Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum, Greenville, Texas

Besides being a memorial to Audie Murphy, who grew up near here, the museum also highlighted the early residents of Hunt County, some of whom were pretty famous, as well as the cotton production in the area. 

The first residents of the area were the Caddo Indians who lived here about 400 years ago. Caddo villages were known for their beehive-shaped homes constructed of long-stemmed prairie grasses. 

Although ancestors of the Caddo families probably hunted and camped in the Hunt County area before 800 A.D., it was not until then that families began making pottery with distinctive markings that identified the work as being Caddo produced. Caddo pottery is identified with specific markings attributed only to the Caddo people.

Hunt County was one of the first counties created by the new State of Texas in 1846, and was named Greenville after the residents voted.

This was really cool. It was set up for people to look through by putting a side by side picture at the end and looking through the eye piece. The stereoscope is a device for viewing a pair of separate images -- left eye and right eye views of the same scene, as a single three-dimensional image. First invented in 1838, it was not until 1861 that this handheld, streamlined and more economical viewer was invented by Oliver Wendell Holmes. This type of stereoscope remained in production for a century.

Hair Wreath
During the mid to late 1800s, the custom of making art from hair became popular as a form of artistic memorial. Similar in nature to the older custom of putting a lock of hair in a locket, the hair wreath was a keepsake of love and friendship as well as a memorial. Friends and living family members often contributed a lock of their own hair to be incorporated into the wreath. For that reason, many wreaths show varying colors and textures. This wreath was made by Mrs. H.T. Weathers in 1884. The different designs are made of human hair on wire as fine as thread. Only the very centers of the flowers are not hair.

Gody's Lady's Book
The most popular journal of the day, in spite of its hefty subscription price of $3.00 a year, Gody's Lady's Book was published from 1830 to 1878 by Louis Antoine Gody. Intended to entertain inform and educate American women, the monthly magazine included articles about handcrafts, dress, health and hygiene, recipes, remedies and the like as well as engravings by popular artists. Sarah Josepha Hale (author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb") became editor in 1836, she brought substance to the magazine by including essays, poetry and short stories by celebrated American authors. She became one of the most important editors of her time and used some of her influence to further several causes of women.

Gody's was best known for the hand-tinted fashion plate that appeared at the start of each issue, which provided a record of the progression of women's dress. Nearly every issue also included an illustration and pattern with measurements for a garment to be sewn at home. Each issue also contained two pages of sheet music, written essentially for the pianoforte.

19th Century Bible

These four were known as the "Texas Giants," born to John & Penelope Shields, and toured with the Barnum and Bailey Circus for several years in the 1880s. Each of them were over 7 feet tall: Shade, age 18 at 7 ft.8 in.; Guss, age 24 at 7 ft. 10 in.; Frank, age 22 at 7 ft. 11-3/4 in.; and Jack, age 20 at 7 ft. 11-3/4 in.

Suit worn by one of the Gants
Monty Stratton, Major League Baseball Player

Monty Stratton played for the Chicago White Sox from 1935 to 1938. His career ended when he lost a leg in a hunting accident, and his comeback attempt was the subject of a 1949 movie called The Stratton Story. He was elected to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1961 and to the Professional Baseball Players Hall of Fame in Dallas in 1980. He died at the age of 70.

Gussie Nell Davis
Gussie Nell Davis was the founder of Kilgore Rangerettes, she created the world-wide dance drill team movement. She began her career here in Greenville as a physical education instructor and pep-squad director in 1928. She trained the Flaming Flashes to use batons and other props in complex dance drills and marches. She organized the Kilgore Rangerettes in 1940 and directed them until her retirement in 1979.

The rural school, a one-room school room, was often the focus for people's lives outside the home. Besides being a school, it was used for church services, community suppers, Christmas parties, dances, and lectures. Prior to 1920, school attendance was often voluntary and varied daily, depending on the weather and the need for labor at home. Older boys who were needed in the fields during the growing and harvesting seasons would attend school only during the winter term. School usually took place from 8am to 4pm, and most children who did not have a horse had to walk up to three miles to attend; chores such as milking the cow, feeding the chickens and pigs, carrying in wood, gathering eggs and bringing in water from the well had to be completed before beginning the trek to school.

Teachers could be male or female; however, if a female teacher married, she often quit teaching as her most important job then became taking care of the household for her husband. Every family in the community would take care of the teacher's needs, often providing a place for him/her to live and usually providing the salary.

Many late 19th century schools were ungraded; and students were seated according to their general level of ability; usually younger students were in front and older ones in back. Older students often helped the younger students. Students learned by "rote," which meant to memorize and recite. To "cipher" meant to do arithmetic problems, either orally or on slate boards.

Here are some of the famous people that were born in Greenville or the surrounding area:

John Love Boles, Actor (with Shirley Temple)

Mack Harrell, Metropolitan Opera Singer

Ormeer Lockleer, Daredevil Stunt Flyer
Jimmy Blaine, Performer

Joe David Coomer, Professional football player
Through the first half of the 20th century, cotton was still king of the area. Hunt County boasted the largest cottonseed oil mill in the South and the largest inland cotton compress in the world. As in most areas of the country, the Depression hit the country hard, forcing over 2,000 heads of families to be on government relief. However, over 400 businesses were going strong, and cotton production remained high with over 50,000 bales reported. By 1940, the county population stood at 48,793.

Pratt Gin Stand
This model was patented in 1926. The gin stand is the heart of the gin plant. As the seed cotton rotates in the seed roll, it is agitated by a cylinder to ensure all lint is removed from the seed. A series of rotating saws engages the seed roll. The teeth of each saw "grabs" the lint and pulls it between narrow spaced ribs. These ribs are too closely spaced to allow passage of the seed. The seed remains in the seed roll making several passes until it gets completely "ginned." The lint which remains on the saw teeth gets doffed from the saw by a doffing cylinder. The ginned seed is discharged from the machine and carried away.

What is cotton? Cotton is the overcoat of a seed that is planted and grown in the Southern states to keep the producer broke and buyer crazy. The fibre varies in color and weight and the men who can guess the nearest the length of a fibre is called a cotton man by the public, a fool by the farmer and a poor businessman by his creditors. The price of cotton is fixed in New York and goes up when you have sold and down when you have bought. A buyer working for a group of mills was sent to New York to watch the cotton market and after a few days' deliberation wired his firm to this effect ~~ "Some think it will go up, some think it will go down, I do, too. Whatever you do will be wrong. Act at once." Cotton is planted in the spring, mortgaged in the summer, and left in the field in winter. 
~~There are other definitions, but none better than this.

Cotton Broker's Office

Mr. W.R. Wilson was the biggest and probably the only cotton broker in Greenville. His was a worldwide business. From 1930 to 1980 he had an office in downtown Greenville. In fact, all the furniture here was his with the exception of the safe, which came from the old First National Bank. He bought directly from the cotton farmer. He had a warehouse where he could store several thousand bales of cotton at one time. At the height of the season he had three men out buying cotton, two men in the pricing room and three people in the office. Dorothy Foote worked there for 28 years. She said for six months of the year they were extremely busy, for four months they were busy half a day and for two months she just looked out the window.

Samples were sent to him and he determined whether to buy. He bought much of the cotton over the phone with just a gentleman's agreement. Every bale had to be classed which told them the tinsel (the strength of the fiber) and the color and class or type. In the classing room a sample was removed from each bale to send to the buyer and the broker guaranteed the rest of the bale would be of the same class. 

Horse-powered cotton gin
Eli Whitney, a native of Massachusetts, got his idea for the cotton gin while watching workers on a plantation in Georgia separate the fiber from the seed by hand. In ten days, he built a machine that did the work 50 times faster. He called it a "gin" -- short for engine -- and secured a patent on it in 1793. His invention made it possible to supply large quantities of cotton fiber to the fast growing textile industry. 

Steam Powered Gin Model
With the coming of steam power in the late 19th century, horse-powered gins became a thing of the past. Trailers carried freshly picked cotton from the fields to the gin. At the gin, the cotton was sucked up like a big vacuum cleaner. A huge steam-powered engine ran the main processing area where foreign matter, dirt, seeds, and husks were all removed from the cotton. After more cleaning, the cotton was pressed into large bales. These bales were then loaded on wagons to be inspected and sold to buyers. 

Cotton Boll

(11) Removing Cottonseed Linters - linters, or cotton fibers, are removed from the cottonseed at the oil mill. This sample has been run through a gin one time to remove the cotton lint.
(17) Animal protein cakes - these sample animal protein cakes were made from ground up cottonseed.

(10) This is what cottonseed looks like as it comes from the gin. The fibers on the cotton are called linters.

(12) Removing more linters from the cottonseed. The cottonseed are sent back through the gin a second time to remove more lint. This sample has been through the gin two times. Notice there are very few cotton fibers left on the seeds.
(13) Cracking cottonseed hulls. After all the lint has been removed, the cottonseed hulls are cracked to remove the seeds. In this sample, the dark parts are the hulls and the light parts are the seeds.
(14) Cottonseed hulls without seeds. This sample shows the next step in the milling process with all the cottonseeds removed from the hulls. The hulls are used to make animal feed, fertilizer, and oil well drilling mud. They also became an ingredient in synthetic rubber, plastics and petroleum refining.
(15) Lint from the cottonseed. This is a sample of the lint that is removed from the cottonseed. Lint is used in a large number of products including writing paper and US dollar bills, hospital bandages, candle wicks, rugs, mops and upholstery. The dissolved pulp from linters is used to make plastics, photographic film, explosives, fingernail polish, cosmetics, paint, toothpaste and ice cream.
(16) Ground cottonseed. The cottonseed is ground up in preparation for its use in many different products.
(18) Seed meats. This sample of cottonseed meats, taken from the crushed seeds, has been steamed and rolled. The cottonseed oil is removed with the use of chemicals.

Cotton is one of the world's oldest and most amazing natural products. Cotton is the only crop in the United States that produces both food and fiber. It is hard to imagine what life would be like without cotton. From hospital bandages to designer jeans, from soft wash cloths and towels to bed sheets, from explosives to fertilizer, and drugs to cosmetics, much of what we wear and use every day is made from cotton. 

A spinner's weasel is a mechanical yarn measuring device. The yarn was tied to one of the spokes of the weasel, and the wheel was turned. Inside was a gear with a ratchet that "clicked" with every full circuit of the wheel. After a certain number of circuits there would be a loud "pop" which signaled that the correct length of yarn had been measured out.

Many authorities believe this is a possible source for the word "weasel" in the nursery rhyme "Pop Goes The Weasel." A weasel was a mechanism used by tailors, cobblers, and hatters that "popped" when the spool was full of thread. The monkey was the yarn. In England, where the nursery rhyme originated, the verse began "all around the cobbler's bench" which gives a better idea of the rhyme's original meaning. Since so much of a woman's life was spinning, this rhyme (which has many versions and verses), was sung to entertain small children while their mother spun.

After reading all about the early residents of Hunt County and learning about cotton, we headed into the world wars, and the display about Audie Murphy.

The Civil War ....

Texas had been a part of the United States for just 15 years when secessionists prevailed in a statewide election, and Texas formally seceded on March 2, 1861 to become the 7th state in the new Confederacy. Governor Sam Houston was against secession, and struggled with loyalties to both his nation and his state. His firm belief in the Union cost him his office when he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the new government. 

Tension was high when the Civil War began and Texans responded in impressive numbers. During the course of the war, they distinguished themselves in every major campaign of the war from New Mexico to Pennsylvania. The Civil War came to an end in Texas. Soldiers fought the last battle at Palmetto Ranch near Brownsville more than a month after General R.L. Lee surrendered to General U.S. Grant at Appomattox in Virginia

More than 60,000 American soldiers died during the Civil War which is more than the number of Americans who died in WWI, WWII, and the Koran War combined. About 2/3 of that number died from diseases rather than battle wounds.

World War I ~~ "The War to End All Wars"

WWI was a senseless slaughter that set the stage for the bloodiest century in human history. It was more than just a war between nations. It was a war between what was and what was to be. The "old world" was dying, and the new world had yet to be born. People of all classes and nations saw it as some great cleansing fire that would accelerate this battle and lead to a better world. But when it was over, more than men had died in the mud of the battlefields. The naive dreams of progress, along with the innocence of the pre-war world, faith in God, and hope in the future all died in the trenches of Europe. ~~Tony Novosel, PhD

The logo for Disabled American Veterans features an armed WWI soldier kneeling before Columbia, who dubs the man a knight. The logo design was taken from WWI certificates given to sick and wounded veterans featuring the painting by Edwin Blashfield.

World War II ~~ the greatest and most destructive war in history, took place in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the far-flung islands of the Pacific. From 1939-1945, more than 17 million members of the armed forces of both the Allied and Axis powers perished during the conflict. This global conflict strained the economies of the major nations and left many countries on the verge of collapse.

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." ~~ John F. Kennedy

Out of the horror of this war emerged an unlikely hero, a Texan named Audie Murphy, who became the most decorated soldier of WWII. Before he reached the age of 21, he earned every medal the United States had to offer, including the Medal of Honor. Murphy fought with the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

Four months of fighting on the Anzio beachhead in Italy became a defining moment for both the 3rd Infantry Division and Audie Murphy. The 3rd Infantry Division emerged as one of the greatest divisions of WWII and lived up to the extraordinary reputation it had achieved in the previous war. It was here that Audie earned the first of his many medals for bravery, the Bronze Star.

"The true heroes, the real heroes, are the boys who fought and died, and never will come home." ~~ Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy was the son of sharecroppers, Murphy saw three years of active combat as a soldier and later wrote about his experiences in his wrenching autobiography To Hell and Back, which was also made into a film. He also broke a taboo by acknowledging his "battle fatigue," now known as post-traumatic stress disorder. A champion of veteran's causes, he petitioned the government to study the emotional impact of war on soldiers. 

Audie & Pam Murphy, with sons Terry and James
Audie Murphy died on May 28, 1971 while on a business trip with friend Herman Butler, who was flying a twin-engine Aero-Commander that flew out of Atlanta, Georgia on its way to Martinsville, Virginia, and four other passengers. Running into a storm, the plane became lost while flying in the rain, fog and clouds. The plane plunged into the side of Brushy Mountain killing all on board. Because of the lack of a flight plan and the adverse weather conditions, the crash site was not found until three days later.

Audie Murphy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery on June 7, 1971. Although he had requested a "simple, plain and ordinary burial" in his will, Audie was buried with full military honors in the country's most prestigious cemetery. Audie's gravesite is under a large black oak tree just west of the Amphitheatre of the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, near Memorial Drive. It is the second visited gravesite at Arlington, after that of John F. Kennedy. 

Audie Leon Murphy was born on June 20, 1924, near Kingston, Texas. He was the third son and seventh child in a family that would eventually number 12 children. This house was built in 1928 from some of the lumber and bricks from the house in which Audie was born. Life was very primitive for the Murphys. Although they moved a lot, their living conditions did not vary -- crudely built three to four room houses devoid of all conveniences, including electricity and plumbing. His father worked as a tenant farmer, sharecropper, hired field hand, and an itinerant laborer. In 1940, his father, who was prone to disappear from home on numerous occasions, left home never to return. In February 1941 his mother died, and around his 18th birthday in 1942 Audie enlisted in the Army.

"By the Dawn's Early Light"
Mourning after the battles are done, Audie Murphy contemplates the discarded helmet of fallen buddy, Lattie Tipton. Unbeknownst to Audie at the time, a white dove carries Lattie's tags to heaven.

"May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't. If a man does his best, what else is there?" ~~ Gen. George Patton, Jr.

The story behind this statute of Audie Murphy:

Some oddities that came out of the war era:

"Kilroy was here" is an American pop culture expression, often seen in graffiti. Although its origins are open to speculation, recognition of the phrase and the distinctive doodle is familiar to U.S. residents who lived during WWII and the Korean War. Who was the real Kilroy? Although no one knows for certain, in 1946, the New York Times credited James T. Kilroy, a welding inspector at a shipyard in Massachusetts, with inadvertently starting the craze. It was his responsibility to check how many holes a riveter had filled in a shift on any given day. In order to prevent double counting by dishonest riveters and to prove to his supervisors that he'd been doing his work, he began marking "Kilroy was here" inside the hulls of the ships being built so the off-shift inspectors wouldn't count the rivets more than once and pay the riveter for work he hadn't done.

Once the ship became operative, carrying military troops bound for the war, the phrase was a complete mystery. All the troops could be certain of was that Kilroy, whoever he was, had 'been there first.' As a joke, troops began placing the graffiti wherever the U.S. forces landed and claimed it had already been there when they'd arrived. The cartoon of a small, round head with a long nose poking over the top of a wall may have originally been the work of British cartoonist George Edward Chatterton, and probably predated Kilroy by a few years. It commonly appeared with the phrase "Wot, no ___?" underneath, with the blank filled in by whatever was in short supply in Britain at the time. At some later point, the drawing and slogan merged.

The outrageousness of the graffiti was not so much what it said, but where it turned up. For instance, an outhouse had been built during the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, for exclusive use by Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill. The first of the three to utilize the facility was Stalin. Upon emerging, he inquired of his nearby aide, "Who is Kilroy?"

Near the end of WWII, Adolph Hitler was completely paranoid regarding one insurgent in particular who seemed able to get into anything that was thought to be secure in Nazi, Germany. Hitler ordered his best men to begin actively searching for this super-spy and all troops were commanded to shoot and kill this menace. The 'spy' Hitler was looking for was none other than Kilroy. GIs in occupied territory and spies in the German army were vandalizing Nazi bases and equipment with the Kilroy logo and its well-known slogan. It wasn't intended as anything more than a prank, but Hitler feared for his own safety thinking Kilroy was certain to kill him. Regardless of how the cartoon and phrase originated, Kilroy was one who always got there first or who was always there when they left.

Spam - Slinky - Silly Putty
If an army travels on its stomach, the U.S. rode to victory in WWII on Spam. Invented in 1937 by Hormel, Spam hit its culinary stride when the war began as a substitute for rationed beef. Because it didn't need refrigeration, it was ideal for feeding troops -- and they ate over 100 million pounds of it. Spam was also fodder for G.I. humor: "meatloaf without Basic Training," "the ham that didn't pass a physical," and "the reason for war is hell." But Spam was a life-saver for countries whose food supplies had been pinched by the war.

In 1943, Naval engineer Richard James was trying to develop springs that could support and stabilize sensitive instruments aboard ships in rough seas. He accidentally knocked one of the springs from a shelf, and watched as the spring "stepped" in a series of arcs from the shelf, to a stack of books, to a tabletop, to the floor, where it recoiled itself and stood upright. He told his wife: "I think I can make a toy out of this." And he did. His wife found a name for the new toy after discovering in the dictionary that the word "Slinky" is a Swedish word meaning "sleek or sinuous." Slinky debuted at Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia during the 1945 Christmas season where 400 were sold during the 90 minute demonstration.

Although Slinky is best known as a toy, high school teachers and college professors have used it to demonstrate the properties of waves, U.S. troops in the Vietnam War used them as mobile radio antennas, and NASA has used them in zero-gravity physics experiments in the Space Shuttle.
Marketed today as a children's toy, Silly Putty was accidentally created by James Wright, a General Electric engineer who was trying to make synthetic rubber during WWII. However, a practical use for the putty could not be found, so it was finally sold as a novelty item in 1949 in a local toy store. 

Despite selling well, the store dropped it after a year. The following year, Peter Hodgson, a marketing consultant, borrowed $147 for a batch, packaged 1oz. lumps in plastic eggs, named it Silly Putty, and sold them for $1 each. Hodgson managed to sign up a few large outlets, but after New Yorker magazine published a story about it, Hodgson received more than 250,000 orders in three days.

Hodgson was nearly put out of business in 1951 by the Korean War because silicone, a main ingredient in Silly Putty, was rationed, but the restriction on silicone was lifted after a year. Although Silly Putty was initially targeted toward adults, by 1955 the majority of its consumers were aged 6 through 12. In 1957, Hodgson created one of the first television ad campaigns targeting children with a commercial for Silly Putty that aired during the Howdy Doody Show. 

After its success as a toy, other uses were found. It is used by physical therapists for rehabilitative therapy of hand injuries and is therapeutically used for stress reduction. Because of its adhesive characteristics, it has even been used by Apollo astronauts to help fasten down tools in zero gravity. Hodgson died in 1976, leaving an estate of about $146 million. Silly Putty is owned today by Binney & Smith which estimates the toy's annual sales to 6 million eggs, or about 90 tons, per year.

Quote for the day: "We must never forget that freedom is never really free. It is the most costly thing in the world. Freedom is never paid in a lump sum. Installments come due in every generation. All that any of us can do is offer the generations that follow a chance for freedom." ~~ Paraphrased from the speeches of President Ronald Reagan


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