Wednesday, April 29, 2009


One last thing today: I am learning a little Geography- being confused by Tarboro and Farmville. But I am looking for Edgecombe county Revolutionary history and I don't know much about it.

I found this old book with a google books search "History of Edgecombe County, North Carolina" printed in 1920. It is pretty detailed.

It basically says Edgecombe was a bread basket for the revolution with the support for war against Britain available, but muted. "The military operations in the county, as in almost every other county in the colony, were carried out by the energetic minority" Most of the people were uncomfortable with a total separation with England, although they had political disagreements over quit-rents and taxes for more than a generation.

The Tories were active along with the Patriots. There was a bump up in fear of Britain after slaves were told to make an uprising by the British and then again after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse when Cornwallis and Tarleton moved north.

Tarleton was on the look out for food. Edgecombe had supplied much of its stores to SC during the invasion in 1780 by the British. This book records that of the six NC brigades and 1000 militia in Charleston when it fell, 700 troops were from Edgecombe county. Edgecombe sent food to her men. Nothing much was left when Cornwallis moved north for his troops to acquire. Lt. Col. Tarleton, true to his reputation, spared nothing, and the fire and sword promised to the western counties in September 1780 was delivered to the eastern counties in 1781. The county " now became the stage for a reign of terror. "

Tarleton took what food was remaining in the county and decided to move against Halifax where provisions were stored for the continental soldiers. Gen. Sumner was there and hearing that Tarleton was on the way, informed Gen. Greene in a letter he was retreating from Halifax to Warren county with the stores.

Militia from Edgecombe, Pitt and Northhampton rallied to meet the British at Swift creek and Fishing Creek to stop the British. Court documents and all manner of records, deeds, etc were quickly collected at Tarboro. The militia was hastily organized and no match for Tarleton's mounted dragoons. The were defeated at Swift Creek and fell back to Fishing Creek until overrun and Tarleton had a clear path to Halifax. "These two skirmishes on Swift and Fishing Creek were the first and last appearance of the main army of the British in Edgecombe."

So the British were in Edgecombe, right?

It is interesting to read about this "Tory war" The fighting continued after Yorktown and in Edgecombe, the war was not over for at least six more years.

Last important fact - "The local interest and participation of Edgecombe in the Revolution ended in Tarboro in 1787-88.

During this year the (NC) General Assembly met in Tarboro for its first time. During the sitting of the Assembly an act was passed declaring the treaty of peace between the United States and the King of Great Britain to be a part of the law of the land.

The courts of law and equity were again declared to have jurisdiction in all causes and questions. Elisha Battle was elected chairman, and he presided over the rapid and heated debates of the fundamental rules and provisions of the new State government. The adoption and ratification of the Constitution was followed by the first appearance of political parties on decided lines"

So NC is free at last and the first thing people do is divide up and take sides in the political parties. How American can we get?

The May Museum and Park

I found it! Pitt county is a Revolutionary HOT spot. You guys MUST write the Park Service ASAP.

In addition, my fourth great-grandfather was Major Benjamin May. (Me-Mom-MaMa-Joseph Lang- Mariah Rogers- Elizabeth May - Benjamin May) I knew MaMa well. She knew her grandmother, Mariah, very well and did Mariah know Benjamin May? You start to feel very close to the Revolution when you know your relatives.

Benjamin May was on the Committee of Safety. Benjamin May was a delegate from Pitt County to the NC Provincial Congress at Halifax, North Carolina, April 12, 1776, when they passed the Halifax Declaration of Independence. He led troops at Guilford Courthouse. He has a DAR chapter house named for him.

Importantly, his grandson built a house - probably using his kitchen from his plantation, and added on - which is now the May Museum and Park in Farmville, NC. Benjamin May is buried with his wife Mary (Tyson) nearby.

The May Museum houses a beautiful English tea set, a very large piece of furniture like a cubboard and swords used in the Revolution which all were personal belongings of Benjamin May. That is a place to go in Pitt County to see Revolutionary items.

I'm sure if we get a National Heritage Area and Greenville or Farmville or somebody has not yet created a tourism site concerning the Rev. War., that one will be created.

This is another private, volunteer group like Ft. Defiance. If you want to join the friends, call Donna Kemp at the museum at (252) 753-6725. She will set you up.

She reminded me to join the Tyson-May Reunion. It has been on going since 1920. How many family reunions do you know which have lasted so, so long? Surely, to do that the family met frequently in earlier days as well. They have their own web site so have a look.

Happy Birthday High Point Market

This week is also Market week in High Point. I miss the days of flashing a business card, getting credentials and going to market. As a designer, I always went with my employer to see my fabrics and how the interior designers used them. It's great to hear that the piece is creating large sales dollars. It is the world's home for home furnishings and just everybody is there.

The connection to the Revolution at market is most obvious. The high end furniture is primarily influenced by the 18th century, - that's right our Revolutionary and Colonial days.

But thanks to the American experiment, the market evolved here and you can get just about everything.

What next? Well, if you start a business connected to the industry and register you can go to market again in October. It happens twice a year. They don't just let anyone in however. You need an economic reason. So make something and sell it to someone or bring it to market, then register and go!! NC is the place to be.

As with all things from our Revolutionary times, its easy to forget the contributions of our forefathers. An interesting webpage from the Tradition Fine Arts Organization explains how things are brought into focus...

"It took only one sentence uttered from the American curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a speech at the First Antiques Forum at Williamsburg in 1949 to ignite a firestorm of research and exhibitions on early American Southern furniture. "Very little of artistic merit was made south of Baltimore," he declared. He might as well have fired the first cannon volley on Ft. Sumter."

The webpage reminds me to tell you that if you can't get to market, you can get to the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) at Old Salem in Winston-Salem. There you will see what fine furniture is all about. The original documents for the quote in the Traditional Fine Arts Organization comes from the Mint museum in Charlotte.

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.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another spontaneous moment at Merlefest

It happened before the Sam Bush concert. We settled into a great seat to enjoy the evening music. RG had worked hard emceeing the Little Pickers tent all day; we had enjoyed the instrument makers tent...visting and playing. Now was music time...

RG let his wild side out that day wearing his kilt and his Scot's teeshirt with a battle shield printed on the back. Of course I started it all by wearing my own Daughter of Scotland tee shirt which we bought at the Scottish Highland Games on Grandfather Mountain last year. We were a pair to be seen.

A gentleman came up to us and inquired - since we were wearing the garb, were we Scottish? RG started in on his genealogy and I just smiled. Then, the fellow pulled a harmonica and serenaded us with his rendition of "Scotland, the Brave". I had tears in my eyes and said to myself, there's my blog.

It is well-known in NC that we had the largest influx of Scottish immigrants in the colonies. Gaelic was spoken in the area of Cross Creek (now Fayetteville)until after the Civil War. The important battle of Moore's Creek in 1776 saw the defeat of Scottish Highlanders, ever faithful to their word of loyalty to the English king, by the patriots which kept NC out of the first part of the Revolution. Led by the husband of Flora McDonald and spirited up by Flora herself, the Highlanders joined the loyalist Governor in an ill-conceived plan to put down the political rebellion.

It seems a shame that after the bad treatment their fathers received in 1745 in their homeland, they would support the English king in 1775, but a Scotsman is nothing if not true to his word. After the war, these Scots became among the most fierce citizens of the new country. Somebody knows more about this than I do, so comment on this detail of the Scottish settlers in NC.

The gentlemen received a large round of applause from other Merlefest-goers as we waited for the next set. He smiled, took a bow and said goodbye. A little later as I wrote my notes he passed by again. I flagged him down to ask for his name again. He was Dave House, Bryon House's father. Bryon is the bass player in Sam Bush's band. He told us about knowing Sam Bush when he was little and how Bryon and Sam learned to play the music. That was cool. Parents still come out to support their kids even after they become famous. I'm sure I will too when my 6'8" 16 year old son does whatever it is he will do.

I asked Mr. House about his harmonica playing and he said he started young and quit for a while. Then he picked it up again. He was a military man for most of his life. The harmonica was inspiration for him. The first song he learned was "Soldier's Joy" which was well-known during the Revolution. He said the tune was in fact so old, no one really knows where it came from. So there is my second Rev. War connection.

You never know who you will meet at Merlefest and you certainly never know what Revolutionary connections you will make if you think about it. "Soldier's Joy" is a tune everyone knows here. It was important in the 1770s and it is still important in the 2000s. God bless our soldiers.

The quote

The best I can determine, as I can't quite remember what R.G. said to Greg Deering, comes from the pbs transcript in the link above. Essentially, the banjo is as American as it gets and Thomas Jefferson noted it came from Africa. RG probably gave Jefferson the credit for calling the Banjo "American", but as I have discovered this week, the banjo or banjar, has developed over the last several hundred years with the best development probably gelling in the 1970s and probably because of the workmanship of Greg Deering. But even Greg takes advice. Jens Kruger, of the Kruger Brothers, collaborated with him recently to step the banjo up a bit. Greg even hinted the science was about to take another revolutionary step forward within the next three months. The revolution in banjo music is on going.

I can't wait to tell you about what happened at the Sam Bush concert last night, but I have to get some sleep. You won't believe how I found our rev war history in there!

Friday, April 24, 2009


RG and I had the good fortune to share the evening meal with Greg Deering, creator of Deering Banjo company. What a story he has to tell of how that business grew from his passion and his dad's fine craft instruction. His wife also had a dad who was an aeronautical engineer. So art and science mingle and progress is born. The banjos are great.

RG reminded him of Thomas Jefferson's comment about the banjo and banjo players which I must look up.
He plays this morning so we are off the Merlefest. I'll be back with photos and look up Jefferson's quote late tonight.

See.... the revolution continues to guide and direct us. Go Tommy J.!!

PS- don't forget to post your Rev. War stories to the NPS website. ANd please forward my link to everyone you know who might be interested AND lastly, comment and share with me too!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The key to connecting

So, this morning I have determined though google research that the way to appear on a search engine is to have a lot of interesting text and lots of "hits" - ie friends, family, groups, and interested masses to find this site in a general search.

So I'm sending it to all of you. Here is the link:

Also as I mentioned, its time for Merlefest. My husband, RG Absher, plays on the cabin stage about 5 tonight. His band is now called the BANKNOTES in memory to Bill Young, festival organizer. It was formerly R.G. Absher and Extra Measure. Every year the boys have been a primary host band for the Merlefest.

Here is another link:
It is a fantastic Americana music festival, the premier music festival, created to remember Doc Watson's son, Merle, a star in his own right, who was lost in an accident in the prime of his life.

It is worth about 80,000 visitors over 4 days to the Wilkesboros and that is economic development.

So, somebody out there write a song for the Revolution for Merlefest. It is a certainly a grand gathering.

A name for the blog!


A more perfect union of name and URL:

Southern Campaign in NC

I still can't google this but at least the search brings you to sites about the Revolution in the South USA.


Please read the first post for the purpose of this blog

I am still trying to understand the blog and mechanisms. Please send me a message if you can access the blog. I find myself following myself. I can't google and find the blog. If you know something about this, please email me at

Any suggestions for the name of the blog. SOCA (Southern Campaign) is used by the Parks Service and a bunch of other groups. FOSCAR - rhymes with NASCAR strikes me as a good, easy to type, name for the moment instead of SCAR as it is already a rev. group name and, well, is a little disconcerting to me, though appropriate for war, I guess.

I'm emailing a link to my first round of interested parties. Help!

PS. Merlefest begins today in Wilkesboro! I will likely be involved with that until Monday. Leave your comments and spread the blog around.

The most important thing you can do right now is to access the National Park Service planning group and express your desire to have a National Heritage Area in North and South Carolina. Then, tell them about your county and ask for it to be included in the area. Lastly, tell them why the county should be included. What happened in your "neck of the woods" during the Revolution? Is there a site to tour there? Could a site be developed, a song written, a play produced, records to be researched? (Edgecombe?) Tell the study group and they will document your feedback as evidence that NC will use the NHA to the economic benefit of the state.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Map in April....

Here is the map of the Heritage Area so far. If your county is included you may have a funding source to do something great with your Revolutionary history to impact your community.

Oops. you'll have to look it up. pdf.

Welcome to the Revolution!

The National Parks Service has been instructed to study specific areas of South Carolina and North Carolina by the US Congress to create a National Heritage Area inside these states. Specific counties in SC have been named. However, all counties of NC might be considered for inclusion in the National Heritage Area as no specific areas were named to study in the bill.

The NPS needs our input to find the historic sites, natural resources, towns and history of Revolutionary events in the counties to determine
1) if they warrant a National Heritage Area (NHA) designation (they do!!!!)and
2) which counties of NC to include.

If areas in the two states are chosen as a National Heritage area, then all the revolutionary sites we can identify in those areas can be used to create sustainable economic development though local partnerships and organizations.

The exact composition of groups who can form a partnership is not yet determined. These partnerships can be between non-profits, schools, for-profit businesses and government groups or any combination of these groups which have their basis in telling the story of the American Revolution. Perhaps individuals such as artists or songwriters may become partners with the National Heritage Area in order to promote or create something sustainable for economic development in the NHA.

Some form of coordinating entity to administer the NHA needs to be found which best represents the interests of the people of NC and SC concerning the preservation and tourism promotion of Rev. War sites with the end concern of economic development. Perhaps a non-profit 501-3c corporation can emerge from all of you who comment on this blog over time. I would like to see that happen.

This National Heritage Area then provides financial grants to seed economic development of all types and to improve the quality of life for area residents.

The money to fund the NHA grants comes from the federal government and Congress is charged with appropriating up to 1 million dollars per year for up to 10 years to the NHA for "seed" money for economic development. Congress is NOT required to appropriate any money to a NHA. The NHA is only a link between your great ideas and a funder- the Congress. In return, a certain economic spark creates jobs and the Congress gets its money back in the form of an increased tax base.

Please check out the web site from the National park service. Make your suggestions to document revolutionary activity for specific places in your county to insure your county is included in the National Heritage Area.

Many counties in the Eastern part of the state are not included at this time. Please write the park service and tell them about your site or what your site could become with the addition of NHA funds.

Legislation authorizing the study is called Senate Bill 203.

The suggestions from each county will continued to be accepted until early July and then the books are closed. Y'all pay attention! Wake county, Pitt county and Gates county are places of interest to me personally. What was the history of the revolution in these areas?

PS. If I am the only one submitting details to the Park service, it will have no impact. Congress wants to see your enthousiasm and willingness to serve to grow your own homelands. It will have more impact for you to tell your stories and ask to be included. I hope all NC counties can discover something of significance that happened in their county during the period between 1766 and 1786. I just picked those dates. I think most revolutionary stories should fall between those dates, but share your story anyway even if it is different.