My Ancestors in the Civil War

I had at least three ancestors serving in this battle. My Great Grandfather Bowers was in the North Carolina 39th Regiment which helped drive Rosecrans from the field on the 19th of September during the battle. My Great-great Grandfather Garner Davenport was in the 65th Georgia Volunteers from Fannin County Georgia. My Great Grandfather Jeptha Locklear was in the Georgia 47th Infantry at this battle and was later taken Prisoner of war at the Battle of Atlanta. My other Great Grandfather Hulan Berg Davenport was in the 11th Georgia regiment which was part of Longstreet’s Division. He fought at Gettysburg, but I am not sure if the 11th was part of the Battle of Chickamauga. Can’t find anywhere where it says they were. Longstreet was at Chickamauga and had troops with him, however. My Great great Uncle Lt. Larkin German was also in the Georgia 65th, and had an article where he killed a sniper who had shot one of his Davenport cousins who was standing next to him at the Battle of Chattanooga. I knew as I child, whenever I went through this park, which was hundreds of times I had a feeling of awe I could not shake. The number of men who fought and died here….staggering in it’s scope and yet never knew that some of my ancestors were here, and thank God…survived the madness and death.

From 2014- Memories of Autumn, Which May be Gone

The baby whisper wind that blew through the early morning air at Trade day this morning reminded me that fall is coming. One more time, fall is coming. Change is in the air.

People were bringing in Halloween doodads to sell. Pumpkins and scarecrows, fall leaves and the horn of plenty. Everything had a hue of orange and yellow mixed with a little brown. Fall colors. It’s not too early to use them, because those holidays get here and pass by as fast as a New York subway headed to Harlem in a New York minute.

Halloween screams by you, then Thanksgiving flies through like a Turkey, almost ignored in the anticipation of “Black Friday” and what I now call “the spending season” known to some as Christmas. (And Hanukah, and Kwanza too!) Then slipping right on in behind those quickly passing holidays, on tip toes in new cotton socks comes New Years. 2015 this go round.

The birthday fairy comes for me in October, and I will be seeing my 64th fall. Although I can’t remember the first few, since I have been able to remember, I have found it’s my favorite season and the most beautiful time of the year. I’ve had the privilege of living through some amazing autumns. I’ve had the luck of living in the best of times.

The first frosts will probably fall in October. That’s usually the case here in Georgia. I can’t wait for that first heavy one, and to be able to go outside and take deep breaths of that apple crispy air. Can’t wait for someone to fire up their fireplace somewhere nearby so I can smell the wood fire burning. The mosquitoes and ants will go bye-bye, the snakes will hibernate, and I can take a walk out in the woods somewhere without slathering myself in bug gunk and being scared of stepping on a rattlesnake. I’d really like to walk a little on that Pinhoti trail this year.

A person never knows when one of these glorious Autumn days will roll around and others will be enjoying it, but you won’t. The uncertainty of life being ever present, tempers our anticipation of seasons to come. So, the best thing we do is to enjoy the baby whisper breezes as they come. And so I’ll leave you with the lyrics to my favorite Fall song by the great Johnny Mercer:

The falling leaves

Drift by my window

The autumn leaves

Of red and gold

I see your lips

The summer kisses

The sunburned hands

I used to hold

Since you went away

The days grow long

And soon I’ll hear

Old winter’s song

But I miss you most of all

My darling

When autumn leaves

Start to fall

My Granny

My Grandmother Laura (Locklear) Bowers, never had a sunburn in all of her life. At least that is what she told me. I have no reason to doubt her word either. I remember as a child seeing Granny in the summertime turn a dark, dark brown. “It’s the Indian blood” she would say.

She told me of her childhood, and how she had been put out into the cotton fields as a child with a burlap sack and told to pick cotton. And so she did, all the day long. It was not something which was out of the ordinary in the early 1900’s for a child to work those long days in the sun. In the aftermath of the Civil war, “The Reconstruction” had left the South broken and divided. Families had to “do the best they could do” said Granny, in order to get by.

So from that childhood of hard work in the field, and “never getting a sunburn” she went to an early marriage to a man who was old enough to be her Father. A man who was actually a friend of her Father’s. There was only three years difference in my Grandfather Bowers and my Great Grandfather Locklear. My Grandmother was 23 years younger.

She married young and had a lot of children.

My Grandfather had lost most of his first family and obviously was a man who believed in having children. Granny had 19 children. Many of them died in childbirth or as infants. Eight of them lived to see adulthood. Those years were in the deep center of the Great Depression. My Dad was born in 1928. Dirt poor in a mill town. All the kids started to work as children in the mill. All the money was needed to buy food and a few clothes. “Living hand to mouth” I remember Granny saying.

I don’t remember my Grandpa Bowers, as he died in 1952 and I was only two years old. I had been living with my Mother’s family for those first two years in Blue Ridge and probably didn’t have much time with my Grandfather. I have never seen a photo of my Grandfather and me at the same time. I don’t know if one exists or not. I have a number of them with my Granny and me in the same photo. In a lot of them, there was some kind of work going on. Cooking, washing clothes, hanging clothes, gardening. Work to be done, and not much time for play.

Granny married again sometime in the late 50’s. A Kansas man named Arthur Knox. I remember much more of him than I can go into right now. He was good to Grandma. He died in 1964 and she was alone again. Much of her life after that revolved around where she was going to stay, which child she was going to live with, where to go. She went from place to place, staying for the longest time with my oldest Aunt, Addie.

She always seemed to be there for all the important things. High School graduations, weddings, funerals. She lived a hard life and died at age 92 back in 1988. I had been married for almost 20 years by then and had three children. My wife and I were busy raising our little ones.

I know I speak often and tenderly of my other Grandparents. My Mom’s folks. But Granny Bowers played a big part in my childhood. I was out at the old Trion cemetery the other day and thought about her, and her favorite meal of pinto beans, taters and cornbread. I think I must have inherited her tastes because it’s also my favorite. You can’t beat simplicity. I believe Granny lived that philosophy.

From 2014- It’s Up to the Coming Generation

The newscaster made the comment this week about a “world in crisis” with all the wars, disease, killings and just generally depressing things going on around the earth. Some are looking for the second coming, while others are stockpiling for the coming breakdown of society, and the anarchy which will follow.

The things which are happening on a global scale, I have no power to change. The only change I can accomplish is on a one to one basis. I do what I can for those whom I can do for. I don’t post it on Facebook, unless it involves having to use that medium to accomplish what needs to be done. I have given more this year than any year in my life. I hope to do more next year. In most cases the things are small in and of themselves, but bring hope to another human being. That is, in my opinion, the only way we can change the world.

Politicians can’t do it. They all lie like dogs. They put on political ads with other people’s money trying to see which one can top the other for the biggest misleading spot of the campaign. We can’t depend on hardly any of them.

The super rich people, the billionaires, they aren’t going to do it. Most of them want to keep every red cent they can get their hands on, and even the ones who do give away a lot of money have their own “pet” causes they support. If a hungry man wrote them a letter asking for money for groceries, chances are they’d never see it. Some aide, or assistant would waylay it.

Most Churches ain’t going to do it. Got a letter today saying as to how a church needed a LARGE amount of money to renovate the building. It was an amount that’s big enough to buy many a homeless person a meal, or an old person their medicine. I’ll send these folks some money though.

Most of this stuff doesn’t give people hope. Seeing that another person cares about you as a human being is what will do it. Treating the least of your fellow humans as equals will do it. Ask them to do the same when they are able, and most will.

I’ve got to believe that the coming generation of humans are going to be able to find a way to live together in peace. One day in the not too distant future they will figure out that killing each other for the petty, insignificant things we are doing it for now is not productive. They are going to wonder why their forefathers ever argued over if they should care for the old and sick, or whether or not to feed and house needy people. It’s a no brainer really. The coming generation is going to be a lot smarter than we are now.

That’s my hope, and if you are at all human, it should be your hope too.

Ode to Armstrong’s Barbecue-2017

I read where Armstrong’s Barbecue restaurant had closed, and was sad.

As a young man returning to Trion in 1974, and trying to make ends meet on a very tight budget, Armstrong’s was one of the few places that Paula and I, and our little family, could afford to occasionally visit. They served a great meal for a very reasonable price.

As our family grew, on through the eighties and into the nineties, we continued to go regularly, once a week and either eat in, or get take out…depending on how things were shaping up. I stood at that outside “take out” window for many a night, and with ten or twelve dollars I could feed my family. I remember Mr. J.D., but mostly Johnny and Linda running the place. They put long hours and a lot of sweat and blood into that business.

I never got tired of that wonderful Barbecue sauce…never.

As the nineties came to an end, and our family grew up and became different family units, we kind of just quit going to Armstrong’s, except very occasionally. Their food was still good, but we seemed to always be going in different directions, finding it hard to all come together at one time in one place for a meal.

I think the last time I ate there was sometime around 2003 or so, and I think it was me and Dad and Ted. I can’t remember for sure, but I have this mental image of us sitting back in their “new” room together. I could be wrong.

Wish I’d had a way to take some photos back in those old days there. Things come and go…and even good things slip away with time. I guess that goes for people, memories and Barbecue restaurants too.