving more than $500,000 from the state for costs associated with the rescue operation.

In the world of coal, that counts as a happy ending. About a month ago, an underground explosion killed five workers in Kentucky's Darby Mine No. 1. Coming on the heels of the widely publicized deaths of 12 workers in another coal mine explosion in Sago, W.Va., on Jan. 2, the latest mishap has everyone from Ted Kennedy to Gov. Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky crying out for better mine safety. There's a long way to go. More than 104,000 Americans died digging out coal between 1900 and 2005; twice as many may have died from black lung. The fatality rate in coal mining is almost 60 percent higher than it is in oil and gas extraction.

Excerpts from NY Times Book Review published June 25, 2006
The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future.
By Jeff Goodell.
324 pp. Houghton Mifflin Company.

Cherokee Women and the Matrilineal Kinship System

Cherokee Women
--by Theda Perdue

Long before the arrival of the white man, women enjoyed a major role in the family life, economy, and government of the Cherokee Indians. The Cherokees originally lived in villages built along the rivers of western North Carolina, northwestern South Carolina, northern Georgia, and eastern Tennessee. When white men visited these villages in the early 1700s, they were surprised by the rights and privileges of Indian women.

(click here to continue)

Legislating women's sexuality: Cherokee marriage laws in the nineteenth century

The story of Michael Rowan and Morning Star is one model of how white men and Cherokee women united in the late 1700's. The wedding bands pictured here are purely for show, since we concluded during table work last week that their marriage was strictly common law with not a hint of matrimonial ceremony save for the traditional carrying the bride over the threshold. Only in their case, the bride was kicking and screaming and the context was intimidation and domination. But then again, some people like that (secret table work inside joke:).

This article from the Journal of Social History
(Winter, 2004 by Fay Yarbrough) takes it further to look at how the Cherokee nation responded to protect its female population.

Legislating women's sexuality: Cherokee marriage laws in the nineteenth century

The nineteenth century was a time of tremendous social and political upheaval in the Cherokee Nation. Most readers are likely to be familiar with the tragedy of the "Trail of Tears" when federal troops forced the Cherokee Indians to abandon lands in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina to settle in the Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) in 1838-1839. What may not be as widely known is that Removal was only one of several dramatic changes experienced by the Cherokee Nation in the nineteenth century. The Cherokees radically transformed their political and legal institutions early in the century; survived the internal strife, which verged on civil war, that was the result of the removal policy of the 1830s; weathered the American Civil War and their own reconstruction as they struggled to incorporate their former slaves into society; and confronted federal attempts to dismantle Indian sovereignty as the century drew to a close. In many respects, the legal institutions of the nineteenth-century Cherokee Nation resembled those of the United States. The Cherokees divided their government into three branches: an executive embodied by the Chief; a judiciary with district and Supreme courts; and a legislature that created laws for the Nation. This essay will consider some of the laws passed by the legislative branch of the Cherokee government, particularly those regarding marriage and sex.

(click here to continue)

Monday, August 13, 2007

"Hell and repeat?" and The Infunt Fernomerner Tale

On p. 181 of the script, Andrew says, "You ever been to West Virginia? Colorado?" and Abe replies, "'Hell and repeat?' No sir, I ain't been there."

The question of what that means came up. I found the expression in a few places online. One particularly interesting was this letter.
You might find it helpful to see a father-son exchange from 1900, to see the idioms, the base grammar at the end, and the distinct tone of communication that we also find in some of the cycles...

CHICAGO, June 4, 1900.

Dear Pierrepont: Judging from what you say about the Highfaluting
Lulu, it must be a wonder, and the owner's reason for selling--that
his lungs are getting too strong to stand the climate--sounds
perfectly good. You can have the money at 5 per cent, as soon as
you've finally made up your mind that you want it, but before you
plant it in the mine for keeps, I think you should tie a wet towel
around your head, while you consider for a few minutes the bare
possibility of having to pay me back out of your salary, instead of
the profits from the mine. You can't throw a stone anywhere in this
world without hitting a man, with a spade over his shoulder, who's
just said the last sad good-byes to his bank account and is starting
out for the cemetery where defunct flyers are buried.

While you've only asked me for money, and not for advice, I may say
that, should you put a question on some general topic like, "What are
the wild waves saying, father?" I should answer, "Keep out of watered
stocks, my son, and wade into your own business a little deeper."
Though, when you come to think of it, these continuous-performance
companies, that let you in for ten, twenty, and thirty cents a share,
ought to be a mighty good thing for investors after they've developed
their oil and gold properties, because a lot of them can afford to pay
10 per cent. before they've developed anything but suckers.

So long as gold-mining with a pen and a little fancy paper continues to
be such a profitable industry, a lot of fellows who write a pretty fair
hand won't see any good reason for swinging a pick. They'll simply pass
the pick over to the fellow who invests, and start a new prospectus.
While the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, they're something
after all; but the walls along the short cuts to Fortune are papered
with only the prospectuses of good intentions--intentions to do the
other fellow good and plenty.

I don't want to question your ability or the purity of your friends'
intentions, but are you sure you know their business as well as they
do? Denver is a lovely city, with a surplus of climate and scenery,
and a lot of people there go home from work every night pushing a
wheelbarrow full of gold in front of them, but at the same time there
is no surplus of that commodity, and most of the fellows who find it
have cut their wisdom teeth on quartz. It isn't reasonable to expect
that you're going to buy gold at fifty cents on the dollar, just
because it hasn't been run through the mint yet.

I simply mention these things in a general way. There are two branches
in the study of riches--getting the money and keeping it from getting
away. When a fellow has saved a thousand dollars, and every nickel
represents a walk home, instead of a ride on a trolley; and every
dollar stands for cigars he didn't smoke and for shows he didn't
see--it naturally seems as if that money, when it's invested, ought to
declare dividends every thirty days. But almost any scheme which
advertises that it will make small investors rich quick is like one of
these Yellowstone geysers that spouts up straight from Hades with a
boom and a roar--it's bound to return to its native brimstone sooner
or later, leaving nothing behind it but a little smoke, and a smell of
burned money--your money.

If a fellow would stop to think, he would understand that when money
comes in so hard, it isn't reasonable to expect that it can go out and
find more easy. But the great trouble is that a good many small
investors don't stop to think, or else let plausible strangers do
their thinking for them. That's why most young men have tucked away
with their college diploma and the picture of their first girl, an
impressive deed to a lot in Nowhere-on-the-Nothingness, or a beautiful
certificate of stock in the Gushing Girlie Oil Well, that has never
gushed anything but lies and promises, or a lovely receipt for money
invested in one of these discretionary pools that are formed for the
higher education of indiscreet fools. While I reckon that every fellow
has one of these certificates of membership in The Great Society of
Suckers, I had hoped that you would buy yours for a little less than
the Highfaluting Lulu is going to cost you. Young men are told that
the first thousand dollars comes hard and that after that it comes
easier. So it does--just a thousand dollars plus interest easier; and
easier through all the increased efficiency that self-denial and
self-control have given you, and the larger salary they've made you

It doesn't seem like much when you take your savings' bank book around
at the end of the year and get a little thirty or forty dollars
interest added, or when you cash in the coupon on the bond that you've
bought; yet your bank book and your bond are still true to you. But if
you'd had your thousand in one of these 50 per cent bleached blonde
schemes, it would have lit out long ago with a fellow whose ways were
more coaxing, leaving you the laugh and a mighty small lock of
peroxide gold hair. If you think that saving your first thousand
dollars is hard, you'll find that saving the second, after you've lost
the first, is hell and repeat.

You can't too soon make it a rule to invest only on your own know
and never on somebody else's say so. You may lose some profits by this
policy, but you're bound to miss a lot of losses. Often the best
reason for keeping out of a thing is that everybody else is going into
it. A crowd's always dangerous; it first pushes prices up beyond
reason and then down below common sense. The time to buy is before the
crowd comes in or after it gets out. It'll always come back to a good
thing when it's been pushed up again to the point where it's a bad

It's better to go slow and lose a good bargain occasionally than to go
fast and never get a bargain. It's all right to take a long chance now
and then, when you've got a long bank account, but it's been my
experience that most of the long chances are taken by the fellows with
short bank accounts.

You'll meet a lot of men in Chicago who'll point out the corner of State
and Madison and tell you that when they first came to the city they were
offered that lot for a hundred dollars, and that it's been the crowning
regret of their lives that they didn't buy it. But for every genuine case
of crowning regret because a fellow didn't buy, there are a thousand
because he did. Don't let it make you feverish the next time you see
one of those Won't-you-come-in-quick-and-get-rich-sudden ads. Freeze
up and on to your thousand, and by and by you'll get a chance to buy a
little stock in the concern for which you're working and which you
know something about; or to take that thousand and one or two more
like it, and buy an interest in a nice little business of the breed
that you've been grooming and currying for some other fellow. But if
your money's tied up in the sudden--millionaire business, you'll have
to keep right on clerking.

A man's fortune should grow like a tree, in rings around the parent
trunk. It'll be slow work at first, but every ring will be a little
wider and a little thicker than the last one, and by and by you'll be
big enough and strong enough to shed a few acorns within easy reaching
distance, and so start a nice little nursery of your own from which
you can saw wood some day. Whenever you hear of a man's jumping
suddenly into prominence and fortune, look behind the popular
explanation of a lucky chance. You'll usually find that these men
manufactured their own luck right on the premises by years of slow
preparation, and are simply realizing on hard work.

Speaking of manufacturing luck on the premises, naturally calls to
mind the story of old Jim Jackson, "dealer in mining properties," and
of young Thornley Harding, graduate of Princeton and citizen of New

Thorn wasn't a bad young fellow, but he'd been brought up by a nice,
hard-working, fond and foolish old papa, in the fond belief that his
job in life was to spend the income of a million. But one week papa
failed, and the next week he died, and the next Thorn found he had to
go to work. He lasted out the next week on a high stool, and then he
decided that the top, where there was plenty of room for a bright
young man, was somewhere out West.

Thorn's life for the next few years was the whole series of hard-luck
parables, with a few chapters from Job thrown in, and then one day he
met old Jim. He seemed to cotton to Thorn from the jump. Explained to
him that there was nothing in this digging gopher holes in the solid
rock and eating Chinaman's grub for the sake of making niggers' wages.
Allowed that he was letting other fellows dig the holes, and that he
was selling them at a fair margin of profit to young Eastern
capitalists who hadn't been in the country long enough to lose their
roll and that trust in Mankind and Nature which was Youth's most
glorious possession. Needed a bright young fellow to help him--someone
who could wear good clothes and not look as if he were in a disguise,
and could spit out his words without chewing them up. Would Thorn join
him on a grub, duds, and commission basis? Would Thorn surprise his
skin with a boiled shirt and his stomach with a broiled steak? You bet
he would, and they hitched up then and there.

They ran along together for a year or more, selling a played-out mine
now and then or a "promising claim," for a small sum. Thorn knew that
the mines which they handled were no Golcondas, but, as he told
himself, you could never absolutely swear that a fellow wouldn't
strike it rich in one of them.

There came a time, though, when they were way down on their luck. The
run of young Englishmen was light, and visiting Easterners were a
little gun-shy. Almost looked to Thorn as if he might have to go to
work for a living, but he was a tenacious cuss, and stuck it out till
one day when Jim came back to Leadville from a near-by camp, where
he'd been looking at some played-out claims.

Jim was just boiling over with excitement. Wouldn't let on what it was
about, but insisted on Thorn's going back with him then and there.
Said it was too big to tell; must be taken in by all Thorn's senses,
aided by his powers of exaggeration.

It took them only a few hours to make the return trip. When Jim came
within a couple of miles of the camp, he struck in among some trees
and on to the center of a little clearing. There he called Thorn's
attention to a small, deep spring of muddy water.

"Thorn," Jim began, as impressive as if he were introducing him to an
easy millionaire, "look at thet spring. Feast yer eyes on it and tell
me what you see."

"A spring, you blooming idiot," Thorn replied, feeling a little

"You wouldn't allow, Thorn, to look at it, thet thar was special pints
about thet spring, would you?" he went on, slow and solemn. "You
wouldn't be willin' to swar thet the wealth of the Hindoos warn't in
thet precious flooid which you scorn? Son," he wound up suddenly,
"this here is the derndest, orneriest spring you ever see. Thet water
is rich enough to be drunk straight."

Thorn began to get excited in earnest now. "What is it? Spit it out

"Watch me, sonny," and Jim hung his tin cup in the spring and sat down
on a near-by rock. Then after fifteen silent minutes had passed, he
lifted the cup from the water and passed it over. Thorn almost jumped
out of his jack-boots with surprise.

"Silver?" he gasped.

"Generwine," Jim replied. "Down my way, in Illinois, thar used to be a
spring thet turned things to stone. This gal gives 'em a jacket of

After Thorn had kicked and rolled and yelled a little of the joy out
of his system, he started to take a drink of the water, but Jim
stopped him with:

"Taste her if you wanter, but she's one of them min'rul springs which
leaves a nasty smack behind." And then he added: "I reckon she's a
winner. We'll christen her the Infunt Fernomerner, an' gin a lib'rul
investor a crack at her."

The next morning Thorn started back, doing fancy steps up the trail.

He hadn't been in Leadville two days before he bumped into an old
friend of his uncle's, Tom Castle, who was out there on some business,
and had his daughter, a mighty pretty girl, along. Thorn sort of let
the spring slide for a few days, while he took them in hand and showed
them the town. And by the time he was through, Castle had a pretty bad
case of mining fever, and Thorn and the girl were in the first stages
of something else.

Castle showed a good deal of curiosity about Thorn's business and how
he was doing, so he told 'em all about how he'd struck it rich, and in
his pride showed a letter which he had received from Jim the day
before. It ran:

"Dere Thorn: The Infunt Fernomerner is a wunder and the pile groes
every day. I hav 2 kittles, a skilit and a duzzen cans in the spring
every nite wich is awl it wil hold and days i trys out the silver frum
them wich have caked on nites. This is to dern slo. we nede munny so
we kin dril and get a bigger flo and tanks and bilers and sech. hump
yoursel and sell that third intrest. i hav to ten the kittles now so
no mor frum jim."

"You see," Thorn explained, "we camped beside the spring one night,
and a tin cup, which Jim let fall when he first tasted the water,
discovered its secret. It's just the same principle as those lime
springs that incrust things with lime. This one must percolate through
a bed of ore. There's some quality in the water which acts as a
solvent of the silver, you know, so that the water becomes charged
with it."

Now, Thorn hadn't really thought of interesting Castle as an investor
in that spring, because he regarded his Western business and his
Eastern friends as things not to be mixed, and he wasn't very hot to
have Castle meet Jim and get any details of his life for the past few
years. But nothing would do Castle but that they should have a look at
The Infant, and have it at once.

Well, sir, when they got about a mile from camp they saw Jim standing
in the trail, and smiling all over his honest, homely face. He took
Castle for a customer, of course, and after saying "Howdy" to Thorn,
opened right up: "I reckon Thorn hev toted you up to see thet blessid
infunt as I'm mother, father and wet-nuss to. Thar never was sich a
kid. She's jest the cutest little cuss ever you see. Eh, Thorn?"

"Do you prefer to the er--er--Infant Phenomenon?" asked Castle, all

"The same precious infunt. She's a cooin' to herself over thar in them
pines," Jim replied, and he started right in to explain: "As you see,
Jedge, the precious flooid comes from the bowels of the earth, as full
of silver as sody water of gas; and to think thet water is the mejum.
Nacher's our silent partner, and the blessid infunt delivers the
goods. No ore, no stamps, no sweatin', no grindin', and crushin', and
millin', and smeltin'. Thar you hev the pure juice, and you bile it
till it jells. Looky here," and Jim reached down and pulled out a
skillet. "Taste it! Smell it! Bite it! Lick it! An' then tell me if
Sollermun in all his glory was dressed up like this here!"

Castle handled that skillet like a baby, and stroked it as if he just
naturally loved children. Stayed right beside the spring during the
rest of the day, and after supper he began talking about it with Jim,
while Thorn and Kate went for a stroll along the trail. During the
time they were away Jim must have talked to pretty good purpose, for
no sooner were the partners alone for the night than Jim said to
Thorn: "I hev jest sold the Jedge a third intrest in the Fernomerner
fur twenty thousand dollars."

"I'm not so sure about that," answered Thorn, for he still didn't
quite like the idea of doing business with one of his uncle's friends.
"The Infant looks good and I believe she's a wonder, but it's a new
thing, and twenty thousand's a heap of money to Castle. If it
shouldn't pan out up to the first show-down, I'd feel deucedly cut up
about having let him in. I'd a good deal rather refuse to sell Castle
and hunt up a stranger."

"Don't be a dern fool, son," Jim replied. "He knew we was arter money
to develop, and when he made thet offer I warn't goin' to be sich a
permiscuss Charley-hoss as to refuse. It'd be a burnin' crime not to
freeze to this customer. It takes time to find customers, even for a
good thing like this here, and it's bein' a leetle out of the usual
run will make it slower still."

"But my people East. If Castle should get stuck he'll raise an awful

Jim grinned: "He'd holler, would he? In course; it might help his
business. Yer the orneriest ostrich fur a man of yer keerful
eddication! Did you hear thet Boston banker what bought the
Cracker-jack from us a-hollerin'? He kept so shet about it, I'll bet,
thet you couldn't a-blasted it outer him."

They argued along until after midnight, but Jim carried his point; and
two weeks later Thorn was in Denver, saying good-by to Kate, and
listening to her whisper, "But it won't be for long, as you'll soon be
able to leave business and come back East," and to Castle yelling from
the rear platform to "Push the Infant and get her sizzling."

Later, as Jim and Thorn walked back to the hotel, the old scoundrel
turned to his partner with a grin and said: "I hev removed the insides
from the Infunt and stored 'em fur future ref'rence. Meanin', in
course," he added, as Thorn gaped up at him like a chicken with the
pip, "the 'lectro-platin' outfit. P'r'aps it would be better to take a
leetle pasear now, but later we can come back and find another orphant
infunt and christen her the Phoenix, which is Greek fur sold agin."

It took Thorn a full minute to comprehend the rascality in which he'd
been an unconscious partner, but when he finally got it through his
head that Jim had substituted the child of a base-born churl for the
Earl's daughter, he fairly raged. Threatened him with exposure and
arrest if he didn't make restitution to Castle, but Jim simply grinned
and asked him whether he allowed to sing his complaint to the police.
Wound up by saying that, even though Thorn had rounded on him, old Jim
was a square man, and he proposed to divide even.

Thorn was simply in the fix of the fellow between the bull and the
bulldog--he had a choice, but it was only whether he would rather be
gored or bitten, so he took the ten thousand, and that night Jim faded
away on a west-bound Pullman, smoking two-bit cigars and keeping the
porter busy standing by with a cork-screw. Thorn took his story and
the ten thousand back to his uncle in the East, and after a pretty
solemn interview with the old man, he went around and paid Castle in
full and resumed his perch on top of the high stool he'd left a few
years before. He never got as far as explaining to the girl in person,
because Castle told him that while he didn't doubt his honesty, he was
afraid he was too easy a mark to succeed in Wall Street. Yet Thorn did
work up slowly in his uncle's office, and he's now in charge of the
department that looks after the investments of widows and orphans, for
he is so blamed conservative that they can't use him in any part of
the business where it's necessary to take chances.

I simply speak of Thorn as an example of why I think you should have a
cool head before you finally buy the Lulu with my money. After all, it
seems rather foolish to pay railroad fares to the West and back for
the sake of getting stuck when there are such superior facilities for
that right here in the East.

Your affectionate father,


Website of Kentucky Coal Mining History

Compliments of David...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Interesting Links - click on each to go to the site

A trip to the library this weekend should yield many books on Cherokee death beliefs and other unexplored topics - the internet can only go so far :) - all may peruse tomorrow at rehearsal (and I shall copy and share key findings).

In the meantime check these links out - fascinating!

Harlan County and Kentucky's 1st "Exhibition" Coal Mine

Photographic gallery of Hazard and Perry Counties of Kentucky from late 1800's to Present Day with interesting info under "Features" like "The Loss of Community" and a photo journal of early schools under "School Page" and an article from The Hazard Herald 10/24/1918 under the "1918 Flu Epidemic"

Links in the History section of

and btw for those who haven't seen the movie Matewan (produced in the 80's, a John Sayles film) it is definitely one to rent

And don't miss the Timeline of Kentucky Coal by clicking on Kentucky Timeline at this site

Friday, August 10, 2007

Mining Cartoon

Mining cartoon found by David.

The method of mining used at the Utah mine that collapsed Monday, trapping six miners, has a history of being disproportionately deadly, according to federal safety studies.

Story continued at:

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Cherokee Story: Two Wolves

A Cherokee Elder was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me... it is a terrible fight between two wolves.

One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride and superiority.

The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old man simply replied, "The one you feed."

Another version:

The Wolves Within - Cherokee

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a
friend who had done him an injustice, "Let me tell you a story.

I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much,
with no sorrow for what they do.

But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy.

It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die.

"I have struggled with these feelings many times."

He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and
does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take
offense when no offense was intended.

He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will send
him into a fit of temper.

He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason.

He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless
anger, for his anger will change nothing.

Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of
them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one
wins, Grandfather?"

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Rehearsal 4: "Which Side Are You On?"

Tonight due to availability of actors, we made a leap from 1792 to 1954 for the first rehearsal of the later cycle "Which Side Are You On" and more than a few questions arose. Most of which shall be answered this weekend.

What are coal royalties?

They're in the cycle "Which Side Are You On?" (1954)

They're in the news. They're in private contracts. They're in government policy. But what the heck are they?

While there is no definitive source for the definition (and Wikipedia, while chock full of info, is editable by anyone and therefore not as reliable as an unchangeable resource) it implies the following:

An amount payable by a lessee to the lessor for removing or consuming coal, requiring the holder of a mining lease to pay a royalty in respect of any mineral removed or consumed from the leased area at an agreed upon rate.


The topic of recent news of a mining accident came up, the point being that no matter how much advancement we may experience as a society, the fact remains that events like this persist. Why? News on the mine owner is particularly parallel-rich. News on mine safety reform also reminds us of the theme of our cycle du jour.


Blood in Breast Milk: Is It Really Not Normal?

Is blood in the breast milk indeed not normal, as Michael Rowan fears? Sources vary on this issue:

Although many babies ingest blood-tinged milk without parents or health professionals ever knowing about it, drinking bloody breast milk is not entirely benign. Continued at
Although finding blood in expressed breastmilk is a frightening experience for the mother, you can be assured that this is not an uncommon occurrence, especially in mothers who are nursing their first baby. Continued at

Kentucky: a dark and bloody ground

Besides including information on Kentucky to the right in the Dictionary list, I also found this article from 1959 which points to the history of Kentucky as "dark and bloody ground" - a key theme in the play.

Monday, May. 25, 1959 Dark & Bloody Primary

Decades of warfare between the Iroquois and Cherokee gave Kentucky its name, the "dark and bloody ground." The tradition of bloodthirsty cunning has survived with a vengeance in Kentucky politics, turned vote-hunting into a boyhood sport, factional throat-cutting into a party game that everybody enjoys.

Continued at the following link but the rest is not as pertinent to the play:,9171,865878,00.html?promoid=googlep

Rehearsal 3: the Morning Star / Lucifer connection

Last night we saw the survival instincts of Morning Star in full swing. Survival is the name of the game this week. Primal living is a theme that keeps resurfacing over and over each night. It seems to be the primary governing principle in the world of the late 1700's. Plant, hunt, kill or be killed. It is a world foreign to our 21st century orientation and one that we journey together towards discovering.

Trying to save her son, and ultimately her self, Morning Star employs many tactics: guilt, need, and ultimately spirituality - imploring Joe Talbert to show God's forgiveness.

Why is it that the playwright (in cycle #2) makes direct reference to the fact that Morning Star shares the same name as Lucifer? As explained below, there are many uses of the name in sacred scripture.

(Hebrew helel; Septuagint heosphoros, Vulgate lucifer)

The name Lucifer originally denotes the planet Venus, emphasizing its brilliance. The Vulgate employs the word also for "the light of the morning" (Job 11:17), "the signs of the zodiac" (Job 38:32), and "the aurora" (Psalm 109:3). Metaphorically, the word is applied to the King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:12) as preeminent among the princes of his time; to the high priest Simon son of Onias (Ecclesiasticus 50:6), for his surpassing virtue, to the glory of heaven (Apocalypse 2:28), by reason of its excellency; finally to Jesus Christ himself (2 Peter 1:19; Apocalypse 22:16; the "Exultet" of Holy Saturday) the true light of our spiritual life.

The Syriac version and the version of Aquila derive the Hebrew noun helel from the verb yalal, "to lament"; St. Jerome agrees with them (In Isaiah 1:14), and makes Lucifer the name of the principal fallen angel who must lament the loss of his original glory bright as the morning star. In Christian tradition this meaning of Lucifer has prevailed; the Fathers maintain that Lucifer is not the proper name of the devil, but denotes only the state from which he has fallen (Petavius, De Angelis, III, iii, 4).


Patrick Rowan: Born With Teeth? Really???

Night 3 of rehearsals and once again a TREMENDOUS amount of subtext came to light. Many topics came up, from the significance of the printing of money (a preview: besides marking the year of cycle #3, 1792 marked the establishment of our federal monetary system) to Cherokee beliefs on death (preview: death by disease had distinct meaning - - all of which I look forward to posting this weekend.

The fact that Patrick is born with teeth was one bit from the night before last that I wanted to look into right away, especially in light of last night's discussions about Patrick's motivations. A little research on the phenomenon begins to reveal the hidden meaning:

If a child is born with teeth there is a superstition that it will become extremely selfish.

The journey starts in the womb. While you were pregnant, your baby developed tooth buds, the foundation for baby teeth (also called milk teeth). Only one in 2,000 babies is born with teeth, though. The vast majority sprout their first tooth between 4 and 7 months of age.

Monday, August 6, 2007

What did Dragging Canoe Say?

Dragging Canoe's Speech

This is (supposedly) what Dragging Canoe said before he stormed away in protest from the negotiations that later resulted in the so-called "Henderson Purchase." It should be pointed out that there were no tape recorders there and that the accuracy of this transcription is completely dependent upon whoever wrote it down when he said it:

"Whole Indian Nations have melted away like snowballs in the sun before the white man's advance. They leave scarcely a name of our people except those wrongly recorded by their destroyers. Where are the Delawares? They have been reduced to a mere shadow of their former greatness. We had hoped that the white men would not be willing to travel beyond the mountains. Now that hope is gone. They have passed the mountains, and have settled upon Tsalagi (Cherokee) land. They wish to have that usurpation sanctioned by treaty. When that is gained, the same encroaching spirit will lead them upon other land of the Tsalagi (Cherokees). New cessions will be asked. Finally the whole country, which the Tsalagi (Cherokees) and their fathers have so long occupied, will be demanded, and the remnant of the Ani Yvwiya, The Real People, once so great and formidable, will be compelled to seek refuge in some distant wilderness. There they will be permitted to stay only a short while, until they again behold the advancing banners of the same greedy host. Not being able to point out any further retreat for the miserable Tsalagi (Cherokees), the extinction of the whole race will be proclaimed. Should we not therefore run all risks, and incur all consequences, rather than to submit to further loss of our country? Such treaties may be alright for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young warriors about me. We will hold our land."


Dragging Canoe: Two Sides to Every Story


By Dallas Bogan

Dragging Canoe, often called the Tecumseh of the South, was one the Cherokee tribe's most devoted chiefs. He angrily opposed the terms of the deal in which the Cherokee Nation signed away some of their valuable land to the whites and received very little in return. He broke away from the Cherokees in 1776, forming an aggressive wing of the tribe known as the Chickamauga Cherokees. Dragging Canoe strongly recommended that the patriotic Cherokees to join in parting of the tribe. After this episode, they settled at various places along the main stream south known as the Chickamauga Creek. It was therefore appropriate to call themselves Chickamaugans.

Dragging Canoe was the son of the famous narrator, Chief Attakullakulla. Dragging Canoe chose for his headquarters the site of an ancient Creek village on the Chickamauga, near present day northeast Chattanooga, Tennessee. Many well-known chiefs joined him, Chief Ostenaco among them. This old Indian had fought side by side with George Washington on the Virginia frontiers and knew intimately. He knew not only our first president but also the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry.

Dragging Canoe's brother, Chief Little Owl also traveled with him and settled on the Chickamauga less than two miles upstream.

The first celebration of Independence Day, July 4, 1776, took place at Fort Patrick Henry where Kingsport, Tennessee, now stands. Sometime previous to that date the whites invited the Cherokees to a meeting of the two forces. The white man's main object was to win the Indians from the side of the British. Totally ignoring the meeting call, Dragging Canoe, on that first Fourth of July, remained at home in the Chickamauga town puffing on his trusty pipe.

The American representatives had invited the Cherokees who were present and who were still allies of the British, to join in this celebration. The Cherokees were totally ignorant concerning the American's "Declaration of Independence," and had no idea what the celebration was all about. During the readings of the manuscript the tribe listened and joined in with the whites, not knowing what was going on, dancing merrily with them. However, in just a few days they again returned to the British and resumed their mutual warfare against the Americans.

A few years before Dragging Canoe chose Chickamauga as his headquarters, a Scotch trader by the name of John McDonald was appointed assistant superintendent of the British concerns in the South. McDonald's place of residence soon became a prominent meeting place for Tories and Cherokees. Henry Hamilton, of Detroit, Michigan, then Governor of the Northwest Territory, had supplied McDonald's site with thousands of dollars worth of supplies for the Indians' use in their warfare against the whites. Most of these supplies had been brought by horseback from Pensacola, Florida.

Everything seemed satisfactory with McDonald and Dragging Canoe until one spring morning in April 1779, when a multitude of soldiers, numbering about 600 men in command of Col. Evan Shelby and John Montgomery, floated down the Tennessee River form Fort Patrick Henry. Upon reaching the mouth of Chickamauga Creek, this party captured a fisherman and made him lead the whites to Dragging Canoe's center of operations, some seven miles upstream.

The party of 600 whites caught the Indians by surprise and burnt their village to the ground. At the time, Dragging Canoe was away from home, so the whites had little difficulty in defeating the remaining Cherokees.

A detailed report of the combat was made by Thomas Jefferson and sent directly to General Washington. The report stated that Shelby's men captured 20,000 bushels of grain, also goods to the value of 25,000 pounds (about $75,000 in today's money). McDonald took a serious monetary loss along with 100 head of cattle and 150 horses. The whites sank their pirogues (a type of canoe). The American officers bought the stolen horses and rode back to their homes. Shelby's men moved on up the Chickamauga and destroyed Little Owl's village. Dragging Canoe and his trusted followers were not discouraged at the destruction of the towns. The villages were rebuilt.

In 1782, three years later, John Sevier entered with his mounted troops and destroyed Chicakamauga Town and other Chickamauga villages along with Little Owl's village. Fourteen years later John Sevier was elected the first governor of Tennessee.

After the devastation of his villages, Dragging Canoe moved south of the present Chattanooga where he formed what later became known as the Five Lower Towns of the Cherokee.

Dragging Canoe was struggling to regain some of the valuable land the Cherokees had lost. Joining his band was many persons of mixed blood, some cutthroats, robbers, and murderers, all of which took advantage of the situation and joined the Chickamaugans. For many years afterward these thieves attacked and robbed the early immigrants as they descended the Tennessee in flatboats, looking for home sites and approving situations in other parts of the Country.

History states that the headquarters for the most energetic groups of these misfits was at Nickajack, a few miles down the river from Chattanooga. The atrocities of these villains were basically blamed on Dragging Canoe for which he was not responsible.

Dragging Canoe died in March 1792 at Running Water where he was buried. This village was near the present Hale's Bar below Chattanooga Running Water, the mountain stream, which continues to bear its old name.

Chief Black Fox said "The dragging Canoe has left the world. He was a man of great consequence to his country. He was friend both to his own and the white people." Dragging Canoe was a first cousin of Nancy Ward, the beloved Cherokee woman who was highly respected by the whites.

After the Cherokees had struggled courageously to hold their lands and homes in the South, the greedy whites succeeded at last in ousting them. Their doom was sealed in 1838 when the last of the 14,000 Cherokees were removed West. A few thousand of them took off by boats from Chattanooga; others went in wagons and on foot across the land. Four thousand died on the long journey.

A few hundred Cherokees managed to escape to the mountains of western North Carolina, preferring death by starvation rather than be forced to abandon their own lands they loved so well. Today we have within a few hours drive of Chattanooga the Cherokee Indian Reservation of Western North Carolina, as a result of those Indians who escaped.
The Cherokees are now citizens of the United States, and they furnished many a brave soldier in both World Wars.

According to John P. Long, Chattanooga's first postmaster who lived among the Cherokees, the word Chickamauga means sluggish water. John P. Brown, author of Old Frontiers, however, says it means, dwelling place of the war chief.


A real Dragging Canoe who said as the play retells: buying "dark and bloody ground" and allegedly struck back!!!

Bob Benge: Chickamauga Warrior

Eric Orr Dragging Canoe
Dragging Canoe, founder of the Chickamauga Band of the Cherokee.

In 1775 the Cherokee Indians had been making treaties with the United States for 55 years. They had already signed away a significant portion of their land when a white man by the name of Richard Henderson convinced Cherokee leaders to sell 20 million acres spanning part of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. It turned out to be the largest private real estate deal in the history of the United States. The selling price was 2000 pounds of sterling and 6 wagonloads of trade goods, about a quarter cent per acre. Among the negotiators was Attakullakulla, a prominent Cherokee chief. A young chief named Dragging Canoe vehemently protested the transaction. Bitter that his people had given up almost everything they owned, he feared this would bring about the extinction of the Cherokee. The land that sold was Cherokee hunting grounds, lands that they depended on for survival. Dragging Canoe warned that he would fight and he told the white men they were buying “dark and bloody ground.” He deemed the deal illegal as Cherokee law dictated that land cession must meet with unanimous approval among the tribe. Shortly thereafter Dragging Canoe moved his people to Chickamauga Creek, near present day Chattanooga, and formed the Chickamauga band of the Cherokee.

The American Revolution erupted just a month after the Henderson land deal. Most of the Cherokee tried to remain neutral, but Dragging Canoe took the opportunity to strike out at the encroaching white settlements. His forces were small at first but he continued to gain followers over the next 20 years as he and the Chickamaugas fought to preserve their heritage.

Among his cohorts was a young half blood named Bob Benge. Benge is believed to have been born sometime around 1760 in the Cherokee village of Toque. His mother was Cherokee and his father was a white trader of Scottish descent who had lived with Indians for most of his adult life. The older Benge was known to stand by his word. He was so highly respected among the Cherokee that Dragging Canoe once sent his own son to defend Benge in battle. Bob Benge was raised as an Indian along with his brother and sister. He was also related to Sequoyah, who later invented the Cherokee alphabet, and some sources say they were half brothers.

Around 1777, Benge’s family moved south to live among the Chickamaugas in a town called Running Water. Here Benge met and befriended a small band of Shawnee that had come to contribute to Dragging Canoe’s cause. Several Cherokee, including Benge, joined the Shawnee in raiding white settlements. Benge quickly rose to leadership as he established a reputation of being a courageous and swift warrior.

In 1785 Bob Benge led a war party northeast to the Holston River area of Tennessee and Virginia. The Indians came upon a cabin owned by Archibald and Fannie Dickson Scott. When night fell they broke down the door and rushed in shooting and killing Archibald. The four children living in the cabin were killed with tomahawks and scalped. After looting the house, they set it ablaze and rode away with Mrs. Scott to present day Kentucky, where the loot was divided equally among the warriors. The chief then divided the group sending nine warriors to steal horses from nearby Clinch River settlements and four men went to hunt with Mrs. Scott in tow. She was left alone with the oldest of the group and escaped to a white settlement. Benge’s presence on this raid is only assumed by Scott’s testimony of hearing Benge’s name spoken several times.

Shortly after the raid a notorious militia leader by the name of John Sevier used the dark of night to surprise the Cherokee settlement Ustalli Town on the Hiawassee River. Sevier’s militia managed to capture a young Indian boy and kill five men acting as a rear guard, but they found the town abandoned, fires still burning in some of the houses. Sevier ordered his men to torch the town and then gave chase to the fleeing Cherokee, whom Bob Benge had led away. The militia was met with an ambush from Benge and his warriors giving the Cherokees time to reach safety, but the young boy captured earlier was brutally murdered during the fray.

In another incident during the summer of 1791, Bob Benge led a war party of six to southwestern Virginia. On their first raid they killed two white adults and kidnapped a woman and a boy of eight. The next raid ended with four dead and a nineteen year old girl captive. They quickly returned home with their prisoners and the scalps of their victims. Such raids made Benge notorious for infiltrating and ravaging well guarded enemy territory leaving only ghosts.

Bob Benge reached legendary status among the white settlers of Virginia and Tennessee. He took on the nicknames of “Captain Benge,” “The Bench,” “Chief Benge,” and “Chief Bench.” Mothers in the region commonly warned their children, “if you don’t watch out, Captain Benge will get you.”

A well known Indian killer by the name of Moses Cockrell liked to brag about what he would do to Bob Benge given the opportunity for engagement. In the Spring of 1793 Benge and a war band set up an ambush in the Holston River area when they saw three men approaching with a pack train. Benge identified one of the men as Moses Cockrell and, knowing of Cockrell’s slanderous talk, decided to kill his companions and take on Moses one on one. So Benge dropped his firearm and leapt from cover, tomahawk in hand. Cockrell immediately turned and ran when he realized it was Benge. The pursuit continued for two miles until Cockrell came upon a settler’s cabin and took refuge. As a last ditch effort, Benge hurled his tomahawk and missed, leaving Cockrell to suffer in his own embarrassment.

Though notoriously brutal and cruel to white settlers Benge occasionally showed mercy to his victims. He and a group of warriors once encountered a party of whites traveling to Nashville. The first shot was fired by a Cherokee, and all seven white men hastily fled the ambush, abandoning the four women to meet their grim destinies. Benge captured a horse that escaped from the women and tied it to a tree. He then gently assured each of them that they would be spared, built them a fire for warmth, and left them safe.

Benge joined a raid led by his cousin John Watts near Knoxville. Benge’s Uncle Doublehead was also present and was determined destroy and rob as much as possible. The group came upon Cavett’s Station, a small outpost. Although the whites were severely outnumbered, they chose to fight anyway. Watts took pity on them and offered them a chance to surrender peacefully. Since Benge spoke fluent English, he was chosen to negotiate with the whites. He told them they would be saved and exchanged for Cherokee prisoners. Doublehead watched and grew furious feeling that no whites should be spared. As soon as the white men opened the gates, Doublehead flew into a rage, attacking and killing the settlers with his axe. Benge tried to protect them unsuccessfully. Another Cherokee warrior, James Vann, picked up a little boy to save him, but Doublehead lunged at the boy, smashing his skull. Benge left Cavett’s Staion infuriated with Doublehead for killing innocent people after leading them to believe they would be spared. He vowed never to fight with Doublehead again.

Once on a visit to the Cherokee settlement Nickajack, Bob Benge overheard negotiations for a prisoner exchange between the Cherokee and some white settlers. Three white children had been captured from a river boat, and their father was trying to arrange a trade for some Indians whom had been captured by militia leader John Sevier. The “owner” of the youngest white child lived in another town and was not willing to relinquish ownership to the white father. Upon hearing this, Benge announced, “I will bring the girl, or her owner’s head,” and galloped away on his horse. He arrived back at Nickajack the following morning with the young white girl. There is no evidence of what transpired when he retrieved the girl.

Benge conducted his final raid on April 6, 1794. After a short farewell to his wife and children, he headed out with seven warriors toward Virginia. The war party ended up at the house of Peter and Henry Livingston. The two brothers were outside working when they saw smoke rising from the area where the house was located. As they rushed toward the house they found that their mother and a black child had been tomahawked, killing the child and mortally wounding the woman. Their wives and children had been taken. The brothers rallied help from other settlers before pursuing Benge and his war band. They were afraid an ill prepared chase might jeopardize the safety of their captive family. The local militia called upon all members to aid in the rescue mission. Having dealt with Benge before, they suspected he was responsible, and they knew where he might be headed.

Confident that he wasn’t being followed, Benge slowed his pace. He and his warriors took their time breaking camp the following day, and Benge spoke easily with his prisoners. He told Elizabeth Livingston that he was taking her to an Indian town, and he asked her for information on various settlers. He said that within a year he would have stolen every Negro in the area.

As the Chickamauga war band made their way through the mountains they were ambushed by the white militia. Bob Benge was shot dead. His scalp was sent to the governor of Virginia, and the offender was rewarded with a new rifle. To the great relief of white pioneers, the most feared warrior of the Chickamauga band would fight no more. It’s difficult to imagine killing innocent people as a means of fighting. Though their tactics were objectionable, Benge and the Chickamaugas were lashing out against a force that rendered them all but powerless. Their freedoms and possessions were gradually taken away so that didn’t even notice until it was too late. A violent uprising was all they had left after broken treaties and back room deals had stolen their livelihood.

Benge’s death marked the end of the Chickamauga resistance. Dragging Canoe had been dead since 1792 and there was no one left to lead them. The Cherokees continued to yield to white colonization until they had nothing left to give but themselves. They were finally removed west in 1838.