In an article on al.com from 2013, another Isbell home was featured. This was the Roberts-Taylor-Isbell home. The article is reprinted below:
Roberts-Taylor-Isbell House ‘just full of history’
The 1854 Roberts-Taylor-Isbell House, the lovely, Greek Revival townhouse on Government Street
Historic home restored to its original state.
near the Broad Street intersection, is one of the main attractions on the Mobile Historic Homes Tour this weekend, and it’s worth the price of admission all by itself. “It’s just full of history,” Roy Isbell said.
The Isbells, who have done a great deal of the work on the house themselves, see their project as a preservation rather than a restoration. The house caught fire in 2009, but wasn’t badly damaged. “The fire is such a small part of the house’s history,” Debbie Isbell said.
Visitors will notice different wallpaper styles in every room, which was very much in style at the time it was decorated. “Every inch of the house was covered in paper,” Roy Isbell said.
To reproduce the original wallpaper in the foyer, Roy and Ray commissioned a stencil, which was copied from the 1890s wallpaper they found under the staircase, then did the walls by hand. The trompe-l’oeil border is also a reproduction from the 1850s.
“It’s not that they couldn’t afford crown molding,” Ray Isbell explained. “Paper was ‘in.’”
When the Isbells bought the house in 1994, it was filled with furniture and memorabilia from the three related families who had occupied it since it was built. The Roberts and Taylors loved to collect things, and the Isbells have set out many treasures for tourgoers to enjoy, from 1930s Shakespeare Club pamphlets in the parlor to the 1875 china in the dining room.
The Isbells have also written a history of the home for the docents to narrate during the tour. A few highlights: Joel Abbot Roberts, a local banker, built the main house in 1854, but the first house on the lot was built circa 1837 by Joel’s father, Dr. Willis Roberts of Georgia. Joel Abbot Roberts’ ledger, on display in the front parlor, shows that he paid $24 for the parlor pocket doors.
Mirabeau Lamar, president of the Republic of Texas from 1838-41, was a family friend who visited often; his portrait hangs just outside the dining room, and the Isbells have a copy of a poem he wrote in tribute to Joel Roberts’ wife, Mary, called “Flowers from the Heart.”
Four generations of the Roberts family lived here until 1897, when the home was acquired by R.V. Taylor; in turn, four generations of Taylors occupied it until 1988. The west wing was R.V. Taylor’s home office at the turn of the century when he was the mayor of Mobile. His only daughter, Helen Buck Taylor, married Captain J. Lloyd Abbot III, who counted among his ancestors Gen. Edmund Pendleton Gaines – for whom Dauphin Island’s Fort Gaines is named.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what guests on the home tour will learn about Mobile history and the Isbell House’s place in it. If you’re from Mobile, you may even discover some anecdotes about some of your relatives. The Roberts, Taylors and Isbells had quite a few cousins, including Herndons, Toulmins, Langdons, Pillans, Inges, Wallers and more.
“This house was never the grandest in Mobile,” Ray Isbell said. “But at the same time, it has so many original features to it.”
The Taylors had been quite wealthy, but were wiped out in the 1929 stock market crash, he said, and after that, couldn’t afford to do much in the way of renovations. “The true value of the house is that so little of it was changed,” he said.
here is a short biography of Felix Grundy Norman, Sr., 1808-1885
FELIX GRUNDY NORMAN, lawyer, was born January 4, 1808, near Smyrna, Rutherford County, Tenn. and died August 5, 1885 at Tuscumbia [Alabama]; son of John and Margaret [Stockird] Norman who lived at Smyrna. He was denied early educational advantages, but was taught in the rudiments by an older brother. He began life as a merchant but later taught school for several years. He studied under William Casper, was admitted to the bar in Tuscumbia in the early thirties, and practiced at that point and the surrounding country until his death. He was mayor of Tuscumbia for many years, and represented his county in the legislature for sessions of 1841, 1842, 1844, 1845 and 1847-8, inclusive. Although he supported the Confederacy with his means and influence, he was debarred from active participation on account of his age. He was a Democrat; a Presbyterian; and a Mason. Married: August 17, 1848 at Dickson, to Jane Lavina, daughter of Henry and Jane [Shelton] Cook of Spotsylvania County, Va., residents for some years of Huntsville, later locating in Tuscumbia where they spent the remaining years of their lives, the former for some time government agent for the disposition of Indian lands. Children: 1. John Henry; 2. Felix Grundy, m. Della Phares, Salinas, Calif.; 3. Mary Barton, m. John R. Charlton, La Verge, Tenn.; 4. Kate Cook, m. Hall S. Kirkpatrick; 5. Thomas Edgar, m. Lee Ellis, Memphis; 6. James Beverly, last residence: Tuscumbia.
Bibliography Source: History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Vol. IV. by Thomas McAdory Owen, Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1921.
Biography of Felix Grundy Norman, Sr., 1808-1885
FELIX G. NORMAN, of Franklin [County Alabama], was born and educated in Tennessee. He represented Franklin for the first time at the session of 1841, and by continuous elections, he served in the House until the close of the session of 1847-8, since which time he has been in private life, engaged in the practice of law. While in the Legislature, Col. Norman was a very efficient member, both in debate and in Committees. He was a Democrat from honest conviction, and never departed from that faith, but always kept himself in the path of duty according to the best of his judgment. Acting on principle, he opposed at every step the resolutions of the General Assembly accepting Alabama’s portion of the proceeds of the public lands. In the same manner, he opposed what he considered the improper identity in the same resolution, on the Constitutional amendment providing for biennial sessions of the Legislature, and for the removal of the Seat of Government at the session of 1845. In all this, he only yielded to a sense of duty, to prevent injustice, or an unsafe precedent. However laudable his purpose, he course on the question of removal resulted to his injury, through influences subsequently brought to bear against him, in a political sense. For many years, Col. Norman was Grand High Priest and Grand Master of the Masonic fraternity of Alabama, who presented him, on his retirement, appropriate medals, commemorating his services to the craft. From his bearing in the Legislature, the courtesy he always exhibited in debate, the intelligence with which he handled questions, and the ease and graceful elocution which seemed natural to him, Col. Norman was unquestionably cast in a large intellectual mould, capable of expansion beyond the limits within which it was his fortune to be confined as a political aspirant. Although rigid in the tenets of his party, and at times somewhat acrimonious under provocation, he was not blind to the merits of a measure because it may have originated with his opponents. He was bold and fearless, often displaying the gallantry of ancient knighthood in the legislative arena, shivering a lance with friend or foe without personal malice. His face was luminous with good feeling, and his whole deportment was that of a gentleman sensible of the rights of others, and careful of his own, in all that relates to the substantial etiquette of life. Had his lot permitted a more congenial opening for the development of his character after the inward model, there is no doubt that Col. Norman would have filled a large space before the public, and achieved a reputation as proudly National as that which he now enjoys is, in local view, distinguished for ability and honor. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to his advancement to higher places has been a certain measure of self-respect and honorable sensibility, which made intrigue and management the usual medium of success repugnant to his nature. He has abundant reason, however to be satisfied with the result, in his own high and unimpeachable character. He is still in the meridian of life, and he resides in Tuscumbia.
Bibliography Source: Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama, by William Garrett, Atlanta, GA: Plantation Publishing Press, 1872.
Bibliography Source: Two Hundred Years at Muscle Shoals, by Nina Leftwich, Tuscumbia, Alabama, 1935: When the cornerstone of the new 1847 Tuscumbia Masonic building was put down, a engraved cooper plaque was placed inside the stone. Text of plaque in graphic above.
The Norman home in Tuscumbia, Colbert County, Alabama:
The Norman house is an historic residence in Tuscumbia, Alabbama. The house was built in 1851 by Felix Grundy Norman, a lawyer who also served as mayor of Tuscumbia and in the Alabama Legislature from 1841to 1845 and again in 1847–48. Norman’s father-in-law was the land agent for the sale of the Chickasaw and his brother-in-law, Armistead Barton, built Barton Hall in nearby Cherokee, Alabama.
The house sits on the corner of Main and Second Street, and has two identical facades facing each street. Each face has a central pedimented portico supported by four tuscan columns. Each portico is flanked by three part windows consisting a nine-over-nine sash window which is bordered by narrow three-over-three sashes. The interior retains its Greek Revival woodwork and mantels.
JOHN NORMAN, brother of Felix Grundy Norman, was born in Rutherford County December 5, 1804, son of John and Mary Margaret (Stockard) Norman. Extent of schooling not determined. Married in Rutherford County Tennessee September 13, 1867, to Nancy Neal; children-Cynthia Jane, Margaret Rebecca, Mary A., Harriett E., Martha E., John B., Josephine B., and Sarah F. Norman. Removed to Carroll County Tennessee, c.1828, to engage in farming and clearing landholdings in 8th civil district. Appointed a trustee of Huntingdon Academy, Carroll County, in 1845 but resigned in 1848. Elected constable, 1832; sheriff, 1838-44; clerk of circuit court, 1854-56; county judge, 1856; one of committee to plan for repair of courthouse and building jail. Served in the Tennessee House, 33rd and 34th (Reconstruction) General Assemblies, 1859-61; 1865-67; representing Carroll County; served in the Tennessee Senate, 35th General Assembly, 1867-69; representing Carroll, Dyer, and Gibson counties; member Opposition Party in 33rd Assembly; Unionist in 34th and 35th. Mason; member of Zion Presbyterian Church. Died in Madison County October 5, 1874.
Bibliography Sources: Prepared Roster, House, 33rd General Assembly; Goodspeed, History of Carroll County, 802, 803; Rutherford County records: “Marriage Records, Vol. 1, 1804-37,” p. 155; “Wills, Settlements and Inventories, Vol. 6, 1824-27,” pp. 194-95; Carroll County records: “Minutes, County Court, 1826-33, Pt. 2,” p. 532; “1838-42, Book 3, Pt. 2,” p. 223, 390; “1843-50, Pt. I,” p. 144, “Pt. 2,” p. 390; “1850-55,” pp. 25, 30; “1855-59,” pp. 59, 213-214; ‘Marriages, 1838-60,’ pp. 235, 274, 412; Jackson Whig and Tribune, October 31, 1874; infomation supplied by greatgrandaughters, Mrs. Julian Devault and Mrs. Allen Holliday, McKenzie.
memories die with them as do life experiences and lessons learned. It is imperative that those of a younger generation preserve the memories of their forefathers; if one does not know their own and family history, how can he or she judge what the future should hold?
How I wish I could find photos and information on the Golden Gloves boxing of yesteryear, especially on those who got into the ring. And that would include Daddy, James Murray.
A name that you may recall from history is that of Governor George Wallace. He was also a boxer in his youth. He and my Daddy knew each other, were friends and that was a life long friendship. Perhaps they were introduced to each other during their boxing days. They had a lot in common. They were both stubborn, especially if they knew they were right about something. Neither would forfeit a fight even when encouraged to ‘fix’ a fight. They would rather quit than lose when victory could be theirs.
JFK and George Wallace visited TVA in Muscle Shoals to be the keynote speaker at the 30th anniversary of TVA.The date of the event was 18 May, 1963. Here is a photo of JFK and George Wallace on the TVA grounds on that date.
The fighting years of their youth must have been exciting. George Wallace received the moniker “The Fighting Judge” and James Murray, well he simply became known as “Daddy” to five children.
My brother related a story to me that I will treasure. He said that we were at one of George Wallace’s rallies, and when George Wallace saw our Daddy something notable happened. He came over and body hugged him and greeted him warmly. That was likely the rally I remember that was held at Spring Park in Tuscumbia. If only someone had a camera handy at that moment. What a treasure a photo would have been.
It was a sweltering hot day in the south in the 1960s, and a memorable one. The political rallies held at Spring Park in Tuscumbia, Alabama every year on the Labor Day weekend were touted as late as 1993 in the Times Daily newspaper as Alabama’s oldest continuously held Labor Day rally. The festivities were varied, the crowds were big and the snow cones were cold.
George Wallace came to Muscle Shoals, Alabama along with President John F Kennedy to present at the anniversary of the TVA Authority. He later endured an assassination attempt while running for President. The bullet did not kill him but he was in agony for the rest of his life as a result of the gunshot wounds. He endured the pain because he was a trained fighter.
TVA’s 30th Anniversary featuring President Kennedy and Governor George Wallace.
was a powerful movie. Did you ever wonder what inspired such a gut wrenching portrayal of the military experience? Hassell G Hasford 1922-1971 and Hazel G Hasford 1929-1993 gave birth to the person who was inspired to write the novel Their son Jerry Gustave, called Gus, Hasford was born 28 November 1947 in Russellville, Franklin County, Alabama and died 29 January 1993 on Aegina Island, Regional unit of Islands in Attica, Greece in an impoverished state. His life was cut short from the complications of diabetes.
Gus Hasford during the Vietnam conflict
Always, it seemed, a person of unorthodox ways, he failed to finish high school graduation because he refused to take his final exams. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1967. He served as a combat correspondent in Vietnam.
He used his emotions, and likely the experiences during the war that was never declared a war and put pen to paper. The result of using his wartime experiences came his first novel, “The Short-Timers”, published in 1979.
It is generally assumed that the novel’s central character, the wise-cracking ‘Private Joker’, is semi-autobiographical. The novel was greeted with positive reviews and the motion picture rights were acquired by director Stanley Kubrick.
Hasford collaborated with Kubrick and author Michael Herr on the screenplay to what would become the motion picture “Full Metal Jacket”, with actor Matthew Modine portraying the Private Joker role.
Personality conflicts between Hasford, Kubrick and Herr complicated the process, or more accurately it was a conflict on how much credit Gus would get for all his hard work. All three were nominated for an Academy Award in 1987.
He was arrested in 1988 in San Luis Obispo, California and charged with having stolen some 748 library books. He being the voracious reader and bibliophile, he got himself in to trouble with the law – over books. Sentenced to six months in jail, he was released after three months and promised to pay damages with the royalties from his next book.
The novel, a sequel to “The Short-Timers”, was called “The Phantom Blooper” and was supposed to be part of a trilogy. The trilogy would remain incomplete when, he died at the age of 45 on the Greek island of Aegina in 1993.
Here is a link to a trailer. Some people got really upset thinking this trailer spoiled the movie for them. But, it happened during the first few minutes of the movie, so it actually did not spoil anything.
He wrote a poem that does not seem to provide a glowing review of that conflict that still haunts America, its citizenry and its veterans. Here is the poem:
By Gustav HasfordSleep, America.
Silence is a warm bed.
Sleep your nightmares of small
cries cut open now
in the secret places of
Black Land, Bamboo City.Sleep tight, America
dogtags eating sweatgrimaced
Five O’clock news: My son the Meat.Laughing scars, huh?
Squeeze every window empty
Fear only the natural unreality
and kiss nostalgia goodbye.
Bayonet teddy bear and snore.
Bad dreams are something you ate.
So sleep, you mother.
From Winning Hearts and Minds, a collection of poetry by Vietnam vets, published in 1972.
“I joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War while I was still in Vietnam. About February, ’68. Also, I had a poem in Winning Hearts and Minds, published by the First Casualty Press, which was the first anthology of writing about the war by the veterans themselves.”
–Gus Hasford, LA Times Magazine, June 28, 1987
For more extensive information about this remarkable man from the Shoals area, there is a blog dedicated to him. http://gustavhasford.blogspot.com/
and maybe, just maybe, turn out to be a hero in the end. In this case William M Isbell and brother James H Isbell were heroes of the battle of San Jacinto.
The Isbell family line in the Shoals area runs deep. One of the Isbell sons was William. The history of his life is so compelling.
William M Isbell was born in 1816 in Greenville, Green County, Tennessee on the 15th day of June and died 2 December 1877. When just a boy, William Isbell’s father, Dr James R Isbell, gave his son a good whooping after he caught him in a lie. William ran away from his homeplace and went to Abington, Virginia where he lived until fall of 1834. He traveled to Texas and established himself a farm on Cummings Creek. A number, too many, researchers give Dr James R Isbell’s wife’s name as Elizabeth Birdwell which is in error. The Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell is my line and she was married to a different James Isbell. Neither Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell or her husband James Isbell ever set a foot in Texas.
William M Isbell and James H Isbell’s grandparents were Zachariah and Elizabeth Isbell of the Watauga Settlement which of itself is very historic as well as his participation at Kings Mountain. William Zachariah Isbell was born in the year 1769in Fort Watauga, Warren, Tennessee/North Carolina and died 1825in Warren, Tennessee. It is unclear whether William Zachariah Isbell was a brother or a first cousin of Dr James R Isbell. who was the father of the San Jacinto heroes. James R. Isbell was probably a son or grandson of Zachariah Isbell Sr. An Isbell family researcher, Sarah Coon commented on a genealogy forum with this statement,“ It is thought that James R. Isbell may have been a son of Zachariah Isbell, Jr. But of course, there is no proof.” Ray Isbell, a cousin and avid researcher of the Isbell families provides this insight: Zach Isbell Jr. may have been too young to be James R.’s father. One of his older brothers Jason or William was more likely James’ father.
Jason Isbell also lived in Greene County, Tennessee for a time, as did brother William. Their sister Hannah Isbell (b. c1747) lived in Greene County, Tennessee when her first husband Samuel Williams died there 1788 and in 1791 when she married second to James Taylor. Brother William Isbell was bondsman at that marriage.
William Zachariah Isbell and Sarah Richardson Isbell were also the parents of Levi Isbell who married Sarah H Birdwell and James Isbell who married Elizabeth Birdwell. Levi and James Isbell and their families are the ancestors of many Shoals area Isbell families. Because it is an important facet of our history, a synopsis of the settlement from the Watauga Association follows:
During the spring of 1835 William M Isbell enlisted in Captain Robert M Williamson’s company of Colonel John H Moore’s regiment at Gonzales, Texas. Captain Williamson was referred to as “Three-legged Willie”. The enlistment was for a two month campaign against the Indians on the upper Brazos River. In October of the same year he joined Captain Thomas Alley’s company and was engaged in December in the Siege of Bexar.
He then went about his business and planted a crop of corn on Mill Creek in Guadalupe County, Texas. He then joined Captain Moseley Baker’s regiment as a soldier in Company D. That was part of Colonel Edward Burleson’s First Regiment of Texas Volunteers. He participated in the battle of San Jacinto as a private. His older brother, James H Isbell, served in the same unit as a private. James H Isbell enlisted in Nacogdoches on the 14th of January 1836. There is documentation located to prove James H Isbell’s service. It follows:
Soldiers of the Battle of San Jacinto
ISBELL, JAMES H. — Born in Tennessee. He was a son of James R. Isbell who died in Austin County, September 6, 1840. In the Headright Certificate issued to him February 3, 1838 by the Harrisburg County Board for one-third of a league of land, it is stated that he come to Texas in January, 1836. He subscribed to the oath of allegiance to Texas at Nacogdoches, January 14, 1836. He was issued Bounty Certificate No. 1380 for 320 acres of land June 23, 1840 for having served in the army from March 1 to June 1, 1836. He was a member of Captain Moseley Baker’s “San Felipe Company” at San Jacinto. On August 20, 1838 he received Donation Certificate No. 516 for 640 acres for having participated in the battle. On January 31, 1838 he received a Bounty Certificate, unnumbered, for 320 acres of land for having served in the army from July 20 to November 20, 1836. The Deed Records of Fayette and Harris Counties show Mr. Isbell as living in Fayette County in 1845 and Harris County in 1853. Isbell died in Bell County in 1858. Mr. James H. Isbell left a widow, Mrs. Amanda Isbell, and three minor children, Ann, Kate, and James Isbell.
According to Johnnie Belle MacDonald in her book, The Soldiers of San Jacinto published in 2008, this is recorded: At four o’clock one April afternoon 172 years ago, 934 men, unwashed, underfed, caked with mud and dressed in rags, began a slow walk through knee-high grass. A half hour later they crested a low hill. What they did in the next eighteen minutes made our world possible. These were the Soldiers of San Jacinto.
James H Isbell is buried at South Belton Cemetery in Belton which is in Bell County, Texas. William M Isbell is buried at Tehuacana Cemetery in Mexia which is in Limestone County, Texas, USA
Having left the army, William Isbell, went back home to Mill Creek and dutifully harvested his crop. During the winter of 1836 he worked at Jan Long’s tavern in Brazoria. There he tended bar. During the period of time he lived in Houston, Texas (1837-1840) he “wagoned” west for Major Bennett” and in 1841 William Isbell campaigned against Indians under Mark B. Lewis and Thomas Green. After returning to San Antonio he served for six months as a Texas Ranger under John Coffee Hays.
William Isbell removed to Washington County, Texas sometime during the winter of 1842; and then removed to Caldwell, Burleson County, Texas. In Caldwell by 1860 he owned a farm valued at $600 and $2,700 in personal property.
Isbell married Olivia Elvira Jackson on January 13, 1843. They had eight children, three of whom died at an early age. Olivia died in 1865, and in 1867 William married Mary Jane Woods Franklin, a widow. They had six children, three of whom died young. Isbell was blinded in an accident in 1856. “I have never seen my present wife and younger children,” he ended his personal narrative, published in the 1872 Texas Almanac, “as I have been entirely blind for fourteen years.” He died at the Burleson County community of Prairie Mound on December 11, 1877.
The known children by his wife Olivia Elvira Jackson Isbell are: Martha Jane Isbell 1846-1900; Emily Cemantha Isbell 1848-1848; James Reed Isbell 1850-1865; Euphemia Catherine Isbell born 1852; William Douglas Isbell 1855-1866?; John Isaac Isbell 1857-1928; Alexander Marens Isbell born 1861; Julia Isbell born 1864. The known children by his wife Mary Jane Wood Franklin (widow who was half his age) are: William Isbell born 1867; James Isbell 1869-1880; Greenville Tennessee Isbell 1870-1951; Simon M Isbell 1873-1886; Kittie Isbell 1875-1886; Lucinda H Isbell 1877-1888.
William Banta and J. W. Caldwell, Jr.., Twenty-seven Years on the Texas Frontier (1893; rev. by L. G. Parks, Council Hill, Oklahoma, 1933).
Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986).
Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto(Houston: Anson Jones, 1932).
Homer S. Thrall, People’s Illustrated Almanac: Texas Handbook and Immigrants Guide for 1880 (St. Louis: Thompson, 1880). Homer S. Thrall, A Pictorial History of Texas(St. Louis: Thompson, 1879).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.
James Henry Vandiver and Nancy Emma Pennington Vandiver
James Henry Vandiver born 20 Sep 1869, died 15 Oct 1952 Colbert County, Alabama. His wife, Emma Pennington Vandiver born 23 Oct 1875 and died 5 Nov 1967. They are buried at Vandiver Hollow Cemetery in Colbert County, Alabama.
differently? For instance, heered, skeered, kivers and such. And words you heard older generations speak like much obliged, pshaw and the like? Well, it just could be that the modern world bypassed all us Appalachians and Ozarkians. Below is a reprint of an article from White River Valley Historical Magazine that just above kivers it all:
Volume 1, Number 11 – Spring 1964
THE ELIZABETHAN INFLUENCE ON THE OZARK DIALECT By Steve McDonald
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, after her victories over Spain, England was becoming greatly overcrowded. With returning soldiers and the hard times of the working classes, people began to look for opportunities elsewhere. So there began a big migration to the new world. At this time, there was very little communication between England and her colonies, and the conditions in the colonies for literary development were very poor. They fell behind in the growth of the English language. One critic reported that the Harvard college library in 1723 had “nothing of Addison, Steele, Bolingbroke, Dryden, Pope, and Swift” and had only recently obtained copies of Milton and Shakespeare.
Therefore, although the English language was changing rapidly during this time, very little of it affected the American usage. By the end of the eighteenth century it was already being pointed out that many Americanisms were just survivals of old or provincial English. Since that time, how ever, American English has started more or less imitating the current English spoken and, as the western states followed the eastern, English began to catch up everywhere.
But when the great tides of immigration swept westward, the backhills section of the Ozarks was passed by. Here there was no melting pot. The people retained their original purity, and remained that way for some time before the outside world began to influence this part of the country.
It is not surprising, then, that people from the cities are often struck by the frequent uses of archaic words and phrases used by the hill folk. Many enthusiasts have called the Ozarks speech “Chaucerian”, and made references to “Shakespeare’s America” and “our contemporary ancestors.” I am inclined to think that this is a bit of an exaggeration. Thomas Hart Benton once said, “The Ozarks people do use a lot of Elizabethan expressions, but the general effect is not Elizabethan because their speech is mixed with modern slang and wisecracks.” This, too, may not tell the whole story. The old usages have drifted out, but there is no denying that the pure Ozark dialect is a survival of older English usage–what basically was once the common country and village speech of old England.
So many of the archaic words and phra-
ses, as well as many of the tall tales and folklore and even folksongs, are the same as those used and heard in England that it is quite surprising.
Living instances keep pouring in. Many Ozarkers still tarry awhile to spend an opinion as Hamlet did. Our common word varmint, for example, is derived from vermin, and preserves an older English pronunciation. Surely the hillman’s pronunciation of wrestle—he makes it sound like wrastle– is very near Chaucer’s wrastelying and wrasteleth in his Canterbury Tales. The word dare, often pronounced dar is standard in England and also was used in the Canterbury Tales spelled dar.
The word et, which is considered bad English but which is often heard in Ozark speech, is a pronunciation still common among Englishmen, and is defended by the Oxford Dictionary, which gives the pronunciation as et. In the hillsman’s speech, one almost always hears the participle et instead of eaten, and it has been in good use for centuries as found in the literature of Shakespeare, Pope, Dickens, Tennyson, and many others.
Chew is almost always chaw to the Ozarker as it was to seventeenth century England; poor is pore as it was to old England; slick was used for sleek by Beaumont and Fletcher as it is used in the Ozarks today. Both heerd and deef are common pronunciations today as they were, and still are, in some county dialects in Eng land.
The words boil and join are often pronounced bile and jine as Shakespeare used them, and the same vowel substitution occurs in point–p’int and disapp’int; also in poison which was commonly p’ison in old England. And it is said that English noblemen almost always pronounced yellow as yaller.
The Ozarker will often use an “l” sound instead of the “n” in chimney so that it sounds likechimley or chimbley. This is an old pronunciation, for Sir Walter Scott in Rob Roy refers to a “kirk with a chimley in it.”
The noun gal, replacing girl, is still used in some parts of England. Where most Americans use “anyway”, an Ozarker uses the adverbial genitive anyways, and is soundly condemned by many grammar books. Yet the Book of Common Prayer published in England in 1560 has: “All those who are anyways afflicted… in body, mind, or estate.”
The Ozarker has a tendency to use weak verbs rather than strong ones, and from this comes such words as beared, ketched, drinked, throwed, and many others. The same thing can be seen in the Canterbury Tales with growed; in Wyclif’s Office of Curates with costed; in Caxton’s Sons of Aymon with hurted; in The Tempest with
shaked, becomed, blowed; and in Milton’s Paradise Lost with catched.
In Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, we find: “Let your highness lay a more noble thought upon mine honor, than for to think I would leave it here.” In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: “…the holy blissful martir for to seek”, and “. . .well loved he for to drink strong wyn.” And in the Bible in Luke 7:24, we read, “What went ye out…for to see?” Often we hear this use by the hillsman, as in “Why for did you come?”
The Ozarks verb doesn’t always agree with its subject in number, but a like disagreement is often found in Elizabethan English. Spenser said in Faerie Queene, referring to people “…whose names is hard to read.” In Shakespeare we find such sentences as “…here comes the townsmen”, “…his tears runs down his beard”, and “… my old bones aches”.
Other uses of words can be found in Shakespeare’s writings which are often used by Ozarkians. Mind in the sense of intend, misdoubt and disremember; the use of ruinate for ruin; and the word which is often given as ary is the pronunciation of e’er a as in “Has the old man e’er a son?” So it is with nary, a corruption of ne’er a.
Shakespeare’s works are full of such adjective forms as worser, more hotter, more unkindest, more worst, certainer, as well as others which are common with the Ozarker.
And so one can go on for several volumes of likenesses between the speech of the Ozarks and old England. You can find in the Ozark hills, among its true natives, some of the most beautiful and most true-to-life tales and stories to be heard. It has been said that the true Ozark storyteller puts across his tale with a song of words which have the quality of oaths at times, and at other times the quality of tears.
“Ozarkers Speak English” by Nancy Clemens, Esquire, April 1937; John S. Kenyon’s American Pronunciation 1942; The American Spirit in Literature by Perry Bliss, 1918; Randolph Vance’s The Devil’s Pretty Daughter, 1955; Down in the Holler by Randolph Vane and George P. Wilson, 1953; A History of the United States, Vol. 1, by R. G. Thwaiter and C. N. Kendall, 1922; Charles Morrow Wilson’s The Bodacious Ozarks, 1959.
he and his partner have already won. Everybody else can go home now.
Noah Galloway and his partner Sharna Burgess have won this season’s Dancing With the Stars. If there was any remaining doubt, tonight’s performance puts that doubt to rest. Noah is an Alabama boy, a handsome and brave Alabama boy, who lost both limbs on his right side during the current wars. He is brave beyond belief and he gives an account of his story in this episode of DWTS.
Why the judges only gave scores of 8 is mindblowing to me, other than to maybe give the other contestants a little morale boost. They deserved scores of 20, at least. If you are an Alabamian, if you are an American,if you are a veteran, if you know a veteran, if you love veteran, if you are a patriot, if you have had a wound to your body or a wound to your soul, if you applaud this soldier’s determination and willpower, if you applaud his partner Sharna Burgess’ ability to work around his disabilities, if you have half a heart, then you will support this patriot with your vote on DWTS. Nothing less will suffice. They have already won….they just need your votes to make them the final winner on this show and for America.
Stand up, Alabama.
Stand up, America.
Testify with your vote.
And share his story with your kids, as they can conquer their fears and hard knocks just like this real southern born and cornbread fed Alabama boy has…and with aplomb.