Baldridge Tree

My Baldridge family

Southern Pride?

“Southerners should feel deep burning hatred towards the Confederate flag and the rich aristocrats who brought it into existence, but many do not. Sadly, the tactics used by economic and political forces in the antebellum south are still being used to manipulate people today.”
In this article, Nick Mullins makes connections between the Southerners of the Civil War and those of today that should make you see some things differently.

The Thoughtful Coal Miner

640px-Stone_Mountain_Carving_2 Stone Mountain, Georgia | Photo by Jim Bowen

When I was a teenager, I went to a meeting of the new Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter in my home town. I quickly became caught up in the ideals of the SCV and hoped desperately that I could find a Confederate soldier within my lineage so I could join.

I was not racist thanks to a good upbringing, nor were many of the SCV members in my home town. The head of the chapter made it clear to newcomers that racism would not be tolerated in any way, shape, or form. Despite this fact, we were nevertheless engaged in downplaying the atrocity of slavery in an attempt to reconcile our past and defend our identity as southerners.

In our shallow minded understandings, we thought the war was about classism and freedom from oppression. By being a part of the SCV, I…

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The Self-Serving Hustle of “Hillbilly Elegy”

My concern, as this article makes clear, is: “That Vance in no way represents my Appalachian upbringing is less distressing than the sheer amount of people who, usually without reading the book, automatically assume that he does.”

Tropics of Meta

grandpa-and-grandma-march-1957

As one of a smallish group of liberal Appalachian ex-pats, I have always considered myself an ambassador for my place of birth. I have tried to respond graciously to less than good-natured jokes about familial relations and general backwardness in the Appalachian region, and highlight the pride I still take in the work ethic and common decency of my family and community.

Lately, every inquiry has been framed around J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: whether I have read it or whether conditions for “my people” are as dire as described in the book. Vance’s memoir might have eventually faded from relevance, as there is little glamour to be found in the cored and denuded hills of the region. Then desperate Appalachians came in out droves to back Donald Trump’s improbable run to the White House.

While it is debatable what profit the Appalachian will reap from a Trump presidency, Vance…

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The Cry of History

by Rick Reed
March 8, 2017

Reed Cemetery

The cemetery where the graves of Teck and Lizzie Reed are located on a hillside in Lackey, Kentucky, as it appeared before it was restored.

This essay by Rick Reed, a cousin of mine from Columbus, Indiana, was originally published in the Floyd County, Kentucky Genealogy Facebook group. Rick and I share family roots in Floyd County of southeast Kentucky and have a number ancestors in common who once lived there and in nearby Virginia.

Rick has demonstrated his deep concern for preserving our heritage through involvement in the restoration of historical landmarks. In recent years, he has devoted much time to organizing and leading efforts aimed at cleaning neglected cemeteries as well as identifying grave locations and supplying new markers for them.

The cry of history keeps coming.

As we age we see the things we grew up with disappearing. Homes that could still be used are abandoned because new is considered better. Stone homes torn down for farm land, barns that have no use any longer rotting away with old growth lumber in them that can still be used, but what if we open our eyes.

Log cabins sitting empty because they are small, hold the heat with low ceilings. They can be reused and rebuilt.

Hobe's gas station

This abandoned building in Lackey was Hobe Slone’s gas station and store, as well as his home.

But what do we know? People in Europe live in homes several hundred years old. They seem to be just fine in those old homes with a history and life still to come.

What do they know that we don’t?

Barn on Rock Fork

This barn on Rock Fork in Floyd County once belonged to Elbert Cox.

In America we toss things away and still want new, thinking it’s a better way to live. Is it?

What do we gain as we lose the history of the old home place, pictures of people we never knew and those we do not know as they stare back at us from the past?

We don’t take the time to write names down on the back of a photo and then forget who it is and then we toss it like it’s nothing. Is that what we are?

We let family grave yards disappear in the weeds and trees without a thought to clean them up once a year. Why? Because we don’t know those people? Did they not teach us anything about respect?

They did and we chose to toss it.

When we are gone we will not care if we aren’t remembered. The living have places to be and things to do. But as they age they will start to remember too. Things long gone that gave them the pleasure of fishing, baking, quilting, building and growing things, a person, a place.

Mine work crew

This photo is labeled “Island Creek Mine work crew on Beaver Creek in Floyd County” but no one is identified by name.

 

The living will wish they paid attention and kept things from their past. Maybe ask why they didn’t do something for the future generation.

Trees hundreds of years old are mostly gone and the few left are prized for their size or wood. Maybe the space they grow on is ripe for a new home or business.

Only because we want.
Only because that empty lot next door isn’t where this tree or old home stands now.

We destroy the old for new that lasts half the time.

 

Not only have we lost these type memories we are losing family units as we spread our wings across the world.

We move to new places and create new memories, but nothing replaces the old memories and places we walked long ago. A dirt path, gravel road and up a mountain side to look over to an old homestead.

Bonanza School

Bonanza School in Floyd County.

While other countries continue enjoying their history we continue on to losing what made us great. Our past! Why maybe because it’s out of the way, too far to get to, not close enough to the store.

They don’t make land anymore and the trees take longer to grow, old homes have character and warmth to feel and to look at and touch.

But what do we know? Memories is all we have now.

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