This has certainly been an interesting week. Friend Joe Harbaugh stopped me as I was exiting the Stop 35 doors and ask me if we still had goats. He said, “I have one for you.” I told him that I was in the business of selling not buying now. He said, “No-no.” “Sandy and I have one and we want to give her to you and Cathy.” Well that a different story. He said however that she was somewhat of an escape artist. I assured him I didn’t think she’d get out of our penned in pasture. We’ve done well for nearly two weeks now without incident. Lizzy is a little shy yet around us but that is getting better. They soon learn who is feeding them. She loves wheat crackers just like all the others and comes for them readily. On the other hand the pecking order is still being worked out. The others will come around someday, especially Willie Too when breeding season starts.
While we were at their place up the valley outside of Honey Grove, I noticed something very interesting. They live in a very secluded area and I’m glad to have had this opportunity to seen their log cabin. What stuck out was an old board with a carving on it stating this. “Bucky Lyter Circa 1830.” Joe says that he bought the cabin years earlier. I seem to remember Bucky’s house along the “Mountain Road, Spruce Hill Township.” Many folks with these older homes from that period covered up the old logs to make a more modern appearing home. This to me is sad, because these places if refinished correctly become showcases. Take the time while on a Sunday drive to look at them. They can be quite amazing.
This summer I have again been working part time at the home and campground of Dennie and Nancy McFarland. Each spring there is an abundance of duties that must be done to get ready for guests to visit these attractive grounds that they have. We’ve done most of that work and the grounds look great, maybe a little brown because of the dryness of this heat wave.
I have been working at scraping and brushing the window frames of the old Jerome Thompson home. This old house built in the early part of the 1830-40’s has some truly fine workmanship built into it. Each window has a cast iron lintel across the top and bottom. They are not perfect in the casting, but from a distance almost look that way and finish nicely. The work is slow and can be very tedious in its completion. While wire brushing each lintel, it seems as if the century and a half old paint doesn’t want to part from its base. But the electric wire wheel can be very persuasive tool in its circular fashion.
I persuaded Dennie to get me a heat gun so that I wouldn’t damage the wood work around the front door. This again is not going to be a perfect job, but somewhat better than scraping. Heat melts and cleans the wood better than the other method. What I have discovered under the layers of old paint are some really fine grooved marks. It appears to be some sorta highlight design that has been covered for years and will again be covered when the new layer of paint is applied.
Also some of the old horsehair plaster and lath was beyond repair so I pulled down the old to make way for the new ceiling covering. After the ceiling was down friend Gary Pry and I pulled hundreds of one inch cut nails from the floor joist. When you consider the amount of effort taken to hand forge each nail, not one is the same. Each nail is almost as unique as a snow flake. This again is amazing to me.
Look around yourself at the many wonderfully made creations. The craftsmen of old are no longer among us. We settle for the bland and ordinary; mostly because we can no longer afford extraordinary.
150th - 1st Manassas History
While most of you folks were enjoying your comfortable air conditioning in the comfort of your homes, about 9,000 fellow re-enactors converged on the Manassas Junction battlefield. We could only imagine what we were getting ourselves into. When Sam Leister and I left Juniata County the temperature was approaching 100 degrees. Before we were out of our state we were traveling through country side that had 102-104. We drove through a couple rain storms that cooled the air to a comfortable 77 degrees, but was only short lived. The 165 mile drive didn’t disappoint us. When we finally arrived the air was still and the temperature over one hundred degrees. Saturday morning, the rumors we had heard late Friday were true. An older gentleman had died already from the heat. Heat is no respecter of age. Before the 9:30 am battle we were ordered to drink water boys. We were also permitted to go onto the field without our sack coats. Some didn’t wear them, others did. Our regiment, our brigade chose not to wear ours. The field was very hot, but none within our brigade was brought down because of these conditions. Plenty of water and ice was made available to us. Besides, God was watching over us as we were given a delightful steady breeze for most of the four hours we were in action. The battle was stopped only once for a medical emergency. A young lad on the confederate side went down from the heat. It was later reported that he was doing fine, but we wouldn’t see him again during this weekend. After the battle the sun and heat were brutal until nearly sundown.
Sunday, the same time frame and temps were prevailing against us. This day, the fight was the same, but our position on the field was different. When we finally arrived back in camp we rested and prepared for the ride home. Our duty was done for another weekend. But, as we were leaving this area, I couldn’t help but wonder what the boys thought about back then. If they were able to think, because the breath of life was still within them, they would be thankful to wake up yet another morning. They would be thinking about that day’s march to the next battle, somewhere in Virginia.
This is for all my Presbyterian friends. This weekend I saw across the battlefield a familiar face. Pastor “Buddy” Wheats, now Major Wheats was leading his 1st Louisiana Tigers Zouaves. With sword held high, he urged his men forward into a terrible fight.
David Kincade wrote a song in 1998 to describe what happened on that eventful day. The first and last verses go like this. “On the twenty first of July, beneath a burning sun; McDowell met the Southern troops in battle at Bull Run. Above the Union vanguard, was proudly dancing seen, Beside the Starry Banner, old Erin’s flag of green.” “Farewell, my gallant countrymen, who fell that fatal day, Farewell, ye noble firemen, now mouldering in the clay; Whilst blooms the leafy shamrock, whilst runs the old machine, Your deeds will live, bold Red Shirts, and the boy that wore the Green.”
Erin’s flag wasn’t the only flag carried on that day. Every regiment had their own national, state and regimental colors and they were all carried with pride.
Doanld E. Husler Jr