Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Digging Up the Past

Archaeological remains are a finite and non-renewable resource, in many cases highly fragile and vulnerable to damage and destruction. Appropriate management is therefore essential to ensure that they survive in good condition. In particular, care must be taken to ensure that archaeological remains are not needlessly or thoughtlessly destroyed. They can contain irreplaceable information about our past and the potential for an increase in future knowledge. They are part of our sense of national identity and are valuable both for their own sake and for their role in education, leisure and tourism.

It has been a very LONG time since Murfreesboro has undertaken even a small archaeological survey. With several key historic sites now threatened by development - this might be the perfect time to start thinking about such projects again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Is the Board Bored .....

I know many men and women who serve on the boards of local historical societies. Most of them are extremely dedicated to their sites. They bake cookies, serve at various fundraisers, buy and sell tickets (tons and TONS of tickets), and often give up precious summer weekends to lead walking tours and introduce new visitors to a bit of local history.

These individuals read minutes and financial reports, and they know about grant deadlines, proposals, and matching funds. They represent the voice of the membership in forming policy, and they reach out - good board members do - into the community and find out what people think of and how they use the local historical association.

But with all the education board members receive concerning policy and board etiquette, rarely do they ever receive any education about history.

When was the last time a Murfreesboro Historical Association board meeting agenda contained an item about history; how it's done, why one topic is considered more important than another, or about a subject that has been suggested by recent academic interest. When was the last time a discussion was held at an MHA board meeting about what makes a particular book of history popular - or not? Or about a debate in the media over a controversial historical exhibition? These are national issues, but concern ideas that could easily be applied to local sites.

I understand that board meetings are times to move along agendas, to vote for resolutions, and to listen to administrative reports. But, members of history boards should be able to bring historical perspectives to their conversations. They should be able to talk about more than just the need for money or for new members.

Shouldn't a history board devote time to questions of interpreting history?

Shouldn't this happen at least some of the time?

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Love is just friendship - set on fire."

It's June - and that makes me think of weddings. (OK, actually June makes me lazy and sleepy and I spend a lot of time thinking about vacations at the beach. But since I wanted to post some historic Murfreesboro marriage notices, I decided to think about weddings instead.)

One of the most rewarding moments, during my time at the Murfreesboro Historical Association, was spent attending a local wedding. I've attended many weddings (and just between us - I'm not a big fan of weddings), but this one was unique.

A descendant of one of the Wheeler slaves had decided she wanted to get married at her "ancestral" home ... the John Wheeler House (one of MHA's house museums). I thought it was a brilliant idea and encouraged her by offering to help in any way I could.

Well, it turned out to be one of the hottest, most humid afternoons I can recall - without even the slightest summer breeze. There was absolutely no escape from the mid-day sun. (Oddly, the air conditioning in the house was also not working that afternoon.) But when the bride walked toward the Wheeler house, from the direction of the slave cabin, I forgot all about the heat. I sat there in stunned silence. Here we were, watching a wedding take place on the exact site where the bride's ancestors had been held in bondage.

The fact that this lovely June bride could overcome that painful shared history, and still appreciate the natural beauty of a site where her ancestors had suffered such oppression .... humbled me.

There was a good lesson to be learned that afternoon on the back porch of the Wheeler House. It's a shame that more MHA members were not present.

Some historic Murfreesboro marriage notices:

Near Murfreesboro, on the 27th ult. Mr. Augustus C. Moore, to Miss Mary Finney
(Raleigh Register, and North-Carolina Gazette, March 12, 1813)

On the 27th ult. In Murfreesborough, N.C. Mr. Matthias B. Murfree, of Murfreesborough, Tenn. To Miss Mary Roberts, daughter of Benj. Roberts, Esq. decreased, of the former place.
(Raleigh Register, and North-Carolina Gazette, June 21, 1816)

At Murfreesboro’, in this state, on the 13th ult. Mr. Benjamin B. Camp to Miss Mary Rea, daughter of Ww. Rea, Esq.
(Raleigh Register, and North-Carolina Gazette, March 22, 1822)

In Washington City, on the 19th inst. John H. Wheeler, Esq., a member of our Legislature from Hertford county, to Miss Mary, only daughter of the Rev. O.B. Brown, of that city.
(Raleigh Register, and North-Carolina Gazette, April 26, 1830)

In Murfreesboro’, by the Rev. James Dey, Mr. F.M. Capehart, to Miss Martha Cowper. (Raleigh Register, and North-Carolina Gazettte, November 11, 1830)

At Philadelphia, on Thursday morning, the 8th inst. By the Rev. Mr. Furness, Col. John H. Wheeler, Superintendent of the U.S. Mint, at Charlotte, in this State, to Ellen, daughter of Thomas Sully, Esq. Of Philadelphia.
(Fayetteville Observer, November 14, 1838)

At Murfreesboro’, on the 14th inst. By the Rev. Chas. E. Disbow, Mr. John Kimberly, of New York City, to Miss Carolina Amelia, only daughter of Tristam Capehart, Esq. Of the former place.
(Raleigh Regsiter, and North-Carolina Gazette, July 29, 1842)

On the 19th inst., in the Methodist Episcopal Church, by the Rev. B. Devaney, Dr. Thos. N. Myrick to Miss Julia R. Eldest daughter of John W. Southall, Esq., all of Murfreesboro’, N.C.
(The Weekly Raleigh Register, and North Carolina Gazette, January 05, 1848)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Like Finding a Needle in a .... Towel ?!?!?

Carolina Observer
(Fayetteville NC)
April 03, 1828

Death Notice:

In Hertford County, North Carolina, a short time since, Col. William D. Britt. The cause of his death was apparently trivial; After washing his hands, he took a towel to dry them, in which a needle was stuck, without perceiving it, which entered the back of his hand, giving him, however, but little pain. - The next day his hand inflamed, and the inflammation and swelling extended to his arm. He died on the 9th day, though, it is said, there was no mortification nor tetanus. He was of full habit, and looked healthy.