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Posts Tagged ‘Parson Weems’

Jasper and Newton, Texas

Posted by graywacke on March 13, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2331; A Landing A Day blog post number 762.

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Dan:  Today’s lat/long 30o 54.365’N, 93o 59.968’W) puts me in SE Texas (about 100 miles NE of Houston):

landing-1

My local landing map shows that I landed just south of Jasper:

landing-2

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Sandy Creek, on to the Neches River:

landing-3a

Zooming back, you can see that the Neches makes its way to the Sabine:

landing-3b

Without further ado (whatever the heck ado is), I’ll launch my Google Earth (GE) Yellow Push Pin spacecraft for my trip on in to SE Texas.  Click HERE and enjoy the trip.  Some readers think this is much ado about nothing . . .

You can see that I landed in the woods, which always makes for an unspectacular Street View shot (even though I’m close):

ge-sv-landing-map

Here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

ge-sv-landing

I did my best to get a decent Street View of Sandy Creek, but to no avail.  So, I went a ways south to get a look at the Neches River:

ge-sv-neches-map

And here ‘tis:

ge-sv-neches

So what about Jasper?  (I’m holding off on Newton for now).  From Wiki:

The area around Jasper (pop 8,250), which was then part of Mexican Texas, was settled around 1824 by John Bevil. Thirty families occupied the settlement as early as 1830, when it was known as Snow River or Bevil’s Settlement.

In 1835, the town was renamed after William Jasper, a war hero from the American Revolution, who was killed attempting to plant the American flag at the storming of Savannah in 1779.

There’s a monument to Jasper in Savannah (photo from Wiki):

800px-william_jasper_memorial

He was also known as a hero during the Battle of Sullivan’s Island (in South Carolina) on June 28, 1776 – right at the beginning of the war.  Back to Wiki:

When a shell from a British warship shot away the flagstaff, he recovered the South Carolina flag, raised it on a temporary staff, and held it under fire, thus rallying the troops.

battle_of_sullivans_island

Governor John Rutledge gave his sword to Jasper in recognition of his bravery.

Jasper County was one of the 23 original counties when the Republic of Texas was created in 1836.  Jasper and Jasper County became part of the United States with the Texas annexation in 1845.

This, about the Siege of Savannah (from Wiki):

The Siege of Savannah was an encounter of the American Revolutionary War in 1779. The year before, the city of Savannah, Georgia, had been captured by the British. The siege itself consisted of a joint Franco-American attempt to retake Savannah, from September 16 to October 18, 1779.

On October 9 a major assault against the British siege works failed. During the attack, Polish nobleman Count Casimir Pułaski, leading the combined cavalry forces on the American side, was mortally wounded [not to mention our hero, William Jasper].

[For the record, ALAD has featured Casimir Pulaski a couple of times:  for Mt. Pulaski IL (for the obvious reason) and San Pierre IN – where I featured the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Area.  Jasper!  How about that!]

With the failure of the joint American-French attack, the siege failed, and the British remained in control of Savannah until July 1782, near the end of the war.

Wiki lets us know that counties named after Jasper are in:  GA, IL, IN, IA, MS, SC, TX and MO.  Cities/towns named after Jasper are in:  TX, AL, AR, FL, GA MN, MO, TN, IN and NY.

Wiki also had this to say in their William Jasper entry:

Sgt. Jasper’s story is similar to that of Sgt. John Newton. Several states have adjacent counties named Jasper and Newton, as these two American Revolutionary soldiers were remembered as a pair, due to the popularity of Parson Weems’ treatises on early American history.

Several other states have a Jasper County with a county seat of Newton, or vice versa.

The above statement motivated me to take a broader look at the vicinity of my landing.  Well, check this out:

ge1

The circled “Jasper” and “Newton” are county names.

Son of a gun if we don’t have the city of Jasper in Jasper County right next to the city of Newton in Newton County.

So what about this guy Newton (and who is Parson Weems?).  From the Wiki article on John Newton:

Sgt. John Newton (1755–1780) was a soldier of the American Revolutionary War who was popularized by Parson Weems in his early 19th century school books.

Newton served under Brigadier General Francis Marion, the famous “Swamp Fox”. Today Newton appears to have been a very minor figure. However, place names across the United States demonstrate his former fame.

Parson Weems has Sgt. Newton bravely save a group of American prisoners from execution by capturing their British guards at the 1779 Siege of Savannah. However, no contemporary account of this rescue exist, and the only source is the very unreliable Weems.

In fact, according to Lieutenant Colonel Peter Horry, who took part in the campaign, “Newton was a Thief & a Villain.”

Sgt. Newton’s tale is similar to the true story of Sergeant William Jasper, who was a genuine hero but was exaggerated by Weems.

OK, so I have to check out this Weems character.  From Wiki:

Mason Locke Weems (1759 – 1825), usually referred to as Parson Weems, was an American book agent and author who wrote the first biography of George Washington immediately after his death.

He was the source of some of the historically-doubtful stories about Washington. The tale of the cherry tree (“I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet”) is an example of a likely fiction.

The New York Times has described Weems as one of the “early hagiographers” of American literature “who elevated the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion, into the American pantheon and helped secure a place there for George Washington”.

[Hagiography = biography that idealizes its subject.  Continuing from Wiki about the cherry tree incident:]

Among the exaggerated or invented anecdotes is that of the cherry tree, attributed by Weems to “… an aged lady, who was a distant relative, and, when a girl, spent much of her time in the family …” who referred to young George as “cousin”.

Quoting Weems [with some edits for brevity and clarity by yours truly]:

The following anecdote is a case in point. It is too valuable to be lost, and too true to be doubted; for it was communicated to me by the same excellent lady to whom I am indebted for the last.

“When George,” said she, “was about six years old, he was made the wealthy master of a hatchet! Of which, like most little boys, he was immoderately fond, and was constantly going about chopping everything that came in his way.

One day, in the garden, where he often amused himself hacking his mother’s pea-sticks, he unluckily tried the edge of his hatchet on the body of a beautiful young English cherry-tree, which he barked so terribly, that I don’t believe the tree ever got the better of it.

The next morning George’s father, finding out what had befallen his tree, which, by the by, was a great favourite, came into the house to investigate the damage.

Nobody could tell him anything about it. Presently George and his hatchet made their appearance. “George,” said his father, “do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? ”

george-washington-cherry-treeThis was a tough question; and George staggered under it for a moment; but quickly recovered himself: and looking at his father, with the sweet face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of all-conquering truth, he bravely cried out, “I can’t tell a lie, Pa; you know I can’t tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.”

“Run to my arms, you dearest boy,” cried his father, “run to my arms; glad am I, George, that you killed my tree; for you have paid me for it a thousand fold. Such an act of heroism in my son is more worth than a thousand trees, though blossomed with silver, and their fruits of purest gold.”

It went on to be reprinted in the popular McGuffey Reader used by schoolchildren, making it part of the culture, causing Washington’s February 22 birthday to be celebrated with cherry dishes, with the cherry often claimed to be a favorite of his.

In 1896 Woodrow Wilson’s biography George Washington was published, calling it a fabrication, after which almost all historians of the period followed suit.  The story was never denied by Washington’s relatives, notably Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis (1779-1852), whom Washington raised as his own daughter, and who spent her life preserving his memory and debunking false stories.

In spite of the speculation offered by some historians the story remains plausible and has not been proven or disproven.

Ça suffit.  (Regular readers know this means “that’s enough” or literally “that suffices” in French).

It’s time for some GE Panoramio photos of Hog Creek Falls (by Jonathan Gerland), taken about 8 miles NW of my landing.

pano-jonathon-gerland-hog-creek-falls-west-8-nw

pano-jonathon-gerland-hog-creek-falls-east-8-nw

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

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