August 24, 2011

Earthquakes and In Memory Of a Best Friend

Between yesterday and today, I am in a daze and heartbroken. I have recovered from the event of yesterday, after all it was a mere earthquake.

Yesterday just before 2:00, I was sitting at my desk when I heard my puppies howling and barking then came a a roar and I felt a rush of energy burst through my shop. The overhead pipes, ceiling fans and even furniture rattled and shook. The phenomena seemed to last for minutes and as quickly as it began, stopped in dead silence. I called my husband and asked him what happened - he didn't know because he was outside. I had him go through the building both inside and out even though I didn't know at the time that what I felt was an earthquake and besides, we don't have earthquakes in Bethania, let alone North Carolina, or the East coast. I heard it on the news later in the evening. It  was a weird feeling to find out the jolt registered 5.8 on the Richter scale.

Then this morning I heard a loud rush of speed, a thud and a thump from the same location by my desk. The noise came from outside the front of my shop. I went to look and saw a man in the middle of the street - he was a neighbor from up the road who had been walking his large dog, a pretty and friendly honey colored Lab mix. A car had zoomed by, going at least double our 25 MPH speed limit and is why I am heartbroken, dazed and numb. I watched as he lifted the lifeless body and took him to the side of the road and held the dog as it died. The car driver never stopped.

I have seven Yorkies and all of them are my best friends. I am so sorry for you my neighbor, and I feel your pain and your loss. We all do.

My husband just returned from the post office which should have taken only a few minutes and instead it took thirty - A van in front of him hit a small dog and took off and left it there on the road. My husband and another man went to help. They saw a tethered leash and an empty collar on the porch. The owner of the dog was inside, but in a wheel chair.  The puppy was dazed but still needed care - I hope it will survive. This is a day I just want to stand outside and scream at all the speeders to slow down.

Tonight I am going to have a free-for-all with my puppies, give them extra treats, and watch their favorite movie. I will let them kiss my face as much as they want and let them help take away the sadness of this day. But then, they always do.

August 13, 2011

Writing History is Like Putting Together a Puzzle

Miller and Green Store Pauls Valley, Indian Territory

Although the sign says it is the C. J. Grant Store, the building was the original Miller and Green store and initially operated by Frank Miller before he took on a partner named Thomas M Green. 
I know this because of the trip that I have been on --- lost in Pauls Valley, Indian Territory before it became the state of Oklahoma, traveling through time and space from Winston, North Carolina, before it became Winston-Salem, To say that that it's been an amazing trip, is not the least, because I have also met several wonderful historians and writers whose knowledge of the west and its settlement have fueled my research and detective work. The problem is, my puzzle is growing at the same time the pieces are falling into place. The picture above was forwarded to me by OK historian Mike Tower and courtesy of the Pauls Valley Depot Museum. The photograph was taken after 1888, before the building burnt to the ground. Mike tells me that the only reason the picture of the store exists is because C. J. Grant had it moved parts by parts on wagons from its original location, which was located on the confluence of Rush Creek, about a mile south of where the present town exists. 
I already knew that Frank Miller sold the business to Grant after Green was killed in 1886. But what I didn't know was from early Garvin County Historical notes that Miller gave half of the business to a Tom Martin who was a nephew of Miller or Green. But then it hit me from already tons of my local Winston Research, Tom Martin was the son of Dr Samuel Martin of Winston, who married Miss Limmie Miller in 1856, daughter of Harmon Miller Esq, and Frank Miller's oldest sister.

C. J. Grant is Calvin Grant, son of Colonel Thomas Grant who was one of the first settlers in Pauls Valley. The Colonel is the first cousin of Ulysses S Grant. A co-incidence is that the house the former president lived in before and after the Civil War, in Galena, Illinois, is identical to the home that my husband and I restored in DeKalb, Illinois, for JJ Kingsley who is considered the father of Hybrid corn. But before I go off on a tangent and another story I need to write, I need to finish the one I am on, which is an amazing saga spilling from two Victorian trunks, and pieces of papers and letters spanning 200 years.

August 1, 2011

Pauls Valley Indian Territory and a Man Named Frank Miller

Pauls Valley
I was going to post a new blog much earlier then this, but because of the state of our Nation's budget crisis, I'd keep the publication up. Sometimes prayers can be far reaching. Besides I have been on a long journey of discovery taking me back through time in researching historical records of place and elements of life for a book that I have not yet determined to be a history book or a historical fiction book.

Frank Miller taken about 1870
St Louis 
My quest involves Cowboys, Indians, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and a man named Frank Miller who arrived in Pauls Valley, then Indian Territory  from Winston, somewhere around 1870, though he most likely was in the West earlier. The story is an intriguing one because Harmon Miller, Frank's father was one of the first to settle Winston, in the new county of Forsyth, NC in 1849. Before Harmon's death in 1861, the family had amassed considerable property, had a hotel, brick buildings, a mercantile store, and land throughout several counties.

Jesse James
Frank's two brothers, both ranking officers, were killed in the Civil War. Frank was in the war too, and served at least, some of the war in New Bern and Wilmington - the home of Smith Paul, originally from New Bern NC and who Pauls Valley is named after. We have Frank's brothers (war0 records available, but we do not have Franks. Family history though suggests that he may have been a blockade runner.

Because of numerous historical facts an some very interesting records and letters, also allude that Frank Miller may have served on the side of the North. This material is intricate, but documented because there were many men of southern origins who did not believe in what the American Civil War was about. That there were Southern deserters who lost there faith in the war and the cause is known - the war took its toll on human frailties.

The aftermath of the war and reconstruction era, was a nightmare at best,; but southern men who had defected were perhaps more ostracized then even African Americans, and Northern deserter. Although Frank Miller's family roots were deeply embedded in his birthplace, along with the family's land investments that were able to be sustained through many careful and cautious manipulations, even the disintegration of confederate currency,  did not create financial difficulty.

Forgiveness from within the local deeply southern community which Frank Miller lived, would take many years. This was not uncommon and many Civil War veterans removed their selves, as well as their families away from the community in which they had known.

"Go West, Young Man, Go West" an unknown source quote, published in a newspaper published by Horace Greeley, became the inner most thought of many men - young and old alike. The idyllic image of growing with your country, of greener pastures, of untamed wilderness, of roots- hog - or die, and of adventure - opened up a chance for a new life, and for possibly forgetting and for forgiveness. 

By the early 1870s, Pauls Valley became known as a way station for the cream of the crop, wild, wild west bad buys and gangs; such as Billy the Kid, the James Brothers, the Younger Brothers, so the well known Bounty hunters, along with sheriffs, and the Calvery made frequent pit stops there including Custer. It was not an uncommon sight to find dead men along the dirt roads, hanging in trees, or lying half submerged in water. Some would still have their hair and other's would not. The same way with their boots, which became a must for cowboys - hoping to die with their boots on.

Gen George Custer
Frank Miller had to have "True Grit" because he operated a trading post, was licensed by the Government to,  pay the freighters who drove cattle through the rich valley and supplies to Ft Sill and other Forts within a wide range. He was also the postmaster for many years, raised several thousand heads of cattle on his spread, had a telegraph, financed the first bank in Sherman Texas, Sacremento, Ca, Oklahoma City and in Pauls Valley. (Not to mention back in Winston, RJ Reynolds and his tobacco endeavors, and then his brother in-law - George Hinshaw's bank and the bank that would become Wachovia).

But back to Frank Miller and the Wild West. By 1872, he had a partner named Thomas Green and in 1877, he returned to Winston, took care of some business, and married Ida Wharton, a prominent Clemmons Doctor's daughter and brought her to his home in the West. She too must of had grit because she bore Frank five children, two boys died in infancy.

Pauls Valley
Frank spent about 15 years, that I can document, In Pauls Valley; but the date that seems to point to the family's retrurn to Winston and North Carolina is about 1886, when the railroad came to Pauls Valley. This is also when his partner Tom Greene was killed while herding cattle and preparing for the trip near the Washita River. This is also about the time the Wild West became even wilder. Ida too, was expecting, so I think Green's death was the last straw for her.

I still have some research to do, but the story has been bubbling inside me for too long a time now and is hankering to come out. In the mean time . . . . .