I stood in line at a cheeseburger restaurant, middle of the afternoon. In front of me were four high school age guys who had just busted loose from their daily indoctrination. Three were White, one Hispanic. The White boys were well dressed, no slobs or ghetto attire, perhaps from financially above average families. They were discussing history. The Hispanic expressed that he did not care much for American history. One of the White boys admitted he did not know when WWII occurred...
Concerning the Hispanic boy, it is only natural that someone not born here might not be interested in American history. But if one did not care for a place and its people, its culture and who built it, why would you want to be in that place?
Concerning the White boy, consider that if did not know when WWII occurred he has no real idea about 20th century history, much less 19th century history. I know where my grandfathers were in 1945. Where were this young man’s great-grandfathers in 1945? He probably does not know. A survey I referenced a few essays ago noted that many people could not name their four grandparents and that only 4% of people could name all eight of their great-grandparents. If he knew little about WWII, we can assume he has no idea where his ancestors were from 1865, if any of them had even arrived in America by that time. Without a connection to the past a people are lost, will drift pointlessly.
The Boomers, as a demographic, knew little about history and often let kin ties die out as they sought money, entertainments, and what they considered the good life. But the under age 20 generation in present day America have taken historical ignorance to new levels.
We can assume the young men I mentioned were not upset over the recent smelting of the Robert E. Lee statue that once stood in Charlottesville, if they even heard that it happened. The bust of George Washington is still on the face our our quarters; I wonder if they know who he was? They are in an electronic world, detached from the past, with no sense of eternity.
The late great Andrew Nelson Lytle once wrote that he had “come to live in the sense of eternity”. That is the opposite of what the Boomer and succeeding generations have done.
My family has not been immune to this. I have 1st cousins I barely know and many 2nd cousins whom I have never even met. The last real (aka more than 10 people) family reunion we held occurred over 25 years ago. They have little to no interest in early Kentucky, which our kin helped pioneer. They have no real interest where their ancestors were in 1865, or in 1776. They have no real interest in their ancestor’s Protestant (including Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed) beliefs, and some have drifted to Pentecostalism. Grandchildren of farmers became urbanites. Much of my family are severed from their roots, as is the bulk of modern America. Only a handful are racially conscious. But, they had money and ease that their ancestors did not have.
I tried to awaken my kin. I have talked, shared old photos, and written essays about our kin. But I have failed to garner much interest from any family under the age of 70. At 40, I have become the genealogist/archivist/historian for the family.
Earlier this year I watched a speech on YouTube by Sam Dickson, given at the Dixie Fest in South Carolina this July. He spoke of some Hungarian royalty of the Andrassy family whom he happened to meet decades ago as a young man. He commented to them that they had lost everything when they fled the communist takeover of Hungary. Dickson asked them how they coped with losing everything. The Countess politely told him that: “We have everything we ever had except our money. She said you Americans - and remember this was 1970 - said you Americans have lost everything except money. Said you’ve lost you race, you’ve lost your religion, you’ve lost your music, you’ve lost your culture, you’ve lost your families. She went down a checklist and said the day is gonna come when the money’s gonna go, and said when that day comes Americans will be the most bankrupt people in the history of the whole human race”. I fear this lady was correct.
I want to help my people. I want to inspire my ignorant generation to learn of the past and embrace their roots. But so far I have been unsuccessful. The young men I opened this essay speaking of have already lost everything of value, and do not even know it. In a sense they did not lose it as they never had it to begin with. What more can I say?
Have you ever enjoyed a bowl of burgoo? I did earlier this year, in the dining room of the Old Talbott Tavern in Bardstown, Kentucky.
What exactly is burgoo? A sort-of thick soup, heavily seasoned, of Southern origin. Under the entry for stew, the (online) Encyclopedia Britannica noted that “Kentucky’s burgoo is similar, adding beef and potatoes, carrots, turnips, and other vegetables”. A 5/22/2023 online Taste of Home article What is burgoo and how do you make it? that I found while researching noted that burgoo is “a regional specialty around the Bluegrass State as well as parts of Illinois and the Ohio River Valley”. Everyone seems to think this southern dish started in Kentucky.
Everette Dick’s fascinating 1948 book The Dixie Frontier: A Social History tells us more. In the 12th chapter Dick tells us that after events like a log rolling there would be a feast: “A favorite dish was know as bergu or burgoo. It was a pot pie made from a mixture of vegetables of all kinds and wild meats such as squirrel, turkey, venison, and the like, highly seasoned and cooked in a big iron kettle out of doors”. Later in that chapter he noted that when a corn husking was finished: “After that came the supper, which always included burgoo”. Further, Kleber’s 1992 Encyclopedia of Kentucky tells us of burgoo that: “Its use as the name of a Kentucky stew is traced to Gus Jaubert, of John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry, who applied it to field rations he concocted and later prepared for political gatherings”. Very interesting.
As I sat inside the thick limestone walls of the circa 1779 Old Talbott Tavern, I awaited my burgoo. A cup of “Kentucky burgoo” at the OTT was $4.99 a la carte while a bowl was $7.99. I just had a cup, as an appetizer to my meal. The burgoo was rich and tasty, and much spicier than I had expected. The dark color, flavor, and texture of the meat struck me as beef. But there could have been several meats in it. There was a variety of vegetables, and it was indeed “highly seasoned”. I thought it was quite good, and would definitely order it again. I found the burgoo paired well with sweat tea.
There is no set list of ingredients to burgoo, only general guidelines. It is supposed to be thick, and strongly seasoned/spicy. It is often cooked in a large pot, in the past outdoors over an open fire.
I did not grow up eating burgoo. My mother fixed vegetable soup in my youth, to which she always with added chunks of beef. But there was no seasoning, it was not thick, and the color was much lighter than the burgoo I had at the tavern. And it contained only one meat. Good it was. Burgoo it was not.
I am glad I have experienced actual burgoo at the Talbott. Now I am stewing about making some for myself.
On October 8, 1862 Union and Confederate armies clashed at little Perryville, Kentucky. It was to be the largest engagement of the WBTS to occur on Kentucky soil, and inflicted a stunning number of casualties. About 16,000 Confederates under Gen. Braxton Bragg (aided by Leonidas Polk, Buckner, and Hardee) faced off against about 58,000 Union soldiers under Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell (aided by Thomas, McCook, and Gilbert). But through an amazing error, Buell only committed about 22,000 of his men to the battle.
Gen. Braxton Bragg moved into the Bluegrass, attempting to coordinate with Gen. Kirby Smith on a campaign to drive Union forces out of disputed Kentucky. Smith was not very helpful. Bragg’s army got bogged down reducing a Union garrison at a railroad bridge near Munfordville. By the time the Confederate army arrived at Bardstown, a massive Union force under Maj. Gen. Buell were counter maneuvering him and closing in. Bragg’s troops relocated east to more favorable ground outside of little Perryville.
The campaign was complicated by scarcity of drinking water, as Kentucky was in a drought. Confederate Gen. Hardee camped near Perryville, as there was some water there. There was some light skirmishing late on the 7th. The next afternoon was the fateful moment. Gen. Leonidas Polk took up a defensive position at Perryville, but when Bragg arrived he determined that they must instead attack the approaching Union army.
The Confederate assault got underway about 2 PM on the 8th of October. Confederate forces managed to press forward, silence a Union hilltop battery, and took much of the field. But the Confederate advance ground to a halt after Union reinforcements arrived. The fighting was savage, volleys of musket fire and artillery rounds rending the air. The Yankees even attempted a bayonet charge once. The Confederate attack of Maney’s brigade on Open Knob was successful, swept down the back of the hill and through a cornfield, but came to a halt when faced by fresh Union forces behind a stone wall on a ridge. At this point it was obvious that it would not be possible to destroy the Union army before their reinforcements arrived.
As noted in Lowell H. Harrison’s 1975 book The Civil War in Kentucky: “Atmospheric quirks apparently prevented both Bragg and Buell from hearing the early battle sounds. When the thunder of the guns and the crackle of rifle fire finally reached Buell after three o’clock, he sent General Gilbert to find out what was happening”. History can be stranger than fiction.
One of the most amazing stories of Perryville is that near dark, Gen. Polk inadvertently rode into Yankee lines, thinking they were his soldiers, and began commanding them to cease firing at the Confederate line he had just left, as he thought they were engaging in “friendly fire”. When a Union Colonel inquired who he was, Polk bluffed his way out and rode back to Southern lines, and then cried out for his troops to open fire on the Union line he had just left!
The wall of flame from the Southern muskets devastated the stunned Union unit, rendering almost 70% casualties in it.
By night it became clear to Gen. Bragg that he was facing Buell’s entire 58,000 man army, as it maneuvered into position against him. Knowing he could not hold out against 3.5 to 1 odds, Bragg ordered his army to fall back east to Harrodsburg. Bragg’s army subsequently left their seriously wounded at Harrodsburg and withdrew through the Cumberland Gap.
The carnage at Perryville was stunning for such a short battle with so few men involved. Bragg lost 510 killed and 2,635 wounded. Buell had lost 845 killed and 2,851 wounded. All this in just over five hours of contact! The next day (October 9) Leonidas Polk, the “Bishop General”, entered the Episcopal church in Harrodsburg and offered a prayer of “peace to the land, and blessings on friend and foe alike”. Polk, a valiant soldier, was that affected by the carnage he had witnessed. I drove past that church in Harrodsburg last year on the day that I also visited the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site.
The Union army buried their dead. Local farmer Henry “Squire” Bottom and his slaves buried the Confederate dead that were strewn over the field. Some reports are that with fences down from the fighting, hogs were running wild and feasting on the dead. A fine marker now stands over the mass grave of Confederates.
And just when you think it’s over...The Kentucky Encyclopedia (John Kleber, 1992), under the entry for Harrodsburg, noted the following: “On October 10, 1862, Lt. John Boyle led the 9th Kentucky Cavalry in a surprise raid on Harrodsburg, where many buildings had been converted into temporary hospitals, and captured 1,600 Confederate soldiers, many of whom were sick and wounded from the recent Battle of Perryville. Some of the captured Confederates were members of a detachment of Gen. Braxton Bragg’s rear guard. Harrodsburg was placed under Federal martial law for the remainder of the war”. This daring (sarcasm) Union Lieutenant, presumably leading a platoon, rode into a basically unguarded town and captured wounded Confederate soldiers! I am almost surprised that Lincoln’s army did not give him their new medal, the Medal of Honor, created in 1862 to give to soldiers who fought against Dixie. It’s origin takes a bit of the luster from that medal, does it not?
I will close with one parting thought. As I strolled through the Civil War museum in Bardstown last month, I saw a display about a little unnamed drummer boy, a Confederate one I believe. It told of soldiers observing the boy, about 8 years old, laid out mortally wounded by a house, crying out in delirium for his “dear mother” to come and take him home. They marched by a couple of hours later and the boy lay there, forever silent. Dixie just wanted to secede and be left alone. But Lincoln brought about this cataclysm, and this little drummer boy’s blood is on his hands.
At a recent family get-together the question was brought up as to why one set of my 1st great grandparents (who died between 1923 and 1942) were buried with only a rock for a gravestone. My uncle offered that maybe they were too poor to afford a professional gravestone with their name on it. I doubt that. And the rock/fieldstone can no longer be located. Thankfully I at least have a couple black and white photos of them, and a picture of their 1894 marriage license I took during research at the clerk’s office in my local courthouse.
Three years ago, the man who maintains the plat map of that cemetery told me he only has records of *marked* graves. Unless they mark plots on a map as allotted to a family, what is to prevent them from being inadvertently dug up when some mortician a decade from now sees a couple open spaces and decides to bury there?
Let us step back for a moment. If we go back far enough, common folk had no gravestones. They would be buried at the foot of an old tree or a rock placed in lieu of a headstone. Cut marble stones were expensive, generally unavailable to poor folk or people living great distances from cities. Roughly speaking, after the WBTS engraved headstones became more commonly available and affordable to plain folk, and especially so in the 20th century.
Consider John Rowan (1773-1843) of Kentucky -judge, politician, horse breeder, duelist, and builder of Federal Hill plantation. It is said that Judge Rowan specified that he should have no headstone, as his parents had none and he felt no greater than them. Eventually his children formally marked the judge’s grave, which can be viewed at My Old Kentucky Home State Park between the visitors center and his circa 1818 mansion. I accept that common folk, and even some planters, often did not have gravestones 200 years ago. That is just reality. But 80 years ago? Really?
And yet, my aforementioned 1st great grandparents Robert Young and Minnie Jane (Elledge) lay unmarked in a row near the woods at a large Methodist cemetery. One relative remembers being shown their graves maybe 40 years ago, fieldstones still visible then. Two of their four children lie nearby, with spouses, all in marked graves. The immediate area has several spaces for potential graves. Minnie Jane’s parents lay in the same graveyard, up the hill in marked graves. Robert’s parents lie in a cemetery one county east, in marked graves.
Why did the five adult children of my 1st great grandparents not mark their parent’s grave with a headstone bearing their names? I cannot answer that for sure. None of the five were wealthy, but none were poor. All the men were literate and employed. The men were all land owners. Even if money was tight in 1942, why not mark them a couple decades later?
One the back row of a little country graveyard near me is a stone for six infants of the same family, these infants being older second cousins to my mother, some stillborn and unnamed, with a few rocks visible nearby. But the ones who lived to adulthood before being laid to rest there all have actual headstones. A poor couple in the Depression era who gave birth to 18 children over a 22 year period (many sets of twins!) could apparently not afford headstones. They were poor. My ancestors were not. Plain folk, yes. Dirt poor, no. Why no headstone?
My grandfather, son of the unmarked Robert and Minnie, lies next to my grandmother in marked graves. So do all four of his siblings, sort-of. One brother and his wife have nothing but the little metal plaque on a stick that funeral homes use to mark graves before a headstone is set. One is very weathered, having stood there for over 30 years. Their only daughter did not bother to mark her parent’s grave with a headstone. And guess what. When the daughter and her husband died, their daughters did not mark their grave either, save for the funeral home plaque stick in the ground. Then when one of the two daughters prematurely died in 2021, her sister did not even bother to mark her grave for over a year. Finally, a small metal plaque on wire showed up, not a funeral home style one. She is employed, owned a house, inherited her sister’s house, but just could not drop $300 for a basic mail order flat headstone for her sister’s grave. Can we guess how her grave will one day be marked? A generation who do not care about the memory of their ancestors will be requited with descendants who likewise do not care about their memory. I came across an article last year titled Family tree stumped: Most Americans can’t name all 4 of their grandparents! by one Chris Melore. It cited survey data that only 47% of people could name all four of the grandparents, and another survey indicating that only 4% (yes, four percent) of people could name all eight of the great-grandparents! How can this be? It is not hard to destroy a race and their culture when that people have lost sight of who they are. The Southern question when meeting a stranger of “where do you bury” does not work well if one does not even know who their grandparents are.
I have read, from an online source, that “Tradition is not the worship of ashes but the preservation of fire”. I think this to be true. At some point my family, and that of most Americans, ceased to preserve the fire. People started living for themselves, in the moment, structuring their lives around the acquisition of mammon. Extended family drifted apart. Sunday visits ended. Family moved away, even hundreds of miles away to different states. First cousins barely know each other, and 2nd cousins never met. And thus goes out the fire.
Do not let the fire go out in your family. If it already has, do what you can to rekindle it. But do not be surprised if most of your cousins do not care. If you have any ancestors with unmarked graves that can be located, mark them even if you must take up donations from interested kin. Our people must endure!
As a young man I worked in a restaurant, eventually as a manager. It was the best paying and most personally degrading job I have ever held. But I had some enlightening experiences in those eight years…
About fifteen years ago I was talking to another man who worked at the same restaurant chain. He was the younger brother of the store owner at my location. He told me he did not like to eat salad because it “tasted like dirt”. What? I knew nothing of the Twelve Southerners at the time, and my folks no longer grew a garden, but as a country boy I was naturally perplexed by his statement.
I had never thought of salad, or vegetables, having an earthy flavor. Perhaps they do at times. But that is because of what they are. And occasionally a piece of sausage tastes like the barnyard, perhaps from sloppy butchering technique. I never ate a mud pie as a child so I cannot positively comment on what dirt tastes like. I also recall the owner’s son, about my age, once telling me that he hated the term cowboy so much that he was surprised that he still liked the Dallas Cowboys football team, and also mocking a “no farms no food” bumper sticker he saw. What was wrong with those fellows?
Why would a man hate the soil, where his food grew, hate the very source of his physical sustenance, and mock those who fed him by their labor? How disconnected from nature and reality is that? How urbanite. How Yankee. And Yankees they were, in sentiment and also in ancestry. They came carpetbagging down from Indianapolis to sell food to rural folk.
The Bible tells us that God placed man in a garden to tend it. Jesus Christ spoke in agrarian parables. From ancient Greece to Medieval villages to early Virginia to Russian peasants in 1917 -man lived from the soil. (And modern ones still do, in an indirect and abusive way). To work the land was the normative lifestyle for the majority of mankind until about 1750 or so when the Industrial Revolution came along. Dixie was the last outpost in “America” of not just farming but a true agrarian wordlview. And the agrarian worldview truly is just that, a lifestyle and a worldview, not just a way to make an income, as the Southern Agrarians contended as recently as 1930 with I’ll Take My Stand.
Why are farmers mocked by the elite? Why is ditch digging a pejorative, cast as the lowest of occupations, only for the stupid or lazy? Because modern man is in rebellion to God, and hates to work the soil from whence he came. To garden, even a small one in a suburban backyard, gives one a connection to their creator. There is still a remnant of agrarianism in Dixie! Yes, they garden in Vermont, but Mother Earth News is not quite I’ll Take My Stand.
And why are mausoleums becoming common in urban areas? You see, man used to understand that each of us must one day “...return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”. Soil reminds him of what he is, of his basic needs (that are *for now* artificially supplied by the system), and of his ultimate mortality and resting place. He wishes to escape the soil, even in death.
Anyway, I like the soil. I think I will go and start harvesting my raised beds of sweet potatoes after I send this essay in to Reckonin’.
We are in a struggle for who we are, and for the memory of our ancestors. I became aware of this about a decade ago, and it was jarringly thrust before the eyes of the masses during the summer of 2020, when BLM was rioting and monuments to our people were being toppled. The rage at White people was primarily focused on the South, Confederate monuments, and any historical figure even remotely connected to slavery. Now (2023) the LGBTQIA movement seems to have temporarily taken center stage in the assault on traditional society.
I am a member of a county historical society in Kentucky. I inadvertently joined by giving them a small donation for historic preservation activities at an old property they own, which apparently made me an official member. So I now receive their newsletter. A recent issue noted that a historic home, a fine brick Greek Revival mansion dating to 1840 had recently been painstakingly restored! They are making the new resident owner of it a member of the board of said historical society, even though he and his husband had only recently moved to that town. Yes, he and his husband. And as a bonus, one of them is also apparently Hispanic.
First, as a Christian, I strongly condemn homosexuality as not just sin but the most vile level of perversion, the title of this essay being a veiled reference to Revelation 18:2. Second, I am glad that old houses like this one are being preserved. But this particular incident brought me to a question I had never before considered. If our history is to be preserved so that it may become a habitation of sodomites, does it matter that said relic of our past was preserved? What if parlors that once welcomed ministers and Confederate officers as guests now host queer parties?
To see our monuments torn down, by perfidious officials or by howling mobs, is deeply saddening. But what if our old houses, museums, and placards at historic sites endure -but tell a different story, a story of how evil (by modern “woke” standards) our ancestors were? This is starting in Virginia, at the homes of America’s founders. This is also occurring in the Kentuckiana that I call home, including at a museum I visited last year that had replaced the section dedicated to the county’s (slave owning and Indian fighting) namesake with a case filled with Indian artifacts (just forward of the underground railway display).
And why would a sodomite couple love a 200 year old home, built and inhabited by folks dramatically different from them - by a minister, in fact? Why be fascinated by a time period and its artifacts, a time period whose worldview would condemn their lifestyle and deepest urges? Is it purely an architectural love for the old place? Or is this really just a veiled attack on our heritage, by imposing sodomite dominion on one of our sites, to show us that we no longer even control the official memory of ancestors? I suspect it is the latter.
I am glad the old house still stands, and I hope it is still here 200 years from now! But if our people have become so brainwashed that they love trannys and hate their own ancestors, or are displaced by “migrants” from the Third World, it will not really matter if it still stands. And Kentucky would no longer be Kentucky, even if the name is retained.
We must keep our history alive in the hearts of our people! Our people must endure!
Joe Putnam is a life long resident of Kentuckiana, with ancestors having lived with a 75 mile radius of Louisville since 1780. He has blogged at God, Kin, and Soil and has indie published a few small books available on Amazon.