Monday, October 15, 2012

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow......

          For nearly six years I've played the piano at church that uses the modern genre of Christian music.  It was a real learning experience for me from Day 1!!  Having been raised and trained in the classical and sacred repertoire, it was a whole new world!   A lot of it I've come to love and enjoy.  Some of it I took a deep breath and jumped into!
          What I enjoyed most though was (and is) the people!  So many of them have become wonderful friends, the best kind of church family!

            A couple of weeks ago I found out that I had been recommended to another church in the area, one that was looking for a Music Director.  Some conversations, an interview and such, and I was asked how I felt about joining them.  They have a lovely, enthusiastic choir, they are very similar to the doctrines that I grew up with...and they have a wonderful (real) grand piano (something that doesn't exist in many churches in the lake area nowadays!!)  Definitely enticing!

          After a lot of soul-searching...especially relating to leaving a congregation I love dearly...I decided that this was a place where I could fill a need and be immersed in the rich music I've loved so much in the past.  I finally realized that all the dear friends I have in the other congregation will still be a part of my life...they will still be as close as the phone or lunch!  Does it get any better than that?

          This past Sunday (my last day) though was a day of many hugs and tears.  The pastor came in before the first service with a beautiful basket of flowers and set them right in front of my piano.   Would you believe that in all the years I was a florist, I never received a bouquet like this!!!!   I did many of them for lots of other people...this time it was my turn to be thrilled!

         After each service there were hugs and tears and best wishes, messages on a card, and more tears.  It was truly an emotional morning.  This has been a remarkable church family...loving, caring, happy, funny, and dedicated.  They have been an inspiration to me in so many ways.

         To this remarkable group of friends, you are beautiful people and I love you dearly.  I hope that the music I've played for you touched you as much as you have touched my life.  

         Thank you, God, for sending me to be a part of theirs!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Re-enactment of the Battle of Cabin Creek

           That's how it was listed on the advertising posters, but technically, this time it was a charming vignette of what life was like "back then."
           The first re-enactment had been complete with "soldiers" from both sides in resplendent uniforms charming all the "locals" (including my granddaughter who was about 4 at the time).   One very dignified fellow came into the restaurant as we were eating dinner in the complete Confederate gray outfit including a magnificent wool cape that swirled around him as he opened the door for a lady!
           He was definitely an officer, with lots of shining brass buttons and insignia, well polished leather, and a magnificent sword.   When he  saw my granddaughter staring wide-eyed at him, he came to our table, doffed his hat and gave her a very courtly bow (complete with the cape swirl again).  She's never forgotten that...neither have I!
           The following day started with each side waging "battle" in the middle of a local farmer's pasture, complete with officers on horses, infantry charging forward afoot, and a few wagons rumbling along for good measure.  Each side charged and retreated, there was much musket "fire," lots of loud voices and bugle calls, an occasional "casualty"...all this was done about every two hours for the afternoon.   It's an interesting scenario for both history lovers and children (who get to see "living" history).  I'm not sure who enjoys these things more...the re-enactors or the spectators!

           This year's event turned out to be more to see life as it was.  At first I was rather disappointed, although it was staged in the area where the Confederates gathered for the attack before the second battle. The wooded area wouldn't have been a good place the other scenario.

           We came through a ravine on the way to the main area that had a small rocked dam, a charming bit of the past.  Since this would have alongside the Texas/Military Road (or close), was this a refreshing stop, or a place to fill containers for the last leg of a trip?  The Road was used for so many years it would be hard to guess how many travelers it would have seen.
           We could hear the drum cadences as we came up the hill to the site.  This small group definitely add flavor to the scene.  It's always hard not to want to march along with a band, keeping the beat!  My favorite was the youngest...I never saw him lift his head.  I couldn't decide whether he was watching the others trying to keep up with their adult stride or was missing being somewhere else!  

           Close by was the surgeon's tent.  He was explaining the instruments those battlefield doctors had was difficult to keep from staring at the mannequin's newly amputated hand still lying there on the poor guy's leg!  It was a graphic reminder of the realities of that war with the primitive conditions that existed!
           I got busy taking pictures of the markers placed there to commemorate the different regiments and worked my way over to the tent where two dignified gentlemen were sharing great artifacts.  The family who owns the acreage where the battle was fought have unearthed some fabulous finds that give a great picture of the battle.  The case on the table was one that they loaned for the weekend.  

           The cannon was a replica but the unexploded shells were labelled with where they were found back east.  The gentlemen were very knowledgeable!
           The refugee lady had her own re-enactment story...and told of one of the horrors of war that is often forgotten.  She told that "the soldiers had ransacked their farm, took all the food they could find, and burned their home.  She had barely had time to gather her five children and throw a few belongings into a cart.   She was following the Military Road, hoping eventually to make it to a safe haven."
           The other scene I loved was with the lady "doing the laundry."  She was showing a youngster how clothes were scrubbed...a hands-on lesson no less!   Note the laundry hanging on the line!
           Since I tell the stories of historical women in the schools, I am always delighted to see these "pieces of history" shared with youngsters.  Teachers don't have enough time to teach much more than the facts...being able to explore the past in such a setting is invaluable!
           When we went back to the parking area there was a small "unit" drilling.  It was delightful.  As I walked up to take a picture, I heard someone say, "My bayonet keeps falling off!"  Hm-m-m.....  My favorite fellow in this group is the man on the end with the wonderful beard.  Talk about playing the part!!!  Also...note the expression of the person on the far end of the front row....priceless!
          On the way out I stopped one more time to take a picture of the one wagon we saw.  Probably not authentic but great atmosphere.  The wagon train that the Confederates captured was pulled by mules rather than draft horses but would probably have been about that size.  The history books tell us that the train stretched for over 3 miles on its trip...over 100 wagons loaded with supplies. 
           It doesn't say how many wagons were captured, but it must have been quite a sight, quite a chase, and quite a "haul" for those weary, barefoot, threadbare the waning days of a tragic war!

          Thanks to all those who participated in the weekend...from the Oklahoma Historical Society to the individuals.  Those families who brought their children did them a great favor...they'll have stories to tell in class and have those memories forever.  
          So will we all!

Monday, October 1, 2012

"The History of Cabin Creek Crossing"

          Since my little book was published, I've had questions about the name "Cabin Creek Crossing Books."  Well, for starters, it seemed appropriate for me! 
          The area in northeastern Oklahoma where I live is the site of two of the Civil War battles in Indian Territory...and probably the most interesting ones.  Obviously there was not a lot of action this far west, but feelings ran just as deep on each side.
          We attended the biannual re-enactment of the battle this past always an interesting experience.  Before I share those pictures, perhaps a bit of background is in order!
          For many years the main thoroughfare through the wilds of Indian Territory was known as the Texas Road.  From Fort Leavenworth in Kansas this road ran south through unsettled land to Fort Gibson, then on to Fort Washita on the border of the Mexican province of Texas.  It was a supply route for the forts and a hopeful tomorrow for intrepid settlers looking for a new life on land of their own.  They were willing to brave the Territory that was a refuge for outlaws, rustlers, and various Indian tribes to find a place of their own on the fertile rolling plains west of the Ozarks.
           As years passed the Texas Road became an artery of commerce as well, moving supplies, cattle drives going northward.  When the lands were divided among the Indian tribes, much of the eastern and northeastern part of the territory was given to the Cherokees.  Many of these families became prosperous by recreating large farms, even plantations, as they had had in the southeast.  One of those, Joseph Martin, maintained over 100,000 acres in cattle in that part of the state close to the Grand River.  He built a large antebellum home for his family next to the Texas Road....close to a ford across Cabin Creek.

           When the Civil War came to Indian Territory, that supply line became known as the Military Road, moving supplies to Fort Gibson from Kansas.  Martin's homestead became a strategic location on the trail because of his blacksmith shop and stores, plus places for wagons to camp...close to that ford across Cabin Creek.

          Most of the Cherokees joined the Confederate forces, led by one of their own, Stand Watie.  Early in the War the Confederates attacked a contingent of soldiers from the Kansas forts but were defeated.  Later in the War however, the Confederates, by then needing almost everything from shoes to uniforms to medicines, heard that another wagon train was on its way.  This one consisted of over 100 wagons.  This time it was a total rout.
          A surprise attack created chaos for the Yankees who had not even bothered to unhitch the mules from the wagons that night.   The noise of the resulting battle panicked many of the  mules who stampeded over the cliffs with their wagons; others wagons were captured by the Rebels.  Pursued by the Union forces, some of the Confederates escaped to the west driving the wagons loaded with supplies (valued at over $1.5 million, including a hefty payroll bound for Fort Gibson).  The rest of the Southern forces managed to escape southward....across the ford at Cabin Creek.

          There were scars from the battle that stayed visible for years; time has softened most of them.  Stories of the war are still told...but what happened to the payroll gold remains a mystery.  A Confederate cannon that was knocked off the cliff during the battle has remained embedded somewhere in the creek for years, mute witness to what happened there.  The waters in the creek are much deeper now thanks to the completion of the Pensacola Dam, but all along that bend in the creek the memories still linger about what happened that September night...close to the ford across Cabin Creek.