Sunday, July 25, 2010

Well, what would YOU say?

I'd say, "Don't worry, horrible spelling and grammar skills won't keep you out of heaven, no matter how much they irritate some of us here on earth."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Lifesaver Tribute: a flood relief benefit

The bad news: this has nothing to do with candy with a hole in it.

The GOOD news:

Some classic names representing contemporary Christian music from the 70’s all the way up to today are coming together in concert to support one of their own. “The Lifesaver Tribute” is a concert to benefit the husband and wife musical duo known as Farrell & Farrell, who lost their home in the Nashville flood. The concert gets its name from one of Farrell & Farrell’s hit songs.

The concert will feature Amy Grant, Susan Ashton and a special reunion performance by the Pat Terry Group. Also performing are Kirk & Deby Dearmon, Brynn and Gersh (the husband & wife team made up of former members of RachelRachel and WhiteHeart), and more.

The concert will happen Wednesday, July 28th at 7pm, at the Village Chapel, 2021 21st Ave. South in Nashville. Tickets are $50 in advance or $55 at the door. Seating is limited so get yours now online at or, or by calling 800-965-9324.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Don't mess with Texas

So, NOW do you know what they mean?

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Vaughn Montoya (not that she really had a choice)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Alexander Kelly: Frontier Lawmaker, Indian Fighter

This is the text of a story published in the UT Alumnus, a newsletter for graduates of the University of Tennessee, in 1975 (enhanced here by the results of my "exhaustive" research, a.k.a. Googling). Any additions, corrections, or questions are very welcome.

It tells part of the story of my great-great-great-great grandfather, from whose family I get my middle name and possibly my melancholy nature, my readiness to contend for territory (usually intellectual rather than geographical) and my gift of gab (I realize whether that's actually a gift depends on your point of view...but this is mine).

I always feel the need to mention my mixed feelings about the nature of some of his exploits, being directed against a people whose cause I have more sympathy with than he did, to say the least. Even some of the language and tone is relatively recent article would not be considered appropriate today, especially as a university publication. But he was a man of his time, and clearly a brave and adventurous one at that, dedicated to protecting his own, so I focus on the positive aspects of his character rather than the unfortunate targets of his pursuits. You can really only repudiate so much of what your predecessors did, while speaking their language, living on the land they claimed, and otherwise enjoying the benefits of those actions you might criticize.

To continue that thought: we've probably all fantasized about meeting our ancestors. But do we realize what that might really be like? Think of the most racist, ignorant and/or superstitious thing you've ever heard a parent, grandparent or other old relative say. Then imagine that a few generations back, that person would likely be considered a raging liberal, a broad-minded, forward-thinking genius. Sobering, isn't it?

Anyway, back to Granddaddy Kelly:

(From the UT Alumnus, 1975, p. 27)

Like John Sevier, Alexander Kelly was a man of action—a leader in the defense of the settlers against Indian attack and a leader in the territorial and state governments.

Like Sevier, too, Kelly was a charter trustee of Blount College, and thereby a champion of education in the infant State of Tennessee.

Sometimes a "conflict of interest" arose, and Alexander Kelly had to choose between sitting in the legislative chamber and riding against marauding Indians. In those rare instances, military duty took precedence.

For example, while the territorial legislature (of which Kelly was a member) was meeting at Knoxville on Aug. 28, 1794, “on motion of Mr. Kelly, seconded by Mr. Hardin, ordered that Mr. Kelly and Mr. Beard have leave of absence, to go on a scout against the Indians."

A threatened incursion of hostile Cherokees made it necessary for the two militia officers to put aside their legislative duties for days of hard riding through neighboring hills and valleys.

A week later "Mr. Kelly returned and took his seat" in the legislative hall—just in time to vote on the resolution to create Blount College.

Alexander Kelly was one of several Blount College trustees who claimed Ireland as their birthplace. Kelly was born about 1750 in County Armagh and was brought to America as an infant.

Settled First in Virginia

The family settled in Virginia, and during the Revolutionary War the home was in Greenbriar in that state. On July 9, 1776—five days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence—Kelly enlisted as a private in the Ninth Virginia Regiment. On October 4, 1777, Kelly was taken prisoner by the British at Germantown; and it was 1785—after he had moved to Tennessee country—that he received the balance of his military pay, an amount of 23 pounds, four shillings.

Apparently Private Kelly was not a prisoner for very long. He was married and a son, John Kelly, was born in Greenbriar County, Virginia, on June 12, 1779. At some time between 1779 and 1783, he took his family southward into Tennessee country. Old records reveal that Alexander Kelly was appointed an assessor in Greene County, North Carolina (Tennessee) in April 1783; and two years later he was named a major of Greene County militia in the short-lived State of Franklin.

By 1792, Kelly had moved his family to Knox County, where he became a farmer and miller. He was appointed a colonel of Knox County militia, and in 1793 he took part in the expedition against the Indians who had attacked outlying stations and threatened the territorial capital of Knoxville.

Pursued Indians into Georgia

Under John Sevier, the militia pursued the Indians into Georgia and defeated them at the forks of the Coosa and Hightower rivers, near the present site of Rome, Georgia.

In that battle, Colonel Kelly led a maneuver that settled the issue in the militia's favor. Finding the river ford obstructed by Indians entrenched on the opposite shore, Sevier sent Kelly's party downstream to make a crossing. Kelly and some of his men swam the river, thus getting the attention of the Indians who "left their entrenchments and ran down the river to oppose their passage." The main force of militia quickly forded the river and routed the Indians.

When the territorial legislators were elected in 1793, Alexander Kelly was chosen a representative from Knox County.

In 1795 Knox County was divided and Blount County was formed. Kelly was one of seven commissioners named to find a site for the county seat and to erect county buildings. The site of Maryville was chosen, and the town was named in honor of Governor William Blount's wife, Mary Grainger Blount.

Kelly moved his residence to Blount County about that time, settling in the vicinity of present-day Louisville and building a mill on Lackey's Creek.

Appointed commandant of the county militia, Kelly lost no time in fulfilling his responsibility to protect the settlers of Blount County.

Early in 1795 Indians came out of their mountain towns and raided isolated homes in the new county. Kelly raised about fifty men and marched across Chilhowee Mountain to Tallassee Old Town. Upon reaching the river and seeing smoke rising from the opposite shore, Kelly sent a detachment across the stream to attack from the rear—a maneuver employed so effectively at Hightower. The surprised Indians were routed from the river bluffs, with eight being killed. Kelly's company suffered no injuries.

This swift action brought peace to the new county. Kelly was elected to the first Senate of Tennessee, serving Blount County in 1796-97.

Always a pioneer, Kelly was one of the early settlers of Marion County, Tennessee, claiming some 3,000 acres of land there in 1824. Not long after settling in the new county, he was drowned in the Sequatchie River.

NOTE: "Greenbriar" could be a reference to Greenbrier County, West Virginia; it was part of Virginia until the Civil War.--MKH