Thursday, January 31, 2013

Getting High

Get high with A Cold Coming. All your friends are doing it.

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A Cold Coming ... for the well-cultivated.

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Mechanical Principles

A Cold, Cold Coming, indeed. Metal on your ass in the morning cold.

Oh, Swish! Candies for Cuties in the Year 2000

Plenty of Candy for Cuties in W. Jeff Bishop's novel, A Cold Coming.

Wanna Be A Member?

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March 18, 1931

(Click to enlarge.)
Let the Word Cloud rain down on you in W. Jeff Bishop's novel, A Cold Coming -- February, 2013.

'Buried Treasures'

"Our farm (between Little Tallapoosa and Big Tallapoosa rivers) was where the Indians lived before. We spent much time looking for buried treasures. We found arrowheads and broken dishes. That was all we ever saw." -- Lucille Philpot Sanders, "Memoirs of Growing Up on a Farm," Haralson County History Book, Haralson County Historical Society, 1983, p. 171
Go hunting for lost treasures in W. Jeff Bishop's novel, A Cold Coming.

The Flood

1884 - April 19
The Haralson Banner

Haralson's Flood

A Number of Bridges Washed Away!

Several mills gone.

Farming land covered in water

Fencing swept away

On last Monday morning, about the time of business men of our quiet little town were just beginning their daily avocations, and the farmer's usual voice could be heard resounding from hill to hill, a dark cloud was seen rising in the south, and soon the elements became so dark that many had to light their lamps in their respective places of business.
The clouds seemed to grow darker. Some of the merchants closed their stores and went to their residences, while others were watching every movement of the cloud, thinking that any moment a great cyclone would bust upon the town.
Soon it was seen that the volume of blackness was not a cyclone, but a great rain. Rain commenced falling about 9 o'clock and continued falling very fast for nearly an hour. It discontinued to rain, and all thought that it was over.
But late in the afternoon, dark clouds could be seen rising in the south, and occasionally an electric flash. The clouds seemed to be coming from every direction. All thought a great wind storm would surely come. So they prepared to go into their storm pits. Those who were so unfortunate as to have no pit and who laughed at the idea of digging a pit were soon going to spend the night at their neighbors who had one.
About 9 o'clock the storm begun. It was not a storm of wind, but one of the heaviest rains that was ever known to fall in this county. With the exception of short intervals, the rain fell from 9 p.m. until nearly 2 a.m.
Tuesday morning came, and occasionally a man from the country would come to town and relate the great damage done to his land.
The rains resulted in a mighty ocean of water. It seemed for a time that the great Mississippi had a rival. The river was fully half a mile wide, and bridges were floating on top of the water. The damage was greater than ever known before. The river was five feet higher than it had been in 20 years.
John T. and Robert D. Latham's farms are washed away. Mssrs. Thomas S. Latham, Joshiah Chambers and others were greatly damaged.
Latham's Bridge on the river was wrecked.
Get flooded in W. Jeff Bishop's novel, A Cold Coming -- February, 2013.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


"When you read a work of history, always listen out for the buzzing. If you can detect none, either you are tone deaf or your historian is a dull dog. The facts are really not at all like fish on the fishmonger's slab. They are like fish swimming about in a vast and sometimes inaccessible ocean; and what the historian catches will depend, partly on chance, but mainly on what part of the ocean he chooses to fish in and what tackle he chooses to use – these two factors being, of course, determined by the kind of fish he wants to catch. By and large, the historian will get the kind of facts he wants. History means interpretation." --E.H. Carr.
Don't be a dull dog. Bzzzzz around in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming.

'As Pretty a Corpse as Any I've Looked At.'

"Me and Etta had more fun together. When I moved off from Douglasville and she lived there we were just close. Me and her and our brother Will Shedd was closer together than anything ... We used to play together. Etta was four years older. Will was two years older than me. But we was the closest to each other. Will said when Etta died that he hoped he went on before any of the rest of his people went on, and he did. Two men beat him to death because he would not give them water from his well out there for them to use, wash and do everything else with it. They did. And I hate that.
"I couldn't even tell you everything I remember. I had a great mother and father, Nathaniel and Naomi Shedd. They raised us. They didn't let us ramble around like some people let their children. But they sure did raise us up. There was five of us girls and five boys, 10 of us kids. We was a family.
"You know Etta, Carl's mother, would always come to see me? Even when she was sick will pellagra. Well, the doctors called it pellagra, but to tell you the truth, Stella Thomas died of the same thing and they called it pellagra, but I believe both of them had cancer of the liver. Stella Thomas, I loved her like a sister. And she and Etta both showed me what was coming out of their bowels, and it looked like they were spilling a pot of blood.
"I'd make Etta go to bed when she visited me. She come to see me not too long before she died. But she was sick. And her car broke down and something went wrong with it. And I see her coming across there, kneeling by her baby, about as far as from here to that school house over yonder. So I took her on to the house and put her to bed. When we wanted to see one another, we were sisters, and if we wanted to bad enough we did what we had to do. We'd go and sleep with one another, in the same bed, when we'd visit.
"People don't do that now. People don't even go to see one another, anymore. They make every excuse they can. They'll go and see the sick when they get the time, they say. Meantime they're going off here, going off there, seeing places, other scenes. But the Lord calls us to wait on the sick and do for the sick. And if you don't do nothing for the Lord, you know what he's going to say? He's going to say, 'I was sick and you visited me none, I was in prison and you visited me none.' I can't remember it all like I used to could. But if we don't do that, he will say, 'Depart from me. I never knew you.' That's what he's going to say. And I'm afraid that's what he's going to tell everybody, because we have quit going to see one another, and we have quit looking after one another. No one comes to see me much. They run in, they run out. Your own people, in and out. Even your own children. They don't go to see me -- not like we did back then. Boy, I woulda had a fit if my mama had been living like I am! I live here all by myself, at 100 years old. Some people says, 'Ain't you scared?' I say, 'No, I ain't scared.' Treat everybody right, treat them all the same, and the Lord will look after.
"We would ride up in our wagon into my mama's yard. We'd always go up on a Saturday and see her and come back on Sunday evening. And she'd run up to the wagon and say, 'I believed you'd come today! I got up and did the washing. I knowed you would come wash my dishes!' It took us all day to travel to any of our brothers' and sisters' places. The wagon my daddy had, it only had one seat in it. And so we would all get in there and he would cover the wagon. We'd be gone all day long! Sometimes we'd start before daylight and it would be plumb dark before we got there. You knew them is sweet memories. Me and my daddy would go out at dogwood time and honeysuckle time and sweet shrub time and gather. We'd go around in the woods, him and us children, and gather up all the limbs and bring in loads of them. And we lived happy.
(Will Shedd and Tela Shedd, top row;
Etta Shedd Bishop and her parents, Naomi and Nathaniel Shedd, bottom.)

"I remember me and Etta playing with little dolls. We used to make rag dolls. We'd get out and play with them. They land was richer then than it is now. Broomstraw would grow as high as that lamp. We'd get out in the broomstraw patch and stay plumb warm. Play in the cold winter time ... until dark! I know we was gonna sleep in there because we was playing out there. We'd make a little house ... We went in that little broomstraw patch and we'd find that broomstraw and we'd make rooms, you know, from the broomstraw, on the ground. We'd make little houses. And in the summertime we'd make leaf dresses and hats. We got just eat up with redbugs! But we enjoyed that. We'd take some dry clothes with us and go to the creek. We'd make dresses out of flowers. There would be some of the prettiest butter flowers. You know they looked like leaves and were that big around, the blooms on them, and they were orange. We'd take honeysuckle vines and strip 'em and make baskets out of them, too. I made baskets for a pastime when we lived out there. I went out and I pulled them things. I'd get the as long as from here to the end of that, and I'd roll them up, around and around. You had to wash 'em. I took them things and put 'em in a wash pot, and boiled 'em. And then I poured 'em out and throwed them in a tub of cool water. I'd put them in a pile ad take them out and put them in a tub and put some water over them. And I'd just pick them up and pull back the little ones, get me a little roll about that big. It would take me a day. And I made baskets, sewed baskets. I made paper flowers, about that wide. And I made roses, and sweet peas. And, uh, I made paper all colors. I'd make all colors. Roses, carnations -- boy, they loved it. And them vines, them muscadine vines. I made them, it was in the flower book patterns. Them children would come see me and carry off a wagon load of baskets. I had one I made about that high that was to be a waste basket. It had a neck on it and it flared out. I carried Etta a bouquet of those flowers I made when she was sick. She ducked down and smelled one of them! Them roses looked so real. Them roses looked as pretty as any I ever seen.
"Etta died at my mother's house, with Ma and Dad and them. They had Oscar, Carl's daddy, to bring her over, and go back for a walk. We didn't have hospitals back then. She knowed she was dying. Her baby was just four months old. Etta gave birth at home to Naomi just before she died. She named her for our mother.
"Etta told me, 'Tela, you are the only one who knows. You are the only one that I can spend the night with. They can't come inside. Don't let them come inside.' And she was about as pretty a corpse as any I've looked at."
--Tela Shedd Whitlock. Listen here: just click.
Read more in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming -- February, 2013.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

'Now Mama Was Not a Healthy Person'

Bernice Bishop remembers the last moments she spent with her mother, Etta ... Click to listen.
Since there's no audiobook version of A Cold Coming yet, you'll just have to read the durn thing.

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Pellagra (pronounced variously in the Deep South as po-log-gurry or pee-lag-gurry) is caused by malnutrition, and is almost non-existent in developed countries in the 21st century. The root cause is a deficiency of niacin, usually because of an over-dependence on corn, which is a poor source of niacin (the disease can also be caused by a lack of tryptophan, an amino acid found in chicken and beef, fish, and eggs, but not in corn). In early 20th century rural America, especially among the tenant farmers and mill workers of the Deep South, corn was a staple food. Corn had been the primary food source of Native Americans all over the New World for centuries, but many of them had "nixtamalized" the corn through soaking it in lime, an alkali, which made niacin available. When whites took the land in Georgia from the Creeks and the Cherokees, they also adopted corn as their staple food, but did not understand Indian traditional food preparation. Symptoms of pellagra -- sunlight sensitivity, dermatitis, alopecia, edema, skin lesions, weakness, confusion, dementia, aggression, diarrhea -- were worse in the summer. Since men and children often were given preferential access to food, more than twice as many women came down with pellagra than men. By the teens and 1920s pellagra had become an epidemic in the Deep South, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Scientists at the time thought pellagra was caused by a hidden germ in corn. One doctor, Joseph Goldberger, understood the underlying dietary causes of pellagra as early as 1915, when tens of thousands were still dying from the disease each year, but medical professionals did not begin to take his theory seriously until over a decade later.
Left untreated, pellagra usually kills its victims within four years.
(This information is mostly ripped off from here.)

Brought to you by W. Jeff Bishop and his new novel, A Cold Coming.

'Mama Stayed Sick For About Three Years'

"I don't remember too much about her. I remember her being sick and I remember when she died.
"I remember some things that happened while Mama was a-livin'. Like when we were going from Douglasville up to Haralson County and having flat tires. It was a crazy thing. We had a flat tire one time and there was a big old buzzard sitting on the fence, right there on the pasture post. I thought that was the dangdest thing. Daddy went and thrown something at him that made him fly.
"See, Mama stayed sick for about three years. Doctor said it was pellagra. Of course, I don't know. It could’ve been cancer, far as I know. Back in them days, you know, they didn't know too much about diseases. Back in 1924.
"That's the year she died. I remember when Omi-Florence was born on the 14th day of March, 1924. We lived down there in Grandma's house. It snowed that night.
"Mama died that summer." -- Carl Bishop
A Cold Coming -- 'the dangdest thing' -- February, 2013.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Play Purties

"We didn't have nothing to play with. No toys or nothing like that, you know. Well, we played out in the yard. We played in the sand. We played with blocks. You know, pushed blocks and made trails with them. Like cars were running. 'Cause you know cars were very few, at that time. We'd make little trains. Hook the blocks together and make them look like a little train. Somebody would fix it for us, you know, Daddy would.
"We'd get under the house and make trails and go all around on our knees. We'd play under the house a lot. They weren't underpinned like they are now. They was up off of the ground."-- Carl Bishop
Play under the house -- if the Devil don't find you there -- in W. Jeff Bishop's upcoming novel, A Cold Coming.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

'The Tale Is...'

"One describes a tale best by telling the tale. You see? The way one describes a story, to oneself or the world, is by telling the story. It is a balancing act and it is a dream. The more accurate the map, the more it resembles the territory. The most accurate map possible would be the territory, and thus would be perfectly accurate and perfectly useless. The tale is the map that is the territory." -- Neil Gaiman
The map is A Cold Coming, a novel by W. Jeff Bishop that comes out in February, 2013. But is it the territory?

'The First Creek I Ever Fished In was the Tallapoosa'

"We moved back to Haralson County in 1931.
"We’d play mostly at the river. That was our playground. Oh, Good Lord! We fished. We played in the water. We had an old boat, any old boat we could find. Anything we could find to get in the water with, that's what we done.
"One day out there we was under the bridge, about four or five of us on an old boat, standing up, holding onto the bridge. It was in March. And Ralston Wheeler, one of the boys, he went and messed around and fell off into the water. All you could see was his hat, lying there on top of the water! He climbed up, and we had to build a fire to get him warm. We done that a lot of times, built a fire to get warm with, when we went in the creek or something or other where we'd have to get some heat.
"We used canes to fish. We’d cut ‘em off the bank of the creek. We used a line, some kind of a line. We dug our worms. Earth worms, mostly. There were no red wigglers at that time. We’d fish for mud cats or whatever kind was in the river. The first creek I ever fished in was the Tallapoosa.
"And, oh yeah, we swam in that creek. We frog gigged and we’d turtle hunt. We’d make a three-pronged frog gig and we’d go along the bank and see their eyes and take that frog gig and gig it. We’d eat the frog legs. We’d cut ‘em off the frog, get the skin off of them and wash them real good. Mother would wash them real good, skin ‘em, then batter them in flour and drop them in hot grease." -- Carl Bishop
Go frog and turtle gigging with Carl Bishop in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming -- February, 2013!

John Eaves and Long Tom

"Mr. John Eaves, he was a real good craftsman. He could make a gun stock that I mean was out of this world. He made me a gun stock. I had one of those old Long Toms, we called it. 12 gauge. I think it was a 32-inch barrel with a full choke. And you put that thing on your shoulder and try to shoot at a squirrel in a Poplar, you’d better get ready to get up because that thing would knock you down. And you didn’t have any padding for your shoulder, and your shoulder would be just as black as it could be. If you shot that thing-- Well, I don’t know how I did it, but I broke the stock, where the stock went onto the metal, I split it. The screws wouldn’t hold the stock. And it’d kick sideways. And, 'Oh my,' Mr. Eaves said, and this was after Dad died, he said, 'You don’t want to fool with that. You’ll get hurt. You just bring that thing down here and I’ll fix it for you.' And he always kept walnut, just regular dried walnut where he’d cut a chunk off of a walnut tree maybe, it would be a dead walnut tree, and he’d put it up in his shop. He had a real big shop down there. And he’d take that thing and chisel it and split it and cut it and kind of shape it and then he’d take and shake it and polish it, and then he’d just put clear varnish on it. Boy, I’m telling you that was a beauty. Oh, man. Everybody that saw that stock that he made for it said, 'Oh man, I’d like to get him to make me one.' And you know what he’d do? He’d get, it wasn’t foam, but it was some type of soft rubber, and he’d put two screws in it to hold that soft rubber on the back of that stock so it wouldn’t shock you." -- T.J. Latham

Grab your gun and get a copy of A Cold Coming, while you're at it -- February, 2013.

Where He Kept the Hammer

"And Dad, when he would go to the blacksmith’s shop to do something down there, he’d take me and let me pull the lever and pump the (air) bubbles. It was one of those old-type ... with leather around it with a flap on it. And you’d just stand there and move the handle on it up and down, and that would pump the air that would make the coal glow in the furnace in the blacksmith’s shop.
"He’d sharpen his own plows. And Mr. John Eaves would come up there and weld the wagon wheels. You know how he welded them? He’d go out there in that red clay, out there in the back, and he’d take a fork I think something like that, and just scratch up some real fine red clay put it in a little can and set it up there on the furnace. And he’d take that big old wagon wheel put it in the fire and when it got real yellow and you’d begin to see those little sparks come from it, he’d reach over and get a handful of that clay and pour it on there and then he’d take that wagon tire, set it on the anvil and boomp boomp boomp real lightly on there, and get that thing together, and you couldn’t tell where he’d put it together. And it stayed there.
"He’d show me, let me watch, as Mr. Eaves would do that welding. And when he’d get through and the tire would get cold, Dad would get it down and take a look at it and say, 'Son, can you tell me where that tire is welded together?' And boy I’d start looking. Even though it was real blue right where the weld was. But I couldn’t see anything that would show any little crack or anything that would show where it was welded. Boy, it was just melted and run together." -- T.J. Latham
Go into the Fiery Furnace in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming -- February, 2013.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

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For more brain tonic, grab a Co-Coler and sit down with W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming this February.

'Pure Patriotism'

At the the apex of the second Ku Klux Klan’s political power in the mid-1920s, as many as 5 million Americans claimed membership. Some accounts held that one in four white Protestant men were members.

According to the Klansman's Manual of 1925:
"The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a movement devoting itself to the needed task of developing a genuine spirit of American patriotism. Klansmen are to be examples of pure patriotism. They are to organize the patriotic sentiment of native-born white, Protestant Americans for the defense of distinctively American institutions. Klansmen are dedicated to the principle that America shall be made American through the promulgation of American doctrines, the dissemination of American ideals, the creation of wholesome American sentiment, the preservation of American institutions...
"The supreme pattern for all true Klansmen is their Criterion of Character, Jesus Christ, 'who went about doing good.' The movement accepts the full Christian program of unselfish helpfulness, and will seek to carry it on in the manner commanded by the one Master of Men, Christ Jesus...
"American Interests: To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and all laws passed in conformity thereto, and to protect the states and the people thereof from all invasion of their right from any source whatsoever."
By 1930 their numbers had dropped precipitously, to somewhere around 30,000.
Read more about Pure Patriotism and defense of the U.S. Constitution in A Cold Coming.

The Indigent, Elderly Uncle that Mad Bije Latham Shot and Tossed into the Tallapoosa

Read more about Mad Bije Latham in W. Jeff Bishop's novel, A Cold Coming.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Parlor Games

"If I could do it, I'd do no writing at all here. It would be photographs; the rest would be fragments of cloth, bits of cotton, lumps of earth, records of speech, pieces of wood and iron, phials of odors, plates of food and of excrement. Booksellers would consider it quite a novelty; critics would murmur, yes, but is it art; and I could trust a majority of you to use it as you would a parlor game.
"A piece of the body torn out by the roots might be more to the point." -- James Agee, a famous man.
Read about more famous men and parlor games in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming -- February, 2013.


"We were a farming family, mostly. I'd say we were a typical farm agricultural family. And I remember that we had this little buckskin mule. I think my dad bought her as a three year old. And he broke her. We named her Grace. And I tell you what's the truth, I don't think there's anybody that knew him and knew that mule who would tell you that it was possible that that guy could train a mule to do what that mule would do.
"She was something. My dad would be bolling off cotton. And she wouldn't step on top of it, like other mules. This little ol' Grace would walk one foot on each side of the cotton rows. And when my dad started to turn her around, he'd say 'Whup! Whup!' and she'd raise them feet up and step right over the cotton. Boy, I'm telling you, I don't believe I ever saw anything like that!
"I know somebody's daddy was watching him down there laying down corn with a 30-inch sweep. He said, 'That mule's got more sense than most kids I know of.' She was a well-trained little ol' mule.
"Before I started working regular-like, my dad would let me take the turning plow and plow two or three rounds. I think he was just training me. You know, as a nine-year old, I could hook her to a plow, and she knew exactly that I wasn't able to keep up with that fast walk, and so she'd just slow down and shake that head and those ears would flop like that and she'd just ease along with me. I'd say, 'Come on, Grace!' She'd start off at that bounce. When she learned I was behind the plow, she'd slow it down.
"Then Dad would take the plow and say, 'Well, you've been a burden to her long enough now. I'm going to go ahead and get some plowing done.' Then Dad would get behind her and, man, she was going! He was letting me know that that mule could recognize me behind that plow, trying to be I guess you could say nice to me. That's what Dad was trying to get me to understand. That mule was trying to be nice to me." -- T.J. Latham
Read more about the antics of Grace the Mule in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming -- February, 2013!


"I was born in Douglas County, Georgia in my parents’ home on April 5, 1918. Dr. Claude Van Zant delivered me.
"The first thing I remember is the first spell of asthma I ever had. I was three years old. It was in the summertime. I remember that we was eating supper. They used to have the children stand up at the table with the chairs turned backwards. I was standing up like that and I started smothering.
"I got down and laid in front of the door, looking for air. Of course we didn't have no screens or nothing, back in them days.
"Mama run over to me and my oldest sister Bernice run down the street and got the doctor. He didn't live but just a few houses below us.
"He come back up there and worked with me a little bit, and said, 'Well, he's got asthma. Maybe he'll outgrow it.' But I still have it today." -- Carl Bishop
Read more about Carl's asthma attacks in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming, February 2013.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

'If I Ever Bore You...'

' will be with a knife.'

 photo tumblr_medu0uA7tk1qmtjx8o1_500_zpsfb75409e.gif
Louise Brooks is hiding under your straw mattress in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming, available in February, 2013.

The All-Day Singing

"Your Granddaddy Abe Bishop could really sing. He could really sing that old Sacred Harp singing. And he didn't have no music with that. My Mama could sing that, too. She'd sing and it would make the hair stand up on your head." -- Tela Shedd Whitlock
Read more about the music that makes the hair stand up on your head in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming.


Either Henry Latham or one of his descendants thought it was important that visitors to his grave site at the Philadelphia Church Cemetery on Eaves Bridge Road in Haralson County, Georgia know exactly where he was born. This apparently was of more importance than checking to see if his birth date was correct.
Henry Latham never knew his father, who was also named Henry. Henry Latham, Sr. died in May, 1808, six months before his namesake was born. Henry Latham, Sr. owned a 171-acre plantation in Bedford County, Virginia. Twelve slaves (James Bobb, Horace, Nelly, and others) helped Henry and Mary Ball Lane Latham maintain the $1,394 estate, which included 15 hogs, 10 horses, 20 cows, 13 goats, 15 sheep, eight geese, and four hives of bees, along with acres of cotton and wheat.
Henry and Mary's three daughters and three sons lived in an expansive plantation home. An inventory taken at the time of the elder Henry Latham's death allows us to take a kind of virtual tour:
In the kitchen is a Dutch oven with which the slaves Nelly and Izbell cook dinner for the Lathams. Like most kitchens of today, there are pots and skillets, strainers and a sieve, pans and funnels, spoons and plates of various shapes and sizes, and a tea kettle. Since there is no running water, water basins and a wash tub are also kept in the kitchen. A coffee mill provides a freshly-ground jolt of caffeine, when needed. A grindstone is used to prepare spices and herbs. There are two butter pots here -- and the butter is fresh from the cow, as is the milk. Many of the dishes, basins, and plates are made of pewter. There is also a cotton wheel in the kitchen, with an iron spool, a tin cup, a pair of cotton cards, and a candle nearby, in case any work needs to be done after dark.
Moving into the main house, into the parlor, we find Henry's desk, on which a small library of books is kept. Browsing through the titles, one might guess that Henry is a religious man, perhaps even a preacher. (Henry is in fact the pastor at the nearby Difficult Creek Baptist Church. In 1806, Henry and John Garrett served as the church’s two delegates to the Virginia Strawberry Baptist Church Association in Bedford County.) Henry has a rather large, expensive copy of the Holy Bible in his possession, along with Hugh Blair's Sermons, Repon's Hymns, and John Gill's Prophesy of Isaiah. Also here are Henning's Justice, Jedidiah Morse's Universal Geography (in two volumes), Burham's Family Medicine, Nathan Bailey's Dictionarium Britannicum, William Paley's Philosophy of Religion, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Bonnel's Enquiries, the Westminster Catechism, and a book on English grammar.
Above the corner cupboard hangs a shotgun. Six Windsor chairs and three "flag bottomed" chairs are on display. There's also a folding table here, perhaps for game-playing, reading, or sewing.
In the dining room is a square pine table, on which sit earthen plates and dishes, cups and saucers, salt shakers, a decanter, a pepper box, and a brass candlestick. Two expensive curtains hang over a nearby window.
Upstairs there are five beds for the parents and their children. In the parents' room is a trunk and a chest for clothing and personal belongings.
Out back are the slaves' quarters, with all the farm equipment, which includes hoes, mattocks, plows, shovels, scythes, wheat fans, etc. In the barn a wagon is kept, with four pairs of gear for the horses that pull it to town.
No public school system exists in these times. A man named Peter Nance provides this service to the Latham children, both the boys and the girls, for a fee. Other contractors employed by Henry Latham are s shoemaker named Deacon, a lawyer by the name of W. Clelland, and of course a doctor, George Cabell.
On February 20, 1808 Henry writes his last will and testament:

In the name of God, Amen - I, Henry Latham of the County of Bedford, being sick and weak of body but of sound mind and disposing memory (for which I thank God), and calling to mind the uncertainty of human life, and being desirous to dispose of all such worldly Estate as it hath pleased God to bless me with, do make this my last will and Testament in manner and form following to wit:
1st - I desire all my just Debts to be paid. I do lend unto my beloved wife Mary Ball Latham during her widowhood one-third part of the Lands whereon we now live; also one-third part of the Negroes, and the same proportion of my personal property, and further request that the provision laid into make a crop the present year be made use of in the manner intended; and all the Negroes to be continued together, and make crops if they can affect it with the aid of an overseer - these matters my wife and Executors will be more able to determine on after trial.
The tract of land whereon I now live I give to be equally divided between my three sons, Thomas, Silas, and Henry Latham, and their heirs forward. This division to be made after my son Thomas comes of age, and the third part of my land which I lend my wife during her widowhood shall be the (property) of my son Henry Latham, after my wife's enjoyment of the same.
My Negroes and personal property of all sorts I desire to be equally divided between my six children, Eleanor Latham, Caroline Latham, Thomas Latham, Silas Latham, Mary Latham, and Henry Latham - to them and their heirs forever. After my daughter Eleanor arrives to the age of eighteen years, and request of my wife, and executors hereafter mentioned to pay due attention to the welfare of my children, and have them educated in the manner that shall be deemed most essential for their future progress in life.
The third part left my wife on loan during her widowhood I wish her to enjoy in the manner already mentioned, and in addition to the same wish her to be privileged in taking which Negro man she pleases as part of her third of Negroes which she shall only possess as already mentioned, and all my household and kitchen furniture I lend her on the same conditions of widowhood, it being understood that whenever she marries she shall lose all interest and benefit in my property, real and personal, the same to be equally divided among my children herein before mentioned.
And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my beloved friend Jesse Cobb and William Leftwich (son of Col. William Leftwich) executors of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all other or former wills or testaments by me here to you made, hoping and requesting they will qualify, begging them to take special care of my affectionate wife and much beloved children.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set and affixed my seal this 20th day of February in the year of our Lord 1808.

Henry Latham

Henry Latham died in early May. Two years later, in 1810, Henry’s eldest daughter Eleanor G. Latham married Thomas T. White in Bedford County, on June 13. In 1831, Henry’s younger daughter Mary married Henry Hatcher. Both daughters remained in Bedford County.
Henry Latham and his older brother, Thomas, headed south after inheriting their slave allotments in 1816:

In obedience to an order of the Court of Bedford the underwritten land divided and allotted the negroes of Henry Latham deceased amongst his heirs agreeable to his last will and Testament as follows to wit: To his daughter Eleanor the negro woman named Sophia, her child Lane, and the negro named Matilda, and to receive the sum of $75. To his daughter Caroline the negro man named Bob and the negro girl named Seonila and to pay the sum of $50. To his son Thomas the negro man named Horace and the negro girl named Chebe, and to pay the sum of $50. To his son Silas the negro woman named Delila and the two boys named Janay and Lewis, and to pay the sum of $25. To his daughter Mary Ann Latham the negro woman named Ciller and the negro boy named Moses, to receive the sum of $50. To his son Henry the negro woman named Isbell and her child Maria, and the negro girl Sidney. And whereas it has been represented there is funds either in the hands of the Executors or guardian to make the lots equal. It is agreed that the different sums shall be paid in 12 months with interest from this date.
Given under our hands and seals this first day of January 1816.
Joel Leftwich, Samuel Mitchell, Thomas Key.

At a court held for Bedford County at the Courthouse the 22 of January 1816 this allotment of the Estate of Henry Latham was returned to court and ordered to be recorded.

McMinn County, Tennessee was organized from Cherokee Indian lands on Nov. 13, 1819. When he reached adulthood, Henry Latham, Jr. took his part of his father's inheritance and slaves and migrated there.
Find out what became of Henry Latham, his slaves, and their descendants in W. Jeff Bishop's novel, A Cold Coming, in February, 2013.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Nietzschean Digression

"Observe the herd which is grazing beside you. It does not know what yesterday or today is. It springs around, eats, rests, digests, jumps up again, and so from morning to night and from day to day, with its likes and dislikes closely tied to the peg of the moment, and thus is neither melancholy nor weary. To witness this is difficult for man, because he boasts to himself that his human condition is better than the beast’s and yet looks with jealousy at its happiness. For he wishes only to live like the beast, neither weary with things nor in pain, and yet he wants it in vain, because he does not desire it as the animal does. One day the man demands of the beast: 'Why do you not talk to me about your happiness and only gaze at me?' The beast wants to answer, too, and say: 'That comes about because I always immediately forget what I wanted to say.' But by then the beast has already forgotten this reply and remains silent, so that the man keeps on wondering about it.
"But he also wonders about himself, that he is not able to learn to forget and that he always hangs onto the past. No matter how far or how fast he may run, the chain runs with him. It is something amazing: the moment, in one sudden motion there, in one sudden motion gone, before nothing, afterwards nothing, nevertheless comes back again as a ghost and disturbs the tranquillity of a later moment. A leaf is continuously released from the roll of time, falls out, flutters away—and suddenly flutters back again into the man’s lap. For the man says, 'I remember,' and envies the beast, which immediately forgets and sees each moment really perish, sink back in cloud and night, and vanish forever. In this way the beast lives unhistorically. For it goes into the present like a number without any odd fraction left over; it does not know how to play a part, hides nothing, and appears in each moment exactly and entirely what it is. Thus, a beast can be nothing other than honest. The human being, by contrast, braces himself against the large and ever-increasing burden of the past, which pushes him down or bows him over. It makes his way difficult, like an invisible and dark weight, which he can for appearances’ sake at some point deny and which he is only too happy to deny in his interactions with his peers, in order to awaken their envy. And so it moves him, as if he imagined a lost paradise, to see the grazing herd or, something more closely familiar, the child, which does not yet have a past to deny and plays in blissful blindness between the fences of the past and future. Nonetheless, this game must be upset for the child. It will be summoned all too soon out of its forgetfulness. For it learns to understand the expression 'It was,' that password with which struggle, suffering, and weariness come over human beings, so as to remind him what his existence basically is—a past tense that is never over and done with."
(Translated from the original German by this guy.)
Read not a single reference to Nietzsche or his views on human history in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming -- February, 2013!

A Page From the Latham Family Bible

(Click on photo to enlarge.)


Henry Latham was born on the 20 day of Nov. 1808.
Vasty C. Latham was born on 22nd day of September 1817.
Abijah Boggess Latham was born on the 10th day of March 1836.
Caraline Amanda Latham was born on 28 day of August 1837.
Thomas Simon Latham was born on 3rd day of March 1839.
Martha Jane Latham was born on 13 day of Dec. 1842.
Farris Carter Latham was born the 23rd day of Jan. 1844.
Mary Susan Latham was born 31st day of Jan. 1848.
John Tazwell Latham was born 15th day of Dec. 1848.
Vasty Catharine Latham was born 29 day of Nov. 1849.
Virginia Adalade Latham was born on the 31st day of November 1853.
Ellen Adelia Latham was born 1st day of May 1855.
Robert Davie Latham was born August 14 1857 – three years old when moved.
Ector Brooks Latham son of A. B. and Fronie B. Latham was born on the 1st of June 1864.
Neta D. Latham Daughter of A. B. Latham & F. B. Latham was born on 3rd of Oct 1866.
Willie Abb Latham son of A. B. and F. B. Latham was born April 15th of 1869.
Mary Ella Paine Daughter of Joseph F. & Amanda C. Paine was born on Oct. 25 1867. Died Oct. the 10 1868.
Zula Aldura Philpot Philpot Daughter of Joseph & Jennie Philpot was born Dec. 20 1871. Died December 22nd 1893.

Read more about the Lathams of Haralson County in W. Jeff Bishop's upcoming novel, A Cold Coming -- February, 2013.

What's Wrong With Grandma?

I never paid that much notice to my grandmother, if I’m being honest. I liked her cakes. I remember being concerned about her teeth. I was fascinated with all the old photos she kept in her bedroom. Once she hit me for saying something she didn't like. We didn't see her that often -- mostly on Christmas Eve and Mother's Day, with sporadic visits during the year to her little brick home in College Park on the Old National Highway. The most vivid recollection I have is of the day my father tried to take her with us to spend Christmas morning with our family at our home, which was about 45 minutes away. It had never occurred to me that I had never seen her, in all the years I had known her, outside of her tiny house. She had a mental disorder called agoraphobia, most likely, but she was never clinically diagnosed. There were other issues, as well. I vividly recall the day my dad and his brother and sisters tried to physically force her from the house. She was a large woman by that time, and she wedged herself in the doorway and fought them off with all the vigor she could muster, which was considerable, given her age. I remember she did not scream. She was eerily silent and intent, like those burly men you sometimes see in impromptu arm wrestling matches. Every time my dad made a little progress with getting her to the stairs, she would spot an opportunity to reclaim lost ground and make her way further inside. It was not a pretty sight. Finally when her breathing became labored my parents gave up and went home. In the car I asked the question, “What’s wrong with Grandma?” There was a long, uncomfortable silence.
Find out what was wrong with Grandma in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming -- February, 2013.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Young Latham Beauty Heats Up the Haralson County Courthouse

Miss Latham is a health conscious young lady. Suitors will need more than the usual box of chocolates to gain her attention. "When they say you need an apple a day to keep the doctor away, I wonder if that's even true," mused Miss Latham as she paused at the railroad bridge just outside Buchanan and consented for this photograph to be taken. "Actually I once went out with a young doctor and he was a bit too enthusiastic. I wouldn't mind keeping the doctors away!" To prevent an epidemic of broken hearts in the medical profession, we beg Miss Latham to reconsider. Discover many more Latham beauty queens in W. Jeff Bishop's upcoming novel, A Cold Coming -- February, 2013.

'25 Cents for the Morphine'

Find out more about the drug habits of Gid Tanner and his world-famous Skillet Lickers in W. Jeff Bishop's upcoming novel, A Cold Coming!

Vegetable Soup

2 gallon tomato
1 bell pepper
12 corn
2 cups butter beans
2 cups okra
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tap salt

Put on water to boil over tomatoes in sink; while you peel tomatoes, have vegetables on stove cooking. Pour boiling water on tomatoes in sink and let set until cool enough to handle. Peel, slice, and cook until they fall apart. Mix tomatoes and other vegetables and bring to boil; then cook 30 minutes more and place in jars.
(Early 20th century Bishop family recipe.)
Read more about Bishop and Latham family eats in W. Jeff Bishop's upcoming novel, A Cold Coming, in February, 2013.

'Adjudged Insane and Sent To The Asylum'

1901 -- August 29
The Cedartown Standard

The Standard last week published an account of the finding of the dead body of Mr. Thomas S. Latham, a good citizen of Haralson county, in the Tallapoosa river at Rowell's bridge, in that county. He had been shot in the back by some one whose identity was then unknown, and his body was thrown into the river. It has since transpired that the deed was done by Bije Latham, a nephew of the deceased. Bije had left the house with his uncle in apparently the most friendly spirit, and after killing his uncle returned home and told his mother what he had done. The young man has been unbalanced mentally for some time, and did not seem to realize what he had done. He was placed in jail at Buchanan, but has been adjudged insane and sent to the asylum at Milledgeville. The Standard was misinformed last week as to Mr. Latham being the father of Col. Edgar Latham, formerly of Cedartown, the deceased being his uncle.
Read more about the "mentally unbalanced" Bije Latham in W. Jeff Bishop's novel, A Cold Coming, in February, 2013.

'The Devil Talked To Me'

"The Devil pointed out the whole world to me one time. He said, 'Why do you go on and try to live so good? You see this person over here and that person over there? Well they get to do all these things ... My husband worked at night. I was by myself. The Devil had something wrong with his head. If I'd get close to him, he'd say, 'Get back! Get back!' I pulled his jacket off. I was standing there by him. He said, the Devil said, 'Why you want to keep on?' The Devil talked to me. In a way just like me talking here to you. But it was through my mind. Through my heart. And he said, 'Why you wanna try to live right? You have all this bad luck.' But then another voice said, 'You don't have no bad luck.' You know, it was a little, small voice. It whispered in my ear. Just whispered. 'How many times have you come to me down on your knees for help have I ever failed you?' I tell you, the Devil was talking to me, and I was terrified. And he left me. He left me. But he don't make no big show of it." -- Tela Shedd Whitlock
Read more about the temptations of the Devil in W. Jeff Bishop's new novel, A Cold Coming -- February, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

'Body Thrown Into The River'

1901 -- August 23
The Cedartown Standard

Mr. Thomas S. Latham, an old man about 68 years of age, who resided 4 miles from Buchanan, was killed about 2 o'clock Tuesday afternoon, and his body thrown into the river. He was shot in the back of the head with a shotgun. The whole affair is shrouded in mystery, as he was not thought to have had an enemy. Robbery is not thought to have been the incentive to the killing, as $2 in money and his watch were found on his person. No clue as yet as to who did the killing. Great excitement prevails in that section and parties are searching the county in an effort to find the murderer. Mr. Latham was the father of Col. Edgar Latham, formerly of Cedartown but now of Atlanta.
Read more about this gruesome, senseless crime in W. Jeff Bishop's novel, A Cold Coming, debuting in February, 2013.

'Is It Bough?'

"Grandpa Latham (John 'Taz' Latham), when I knew him, had a long, white beard. It was like the top of my head, all over just as bald as a cue ball. He had a little bit of hair over his ear. But he had the prettiest beard, way down here, and moustache. And he loved sweetmilk and cornbread. He'd eat the sweetmilk and cornbread and you could hear him sucking all the way across the kitchen through that beard. And Birdie Latham, Uncle Victor's oldest girl, would stand by with him because Grandmother had fell and broke her hip, and she wasn't able to get around very much. Birdie had moved in with them after she'd finished school. Birdie always told Grandma he was 'sieving his squeamy milk,' like straining his milk through his beard.
"We'd go down there - we tended land out there on the river - and if we'd go to the house, he'd be sitting out on the porch, this big, heavy-set guy. He'd say, 'Is it bough?' I'd say, 'Bough? What do you mean? What you talkin' about?' But what he meant is, you know, 'Is the grass very high? The cuckleberries very high? Got a lot of weeds in it?' Stuff like that. But he used that old-timey word, 'bough.'
"He'd go out, sit on the porch, an' he'd say, 'Goin' out on the veranda now. Want to go with me?'
"Grandpa Latham was a farmer. He had a colored family on the farm that belonged to his father, when he moved down there from Tennessee. He built them that little house out there on the property, and they farmed for him. He raised horses, mules. And he bred two big old mares. He bred those mares every year and sold the new ones." -- T.J. Latham (Click here for audio.)
Read more about Grandpa Latham's fondness for cornbread and squeamy milk in W. Jeff Bishop's novel, A Cold Coming, available in February, 2013.

'The Cotton Crop Is Very Good'

1900 - November 29
The Buchanan Banner-Messenger

Report From Latham Town

Dear Editor:
As I have not written to the Banner-Messenger for some time, I will give the news from this place.
No sickness or weddings to report.
The farmers around Latham are about done gathering.
The corn crop is very light, but the cotton crop is very good - better than we expected.
Mr. W.H. Latham takes up his school at Philadelphia Church Monday the 26th. Henry is a good teacher and we would be glad to know of anybody sending to school.

Read more about Latham Town farm news in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming -- February, 2013.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

'He Had To Go All The Way To Bremen'

"The first car we had, then, was called a Maxwell. Dad had plowed up a new ground and he was going to plant turnips. And we had a drag - just two pieces of logs that were chained together. And Dad would pull that train out and put a single tree on it. And he had already put a harness on Grace, our mule, and we were just ready to start going out there to smooth that land over so we could sow it with turnips. And this guy from the car agency drove up in the car. Dad got in the car with him, and he had to go all the way to Bremen, because that's where the car agency was. Well, here Grace stood with this gear on her! Mother came out there and took care of Grace.
"When he came back after dark he'd run off the road and bent the left rear fender up against the wheel. And it was one of those old 30 x 3 1/2 clincher-type wheels - big, wooden wheels.
"It was different from the cars you see today. The transmission was on the rear axle. He could turn the top back - it had a white, canvas top on it. It was a touring car, you know." -- T.J. Latham
Read more about the Latham family's Maxwell touring car in W. Jeff Bishop's A Cold Coming -- February, 2013!

'I Just Turned the Reins A-Loose'

"See, there was this stud my Grandpa had. A big, black, beautiful thing, boy, I'm telling you. Built long-legged with its head sticking way up and it would climb over like that. I had a picture of my dad with that horse hooked up to a buggy. And boy that horse's hair was just shining! Of course, I guess Dad had slicked him up.
"And there was a narrow road through what we called Little River. And Dad would drive that horse through Little River. And I heard him say, 'I didn't even hold onto the reins. I just turned the reigns a-loose, because if I held the reins, I'd pull the horse into one of them trees.' But he'd got through that swamp, and I know the hugs of that buggy wouldn't miss it by two to three inches. He'd tromp right through that swamp, just like it was a wide-open space.
"Before my Mom and Dad married, when they were dating, he carried her to what they called back then an all-day singing. He fastened on the horse, and somebody - kids, I think, playing around - scared the horse and made him break the leash he was on. And it tore Daddy's buggy up. It was just scattered across the field. Anyway, Daddy never did have another buggy anymore." -- T.J. Latham
(Click photo to enlarge.)
Read more in W. Jeff Bishop's novel, A Cold Coming, in February, 2013.

'It Is All As Bad As Can Be'

Carl C. Jones
The Virginia Railway Company
Alberta, Virginia
March 19, 1931

Dear Paul,
Your telegram received this evening. Was grieved to hear of such a sad ending to our sister. Am sending you a message first thing in the morning, telling you that I can't come now. My business just will not permit it, and also I am none too well to make the trip. I fear I am needed and know I ought to go. I am anxious to know how it happened and the cause for it; which of the children and how many. It is all as bad as can be - but Humanity is made to stand it anyway. I want to know the entire details and want you to sit down now and write me fully every bit of it: how many children and their names and ages, and what will become of them. I will take some of them. Who do they favor, Lois or Tom? What was Tom's condition financially? Where are they buried? Send me the Buchanan Tribune for this week or the paper containing the account of it. Write me fully all about it.
Hope Mama holds up good under the strain. I know it's bad, but we can't help it. Take care of Mama and yourself. May be able to come in a few days, but don't wait for anything to write me about it. My bunch doing all right. Emily arriving from school tonight. Henderson getting off on a 15-day furlough the first of April. Emily just home for few days before returning for the spring quarter. Would have wired you this evening, but held up so as to make up my mind what to do. I know that I could not make it to the funeral under the conditions, and have decided to wait a few days to get to feeling better myself more than anything else. Am farming pretty heavy this year. Have rented and under my supervision about 40 or 45 acres - and nothing down. So, for only a little land, brother got a share man boarding him. Children, C.C., and Howard going to school, and the man so far seems to be behind. I can get them going right and may get relief from Depot and run over in few days. Write me by return mail and take care of yourselves.

Love from all,

Read more in W. Jeff Bishop's novel -- A Cold Coming -- February, 2013.