A Landing a Day

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Butler, Georgia

Posted by graywacke on January 17, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-time-I-get-around-to-it blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  After a western USer (CA), an eastern USer (IN), how about a southern USer . . . GA; 35/38; 5/10; 14; 154.3.  Here’s my broader landing map, showing that I landed in the south-central part of the state:

 butler landing 2

Here’s my landing map, showing proximity to Reynolds, Butler, and the Flint River:

 butler landing

And yes, I landed in the Flint R watershed (6th hit); on to the Apalachicola R (8th) hit; on to the Atlantic Ocean.   Here’s a StreetView shot from a bridge over the Flint, just east of my landing:

 butler flint r GE SV

My Google Earth shot shows that I landed in a mixed wooded / agricultural area:

 butler GE 1

So, although I landed a little closer to Reynolds, I’ve decided to feature Butler.  If you’re from Reynolds, sorry about that – but I did a quick internet search and found that Butler had a little more material of interest . . .

 From the City’s website’s History section:

Butler was named for General William Orlando Butler, a distinguished soldier of the Mexican War. Before the town became known as Butler, it was known by various names, among them Mount Pleasant and Wolf Pen.

Butler was surveyed, and clearing began in 1852. Tradition says that a huge tree was burned on the site for the town, and that the fire could be seen for as much as ten miles. Thus, Butler was said to have been built on the highest spot between Savannah and Columbus.

Before I check out General Butler, a couple of things:  First, I want to say that I’m really sorry that the name “Wolf Pen” didn’t stick.  Imagine living in Wolf Pen, GA.  Way cooler than Butler.

 Plus, I’d like to address the second paragraph.  I don’t care what tradition says.  Just because a fire could be seen for ten miles, I think it’s a stretch to say that therefore Wolf Pen, er, I mean Butler, is on the highest spot between Savannah & Columbus.  I think I’ll check with Google Earth (which shows the land elevation wherever you look).

 Well, Columbus is to the west side of Georgia (up against Alabama), on the Chattahootchee River, at an elevation of about 240 feet above sea level.  Savannah is on the east coast, just above sea level.

 The highest elevation in Butler is about 643.  So far, so good.

 Being a hydrologist of sorts, I figure that the high point will be on the watershed divide between the Chattahootchee & the Flint.  Well, Butler’s not on the divide.  But, I found a spot about 12 miles west of Butler that is on the watershed divide.  Surprise, surprise:  it has an elevation of 740 feet!

 The A Landing A Day Myth Buster strikes again!

 So, moving on to General William Orlando Butler.  First, the basics from Wiki:

William Orlando Butler was a U.S. political figure and U.S. Army major general from Kentucky. He served as a Democratic congressman from Kentucky from 1839 to 1843, and was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee under Lewis Cass in 1848.

A younger General Butler:

 butler -  younger butler from wiki

An older General Butler (he made to 90!):

 butler - older butler from national guard history emuseum, courtesy KY Historical Society

Of course, there are some items of interest – his service in the Mexican-American war, and his unsuccessful run for VP in 1848.  Incidentally, here’s a picture of Lewis Cass, under whom he ran:

 butler - lewis cass

All in all, not a very attractive man (no wonder he lost!)

 Anyway, I ran across the fact that General Butler was an accomplished (and popular) poet.  His most famous poem is “The Boatman’s Horn.”  I’m not a big poetry fan, but I read the poem.  It’s a little thick and obscure for my straight-ahead tastes, but I decided to present it here in its entirety.

The Boatman’s Horn

by General William Orlando Butler

 O boatman! wind that horn again,
For never did the listening air,
Upon its lambent bosom bear       [lambent = emanating a soft radiance]
So wild, so soft, so sweet a strain!

What, though thy notes are sad and few,
By every simple boatman blown,
Yet is each pulse to nature true,

And melody in every tone.

How oft in boyhood’s joyous days,
Unmindful of the lapsing hours,
I’ve loitered on my homeward way
By wild Ohio’s bank of flowers;
While some lone boatman from the deck
Poured his soft numbers to the tide,
As if to charm from storm and wreck
The boat where all his fortunes ride!

Delighted Nature drank the sound,
Enchanted echo bore it round
In whispers soft and softer still,
From hill to plain and plain to hill,
Till e’en the thoughtless, frolic boy,
Elate with hope and wild with joy,
Who gamboled by the river side,      [gambol = playfully frolic]
And sported with the fretting tide,
Feels something new pervade his breast,
Change his light step, repress his jest,
Bends o’er the flood his eager ear
To catch the sounds far off, yet dear .
Drinks the sweet draft, but knows not why
The tear of rapture fills his eye.
And can he now, to manhood grown,
Tell why those notes, so wild, so lone,
As on the ravish’d ear they fell,
Bound every sense in magic spell?

There is a tide of feeling given
To all on earth, its fountain Heaven;
Beginning with the downy flower
Just ope’d in Florio’s vernal bower,      [vernal bower = springtime leafy shelter]
Running each nice gradation through,
With bolder murmur, and with brighter hue;
That tide is Sympathy! Its fitful flow
Gives to this life its joy or two:
Music, the master spirit, that can move
Its waves to war, or lull them into love;
Can charm the starting tear from Beauty’s eye,
And bid the heart of virtue cease to sign;
Can cheer the dying sailor on the wave,
And shed bright halos round the Soldier’s grave;
Inspire the fainting Pilgrim on his road,
And elevate his soul and thoughts to God!

Then Boatman! wind that Horn again!
Tho’ much of Sorrow mark its strain;
Yet are its sounds to Sorrow dear!
What tho’ they wake fond mem’ry’s tear?
Tears are mem’ry’s sacred feast,
Where Rapture sits a smiling guest.

OK, so the poem touched me just a little (although the verse beginning with “There is a tide of feeling given” is particularly obscure for my taste).  But anyway, the General is not alone in sensing a greater beauty (and meaning) in a seemingly ordinary experience . . .

 And now a word about perhaps the most obscure phrase: “Florio’s vernal bower.”  I more or less get the “vernal bower” part, but who the heck is Florio? 

 I rolled up my sleeves, and did some internet research.  At first, I thought that Florio was John Florio, an Italian-turned-Brit poet from the 1500s, who is credited by some as being the actual writer of Shakespeare’s plays.  But I hit a dead end looking for a reference to “vernal bower” in John Florio’s poetry.  But then I hit on this, from an 1827 review (written by an anonymous reviewer) of “Anniversary Poem” by James Gordon Brooks:

“Before we speak particularly of this poem [Anniversary Poem], we avail ourselves of the opportunity afforded us of taking a glance at Mr. Brooks’s previous poetical writings. We do this with the more pleasure, as we have never seen, save in newspaper criticisms, any notice of them.

These productions first appeared in a Poughkeepsie newspaper, under the signature of Floranthes, and afterwards in the daily evening papers of New York, under the signature of Florio. Few productions of our native literature have had so wide a circulation or met with so great a number of readers, as the poems under the latter signature. It is of these that we intend now to speak.”

OK, interesting, so James Gordon Brooks published very popular poetry under the pseudonym “Florio.”  But check this out, from the American Monthly Magazine, Vol 1 (1829), which contains this discussion of poetry by “Mr. Brooks.”  Note, in particular, the fourth line of the poem:

florio - brooks poem

Bingo!  The internet is amazing!  Florio’s vernal bower – ha!  (You can see by the yellow highlight that my Google search was for Florio and “vernal bower.”)

 I’ll close with a couple of Google Earth Panoramio shots.  First, this by Superjanni entitled “Roadside Georgia”, taken about 2 miles east of my landing:

 butler superjanni panaramio

 I love the “Inside Yard Sale” . . .

 I’ll close with this shot by MaryAlice, taken of the Howard General Store, about 15 mi west of my landing (at almost exactly the same elevation as Butler, by the way):

 panaramio maryalice general and country store at Howard 15 mi w

  That’ll do it.

 KS

 Greg

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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