Thursday, April 30, 2015

Higgins, Seydor, Binder--May 1979; Higgins, Hayford; Higgins, Parker--Dec. 1981; and Higgins, Parker--July 1981

Hershel Parker and Brian Higgins in Troy Public Library 1986

Don't look here for an obituary for Brian Higgins, who died Tuesday at 71

I've done two good-to-fine memorial articles, first on Harrison Hayford and then on Walter Bezanson.

I do not expect to write one on my long-time collaborator Brian Higgins, whom I met in 1968 when I went to USC.

I spent more hours with him in the intervening years than with anyone not related to me by marriage or blood.

Usually my collaborations served as a way of getting publications on students' dossiers. A few were genuine collaborations. Brian's and mine were, which meant that we worked for hours together in the same room, over and over again.

The summer I was back teaching at Northwestern, 1973, we used the typewriters in the English office at night as we wrote our article on TENDER IS THE NIGHT. We did our intensive reading of PIERRE in kitchen of his then parents-in-law in Ladera Heights. . . .

I could go on with a dozen pieces linked to places, but I realize that this is something I did in my article on deconstructing THE ART OF THE NOVEL and liberating James's prefaces. After the tenth listing or so melancholy descends.

With Henry Binder and Noel Polk gone and now Brian Higgins gone, that's it for the boys of the War years.

When Brian and I talked on the telephone we laughed and laughed. Now there is no one to laugh that way with.

I have given orders to two men born a while after the War that they are forbidden to die before I do. They will be very sorry if they do.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Does anyone understand the relation of the two parts of this document? Wm Johnston is marrying Nancy Forney

William Johnston's brother Robert Johnston was Rufus Reid’s brother in law. The Johnstons were sons of Col. James Johnston. Rufus's father was Capt. John Reid.

Monday, April 27, 2015

"A Discredited ROLLING STONE article"--And an equally discredited Teresa Sullivan

U.Va. negotiating extension of president's contract | |

When a university president acts impulsively on false accusations and damages the lives of many young male students, she is discredited--and should have been fired months ago instead of being in negotiations for a raise in salary and an extension of her contract. She is discredited.

U.Va. negotiating extension of president's contract







The University of Virginia's Board of Visitors is turning its attention to extending President Teresa Sullivan's contract following a tumultuous academic year.
The board had extended Sullivan's current contract by a year in 2012, five months after a failed attempt by some members to oust her. The contract runs through July 31, 2016.
Sullivan's total annual compensation under the current contract is $674,700, which includes a base pay of $494,700 and deferred compensation of $180,000.
Rector George Keith Martin told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he is confident a contract extension will be completed before June 30, when his term as rector expires.
Negotiations were supposed to begin in January. But by agreement of all parties, the talks did not begin until March because of turmoil last semester, Martin said.
The evaluation process has included input from students, alumni, faculty and staff, Martin said.
Larry Sabato, a U.Va. political science professor, said some recent events were out of Sullivan's control.
These events included a discredited Rolling Stone article about sexual violence at U.Va., the slaying of 18-year-old student Hannah Graham, and the high-profile arrest of a student by Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control officers.
"Murders, suicides, outrageously false reporting by Rolling Stone, and over-the-top takedowns of students by ABC personnel are outside of any president's control. It's unreasonable to insist otherwise," Sabato told the newspaper in an email.
But he said, "When so many unfortunate things happen to a university, a president is going to be Velcro rather than Teflon — that is, the blame is going to stick to her even though she had little or nothing to do with the tragic events."
Martin said Sullivan is being evaluated on the "body of her work" and not just the last academic year. He said he is "very, very pleased" with Sullivan's performance.
Sullivan told the newspaper that she plans to focus on implementing the university's strategic plan and recruiting and retaining faculty as U.Va. approaches its bicentennial.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

GGGGGG Grandpa Solomon Sparks. Is Alan Cumming right or is he fantasizing?

Alan Cumming: "It was quite an eerie feeling to be recognizing traits in myself from a dead man." Everyone who appears on an ancestry show like WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? says something comparable.

In the Yadkin valley, James Wall says a third of the people were Whigs, a third Tories, and a third uncommitted. Because the Tory Bryant was not psychotic like Fanning, who operated to the east and south, and because William Coyle and Samuel Jones were not the subject of stories, I tend to minimize the power of the Tories on the Yadkin. This testimony from George Parks S28457, a young whippersnapper when old Solomon Sparks fought him, as an old man remembers.

Solomon Sparks survived the war, although he lost some or all of his land. He had been there since the 1750s. He fought bravely without arms and considerably injured young Parks by kicking him. "He was sent down the Yadkin in a Canoe. After tied hand and foot on his back he repeatedly hollowed "hurra for King George"--

My only Tory ancestor? The younger Sparks men were Whigs, and fighters for Independence. It was generational there.

Ashamed? No, proud of the old man. Tied and and feet, supine in the canoe, he still yelled out, over and over, "hurra for King George." Who says character gets thinned down after a few generations?

I dream of myself bound head and foot in the bottom of a canoe shouting, "Hurrah for the creative process! Hurrah for documentary research! Hurrah for author's first intention!"

From THE TABLET's 2013 tribute to Mike Abrams at 100, in the slightly corrected form

When this first went online the words about "one of the last survivors" were not there. Mike was called the last survivor.

As late as the 1930s, while Jews made up more than their share of Ivy League students—and would have been even more overrepresented if not for quotas—they were still virtually absent from the English faculty.
Then, almost overnight, everything changed. Starting in the postwar years, anti-Semitism became intellectually unrespectable, thanks to its association with Nazism and the Holocaust, while the flood of new students entering the universities under the G.I. Bill meant that there was an urgent need for new faculty. Jewish professors, critics, and scholars were newly acceptable—Lionel Trilling studied Arnold at Columbia, and Harry Levin studied Joyce at Harvard. Leon Edel wrote the biography of Henry James, and Hershel Parker wrote the biography of Melville. Alfred Kazin recovered the history of the American novel in On Native Grounds, a title whose defiant claim could not be missed.
Of that pioneering generation, one of the last survivors is M.H. Abrams, who will celebrate his 100th birthday on July 23. (Abrams is also still publishing: In August, Norton will bring out a new collection of his essays, The Fourth Dimension of a Poem.) Abrams’ name will be familiar to just about every English major of the last half-century, if only because it appears at the top of the spine of each edition of the Norton Anthology of English Literature, which Abrams created in 1962.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mike Abrams Gone at 102-- "The Likes of M.H.Abrams"? No Such Beast--No peer.

April 22, 2015

M.H. Abrams, beloved professor, literary scholar, dies at 102

M.H. Abrams
File photo/University Photography
M.H. "Mike" Abrams, the influential literary critic and Cornell English professor, died April 21 at Kendal of Ithaca. He was 102.
M.H. “Mike” Abrams, the influential literary critic and beloved Cornell English professor who edited the renowned reference “The Norton Anthology of English Literature” for four decades, died April 21 at Kendal of Ithaca. He was 102.
Abrams, who received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama last July, was the Class of 1916 Professor Emeritus of English. He came to Cornell in 1945 as an assistant professor and retired in 1983. Among his students over the years were literary critics Harold Bloom ’51 and E.D. Hirsch ’50 and novelist Thomas Pynchon ’59. Abrams was named the F.J. Whiton Professor of English in 1960 and the Class of 1916 Professor in 1973.
“One of the dominant figures in literary criticism of the 20th century, M.H. (Mike) Abrams was also the quintessential Cornellian,” President David Skorton said. “He was an inspiring teacher, an extraordinary colleague, chair of the Cornell University Centennial Commission of 1965, and he never missed a home football game. His good judgment, his perennial optimism, his deep wisdom, his sense of humor and his fundamental decency will be sorely missed.”
Born July 23, 1912, in Long Branch, New Jersey, Meyer Howard Abrams majored in English at Harvard University, earning a B.A. in 1934. He studied philosophy at Cambridge University on a Henry Fellowship and returned to Harvard in 1935, earning a master’s degree in English in 1937 and a Ph.D. in 1940. He met his wife of 71 years, Ruth Claire Gaynes (1917-2008), at Harvard.
Abrams conducted classified research at Harvard’s Psycho-Acoustics Laboratory during World War II, helping the military solve problems in voice communications by developing highly audible military codes and tests to select personnel with the ability to recognize sounds in a noisy background.
At Cornell, Abrams helped found the A.D. White Center for the Humanities, now the Society for the Humanities. A longtime Cornell University Library supporter, he chaired membership drives and established an endowment that enabled the library to acquire a set of William Wordsworth’s 1827 “Poetical Works” and other holdings.
“Mike Abrams was a formidable figure in the humanities who changed our understanding of 19th-century literature and thought. But he was also a calm, modest and wholly unpretentious man,” said Jonathan Culler, the Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature.
Abrams telegram
Mike Abrams sent this Western-Union telegram to accept the offer of a job from Cornell in 1945.
Abrams’ passion and dedication to literary scholarship was highly regarded by students and scholars the world over.
“We are human, and nothing is more interesting to us than humanity,” Abrams said in 1999. “The appeal of literature is that it is so thoroughly a human thing – by, for and about human beings. If you lose that focus, you obviate the source of the power and permanence of literature.”
Abrams’ contributions to the study of literature – on campus and around the world – were many. He conceived “The Norton Anthology of English Literature,” an enduring reference for high school and college English students, and was its general editor through seven editions from 1962 to 2000. The New York Times noted that Abrams “refined the art of stuffing 13 centuries of literature into 6,000-odd pages of wispy cigarette paper.”
He wrote or edited more than a dozen award-winning and widely read books, including his 1953 history of criticism, “The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition” – ranked No. 25 on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 best nonfiction books written in English in the 20th century.
His other works included “Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature” (1971) and “The Glossary of Literary Terms,” first published in 1957; he remained its lead author and editor through several editions, and is co-editor of the 11th edition, published this year.
Abrams was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), the American Philosophical Society and the British Academy. His honors included the Award in Humanistic Studies from AAAS and the Keats-Shelley Society’s Distinguished Scholar Award.
“Mike Abrams vividly exemplified how a life of engagement with literature, the arts and the humanities can keep the mind vigorously alive,” said Roger Gilbert, professor and chair of English. “Since coming to Cornell I’ve taken every opportunity I could to bring Mike to my classes, which he was always happy to do. His teaching inspired generations of students.”
The Department of English honored Abrams’ 100th birthday in July 2012 with a tribute by friends and colleagues; he also gave a lecture on “The Fourth Dimension of a Poem.”
“Mike Abrams’ impact on his students, his colleagues and the wider world was immeasurable – he was publishing important new work at age 100,” said Gretchen Ritter ’83, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “His passing is a deep loss to the College of Arts and Sciences and to all of us who love literature.”
Throughout his 80s and 90s, Abrams continued to lecture at Cornell, Yale and other institutions, and remained a visible and active participant in campus life – giving the keynote at a 2005 James Joyce conference, public talks on reading poetry in 2008 and 2010, and attending English department events and Big Red football games. He never missed a home game since coming to Ithaca in 1945, saying he liked “the snappy fall air and the excitement of the game, and the good fellowship.”
Mike and Ruth Abrams traveled extensively and collected art, from Renaissance paintings and pre-Columbian pottery to a Frank Stella Etch-A-Sketch drawing. They donated several artworks to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, including the ca. 500 A.D. Roman mosaic of a lioness attacking an ibex that hangs in Goldwin Smith Hall near the Department of Classics.
Abrams is survived by daughters Jane Brennan of Westport, Connecticut, and Judith Abrams of Trumansburg, New York; two grandchildren, a great-grandson and several nieces and their children. Arrangements are pending at Bangs Funeral Home, Ithaca.

Did anyone else take longer than 2 months to die specifically from an injury at King's Mountain?


                                                                                              Mar., 1752
Wilkes County
North Carolina, USA
Death: Dec. 31, 1780
Burke County
North Carolina, USA

Pension application of Thomas Biecknell (Beicknell, Bicknell) R12399 Rachel (Rachael)f15NC
Transcribed by Will Graves 8/27/10 rev'd 9/3/13
Copy & paste in your browser

State of South Carolina
District of Pickens: SS

On this third day of Dec. 1845, personally appeared before William D Steele Judge of the Court of Ordinary for the District & State aforesaid, Mrs. Rachel Biecknell of the District & State aforesaid, aged eighty-eight years the 12th Instant, (& who the said Ordinary certifies is unable by bodily infirmity to attend in open Court) who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on her oath make the following Declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the third section of the Act of Congress of the 4th of Jul. 1836.

That she is the widow of Thomas Biecknell who was a private & Lieutenant in the war of the Revolution, that she was married to the said Thomas Bricknell when in her seventeenth year, & she thinks when she had three children, her said husband entered the service under Captain Richard Allen, who was afterwards, Colonel, that they then resided in Wilkes Co., North Carolina & her said husband there entered the first time, & was not much at home until the close of the war, that he was at one time a volunteer & at other times drafted, & was a considerable portion of the time a Lieutenant, that she is sure he was a Lieutenant under Captain Allen at the siege at Charleston, that he marched much through North & South Carolina, & served at various times under Captain Lanore [sic, probably William Lenoir], Colonel Cleveland [probably Benjamin Cleveland]1 & Colonel Hearne [sic, probably Benjamin Hearn], but it is impossible for her to state the particulars of his service at her advanced age.

That her husband the said Thomas Biecknell was wounded with an ounce ball in his hip in the Battle at Kings Mountain, with which wound he died, he was carried to Burke Co. near Morganton, to the house of Mrs. Bowman, where declarant went & waited upon him with his wound eleven weeks, at the end of which time he died. She does not know of any documentary evidence, or any evidence of any kind that she can certainly get to prove his services, but thinks an indent may have been issued to her for his services, & she recollects to have tried to get something, & thinks she did get a small sum, but does not know how.

That she was married to the said Thomas Biecknell in Wilkes Co., North Carolina by Squire Riggs, & she believes on the 22nd of Oct., as she thinks, in the year 1774, as she had three children when her husband entered the service, & when his service closed entirely she had five children & four months & fifteen days after his death her sixth child, Mary, was born, her said daughter Mary married David Roper, & she now lives with her, & on their charity. She has no record of her marriage, nor of the births of her children, they were published in church as the custom was in those days to be married, that her husband the aforesaid Thomas Biecknell died on the 31st day of Dec. 1780, & that she has remained a widow ever since that period, as will more fully appear by reference to the proof herewith forwarded.
S/ Rachel Biecknell, X her mark
Sworn to and subscribed the day and year above written before S/ William D Steele, Judge

[p. 6: on Sept. 22, 1851 in Wilkes Co., North Carolina, Sarah Gray, "an old & respectable lady" gave testimony that she knew Thomas Biecknell well & heard & believes that he was a soldier of the revolution; that she lived in his immediate neighborhood & knows that he was a considerable time in the service of his country; that she had a brother in the battle of Kings Mountain & recollects often of hearing her brother say that Thomas Biecknell was also in that battle & was badly wounded in his hip & never recovered; that her brother assisted in bringing Biecknell home from the battle of Kings Mountain; that she (Sarah) does not know her exact age but that her oldest child is 62 years old & that she thinks she was near 20 years old when her oldest child was born; that she thinks Thomas Biecknell was in several battles during the war.]

1 Randall Becknell suggests that this veteran may have fought under Captain John Cleveland at the Battle of Fishing Creek Aug. 18, 1780. Since the widow states that the veteran was wounded at Kings Mountain (Oct. 7, 1780) & died from this wound in Dec. 1780 & since both Col. Benjamin Cleveland & Capt. John Cleveland are listed by Bobby Gilmer Moss in his Kings Mountain Patriots roster, it is entirely possible that this veteran served under both Benjamin & John Cleveland at Kings Mountain.

[p. 7: On Sept. 22, 1851 in Wilkes Co., North Carolina, Captain Benjamin Parks, "an old & respectable Citizen" gave testimony that he knew Thomas Biecknell; that he believes that he was in the battle at Kings Mountain, was wounded there, brought home on a horse litter & died from his wound; He (Benjamin) states that he was born in Virginia but came to Wilkes Co. as a young boy & knew Thomas & Rachel Biecknell before they left the County & heard of their marriage.]

[p 13: On Sept. 25, 1851 in McDowell Co., North Carolina Martha McKenzie gave testimony that she was well acquainted with Thomas & Rachel Biecknell; that Rachel was a Sparks; that she has heard that Thomas was wounded at the battle of Kings mountain, carried to Mrs. Bowman's in Burke Co. near Morganton where he died from his wound. She signed her affidavit with her mark.]

Family links:
  William Bicknell (1706 - 1781)
  Rosanna Cash Bicknell (1736 - 1775)

  Rachel Sparks Bicknell (1757 - 1851)

  Henry James Becknell (1770 - ____)*
  Micajah Bicknell (1776 - ____)*
  William Bicknell (1776 - ____)*
  Mary Bicknell Roper (1781 - 1850)*

  William Bicknell (1752 - 1753)*
  Samuel Bicknell (1752 - 1819)*
  Thomas Bicknell (1752 - 1780)
  Micajah Bicknell (1755 - 1806)*
  John Bicknell (1765 - 1766)*
  Ruth Bicknell (1767 - 1796)*
  Mary Ann Bicknell (1769 - 1770)*

*Calculated relationship

Anyone Carrying on the Adams Researches of Margaret Adams Gist of Charleston?

Now, this 21339 is the DAR number for Uncle Will, brother of Robert Ewart's wife and husband of Robert Ewart's sister. We all know the story of Aunt Margaret's ride from 12 miles into SC to King's Mountain the day after the battle. Anyone in Charleston carrying on Margaret Adams Gist's researches?

And don't shake your head. Our Scots believed in keeping the bloodlines pure.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Now Someone Here Realizes Why I Took Her to King's Mountain--Thank You, Bill Paxton

We went to King's Mountain in 2007. Uncle Jim Johnston has a big brass plaque there, and another dozen or so of my folks (counting in-laws) were there. Johnston's son Will's brother-in-law the historian Cyrus Hunter in SKETCHES OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA does a good job of celebrating the COMMITTEE OF SAFETY man Robert Ewart and his son and sons-in-law who were there. GGGG Grandpa Robert Knox's pension application takes some of the fun away: Johnston had sent him off on "some business." You go four miles on foot away from King's Mountain and once you hear gunshots you can't make it back before it is all over! Now, thank you Bill Paxton, everyone in the house understands that it really WAS the turning point of the Revolution in the South.

And just now I checked my battered copy of Lyman Draper and see that Benjamin Sharp's narrative is reprinted there and that Draper uses him a couple of dozen times through the book. My great 1881 copy was thrown out by the POST LIBRARY of FT CAMPBELL, KENTUCKY, if you can imagine that.

I have not seen AMERICAN SNIPER but today came news that in Michigan student protests kept it from being shown. Should Bill Paxton not have been shown being moved at King's Mountain by the exploits of his ancestor?

The writers for WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? censored Ferguson's threat that so enraged the Overmountain man and the locals like my crew (but some of the Overmountain men were my guys, too, picked up on the way in Wilkes or Surry County, including Aunt Rachel Bicknell's husband who did not die from his King's Mountain wound for two months). Better to say what Ferguson threatened to do to the women and houses. Better to talk about "Tarleton's quarter."

Better not to think about what a nanny state we are becoming.

Grandpa Bell--Soldier at 15

The one thing Martha Izora Costner remembered about him was that he used to like to say that he was Scotch-Irish and Damn Yankee. [Martha Izora Costner was named for Frank's wife, Martha Izora Henderson Bell.]

Now I learn that Cousin Cephas Bell was only 15 when this happened

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cousin Cephas Bell, CSA, grandson of Uncle Thomas Costner, King's Mountain patriot

Cousin L. M. Hoffman tells this story about Gaston County farm boy Cephas Bell, who on 15 March 1862 enlisted in the 23rd North Carolina Regiment:
“His comrades say of him that he was not unusually bright but that he was unusually brave. On one occasion his command was ordered to charge the enemy entrenched on a hill. The Federals scattered in confusion and Bell leading in the rush did not notice that his command had halted in the enemy’s abandoned position but went on after an officer in the rear of the rout. He overtook his man and ordered him to surrender. The officer said he couldn’t surrender except to an officer. Bell swore at him and said he’d blow out his d----d brains if he didn’t surrender quick . . . . He took his prisoner back and meeting some officers as he approached headquarters they told him they’d take the prisoner. He said, ‘No you won’t; if you want to go get you one, there’s plenty of them over there [pointing in the direction the enemy had gone]. You shall not have mine.’”

[Cephas is a Costner cousin, not (apparently) a Bell cousin too. His name may have been Josephus.]

Saturday, April 18, 2015

When News of the Emancipation Proclamation Reached TEXAS and the Glenn Household

In 1834, W.T. Glenn] and Nancy had married in Alabama but it didn’t take long for their westward migration, reaching Texas in 1843. Her parents were wealthy, and gave the couple two slaves, Frank and “Aunt Fannie,” who lived well past 100 years of age. . . .Father Kemper of the Kerrville Catholic Church [said]:

“When Lincoln’s Proclamation was issued June 19, 1863, and the housemaid was informed of her liberty, Fannie replied: ‘I was always free.’”