About Me

The Blogger? Old Indian "Shot in the Eye"

It's very difficult typing and reading this blog with my one good eye. Who am I? That is a complex question. To attempt to label me, as is the norm, might be difficult. You see, I am made up of a compound of factors that make me unique. Ask anyone who knows me well and they will assure you that I am a little (my choice not theirs) strange. I will offer some subtle suggestions as to who I am in blog postings as time goes on. Pay attention and you might be able to figure it out. I will share a few facts about me to get you started on your search.

Family tradition, through my maternal great grandmother, says that there is native America blood coursing through these veins. That’s correct, injun, red man, savage. There are two sides to that story. Others of my family were viciously slaughtered by some of those savages. It is very probable that many of my ancestors hunted in the forest of what is now Salem long before the white man took up residence. From her husband’s side it is possible that a little African American blood may be in the mix. God forbid that I should use the word; however for sake of making the point clear Niger, darkie, black, high yellow, mixed race, ect, ect, ect … Oh, he also spent an extended vacation in the state penitentiary. Family doesn’t talk about that, I suspect for incest or something worse. I hear he may have had a reputation for stealing horse flesh along with his fetish for young women. My mother was terrified of him and only saw him once in her life. State Pen says that no records exist in Raleigh documenting his visit. I haven’t visited the court house yet, but understand that a fire may have destroyed his sorted past. However, the federal census clearly shows his attendance in Raleigh.

So much for the questionable part of my DNA, my father says that when the Moravians arrived in this area they occupied a hunting cabin constructed by our ancestors. You are welcome, come again! The urges, natural to man, lead to intermarriage and breading with those folk yielding blood ties with most of the older families in this community. There are several books written about these families and you will find my name in some of them. I have one in my hand and it is all that I can do to hold its 2 ½” thickness. Good luck finding me among the thousands of entries.

I almost wasn’t. You see, a British officer dropped his side arm in the home where my paternal fourth great grandmother lay in her crib. The ball grazed her gown otherwise she might not have survived and you would not be reading about my adventures. Portions of my family came from Europe, England, Germany, Scotland, France and God only knows where else. My ancestors were at the Battle of Kings Mountain, Gettysburg, D-Day and probably most of the wars fought on multiple continents and scattered islands.

One of my grandfathers, to far back to count, was a Fish Monger in London and was sent to the new world before it was settled by other Europeans apparently to set up fishing operations. He and his brother, who came over with them, actually assisted the Jamestown settlers. He would go on to assist in the beginning of several towns in New England. His son, a sea caption, explored down the east coast and there is an island named for him. My fifth paternal great grandfather was born on December 5th 1773 on land adjacent to the girlhood home of Anna Ball. So what? Anna Ball was the mother of George Washington born on February 22nd 1772. They were the same age and lived near each other! There is documentation that grandfather was particularly acquainted with George Washington as he once lived a neighbor to the General, previous to his turning out under him. Not only him, but most, if not all, of his sons participated in the war which won our freedom. As President, George (its OK to call a friend of your grandfather's by his first name) visited Salem when grandfather lived nearby. Was he there? Did they have a chat? The road back to Virginia would have passed grandfathers home. Did he take a break, water his horses, have lunch or visit for awhile?

Family lore says that grandfather was persuaded to settle here by none other than Joseph Winston, an American pioneer, planter and Revolutionary War hero, first cousin of statesman and Virginia Governor Patrick Henry. He was a major, leading a company of riflemen in several important battles, including the Battle of Kings Mountain and the Battle of Guilford Court House. He is buried in the National Park at the site of the Battle of Guilford Court House, where a monument notes Winston's command of the militia forces. The town of Winston, North Carolina (which later became part of Winston-Salem) is named for him.

A fourth paternal great-grandfather came over from Germany, selling clocks, before founding Kernersville, a sixth from France, and an eighth from Yorkshire, England. Part of the family was on the Mayflower. I can go on, and on, and on but you get the picture. My family was here long before the United States of America existed and came from across the globe. That is what makes me a “dyed in the wool” American. 

Dyed in the wool – Wool dyed while it is still raw wool, the color is firmly fixed. "The figurative sense -- have one's habits or traits so deeply ingrained as to be inflexible” This may not be correct. Dyed in the wool refers to the color of the wool when it is still on the sheep. I.E. black yarn from a black sheep is died in the wool. It is not actually died, it is part of it's nature and is unchangeable. Thus, if someone was a dyed in the wool communist it would mean that it was deeply ingrained as it is part of his very character, unchangeable and perhaps even born into his beliefs.

I know some things that others don’t, and will say some things that others won’t. Who knows what may appear next? It's a new day in Salem.

Hint: Does local author Hunter James have a clue that he wrote about me in "The Last Days of Grassy Fork"? Can you find me in it? I think you might can afford $1.42 for a used copy, don't you? It will be worth it, this is one of the most entertaining books I have ever read about local lore.Better yet, support Hunter, purchase a new copy!

Label me a dyed in the wool HALF BREED is about as close as you can get. It’s a new day in Salem. 

Read this information from Amazon.com:
"For anyone concerned about the future of a great small city and its region, this cautionary tale is must reading." -- Winston-Salem Journal

"Highrollers and halfwits, preachers and peckerwoods, bootleggers and biblethumpers—James has drawn them all with a casual but accurate hand." -- Fred Chappell

"The account of his Glorious Lost Cause, standing athwart the path of History and yelling "Stop!" -- Wilmington Star

"The story of James' effort to fight off urban sprawl and keep his family homestead is both serious and hilarious." -- Bourbon Times

"There's enough in this cantankerous, laugh-out-loud funny yet ultimately sorrowful book to offend virtually everyone in Forysth County." -- Winston-Salem Journal

“Superbly written and hugely entertaining. James is an excellent writer and a natural storyteller.” -- William McKeen
The Last Days of Big Grassy Fork recounts newspaperman Hunter James’s attempts to save his 100-year-old family farm and homestead from extinction. Wise, irreverent, pugnacious, and often hilarious, James fights back against the galloping urbanization of his beloved North Carolina piedmont. Interweaving current affairs and family history, James details the growth of the Winston-Salem area as a center of Moravian piety and later as the world’s largest tobacco manufacturing center. This personal history shows he is not the only James to have had a difficult time fitting in with the neighbors’ idea of progress; his family’s trouble in the Piedmont began early. In 1904 his grandfather was flooded out of a brothel in his birthday suit, and he later scandalized the local Baptist church with drunken sermons, exposing the dark secrets of the congregation.

James’s unique sense of the absurd, and his willingness to play the fool, make for entertaining reading as each of his efforts at preservation fail miserably. He accidentally torches a neighbor’s barn in an attempt to burn off his best pasture land, as was always done in the past; he squanders enormous amounts of money vainly trying to save his farm by becoming the piedmont’s preeminent lord of the manor, vintner, wine snob, and horseman; and he finally seals his own doom when in alliance with his neighbors he inadvertently creates the “world’s largest garbage pit.”

The book ends with an eloquent plea for a true Agrarianism in the modern South, for the need to strike a balance between the call for industrial expansion and the desire to preserve the land.