Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More on Merlefest

Okay, I can't finish Merlefest this year. There were even more Rev. War connections you need to know.

We went to see Janet and Grey Deering of Deering Banjo company about everyday. RG played every banjo of course. He was playing the Terry Baucom model when Terry, The Duke of Drive himself, came into the booth and encouraged him considerably. I do have a picture of that. I'll try to post photos by next week. RG has gone to John H. Kerr Lake for environmental stuff for the week and most of the shots were on his i-phone.

Anyway, one other time Terry and RG were in there with David Holt and Jens Kruger. They are all great people but it just awes me to have conversations with these guys.

My last plug for this blog as far as banjos goes to Terry's wife, Cindy Baucom, the star and host the the radio show "Knee-Deep in Bluegrass". That wonderful NC show is broadcast in bunches of states. Cindy has a blog too.

In NC, locate her on
WSME Jacksonville
WIXE Monroe
WKRX Roxboro
WCOK Sparta
WMXF Wayensville
WKSK West Jefferson

So what does this have to do with the Southern Campaign. Well, all kinds of people mill around the instrument tent.

Right beside Deering Banjo was Bob Kogut, the fine fiddle maker of Lenoir.
His site was full of players about every time we approached. By the way, I heard Bob play a set with "The Neighbors" from Lenoir at Merlefest. I have heard him play for contradance several times before, but not in concert like this. Those guys were GREAT and Bob was sublime.

Anyway, in came Becky Phillips of Ft. Defiance who wants to sell a hammered dulcimer. If we need a great instrument, call her. Becky Phillips is the director of Fort Defiance. You may contact her by phone at (828) 758-1671.

Ft. Defiance is the home of Gen. William Lenoir, built immediately after the Rev. War. He found this land in present day Lenoir on the way to King's Mountain riding with the Wilkes-Surry Militia led by Col. Benjamin Cleveland. He came back and built his Mansion - 1790s style mind you.

He had moved to the area of Wilkesboro just before the Revolution to be a surveyor. He was born in Virginia, but grew up in Tarboro, NC. He married Ann Ballard of Halifax, NC when he was twenty and lived there several years. The website says to used to teach school, but couldn't raise his family on the salary and changed jobs. Some things never change.

"Previous to leaving Halifax he signed the paper known as the "Association," containing a declaration of patriotic principles and means of redress, relative to the existing troubles with Great Britain." I don't know anything about this document, but perhaps one of you can enlighten us. Is it still in Halifax?

I do know when he moved to the area of Wilkesboro it was still Surry county. He was immediately appointed a member of the Committee of Safety there. He was a Captain riding with Maj. Joseph Winston and fighting under the command of Benjamin Cleveland at Kings Mountain.

Two of the many interesting comments he recorded concerning the battle at Kings Mountain - Joseph Winston led his group around the back side of the Mountain and got a little lost. When they realized their mistake, they galloped back into position and Lenoir records they flew "like foxhunters" through unknown forests. I can just see that. When you see the gentle hills of Surry county and all the horses from farm to farm, I can see those fox hunters...

Secondly, Lenoir was wounded in the fight at Kings Mountain in two places on his arm and side. His clothes were torn by multiple bullet holes and one bullet even passed behind his head close enough to pass through his hair where it was tied. I can see that too. That would make me mad.

Gen. Lenoir's papers are precious resources stored at UNC - Chapel Hill. In fact, even though Lenoir never went to school himself, he reached out to become educated learning four languages, writing, reading and math of course. AND importantly, he was a founder of the University of North Carolina, the first public university in the nation and he was the first President of its Board of Trustees. NC legislated a public university to be available "at low fees" in 1776, but the war intervened and the University was not chartered until 1789. No money was appropriated by the state at that time so the trustees dug into their own pockets to acquire land and building materials. They laid a cornerstone in 1793 and by 1795 the first student enrolled. I imagine Gen. Lenoir as President of the trustees was the spark that made it happen.

Ft. Defiance in North Carolina is a private museum struggling financially and needs your support. Inside are original furnishings and documents. The Lenoir family lived in this building until the 1960s. They never threw anything away, so almost every item is not only original, but original to the house itself. Gen. Lenoir is buried in the family Graveyard on the grounds of Ft. Defiance.

Ft. Defiance serves students and public events to overflowing, but upkeep takes capital. If you have any emotional connection to this place or just want to help keep it available, please send a donation to Becky.

And you be a spark. Nothing worst can happen if your hair is maliciously removed at the hands of strangers. Even if the Congress does not appropriate money for our National Heritage Area, we can still join up and make a fire for our Rev. War sites. Becky's doing it. You find something too.

AND please Edgecombe county and Pitt county get your Rev. Stories into the Park Service. I know you have sites and stories to tell too.

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