Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Martha Denny Martin Douglas

If you have been paying attention to the Republican primaries, you may have heard Newt Gingrich state that he would follow President Obama around challenging him to debates patterned after the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. For those who don't remember their American history and for my overseas blogger friends who weren't aware of these debates, Wikipedia has a good article about these seven debates and their raising of Lincoln's national profile, culminating in his election to the Presidency in 1860.

But there is a strong North Carolina connection to the Illinois senator they called the "Little Giant" that I just found out about recently. While looking through a digital copy of a 1936 Federal Writers Project guide book on North Carolina for ideas of places to visit, I came across a snippet about Stephen Douglas' wife, Martha Martin Douglas, dying in childbirth in Washington, DC in 1853 and the senator and his family bringing her back to Reidsville (which is just 25 miles north of here) to bury her in the family cemetery.

Wondering how a senator in Illinois would meet a woman from the Piedmont of North Carolina, I found out that Douglas had sat next to her cousin, David Settle Reid, in the US House of Representatives who then introduced Douglas to Martha. They married at her father's plantation on the Dan River in Rockingham County (where Reidsville is located) and she returned to Illinois with him. A year after they married, her father died and left her the largest plantation in Mississippi along with 150 slaves. Some historians feel that this event colored Douglas' attitude about slavery and his vote on the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

After Martha's death, Douglas went on to marry Adele Cutts, a great-niece of Dolley Payne Madison, James Madison's wife and another local connection as Dolley Madison was born here in Guilford County.

Anyway, I was fascinated by all these connections and decided to find the Settle family cemetery where Martha Douglas was buried. I figured that it would be really imposing with all sorts of expensive statuary and the like. After all, she was the daughter of one of the wealthiest plantation owners of the period, wife of a famous Illinois senator and the mother of a North Carolina State Supreme Court Justice, Robert Douglas and the great-granddaughter of Alexander Martin, one of the first governors of North Carolina after the Revolutionary War.

And this is what I found:

An abandoned cemetery. Martha Martin Douglas' tomb is that one to the immediate right of the picture. Doing a little more research, I found that the Settle family members (including the former ambassador to Peru in 1855) and been disinterred and removed to Greenview Cemetery in Reidsville years ago.

But here Martha remains, abandoned and forgotten even though her descendants live just 25 miles away here in Greensboro. Stephen Douglas, on the other hand, has a memorial city park and a ten-foot spire marking his tomb in Chicago.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Back Tomorrow

The modem died, so I'm working on getting a new one. Hopefully (fingers crossed) I will be up and running tomorrow.

And I have an interesting tale to tell - God willing and the creeks don't rise.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Short Interlude (Hopefully)

I'm having some problems with my Internet provider . . . again. So while I'm struggling dealing with their customer service and my on again, off again connections, I'll leave you with one of my mourning doves taking a nap on  a stepping stone in the small garden.

I think I will be ready for Xanax once this is over.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

White-Breasted Nuthatch

While other blogs are showing woodpeckers (both here in the States and overseas) in birch trees, I had a white-breasted nuthatch in the river birch in front of my house.

I went out to put something in my car which is parked in front of my townhouse when I heard the call of a nuthatch in the birch tree. I stood under the tree and saw two nuthatches searching for bugs in the exfoliating bark of the tree. I decided to go in the house and get my camera and see if I could get a half decent shot before they flew off.

Much to my surprise, they continued to forage in the tree ignoring me as I circled around the base of the tree taking as many shots of them as I could. Generally any bird in the birch will fly off as soon as they spot me, so this was a real treat.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Eastern Bluebird at Lower Stone Church

While we were at Lower Stone Church in Rowan County last week, taking pictures of the church and churchyard, I noticed a small bird fly into the single tree planted in the churchyard. I used the super-zoom to get in some snapshots because I knew as soon as I got close, he would fly off.

The pictures turned out well and as you've noticed, I'm using one of these snapshots as the new header. This is an Eastern Bluebird in his winter finery. Not quite a bright blue wings, back and tail along with a ruddy breast as in the summer, but still enough blue to bring a bit of color to the scenery. Unfortunately he is competing with a brilliant blue North Carolina sky that day and the sky has won out, just a bit.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stunning Sunday Sunset

Today is Stunning Sunday Sunsets that I do with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine.

Unfortunately the skies this week haven't cooperated for they have been either startlingly blue without a cloud in them or completely overcast and solid gray. So I went through my summer sunsets when the skies were full of amazing clouds and light and found this. I took this at my favorite meadow just down the road from my house. It certainly was a stunning sunset!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Organ Lutheran Church, Rockwell, North Carolina

And this is the sister church to Lower Stone Church, Zion Lutheran Church near Rockwell, North Carolina. It is known locally as Organ Lutheran Church as there was a large pipe organ hand-built by one of the parishioners, that once was in the original church building (above).

The plan is the same as Lower Stone Church although it doesn't have the inscription over the door. The steeple to the right was added to the church in 1901 along with an attached granite building with a castellated roof line - typical to the early 20th century church buildings. Unfortunately the addition adds nothing (and detracts to a large extent) to the beautiful old church and so I didn't take any pictures of it.

Organ Lutheran Church is the oldest Lutheran church in the Piedmont area of North Carolina and is the mother church to five other congregations in Rowan County.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lower Stone Church, Rowan County, North Carolina

After visiting four churchyards in Davidson County to take pictures of the pierced gravestones, we continued south to Rowan County where two very rare stone churches stand.

The first church we went to was Grace Reformed and Evangelical Lutheran Church, known locally as Lower Stone Church because it sits lower on Second Creek than Organ (Zion) Church.

This church and its sister church, Zion Lutheran Church, were built by German settlers who came from Pennsylvania to Rowan County via the Great Trading Path. The land was acquired in 1775, but the church itself built in a style generally found in Pennsylvania and New Jersey wasn't built until 1795. The stone is granite, quarried nearby at the eponymously village of Granite Quarry.

The steeple was added in 1901 and the interior has been changed drastically since the church was originally built. I have to take that last one on faith as, like so many rural churches, the building is kept locked except when there are services being held.

Over the west door to the sanctuary is the following rhymed German inscription:


Translated to English:

“To the glory of God has been built, the Church which you behold, by a people who God confess, and name themselves after Jesus Christ, who are also incorporated with Him, and they call themselves The Reformed, 1795, Grace Church.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

Memento Mori

Back on the road again this weekend after an aborted effort last weekend. This time instead of the mountains and barn quilts, I went in search of something a little more closer to home.

I was doing some research on historic churches in Rowan County, the same county where I visited Thyatira and Back Creek Presbyterian Churches. There were also some Lutheran, Baptist and German Reformed churches whose congregations had been established before the two Presbyterian ones; most of these churches were established in the mid to late 1700's.

While doing my Google searching, I came across an interesting article about the pierced tombstones of Davidson County, a county just north of Rowan and to the southeast of Guilford County where I live. These tombstones were carved by German cabinetmakers who had immigrated from Pennsylvania to the Piedmont of North Carolina in the late 1700's.

There are approximately 300 tombstones of this manner in Davidson County, scattered among seven churchyards. There are no other known tombstones created in this manner outside of Davidson County, either in the United States or Europe.

Historians who have studied these tombstones believe that a local cabinetmaker by the name of Swicegood and his assistants are responsible for carving these tombstones as the decorations are similar to touches that he added to his furniture.

Some of the epitaphs are written in Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch) and some are written in English. This is hard to read as the sun was shining right on the inscription. You may be able to see at least that the script is in Fraktur.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stunning Sunday Skies

The weather forecasters promised snow flurries here in Greensboro on Saturday, but all we got were these gray clouds and no snow. Not even any rain, either.

Actually we were really fortunate and had beautiful blue skies without a cloud in them all day long right up to the point that I dropped TB off at her house. Then the clouds came in from the mountains where they were having snow and so I waited with anticipation to . . . nothing.

I'm doing this as an ongoing project with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine. I hope she's not suffering from blogger's block the way I have all week.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Sunset

Another parking lot snapshot. This time I took this at the Walmart parking lot this past summer right as the sun was setting.

I do this on Sundays with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine as an ongoing project.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Carolina Compass and Tree Variation Quilts, Ashe County, North Carolina

And then down a road that once was a railroad bed when the train used to run from Todd, North Carolina up to Abingdon, Virginia, then off on a side road to see this homemade barn quilt on a house. This is called Carolina Compass, a very detailed compass rose.

Back through Fleetwood, North Carolina to US Highway 221 to the very last barn quilt on the Yellow Loop. This is on a huge Christmas tree farm that stretches from the road to up the sides of the mountains that surround it. The name of this quilt is Tree Variation and this barn has been in magazines and books.

This weekend? I'm still thinking about where to go as I'll have to do it on my own with a wingman (TB) to read the map. It means I'll probably have to stay on the main roads and out of the back roads up in the mountains.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Delectable Mountain and Flying Kite Quilts, Ashe County, North Carolina

And if you don't have a barn or a barn-shaped garage, then the third option is a barn-shaped shed. This particular barn quilt is called Delectable Mountain and as you can see, is not quite as professional as the other quilts that we visited. Hmm, I looked at yesterday's post and it appears that this is very similar to Ohio Star. No wonder even long-time quilters get confused about the names.

No barn or barn-shaped building for this next quilt. This is Flying Kite quilt and what is unusual about this particuar pattern is that it sits on the edge of a Christmas tree farm and is not the usual Christmas Tree or Pine Tree pattern that you generally see on these farms.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ohio Star and Crossed Canoes, Ashe County, North Carolina

I guess if you don't have a barn, then a barn-shaped garage is second-best. This is called Ohio Star. I felt a little funny parking at the top of the driveway and walking down to get a shot that wasn't blocked by the tree limbs as the homeowner was out in the yard. But I guess he must be used to people stopping and taking pictures otherwise he wouldn't have agreed to put the quilt up on the tour. I see a problem finding this in the summertime as the leaves would completely block the view from the road.

This next quilt required driving up a gravel road to the top of a hill and then looking back towards the paved road we came off in order to see these two versions of Crossed Canoe quilt. The owners must be big canoers as the name of the road that the property is on is called Canoe Gap Road (and not a river or lake in sight).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Barn Quilt Trail in Ashe County, North Carolina

And back to the mountains of North Carolina and more barn quilts this past Saturday. This time we went to Ashe County to do a quilt trail as there are now more than 150 barn quilts in this county alone. The Ashe County Arts Council has now uploaded six quilt trails with directions to their website which makes it very easy to tour the back roads in the mountains. You can check out the tours here: http://www.ashecountyarts.org/BarnQuilt.htm

The first on our tour was this quilt, Maggie's Wildflower.

And on down the road, this huge quilt called Robbing Peter to Pay Paul. As you an see it is made out of four 4' panels in order to make this large 8' x 8' quilt. Looking at the buckling concrete blocks above the door, however, I wonder how long this barn will remain upright.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sunday Sunrise

Instead of a sunset, today I'm posting a picture of the first sunrise of 2012 in order to celebrate New Year's Day. The day is promised to be sunny and warm (62F in January!), so I will try to make the most of it before Monday's blast of Canadian cold.

May 2012 bring peace, happiness and joy to all!