Thursday, February 6, 2014
Community – we need to take back our town!
Last week, the concerned citizens in my neighborhood had a meeting to discuss the crime rate. Since that meeting, there have been numerous break-ins of vehicles, one home of which I am aware and an armed mugging on the square.
Positive note is an adolescent was picked up and held for questioning. Turns out he was one who had been breaking and entering vehicles in our neighborhood. While he was in custody, a home invasion occurred, so obviously he is not the only perpetrator on our streets.
We are lucky enough to have a feisty and tenacious community member who has been diligently patrolling our streets late at night. We have all been on guard and much more aware of our surroundings.
I lived in Dallas, Texas, for a number of years. There was an incident within the first three months of my living there. My roommate and I were getting ready to go to school when we heard a huge ruckus followed by gunshots. This happened before noon. We looked out our windows and across the tiny courtyard; there were ATF agents and SWAT teams. They were decked in black jackets with their letters printed boldly on their backs. Some even had on masks like one would normally see a robber wearing. Turned out, the apartment across the courtyard was a drug dealers’ den. The shot we heard was an ATF agent shooting, which subsequently hit a rookie ATF agent, killing him on the spot.
I called home immediately, telling Momma to turn on the news. I figured it had made national news – a shooting while busting up a drug ring. Surely that was big enough to reach the local stations here! Needless to say, it did not, as I soon learned it was a common occurrence in Dallas.
I moved out of that neighborhood and closer to downtown Dallas. I had a darling little house in the middle of what was called their Spanish Harlem. Going to the grocery store was challenging, as everything was in Spanish and nobody appeared to speak English. My neighbors were wonderful and helped me pick up the words I would need to communicate properly.
There was a little bar about three blocks from my house. The first night I heard shots, I hit the floor and called 9-1-1. It was not long after when I got a nice guard dog. The shots that were fired always at the bar were shots of celebration, just folks shooting in the air just for fun.
Momma came to stay with me once. She was so scared, she did not want to spend the night there. She went on down the expressway to stay with Rowan, my Uncle. I was never scared there, as the neighborhood seemed to take care of its own.
One night there was a stabbing. The victim wound up stumbling onto the front steps up the sidewalk to my home. Sadly I had been so desensitized to the goings on that it did not really affect me. I called the police and later walked out to talk to my neighbors about it.
We should not have to live in fear in Holly Springs! We are not a major metropolitan area, but apparently are getting the crime like we are. It is time we all stand up and help our neighbors out by keeping a watchful eye. If you see something hinky, call the police.
If there are students meandering around the neighborhood when school is in session, call the police and the superintendent of education. There are truancy laws in place that will not only have the adolescent in trouble, it will also affect his or her parents.
The police will not know what is going on if we do not contact them.
Snap pictures or videos with your phone if you see something that is not right. You will be able to show them to the police when they arrive if the assailant is in the wind.
We need to take back our town! All of us work hard for what we have and it should not be taken by anyone. It is beyond sad that criminals seem to feel entitled because they are too lazy to get jobs or too young to think anything will happen to them. Be wary, my readers, and keep in touch with your neighbors. Get to know them so they can help you if ever needed!
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Report from Marshall County Museum...
By CHELIUS CARTER
So…how has the first six months of the new interim director of our Marshall County Historical Museum been? Busy! As you might have picked up from Megan Wolfe’s fine articles for the museum, we are up past our ears in inventory and finding many treasures that have slipped out of notice in the 44 years the museum has been open.
What is the purpose of all this inventory work at the museum, one might ask? Well, it is critical to the museum’s mission of providing a home for Marshall County’s history, so pivotal to the history of our state and region. A current and thorough inventory actively continues the legacy of two stalwart women: Eleanor Wyatt and Lois Swaney Shipp, in the preservation of Marshall County’s treasures, which are irreplaceable touchstones to that history. “Miss Lois” has been the public face of the museum for much of its history, providing an indispensible service in motivating people to donate items to the museum’s collection; Mrs. Wyatt, in the first years of curating the museum’s quickly growing collection, diligently sought to accurately document and catalogue all items coming into the museum – both critical functions. Completing this documentation process, while assessing the items’ condition and work to provenance their history only augments the museum’s interpretation of Marshall County’s history within a timeline of events connecting it to the larger historical context. Being a native of West Tennessee, just north of Millington; since moving here in 2002 into the historic Hugh Craft House (1851), I have been intrigued by those unexpected intersections of family, business and politics that have played through here in Holly Springs and Marshall County. I should not be. My own people came from here on both sides of the family – the Carters came from out towards Ashland and in fact my great-great-grandfather William Riley Carter was an 1862 enlistee in Co. B “O’Conner Rifles” of the 2nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment and went to fight in Virginia with Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
On my mother’s side, I have a John Howard who had a farm just out of Holly Springs. Hugh Rather, a wonderful architectural historian and researcher whom I met on one of Lois’ renowned “Marshall County History Tours,” and I corresponded afterwards often, as he was trying to help me locate where John Howard’s place was. All I had to go on was a claim he made in 1865 for damage to his home and property by the Federal troops marching through there.
As for William Riley Carter, my own grandfather Cecil Carter – who ran the old Carter’s Seed Store for some 60 years down on Front Street in Memphis - related to me that as a young man, he traveled down to Marshall County with his father John Carter to visit William Riley and stayed overnight in the old log house that had a “dog-trot” between the two rooms – a once common form of indigenous historic architecture, rarely seen as a survivor today. I recall one out past Lamar and another just out from Hickory Flat and that has been a few years…both are probably now gone.
there are other intersections. While working in my yard one day, a car
stopped at the base of the hill and a familiar voice called out “Cheely
Carter!” It was Dr. Leroy Boatwright of Millington, Tenn., whom I have
not seen in years. Dr. Boatwright, whose people are from here as well,
has been for decades the pharmacist to our family in and around
One, a Sherman Fountain of Remus, Michigan, related to me that one of the cadets was on a cross-country training flight and developed engine trouble and had to make a forced landing in a field “down in Mississippi.” Was this the other half of Sherman Fountain’s story? He and a pilot took a train down there and couldn’t get it working so they had it loaded up on a truck and hauled back to Park Field.
The upshot of this story that brings it more current is the possible residual effects of this incident, as the news article went on to say, “The coming of this airship has suggested that it will be a good idea if the business of men in Holly Springs should provide a field for the landing of these aviators and keep a standing invitation for them to visit our town.”
Fast forward to World War II and my own uncle, W.S. “Babe” Howard related an obscure story to me. Uncle “Babe” was on a bus with some fellows from his 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment and heading off to some training. Stopping in Holly Springs for a brief layover, they went upstairs of the then bus station, into what was Stafford’s Cafe at the corner of South Memphis Street and Van Dorn Avenue.
There was a scuffle with a local official, resulting in the man being knocked down the stairs by one of the soldiers which, my uncle recalled, accidentally killed the man – shocking scene for a young man. They got back on the bus and Uncle “Babe” didn’t really know what happened after that.
Fast forward to last year when a native of Holly Springs, Henry Dancy with whom I’ve become well acquainted, stopped in to visit, as he does whenever he is in town from Tarboro, North Carolina.
We were visiting in the kitchen and I had my then- toddler son Townes (a ginger-head) in my lap and Henry, while playing with him, was reminded of a “Red” Hill, who was some sort of City Marshall (as Bobby Joe Mitchell recalls) and the time he got into fisticuffs with a soldier passing through town during World War II. I stopped him, “Hold it Henry…I know this story.” Henry knew little else except the fall did kill “Red” Hill.
Bobby Joe Mitchell in looking up an old news article added later, “I think the incident happened at the top of the steps that go up to the second floor there at old the Stafford’s Café Building. He knocked Mr. Hill down those steps I believe. He (“Red” Hill) was City Marshal or some similar title. The paratrooper was brought back for trial and found not guilty.”
It’s very odd how these crossings occur…then if one talks to folks, listens and knows how to ask the right question…maybe not so odd; we perhaps just need to listen a bit more. This past week a fellow, Charlie Shaw of Holly Springs, came in with an obituary of a lady recently passed from Tipton County, Tenn. – she had been a graduate of the Mississippi Synodical College in Holly Springs and thought we might be interested…as it is the old college’s 1903 dormitory the museum is housed in.
I was very interested. The lady was Mary Drew Witherington (Griffin), known to all as “Judy” Griffin; she was a dear friend of mine whom I had not seen in years. So, this past Sunday I went to her memorial at old Ebenezer Presbyterian Church in Gainesville, Tenn. – which is just out from Mason. The Witheringtons have been close friends to my family (both Carters and Howards) since they both moved up into Tennessee from Mississippi.
The Witheringtons were among Tipton County’s first families in the 1820s and Judy lived, until her recent death, at the family’s old plantation home built in 1842 in Beaver Creek Bottom. Her brother, Dr. Albert Sidney Witherington was our family doctor until he retired and I have so many pleasant memories of visits with both over the years.
Judy died just shy of her 102nd year and I read in the Marshall County Genealogical Society’s website that she was a Mississippi Synodical College graduate in 1930, a year before Mrs. Chesley Thorne Smith (1929) and knowing these two women, I cannot imagine that they did not know each other. I only wished I had known to ask Judy about her time in Holly Springs and to ask Chesley Smith if she knew Mary Drew “Judy” Witherington. I’d like to know what her life was like at the college and what her impressions were of Holly Springs in the 1920s – Whom did she know? Where did they go? But there it is again, if one talks to folks, listens well and knows the right question to ask, then maybe this myriad of scraps that make up our own Southern Tapestry (thank you Hubert H. McAlexander) seems to be not so disconnected and arbitrary but a beautiful pattern, by design.
We just need to ask questions, be a little more curious and engaged with our shared history and our surroundings, and perhaps listen a bit more.
If you would like to learn more about Marshall County history, you could visit the Marshall County Historical Museum anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturdays are by special arrangement. Call 662-252-3669 for details.
Remember that our neighbor down the street, the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery is now open regular hours Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Telephone number: 662-252-5300.
News: (662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: (662) 252-3388
Questions, comments, corrections: email@example.com
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