Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Tribute to Charles Warburton

                Rarely do you see historians, researchers, or academics dive heavily into personal stories because for the most part we like to look at the broad stokes of history and how events and people affected them. You see it a little more now as people research their genealogy and discover these personal stories. There are so many unique and great stories out there to be told. I want to tell you a short one of an individual who impacted the world around. And although few in this world had the opportunity to meet him he left a lasting impression on those who knew him. I want to write about my grandfather Charles Warburton who passed away Monday, August 27th at the age of 78.

                To stay objective and historical I will attempt to call him Charlie as everyone knew him but occasionally I will refer to him as grandpa in here and that’s because I loved him. In order to understand who Charlie is you have to understand a little of where he came from and to know that you have to know the Newkirks. Charlie’s mother was Martha Newkirk, she was in the middle of 16 brothers and sisters. If you have ever been to one of their monthly get-togethers (which I had the privilege of doing a couple times) you would understand quickly how wonderful this family is and the bond in which they shared. Martha was one of the sweetest most endearing women this world has ever known. She was a tough cookie though, known for cheating at Flinch, cutting the heads off of chickens without hesitation, and telling it like it was because it needed to be said. But she cared so deeply for her family. She treated everyone with respect and love that only a grandmother could do. I know a few people that considered her their second mother or second grandmother because of the way in which she loved on them. This influence on Charlie carried over into every aspect of his life, including his fear of birds. When he was younger working on the farm his mother was cutting the heads off chickens as is normal practice on a farm. If you know anything about this process once a chicken loses its head it will convulse and dance for a short period of time. On one of these occasions Charlie’s mom cut the head off and the chicken seemed to aim itself right for Charlie, dancing on his head and chest. Needless to say this moment was forever etched in his mind and he refused to be too close to a bird for the rest of his life. My mother could talk hours on end about her Grandma Martha and Grandpa Joe. They were such an amazing pair and demonstrated that by raising Charlie with a solid work ethic, strong character, and steadfast integrity.

                Charlie’s work ethic could be seen in the various jobs he had throughout his life and the intense effort he put into each one of them, first and foremost though he was known as a farmer.  As young as ten years old Charlie recalled driving the tractor around the farm helping his father out with various jobs on the farm. In 1953, at the age of 19, Charlie had to start taking over the responsibilities of his father’s farm because his eyesight was declining. In that same year Charlie married the woman he would spend the next 59 years with Margaret Kelley. Together they had three children Steve, Myra, and David (my mom is Myra :). Charlie continued farming on what would be considered a sharecropping deal known as the Bratton farm. Charlie would spend the next 3 years there until 1957 when he and his family moved to a brick home in rural Boone County Indiana where he began to farm 350 acres. The previous season was tough and many farmers were hurting due to low yields from the previous year. Because of this farmers got together and would put their crops out as a team, one would discus and the other would plant to save time and money. A man by the name of Joe Edwards joined Charlie for the next three years in putting out their crops together. Sam Hirschman and John Freeman, friends of Charlie and Joe were doing the same thing down the road. They all agreed to finish on the same day and whichever group finished last had to make homemade ice cream for all four families. So as they started Joe gets the idea that he was going to really let them know when they finished so he grabbed a stick of dynamite. As Charlie finished his last row Joe began mounting the dynamite on a tree and started to run. Half way to the tractor Joe stopped to grab a rock and grandpa started thinking what in the world is he doing (turned out to be a large Indian arrowhead). Finally the explosion goes off and the sound could be heard for miles and miles, blowing the tree half off and signifying them as the winner. What they did not take into account was the farm nearby by and their nearly 1000 chickens which all simultaneously stopped laying eggs, going into a molt. Despite their shenanigans Charlie was a well respected farmer in the community and known by about everyone.

                Charlie’s impact on history goes beyond a blown up tree and a thousand scared chickens. Charlie also became the youngest trustee in the county in 1962 at age 28. It was during this time that states were consolidating schools from those one room school houses to city or county-wide school districts. Charlie along with other township trustees signed off on the consolidation to form a school district in rural Boone County Indiana known as Western Boone. Along with that the men became the first members of the school board, serving for the next three years. There are fewer long term impacts an individual can make than on the education system and Charlie was integral in that process. So many lives we affected through this position and we probably did not even realize it.  

Over time and with his various influential positions he became well known in Boone County and Lebanon, Indiana. I remember growing up in Lebanon, Indiana and no matter where I went all I would have to say is that I was Charlie Warburton’s grandson and everyone knew me. I was convinced when I was younger that as long as I was Charlie’s grandson I could run for mayor and more than likely win. Charlie did not get all of his notoriety from being a farmer and trustee. By 1969, farming was becoming much more difficult to sustain financially so Charlie was forced to get work elsewhere. It was then that he started working at Boone County State Bank in downtown Lebanon. Within only a matter of years he worked his way up to Vice-President and Head Cashier thereby putting himself in a position that he could give up farming. As sad as a day as that was for the family to leave the farm, opportunity was awaiting in the banking world. As banks in Indiana started to fall to bigger banks from Ohio, Boone County State Bank became no exception and was bought out by Ameritrust. This transition worked out perfect for Charlie as his skill and knowledge kept him in the game. Finally after the third buy out by Key Bank he was placed in charge as head of security for all of central Indiana. He oversaw nearly 45 branches and his responsibilities included internal and external fraud as well as all robberies that might occur. Charlie worked as an investigator, getting to the truth and prosecuting individuals if necessary. Charlie even helped put former Colts quarterback Art Schlichter behind bars as well as countless other individuals. When sitting down and talking with him last year I realized quickly he valued his time as a farmer but he was most proud of his work as head of security for Key Banks. He talks with such excitement and pride about how far he moved up and how much he accomplished.

                My memories of my grandfather were of him as a banker and I remember a couple times I would ride my bike from their house into downtown Lebanon and have lunch with him at a local restaurant. See my July 4th, 2010 blog about my fond memories of our celebrations on Independence Day. I remember spending the night at their house, making wooden swords with my uncle, and Christmas Eves. I remember my first wallet I got from my parents and my grandfather wanted to see it and realizing it was empty gave me a few dollars to put inside. I remember cookouts, riding the lawnmower in circles around the driveway, and grandpa trying to teach me how to fix things. What I will remember more than anything about my grandpa is the impact he had on people and his family. I will remember the numerous people that spoke so fondly of him. I will remember how many people relied on my grandfather both personally and professionally. Isn’t this what history is all about, the impact that people and events have on a society. My grandfather had that kind of historical impact. It might have only been on a small community but his influence has touched the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people. There are so many more stories and events of Charlie's life that he has told me and the family. Stories that impacted others and stories that further show his historical impact on the community around him. I know he touched my life and I am honored to have called him my grandfather. Thank you Charles Warburton for being the man you were, for showing this world what it means to be a man of integrity and a man of honor.    

Obiturary (picture): http://reporter.net/obituaries/x143111486/Mr-Charles-William-Warburton

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wordle: George Washington Farewell Address

I figured since the 2012 Presidential Election is coming up in a matter of months I would display Wordles of important documents or speeches in American History that attribute to being a great President of the United States. I suggest reading this document, it's a long one but very important in its content. 

What is a wordle: "Wordle" is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Entertainment History of Thomas Jefferson

When our society thinks of entertainment we talk about movies, music, and games. All of these can be accessed on a mobile device which also happens to be what I'm writing this blog entry from. In the United States entertainment has dominated our culture and every aspect of our lives. People feel they have to be entertained at all times. But how did we get to this point, the obvious culprit we might point to is technology. But rather it is the path with which we got there. For this I always think back to the founding fathers. How did they experience it. What forms of entertainment kept them occupied on a regular basis, what did they enjoy doing in their spare time and why. We know that many in the mid to late eighteenth century enjoyed reading on a regular basis. Classical books from history, European philosophy, Biblical commentaries were on most everyone's bookshelves in early America. We also know that plays were performed in major cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. Cato, for instance, was a very popular play in the United States. It is a story of the preservation of democracy. The story references Cato of Ancient Rome and his heroic efforts to stop the tyranny of Julius Caesar. These I might consider are obvious forms of entertainment like the Kindle and television are for us today. But what else entertained these founding fathers?  

Thomas Jefferson was a man that loved to explore what this world had to offer. He was always reading and experimenting and learning as much as he could. Knowledge was the most important thing to him and he dedicated his life to that pursuit. It would be no surprise then to think that Jefferson would have the most extensive experience when it came to enjoying the entertainment of the world. The following is a list found in Jefferson's memoranda records and I think you'll be somewhat surprised:

  • 1771 - Paid for hearing the musical glasses, 3 shillings (is this an invention or a musical?)
  • 1771 - Paid for seeing the alligator, 1 shillings (I can only assume this was an episode of swamp people)
  • 1772 - Paid for seeing puppet show, 2 shillings (Kermit the Frog really has staying power)
  • 1783 - Paid for 2 tickets to see balloon, 15 shillings (Jefferson witnessed the first ever recorded manned balloon flight in Paris, France. The balloon reached a height of roughly 500 feet.)
  • 1786 - Paid for seeing figure of King of Prussia, 12 frances (is this a wax museum?)
  • 1786 - Paid for seeing a learned pig, 1 shilling (I would pay a lot of money for this one)

So this is where we got started. From here we got our UFC fighting, reality television, and professional sports. Two things I find interesting about this list. The first is how few things over a 15 year span Jefferson recorded paying to go see. If it was a list from our memoranda we would have six things in the first two days.  The second thing I find interesting is how simple some of these things are. For instance the idea of seeing an alligator or a pig. Obviously living in a era where transportation outside your county was extremely rare, individuals would go to great links to bring the experience of the world to your door step. When you think about it, it really is not too much different then today. Our avenues of entertainment are meant to bring the world to our doorstep, i.e. smartphones, computers, game consoles, etc. They are meant to allow us to experience what this world has to offer. Entertainment seems to have come a long way however the purpose behind it has not changed a whole lot. 

(Csida, American Entertainment: A Unique History of Popular Show Business, p. 26, 1978)

Friday, August 17, 2012

The American Citizens Handbook: Part 1

"You, at this moment have the honor to belong to a generation whose lips are touched by fire... The human race now passes thru one of its great crises. New ideas, new issues - a new call for men to carry on the work of righteousness, of charity, or courage, of patience, and of loyalty - all these things have come and are daily coming to you. When you are old... however memory brings back this moment to your mind, let it be able to say to you: That was a great moment. It was the beginning of a new era... This world in its crisis called for volunteers, for men of faith in life, or patience in service, of charity, and of insight. I responded to the call however I could. I volunteered to give myself to my master - the cause of humane and brave living. I studied, I loved, I labored, unsparingly and hopefully, to be worthy of my generation."  - Josiah Royce
This is the introductory quote found in the 6th edition of The American Citizens Handbook. First published in 1941 by the National Council of Social Studies (a department of the National Education Association) it was written to coincide with National Citizenship Day and continued to 1968 with the last edition I currently posses. The book is broken out into multiple sections in order to highlight what made the United States of America what it is, why patriotism and citizenship is so important, and the foundations of our liberty and freedom. I thought it would be interesting to discover what students were being taught in the mid-twentieth century through a five part blog series.  

The founding of this book can be attributed to Joy Elmer Morgan who from 1920 to 1954 was editor of the Journal of the National Education Association. Eventually becoming President of the Senior Citizens of America she wrote the introduction to this book entitled 'Your Citizenship in the Making.' Morgan lays out the main objective of this book which is to "become active and responsible citizens we can help to build a future worthy of the pioneer men and women who made possible the opportunities we now enjoy." Morgan then lays out all the aspects of being an active citizen which includes: historical leadership, our national documents, foundation of Christianity, free public education, and active participation. The NEA really surprises me here on the stance they take politically, religiously, and socially. It very much would today be considered a Conservative stance. Examining their website, nea.org you see their mission and values have some basic similarities for instances their support that education is the foundation of a strong republic. Beyond that however you see nothing mentioned of historical emphasis on foundation leaders and documents as well as nothing mentioned of Christianity or religion at all. 

All aspects of this section focus on the idea of what we can do as good citizens to make America great. Morgan closes out this section with a challenge to everyone reading this book. She writes, "As you read this book, ask yourself what you as a citizen can do to pass on the torch of democracy and to make the nation better and stronger. Determine to do your part to keep democracy true to the ideals of its founders." So as we look at this book and what it offers we can get a glimpse into the mindset and ideals of people in the 1940s and 50s. We can see what students were taught and what perspective people had at that time. When we hear Baby Boomers mentioning the "good ole days" we can see that it was not just what they were taught in the home but what they were being taught in school. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

The London Games of 1908

There is nothing I enjoy more than watching the Olympic games. Only during these events am I ever likely to watch obscure sports such as table tennis, fencing, rowing, and my personal favorite water polo. Then I came across a couple YouTube videos showing the 1908 London Olympic games. These are amazing to watch. Not only due you notice that nearly all the sports are preformed at the same stadium but I couldn't even name some of the sports if I was forced to. Totally worth your time.

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