Thursday, May 31, 2012

Something to celebrate...

On June 1, 1796, Tennessee was added to the Union.  It became the 16th State.

Tennessee had a long and interesting journey to statehood.  It began as part of North Carolina.

In April of 1784 North Carolina ceded what was known as the Washington District to the Federal Government.  Some counties seceded in August of that same year to form what was known as Franklin. Frankland.  This section of Tennessee petitioned to Congress to become the state of Frankland and denied Federal Government claims.  It did not become a state, and, in 1788, this little autonomous government disbanded and was re-acquired by North Carolina.

From May from May 26, 1790, until June 1, 1796, Tennessee was known as the Southwest Territory.  We don't think of Tennessee as being in the southwest today, but in the southeast.  At the time, however, the U.S. had not spread as far west as it does today.   

Later on, it was the last state to leave the union and become part of the Confederate States of America. Tennessee furnished more Confederate soldiers than any other state.  Ironically, it also furnished more soldiers for the Union than any other state.  It was the first state to be readmitted to the Union after the Confederate wore.

Because Tennessee was part of North Carolina during the Revolutionary War, soldiers who fought for North Carolina were often given land grants in unsettled (by Europeans) parts of Tennessee.  My great-great-grandfather was awarded 4500 acres in Maury County, TN, and his relatives were also awarded grants here, as well. 

My relatives and many other families did move west to claim their pensions.  Some soldiers, who did not care to move west, sold their land grants.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Milky Way Farms!

During the Depression, a well known candy bar brought a little sweetness to Giles County, TN.  Frank Mars put his now famous confection, the Milky Way Bar, on the market in 1920, and he made a fortune of several million dollars.

Ten years later, he bought land in Giles County, and he started a farm there.  In time, he owned 3,500 acres there.

At the time, things were bleak in Tennessee, as they were in many other areas of the country.  However, Mars farms, which began as his bobby, brought some prosperity to the area. In the beginning, the farm employed 600 people directly.  Not only that, but many local businesses were tapped for the farm's development, and many more people were thus indirectly employed by the Milky Way Farms.  This was a huge boon to the local economy.

Once the farms were up and running, the direct employment and the money spent in development dropped; however the farms still benefited the area.

In April of 1934, Frank Mars died at age 51, and he was buried in a mausoleum on one of the highest hills on his farms.  People filling 12 Pullman cars came down from Chicago for the funeral.  In 1944, Mars' widow, Ethel, had his body moved to Minneapolis.

In the spring of 1945, she sold the farms.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Those Girls from Tennessee

Be careful what you say, as you may live to eat your words.

 In 1824, Lucius Junius Polk, a young man of 22 years, served as a groomsman at the wedding of his cousin, James Knox Polk.  He could not have known then that his cousin would one day become President of the United States.

After the wedding, Lucius wrote relatives that "Tennessee girls are not of the first order either in accomplishments or beauty."

I wonder if he included James' bride, Sarah Childress,  in that statement.  Sarah couldn't be faulted for her accomplishments, as she was unusually well educated for a woman of her day.  She was also praised for her "noble beauty" or her "handsome beauty", and her exotic dark looks had earned her the nickname of Sahara Sarah. Her front teeth were a little prominent, however, and she hid them by tightening her lips across them. Some did not realize that this was from self-consciousness and thought she looked disapproving.   All in all, she was a remarkable woman, as time would prove.

Wouldn't you know it?  After putting down Tennessee girls, Lucious soon fell in love with one.  Her name was Mary Eastin, and she was the great niece of the late Mrs. Andrew Jackson.  Her great uncle, Andrew Jackson, was President at the time, and she was a favorite relative of his.  She lived in the White House while her uncle was President. 

Unfortunately for Lucius, she was already engaged to a man from Washington, D. D.  His name was Bolton Finch of the U. S. Navy.  Mr. Finch had previously been engaged to a string of girls, but this time, things seemed serious.   The day for the wedding had been set, and, according to one account of the story, the guests had been invited.

Lucius took off to Washington in a coach and four to make one last appeal for her hand.  Miss Eastin changed her mind and heart and decided to marry Lucius instead.   Tradition says that she did this at least partly because of some advice from President Andrew Jackson urging her to marry for love.

Lucious and Mary were married in the White House in April 1832.  They returned to Tennessee to live and had eight to twelve children, depending on which account you read.  Sadly, Mary died in childbirth or shortly after delivering her last two children, which were twins.  Lucous married again, and, naturally, his second wife was a woman from Tennessee.