Saturday, May 19, 2012

Indian blood

The claim of the MA Democrat senatorial candidate to be 1/32 Cherokee brought to my mind something that my Dad told me.

It concerned his Grandfather, my Great Grandfather who I am named after.

As the story went Great Granddad was raised around Louisville, KY on a farm. He had three brothers and two sisters, a not unusual sized family in those days. During the Civil War, or War of Northern Aggression as it was known in my youth, Kentucky was a border state and while mostly Union in the east the west was more Rebel. A tradition that survives to this day in basketball, but I digress.

At the outbreak of the war two brothers joined and fought with the Yankees. One was either too old or otherwise unfit. My Great Grandfather chose to fight with the Rebels.

Why he did so no one knows, or if they did they didn’t tell my Dad. However, split loyalties within families were not unusual at that time. But what is even stranger is that the family owned no slaves and raised mostly corn on the farm. If he ever regretted his decision no one knows and it is believed that he never saw his family after leaving to join the Rebel army in the summer of 1862. He was 17 and although young he was a man in those days.

Nothing is known of exactly when he joined or what group he was with. All that I know is that he was wounded during the battle of Cornith, MS. His heel was shot off. Probably by shrapnel or a stray 58 caliber bullet from a Yankee rifle. Either way he was captured and at some point was part of a group of prisoners being moved somewhere. During that move the group stopped to get fresh water. Probably from a spring or creek. Some unknown Union soldier, seeing that Great Granddad was wounded in his right foot and on a crutch, decided he was no threat to escape and handed him the reins of the Union soldiers’ horses to keep them from straying and went to fill his canteen.

Bad decision. Great Granddad mounted a horse, scattered the others and rode off. The horse was gut shot but ran for several miles before dying. The Union solders made no real effort to capture him and he made his way to Nashville where he remained doing odd jobs and eating when and where he could.

After the war, by hook or crook, and using a crutch to help him get around he started a small sawmill not too far from Nashville. Sawmills need timber and you need horses to move the timber so he accumulated a fair number of mules and horses and was a small success. Somehow he met my Great Grandmother who was a Creek Indian. He wooed and wed her and they started a family. All of this in a short amount of time.

He became engaged in politics and backed the loser in an election for county sheriff. The result was hotly contested. That the winner was a “carpet bagger” only led to hard feelings, claims and counter claims. At some point the new sheriff went to my Great Grandfather’s home and called him out claiming  he had stolen the mules and horses used in the business and demanded to see a bill of sale or surrender and be taken to jail.

My Great Grandfather said that he had not stolen the stock and was highly angered at the claim. (Actually he probably said something like, “You son of a bitch how dare you insult me. I paid for the stock.”) In any event, after a time, my Great Grandfather informed the sheriff that he would go inside and get the bill of sale.

He went inside but came back with a rifle, killed the sheriff and buried him underneath the front porch.  And no, I never understood the location except perhaps he felt he could control where people could look for the body.

The next day he took the bill of sale into town, found the deputy sheriff and showed him the bill of sale while explaining that the sheriff had been interested in it but had unexpectedly went on to other places before seeing it. The deputy, probably realizing that he could now be sheriff and make a decent living or be killed, exhibited no interest as to where, or why, the sheriff had not returned. He accepted his promotion most gracefully.

I mention all of this to point how unimportant  marrying a Creek woman was. He was happy, she was happy. They raised a family, did all the normal things and when their time came, passed on.

It’s just that with a story like that, had I but known, I probably could have risen to high places in the Democrat party as the Great Grandson of an accused horse thief and an Indian woman.

What a resume!

"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them." - Karl Popper

“It’s the presumption that Obama knows how all these industries ought to be operating better than people who have spent their lives in those industries, and a general cockiness going back to before he was president, and the fact that he has no experience whatever in managing anything. Only someone who has never had the responsibility for managing anything could believe he could manage just about everything.” - Thomas Sowell in Reason Magazine