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By Trent Tibbitts

Note. See post “The Bob – Montana ” before reading this post.

After much anticipation and preparing, it was finely time to Go West. Todd and Toni picked me up at 5 AM on the morning of September 10th, 2015. We saw two doe deer on the way to pick up Keith.  We arrived at the Atlanta Airport around 6 for our 8:10 flight  to Los Angeles,  California.  We got through security and to our gate without delay.  When boarding the  plane,  I noticed the gate attendant said “Highly  Favored ” When asked “How are you?”. I thought that was a great response.  Flight DL110 took off at 8:30 for its 4 hour and 5 minutes flight to LAX.  I didn’t 20150910_083417have a window seat and it was mostly  cloudy so I  couldn’t see much on the way out. In fact,  I was in seat C of a plane that had window, seat A, seat B, Isle, seat C, seat D, seat E, isle, seat F, seat G, window. No one was in seat D, that gave me some room. There was a monitor in the back of the seat in front of me that displayed our flight and what part of the country we were flying over. We landed at 9:35 Pacific time in sunny  California and I got my first look at the Golden State. Yes, palm trees. After getting off the plane we had time to grab lunch at 10 o’clock. 20150910_095307

After lunch we didn’t have much of a wait before we got on our next flight. We stared boarding at 11:05 for our 11:45 flight.  This time I did have a window seat on the left side of the plane.  I enjoyed it very much.  I think I have a photo of every inch we flew over from LA to Salt Lake. The airport is right on the coast, as we took off, we flew west out over the Pacific Ocean.  I was looking south down the beach for my first view of the other Shining Sea.

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We made a big circle out over the water as we turned North East to Salt Lake. We could see a lot of the coast, boats, ships and the harbor.  From the beach to the mountains was very densely populated.  Not a very wide area. But, on the other side of the mountains, little to no evidence of man’s footprint could be seen from the air until we flew over Las Vegas, where we turned north to Salt Lake.  The Landscape looked mostly desert and some mountains.  I had never seen anything like it.  I was taking a photo about ever minute.  One thing that I noticed the most was the drainage of the land that was so evident.  We flew over small towns,  mountains and sand. Over Las Vegas,  I could only see the North West urban sprawl and the Red Rock Mountains.   From Vegas,  the flight took a Northern course.  I continually was amazed all the way to Salt Lake City.  Just before landing,  we could see salt flats and the world’s largest copper mine. After landing,  it was a short lay over before we boarded a small airplane at 2:35 Mountain time for our last leg of the flight to Kalispell Montana. As we took off we could see the city of Salt Lake. I was not impressed.  Once air born,  we could see the Great Salt Lake.  Again, I was disappointed.  The water looked very uninviting.  Soon, the flat desert gave way to mountains.  Some snow was visible on the North slopes that were shaded. By chance we were on the plane with a man from Rome Georgia,  just a few miles up the road from Dallas,  where we live. His parents live next to the Bob and he was up to visit them. Our landing approach was over the flat head river. Very beautiful country.

air

We meet Brett at the baggage claim of this very small airports.  I  have seen bigger truck stops. From the airport we could see the peaks of Glacier National Park. Todd Hunter arrived shortly to pick us up in his four door flat-bed Dodge truck.  After handshakes and greetings, we drove the nearly two hours to Todd’s house just outside Eureka, Montana.
He is only nine miles from the Canadian border, and you can see the Canadian Rockies very well from his home. It is a two story log cabin built in 1895. It has large windows with great views that were original to the design.  Todd and his wife Sarah did all of the renovations themselves and it is very beautiful.  They live on a large cattle farm where they help with the operation.  A  farrier was shoeing several of Todd and Sarah’s horses when we arrived. We saw tons of whitetail deer on the way in and a good many were in the alfalfa hay fields around Todd’s house. We took the side by side buggy out before dinner to see the farm and look at the deer. Todd had been seeing some Elk a few days before our arrival,  but no luck this night. Sarah cooked a great meal of chicken and dumplings with  zucchini squash. Todd and Sarah have a three year old daughter named Bella. She is a little cowgirl.  She has her own pony, Biscuit, that she rides. She loves to ride her mother’s horse, Cisco, and can name all the other horses and mules. It’s amazing to see a little three year old girl lead a horse by herself. She will grow up to be a fine young lady someday.  Todd and Sarah have two spare bedrooms.  Keith took one and Todd Tibbitts and I took the other.  Brett took the couch.

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Day two. September 11, 2015.

guide

I  woke up at sunrise.  Todd Hunter,  Brett and Keith were up. Todd Tibbitts  got up a little later.  We all had a cup of coffee, and we were standing at the coral looking at the whitetail deer in the field.  I had gone in the house to put my camera away,  as i was coming back out, a huge Elk appeared on the ridge line behind Todd’s house. He was maybe 100 yards at most away from us. He was silhouetted against the morning sky. It would have been an award-winning photo. Field and Steams eat your heart out type of setting. I ran back inside to get my camera.  When I got back outside,  I saw him jump the fence at the bottom of the hill. He turned and headed away from us. I got a few shots of him as he trotted across the field, but he was a long way off. It was one of the biggest Elk Todd had seen on the farm. With binoculars we could see him cross the road about a mile away. After all the excitement,  we all loaded up in Todd’s truck, Todd H, Sarah,  Bell, Todd T, Brett,  Keith and myself.  We went to downtown Eureka to eat at Jacks Cafe.

house point

cow saha

We came back to Todd’s house and saddled up five horses for a cattle drive. First we went down the road and meet Joe who runs the farm. He was installing pipe for a center pivot irrigation system. We rode the horses down the road pass the hay barn. Sarah was on a 6 year old that she was training.  Todd Hunter was on Cisco. Bell rode with him on the way out. Red was on a wild mair that Todd had borrowed for the trip. Brett was on his horse and I was on Little E. Todd Tibbitts and Keith rode the side by side buggy. They opened the gate for us and took Bell. We rode up a little hill to were the cattle were. The goal was to cut the bulls from the cows and drive the cows to a new pasture.  Todd and Sarah cut each cow a we helped to block them from mixing back together.  Once they were separated we drove the cows and calves down the hill and through the gate.  The push across the field was nice and easy.  We turned them down by the corn and out the gap to the road.  Todd and Keith were waiting for us a little ways down the road.  They had the gate open to the other field and the side by side buggy in the road to block the way and to turn the cows. After a successful cattle drive we had to go on another round-up. A yearling had gotten into a neighboring pasture. The pasture had a heard of Black Angus Cattle that was in the corner of the pasture. The yearling was along the fence next to the pasture he should have been in. We entered the field and had to pass the Black Angus to get to our calf. After we had passed them , they started to follow us. Sarah,  Red and myself turned our horses to face the cattle, while Brett and Todd drove the calf to a small gate where Todd and Keith were waiting.  Once the calf was in the other field,  the Black Angus turned and headed back to their corner.  We then rode over to the gate and joined everyone there. We had a quick ride back to the barn and put the horses away.

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After getting back and putting the horses away we loaded some things into the nose of the horse trailer. We then went to a little fishing village to eat dinner.  We saw several Mule Deer roaming around town.

cowgirl                 20150911_135750 shoe

September 12, 2015

In the morning we saw several cow elk on the other side of the pasture.  We glassed them on our way to breakfast at Jack’s.  When we got back there was another cow out. We herded this one with two side by sides. Once we got it back in the fence,  we saw a coyote crossing the field close to where the elks were. We couldn’t get a shot off. We then packed several bales of hay into the trailer.  Each one around 80 lbs.  Up to this point we had not heard from Cameron, Todd H. friend who was to help pack us into the wilderness.  The other dilemma were the wildfires. The areas we were wanting to go were still closed and we had no idea when or if they would be open. We checked the website each day for updates but our area remained closed while others were opened. We were itching to do something,  so we decided to go to Cabelas. It is in Kalispell, over an hour away.  We all bought fishing license and Todd,  Keith and Brett bought their hunting license.  We loaded up on fishing gear.  I bought a box of bear load for the 44. I also bought a extra battery pack for the solar charger that I had borrowed from John. We then went back to Todd’s house to shot our guns.

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20150912_193908      bell

The hunters shot their rifles.  I shot a few rounds of the bear load in the 44. After the target practice, Todd H walked to the hay barn about 80 yards down the field road. He Spotted a skunk and yelled for one of us to come kill it.  I was elected and Randall handed me his pistol.  We rode up on the side by side. By this time the skunk is in the field.  I take aim and fire from just a few yards. I see a little blood splatter and I go to the skunk.  Well, it keeps going.  So, I shoot at it again and miss this time. It’s moving faster in the field so I run to get in front of it. I shot it a few more times. I know I am hitting it. I can see the lead lodged in its fur on its chest.  It is bleeding from a few good shots but it is still going strong.  I eventually unload the whole magazine, 8 to 10 rounds. Everyone is laughing at me from a safe distance.  I didn’t know it at the time but the pistol was a .22. I thought it was a 9mm. I went back to the side by side and retrieved the 44. One shot of bear load stop the unstoppable skunk.  I am not sure when I got sprayed, but I did. To me it wasn’t that bad, but everyone assured me that it was.  I went to the barn and stripped down. My bag was still out there so I got a pair of house pants out and put those on. I hung all my clothes up to air out. The worst was my belt and wallet, that were leather.  Keith had a bottle of scent blocker. I sprayed it on everything several times.  I then took a shower and got 90% of the smell off. I was now dinner time, we left Todd H picking up hay and we went to Four Corners for dinner.

September 13th. Sunday

We had decided to go to Cameron’s place so we would be ready to head into the Bob once it was open. We packed up our personal items before going back to Four Corners for breakfast.  We finished packing up all of our gear and loaded the horses.  We had two trucks and trailers.  Todd Tibbitts,  Keith, Brett and Red was in one. Sarah, Todd H, Bell and me in the other.  We stopped for lunch, gas and groceries in White Fish.  Then from Hungry Horse it was a 52 mile trip down a dirt road in the national forest to Cameron’s place, Wilderness Camp.

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Back in the 1960s, when the Flathead National Forest was founded,  there were three sites for lodges sold.  Cameron’s father bought one and named it the Wilderness Camp.  It has maybe 15 little cabins and one lodge for gathering and dinner.  He runs his hunting outfitter business from here. A little background on Cameron, he is in his early 60s I would guess. One would call him a drunk if they didn’t know him. Tough as nails. A big man that can more than hold his own. Before the fires, he had a tent setup in the woods where he sleep each night. The firefighters, when making a fire break, cleared all the trees around the camp and exposed his tent site. When we were in the wilderness, he would sleep on the ground each night by the fire. If he wasn’t cussing he wasn’t talking. He was a rough old mountain man but he was nothing but kind and he opened up his place to us .

beer coral

When we got here several fire fighters were staying in the cabins. As we were just setting up,  a fire fighter drove up and talked to us a little.

20150913_172129   highline

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We then put the horses on a  high line in an area of the camp that had been cleared by fire fighters just a few weeks before to help protect the Lodge from the wildfires. All but a very few scattered trees were cut. The high line is a rope that is hung about 6 or 7 feet off the ground from tree to tree. The horses are tied to it. Cameron had a large coral but we did not know when he would show up with his horses and did not want them in with his. The forestry service had Cameron to take his horses out of the forest and away from the fires. At first he did want to take them off but rather take them down to the lake in the delta like area where the river comes into it. We fished down there and it would have been a great place to protect the horses. The head ranger for this area is a lady and she had a meeting with Cameron where she offered a 5th of Jack Danielle if he would take the horses away. He took them to his father’s house. At this point in the trip we still have not heard a thing from Cameron and expected him at anytime.

fire-sign sign

After feeding the horses, Red, Keith and myself walked down to the river at the bridge that was just a mile up the road. I had the big iron on my hip in case of a bear encounter. We walked around until about dark. Then headed back. We had made camp next to the coral and an old horse trailer that was on our East side. We put up a few tarps over a fire ring and setup the kitchen there. Brett and I hung our hammocks to the north of camp. Todd H. and family sleep in their horse trailer, Red, Keith and Todd sleep in Red’s trailer, south of camp. The high line horse were on the west side. We had a good dinner, some of the fire fighters joined us.  We had guitar playing and singing by Todd T. And Red. The fire was good and warm as the night temps stared to drop. The Corral had water and we needed to water the horses before going to bed. We each took two at a time and walked them over to the corral. It was good a dark by this time. I still was not that familiar with handling the horses. I had a lead rope in each hand and was about half way to the corral when something spooked both horses and they both reared up pull my arms up and apart. I had to let go of one rope. I  started yelling for help. The horses never started to run and I was able to grab the other lead rope. Help arrived and took one of the horses for me.

river                  stock-sign

September 14th,  Monday

It rained during the night but not to much.  I was warm dry and happy in my hammock.  We restarted the fire and had breakfast.  This is when Dugan came up to met us. He works for Cameron packing horses.  He is a young man in his 20’s, Tall and skinny.  He really didn’t know where Cameron was either.  We sat around the fire eating breakfast and getting to know Dugan.  As we were talking he told us about his friends who are Blackfoot Indians that lived on the reservation not to far away.  He told us about Indian days,  kinda like the Indian Olympics. Apparently the reservation is a good place to buy horses.  His Indian name is Dances with Pigs. He earned the name after his friends family were going to kill and cook a hog. They tried to do a ceremonial slaughter but they had difficulty killing the hog. With the hog wounded,  screaming and running around.  Dugan caught and killed the hog. As the wind would change the smoke would blow on someone else and they would move.  That is when Dugan asked if we knew why Indians dance around the fire. Answer;  to get out of the smoke. He got us on that one.  We were ready for some inside Secret Indian knowledge.  We would learn that Dugan was a hard worker and good at what he does. In fact he had been working for the forestry service packing in supplies for the fire fighters these past few weeks.

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lodge

fire  flowers.jpg

After breakfast and feeding the horses,  we explored the lodge. As you walk up there is a small porch with a bench against the wall.  Big uncut lodge poles were used for the post. When you walk through the big heavy door you enter the dinning area.  The end of the table is 8 feet from the door. You can sit about 20 people around the table.  There is no electricity.  A battery operated radio is playing. Someone had left Cameron a six-pack on the table.  There are gas light s above the table and a few on the wall. To the right is a large kitchen.  Next to the door on n the right was a desk that served as the office of the operation.  To the left was a couch along the front wall. A wood burning stove was along the next wall and a big chair was in the corner with a book shelf behind it. The building was an upside-down”T” shape.  On the one side was a bedroom, bathroom,  living room then the dinning area with the kitchen on the other side.  Past the table is a steep down to a landing just big enough for a couch on each side.  Then it goes down one flat of steps.  From the front door to the back wall is one long room.  The back wall had a river rock fire-place. I am sure the whole place was built from material found on site.  The back wall being two-story high was full of Elk, moss, deer and all kind of trophies.  Didn’t look like much had changed in the past 50 years.

stove table

Todd T and I joined Todd H, Sarah and Bell on a trip up to the Spotted Bear Ranger Station to try to get information about trail opening.  It was only 2 miles up the road.  We passed the two other outfitter camps. From what I could tell,  I liked Cameron’s place better.  His is close to the Flathead River and they are next to the Spotted Bear River.  A lot of fire fighting equipment was around.  Each building and cabin was protected by a sprinkler system.  The office was new and the old station looked as if it was being turned into a museum.  We didn’t get much information.  Where we were going the fire was out but the road and trail had to be cleared of dangerous trees. We seen a fire fighting airplane and a helicopter off and on.

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We spent most of the day fishing the river just above the lake. We drove down from camp,  all in one truck. Some of us sat in the back.  It was just four or five miles down the road.  We passed the Spotted Bear Air Strip and the area that was currently being logged for timber.  They were doing a great job of clean up.  It was a heavy thinning operation but it was not clear cutting.  All debris was picked up and moved to one location.  We passed or was passed by logging trucks often.  They tried to make two loads a day. One trip was over hundred miles just inside the National Forest.  No one had any luck fishing.  I spent my time talking photos and exploring.  Where the river meets the lake it is a large flat grassy delta. Cameron’s horses would have been very safe here if this area had burned.  We did see moss tracks in the mud.

On the way back, close to sunset, we stopped at several area overlooking the river where we could see the mountain sides. We searched each one for Elk. We passed the airstrip right at dark and saw a few whitetail deer.

sing

Back at camp we had another outstanding dinner.  I think we had hamburgers.  A few of the fire fighters joined us again and we enjoyed Red and Todd playing and singing.  I am sure we watered and feed the horses at some point.  I explored taking time laps photos of the stars.

September 15th,  Tuesday

After Breakfast, we set up a electric fence to keep our horses in so they would not be in the same coral as Cameron’s horses. It was a team effort, everyone had a job. The location that was chosen was in an area next to camp that had just been cleared as a fire break. 95% of the trees had been cut but there were just enough left that we could use them as fence post. A small stream was close by and we incorporated it inside the coral. That would keep us from having to water the horses. The fence consisted of two wires that were attached to the trees with insulators that we screwed into the trees. It was electrified with a battery.

Then Cameron showed up with a load of hey. We all started to help unload the 80 lb bales on to a large stack of hey that was already there that was keep under a tarp. We all got introduced to Cameron. We then unloaded all of the pack saddles that he had taken with him due to the threat of the fire.

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Todd T. Brett and myself decided to hike up the mountain behind the Lodge. The trail was Stony Hill Trail. We were hunting Western Rocky Mountain Rough Grouse. Cameron loaned us his .22 rifle and Todd H. his .22 pistol. We took a lunch and stopped about halfway up where there was a great view of Silvertip Mountain. We continued on up the trail but did not summit. One the way back down and close to the bottom we spotted several Grouse. Todd shot at them several times with the rifle and missed each time. He then pulled the pistol and killed one Grouse. We hunted the cut timber between the base of the mountain and the road back to camp. When we got back to camp, we did some practice shooting with Cameron’s rifle. Turns out it was shooting way to the right, about one foot at 30 yards. I mean it was way off. We learned to adjust our aim. Todd showed Brett and I how to clean the Grouse by standing on its wings and pulling its legs back towards the head to remove the breast meat. Todd then cooked it over the fire. It tasted very good.

grouse

While we were hunting, everyone else went fishing. We had another campfire dinner. Life was really slowing down for me.

September 16, Wednesday

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Todd H., Sarah, Bell, and Red went with Cameron back to his dad’s house in Hungry Horse to get Cameron’s Stock. Todd T., Keith, Brett and Myself went back to Colombia Fall to get more supplies and to change our flights to a later day because the fires had keep us out of the wilderness. On the 52 mile dirt road in the national forest we saw a lot of Whitetail Deer. On the way back in we saw a Black Bear and her two cubs.

bear

We moved Todd’s stock from the coral to the hot wire that we had put up the day before. It was the first time that I caught and bridled a horse on my own. What you do is ease up to the horse and lay the long end of the rope over the neck of the horse. He then thinks he is caught. On the more tamed ones you could then slide the bridal over their head and buckle or tie it. On the more wild horses, I would hold the rode around their neck with one hand while putting on the bridal with the other.

fire gt

Cameron and Todd showed up late in the afternoon with Cameron’s stock. You could tell they were happy to be back home. We had dinner in the Lodge and a big fire in the fire ring at the pavilion in-front of the lodge. More singing and star gazing. A little bit of snow was falling on the mountain top.

September 17th, Thursday

The morning low was 25 degrees. Remember, we are camping. This was our fourth night sleeping outside. Me and Brett were in Hammocks. Todd H, Sarah, Bell were in one horse trailer and Red, Todd T and Keith were in another.

ham

Some of the guys got up early and went riding the roads looking for bear. Some of them had a bear tag. Later on after breakfast  we rode up to the trail head that we would be taking into the wilderness. It was the first time we saw where the wildfires had been. We saw the parking area and the temporary corals they have there. On the way I shot a Grouse with the .22 rifle of Cameron’s. I aimed about a foot to the left and killed it.

stock tg

It was Todd T. birthday. We had his birthday dinner in the lodge and like on his last trip, Sarah made him a birthday cobbler in the dutch oven.

diner cob

September 18th, Friday

Mule shoeing day. Todd had his stock shoed on the day we arrived. The young man that did it was very good. The same guy came out to Cameron’s to shoe his horses and mules. He also shoes the National Park’s horses. He did the horses with out any problems out in a grassy area just out side of the coral. The mules were a different story. Cameron had build a stale he called the Iron Maiden out of 6 inch steal pipe, with 4 or 5 pipes on each side about a foot apart. It stood about 6 feet high. One the front was a wall of 2 x 12 boards just as high. Each leg of the Mule was tied tight to the steal pipes. The Mules would buck up and slam their heads against the boards and knock themselves silly and buckle their legs. It was a fight for the young man to shoe those Mules. Most of the day was spent tending to the livestock. After all of Cameron’s stock had new shoes. He and Dugan carried them up to the corals at the trail head. We moved Todd’s Stock back into Cameron’s coral and took down the hot wire. We learned that Cameron had shot at a bear on his way up to the trail head. We packed up camp. I took a shower for the first time in a week. We had ribs for dinner and we all stayed in some of Cameron’s cabins for the night.

September 19th, Saturday

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We were up before the sun. Loaded the stock into the trailers and was at the trail head at daybreak. Cameron and Dugan were already well on their way packing their stock. They would go ahead of us. Dugan led a 10 mule train.

train

It took us another hour or so to get packed. We had 6 riders and 4 pack mules in our group. It was a 16 mile ride into camp. It took all day. I was on a mule called Hot Sauce. With this fire and other fires a lot to trees were down. So many, that the trail cleaning crews only cut up the ones that could not be crossed by the mules and horses. In the wilderness, not gas powered tools are allowed, that means no chain saws, only hand cross cut saws. So that keep a lot of down trees from being cut too.  As we came to down trees, my mule would jump the logs instead of stepping over them. I lost my hat twice. I final figured out how to pull back on the reins enough to keep him from jumping. We got on the trail at 10:30 and got to camp at 4:15. We had not gone very far when one of the pack mules was biting at another and it bucked, losing it’s load. This is called a wreak. We had to stop and repack. Sarah carried Bell the whole way in. We lost Red at the trail head. He could not make the ride in with us. We saw a little doe deer at the trail head and a few Grouse on the trip in. We rode by mountain top cliffs and through areas that had burned in years past. We followed the Spotted Bear River up and had several stream crossings.

cb               clif

creek

trent.jpg b.jpg

ride

When we got to camp, an area the National Parks has designated for outfitter to camp. Each outfitter has there own locations. This is a very nice area along the Spotted Bear river. There is a large meadow and we camp on the east end. Dugan has unloaded Cameron’s mules and is headed back to the truck with most of the stock for more supplies. He had a 32 mile ride that day. Most of what we pack in is hey for the stock. During the off season every thing must be disassembled. We are the first group in, so we have to reassemble the camp. First order is the coral. Lodge poles are used for fence railing and hay bale string is used to tie them to the trees. The poles are in place around the coral, all we have to do is pick them up and tie them to the trees. In just a few minutes we have built a coral. We put Todd’s stock into the coral and Cameron ties his horse up and lets his mules roam free. The horse is the leader and the mules will not leave it. Plus the mule will keep the bears away. Cameron’s mules are huge. They were breed from Belgium Horses. Everyone is dead tired, it has been along day. We just do hamburgers for dinner. Brett and I find a place for our hammocks, Todd and Sarah put up a Tee Pee tent, and Todd T. and Keith set up a lean-to. That evening, two guys come into camp. They are friends of Cameron’s. One of the guys named Lawrence had killed a 5X5 Bull Elk. We all enjoyed seeing his trophy and hearing about the hunt. It was opening day and the first kill of the season. We also had fresh meat in the camp. The Elk meat was hung on a pole to air out and covered with a pack mantie. Time to watch for bears.

coral           elkhammok          lean-to

September 20th, Sunday

I sleep to 9 AM. Todd and Brett had taken the advice of Cameron and went out Elk hunting on Pivot Mountain. The two hunters who had came into camp had gone to the continental divide to Goat hunt. After a banana for breakfast we took the stock down to the river for water. Keith, Todd H. and I set up the big Cooking Tent. No one sleep in it. We only used it for the kitchen. It would have be a shelter if we had gotten bad weather. Cameron would use it for the rest of the hunting season. Like the coral, the poles were left behind, we just had to figure out he right combination.

camp

I had one of my MREs for lunch. I had been sleeping on Keith’s air mat and he was on mine while they camped on the hey in the horse trailer. It had started going flat on him so I swapped back. His was nice and conferrable. We cut wood for fire wood with a cross cut saw. We put up a high line for the horses if needed. We worked on Keith and Todd’s lean-to tarp some more. We cut brush to put around it to help block the wind and placed a pole under the tarp to help hold it up. I heard a gun shot around 4:40 and 5:30 in the direction that Todd and Brett were hunting. We had fresh Elk steaks for dinner from Lawrence’s Elk. The term “It’s Getting Western” started to get kicked around. Todd and Brett came in after dark with the story of how Brett killed an Elk. Then the two other hunters came in with their kill of a Goat. In Brett’s excrement of telling his Elk story, he triggered his bear pepper spray in his pants. Everyone scattered when they heard the can go off. I think Brett took a dip in the river. We had high winds all night long and we keep hearing trees fall. We knew the trail would be a mess for Dugan who was bringing in more supplies the next day.

tent

gaot elk-goat

September 21, Monday

We were all up early to go pack out Brett’s Elk on Pivot Mountain. We were on the trail by 9:30. We took one of Todd’s Mules that he had borrowed from his boss and left the other on a high line at camp. It was a two and half hour horseback ride to the top of Pivot mountain. We ate lunch at the summit. It was just a little walk to an area where you could look north into Glacier National Park a 30 miles away. After lunch, we hiked down the side of the mountain for an hour. That tells me it was about 3 miles away to Brett’s Elk. It took two hours to dress it. Then it took two hours to hike the meat back to the the horses on the top of the mountain. We all were packing about 50 lbs. Except Sarah, she had been carrying Bell the whole trip. We packed the mule with the Elk meat and head. It was another two and half hour ride to camp. The last hour was in the dark. The Horses knew the way. We rode with out lights.

cabin                 keith

highj

lunch        walk

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When we got back to camp from a long day of riding and hiking. We unloaded the horses and mules. We put them in the coral for the night. The stock we had with us drank water when we crossed the river at camp. Todd H and Keith went to water the stock that had stayed back. This is when we learned of the first fatality of the trip. Todd’s bosses wife prized mule that he had to basically beg to take with us, had died. The Mule is dead. It just got Western. Several things led to its death. First it had a halter on that is like a choke chain. Used in pack trains to keep mules moving. If the mule stops, the lead rope will pull on the halter and will close the mule’s air way, making the mule move on. Second, the mule was tied to a high line. Third, the mule stared going wild when we left with the horses and the other mules. It started pawing the ground and acting up. Forth, Cameron wanted to stop the mule from pawing. So he tied one of the legs of the mule up. At some point the mule fell on the ground, cut off his air supple, could not get up on three legs and died. Nothing like a death to put a depressing mode on the camp.

September 21st, Tuesday

I sleep late dreading the deed of removing the dead Mule. I believe the proper thing to do is to notify the park ranger and have them come in and blow up the caucus so bears will not get to it and develop a taste for stock. Cameron is not the type to call in the park rangers. They get along but I think they leave him alone and he leaves them alone.  I didn’t know what we were going to have to do. I didn’t want to have to gut a mule and quarter it up to remove it. Then there are the bears to worry about. We had a breakfast of fresh elk tenderloin from Brett’s Elk, before removing the mule. What we did was to take a rope and tie it to the mules neck and then we used Cameron’s big horse to pull it father into the woods. We also tied ropes to the mules front legs and we help to pull. We tried to get it away from camp, because we knew in a few days it would begin to smell.

I took a “bath” in the river with wet wipes. I got in but it was to cold to wet my head. Sarah fixed a pot roast in the dutch oven and let it cook all day. We saddled up and went down river a few miles below the falls to fish. Because no fish could get above the falls.  The trail was littered with down trees from the wind storm. We saw where Dugan had cut his way through. He said he ran out of gas in the chain saw before he go to the Wilderness. It took him almost twice as long because of the down trees. Cutthroat Trout was what we were fishing for. We did not have any luck. Back at the camp Todd T, Brett and myself were preparing for a trip up to the Continental Divide for a overnight Mule Deer Hunt. We would spike camp just below the divide.

September 22, Wednesday

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Cameron lead Todd T, Brett and myself up into the Hart Basin and on to Hart lake. Base camp was at 4800 feet about sea level and Hart lake is at 5700 feet. It was a three mile ride. We passed an area on the trail that Cameron told us to be on the look out of Grizzles. It was the spot that Lawrence had killed his Elk just 4 days ago. We were too late, the Bears had already taken the carcass away. Only a few Ravens flew up as we passed by. The natural lake is feed by snow melt and was close to being dry when we arrived. It is the only water for miles. We brought our own water to drink but the stock needed water. We dismounted and walked them out to the water. We passed several sets of Grizzle Bear tracks in the mud. After Cameron showed us the trail-head for the top of the Divide was, he left us in the wild and headed back down tail to camp. We watered the stock and rode on up the trail.

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After leaving the lake, we starting riding through areas that had burned in just the past few days. As we got higher the view got even more fantastic. We were reaching 6500 feet above sea level and was looking for a place to make camp. Once above about 6500 feet the trees started to thin out and more large alpine meadows appeared. We found a spot we liked in the shadow of Table Mountain. We could tie up the stock and make a lean-to shelter in a few trees. After we got the shelter up, we took a little nap before a afternoon hunt just up from camp. We each took a section of the hillside meadow. I watched a coyote work his way up the draw. Very Western and Wild.

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Last Two Photos are not mine.

With the fires and all the trees being conifers, it was hard to find fire wood. We were also a little concerned with starting a wildfire of our own. We found a hole where a stump had burned out and made our fire pit in it. For dinner we had brought fresh Elk steaks from Brett’s Elk. It had gotten dark on us while hunting. We had the fire going good. I had cooked steaks over open fires before but like I said earlier there was very little wood and finding forked sticks to support the steaks was impossible. We decide to cook over hot coals. The way the stump burned where we had our fire, there was a small ditch where a root once had been. We drug hot coal into it. We then made a grill from small dry sticks by laying them over the coals and the steak on top. It worked and I have used that idea on trip since then. We had a few Doe Mule Deer that came around the camp that night and I took a lot of night photo with my SLR camera. I was able to take a lot of really nice shots.  It was going to be cold and we went light on the supplies. No one had a sleeping bag. I did bring my sleeping bag insert made of silk. Not much but glad I had it. Brett and Todd didn’t want the fire to close to the tent. I think they regretted that decision by morning. We sleep on top of the saddle blankets for a insulator from the cold ground. I don’t know how cold it got, but deferentially the coldest I have ever been while sleeping. I just turned on my stomach and pulled my arms in and prayed for sun up.

September 23rd, Thursday

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Todd and Brett headed out at just before day break hunting Mule Deer. I stayed back and grazed the stock around camp. I would keep moving them from one small patch of grass to another. Keeping them untangled from there lead ropes was another chore. While I was breaking camp and tending to the stock, several Mule Deer came in and around camp. Two fauns nursed near by. Then a young buck spared with a more mature buck. I could have easily shot the big buck. I didn’t for several reasons, one being I didn’t have a tag, I also didn’t want to disturb Todd’s and Brett’s hunt, and I didn’t want to have to deal with it.

After the Mule Deer moved on and the horses were feed, I took a pack and hiked up to the Continental Divide. Our camp was at 6800 feet and about a mile from the Divide. We  were about 1500 feet in elevation lower than the divide. The highest peak I got to was just over 8300 feet. I had never hiked in this high of elevation before. Quite different than the 5000 to 6000 feet summits of the Appalachian Mountains back east. From the camp to the summit was a 45 degree slop, very steep. It was one of the most strangest landscapes that I have every been on. Running horizontal were mounds of loose rock. One the uphill side of these 15 to 20 feet high mounds were deep ditches. Then a patch of trees. This repeated several times. Once I was passed the last group of trees, it was bear rock and low grass to the top. All I could see in front of me was this slop and sky. I had know idea what was waiting on me at the top. If every I had a view take my breath a way, this was it. Imagine walking for up and not knowing one moment and then the next seeing the view in the above photo all at once. It fells your whole area of sight at once. I was on the edge of a 1200 foot cliff. Lake Levale was Glacier Blue below me. Strait ahead was 20 miles of mountains in the Lewis and Clark Nation Forest. To the left and north 30 miles away was the high peaks of Gracie National Park. To the right and south was the Great Chinese Wall. In the shadows and crevices of the wall was patches of snow that had lasted the summer. Totally amazing. I ate my MRE for lunch. As far as I could tell I was the only person on earth. During lunch, I saw a few Grouse. I then walked to a high point the jutted out along the Chinese wall. I was about half way there and realized I had forgot my phone. I had to turn back to find it. I was able to make it to the very high point. What a grand sight.

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The last Three Photos are not mine.

Not wanting to go back but knowing I needed to hike back to camp to check on the stock and see if Todd and Brett were back, I left my Rocky Mountain High.

It was more of the strange landscape on the way down. On the way up I was hiking at an angle so not to go strait up the steep slop. Now I was making a strait shot to camp. My loop hike was about 3 miles total. When I got back to camp, Todd and Brett were there packing up. They did not see any Mule Deer but did see four mountain goats in the same area I was in. I told them about the camp deer and they both said I should have shot the big buck. Not what I was there for. We saddled up and made the easy 5 or 6 mile ride back to camp. The rest of the crew had been fishing and had a lot of luck catching Cutthroat Trout. We had fish for dinner.

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September 24th, Friday

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A little about Bell. She is 3 years old and went everywhere we did. She was a ball of energy and keep all of us running and on our toes. She did very little fussing.

Our last day in the Bob. We had Eggs and Bacon for Breakfast. We spent the morning packing up camp. It always seamed to take a long time to get everything loaded up. We set up Todd’s electric bear fence around the tent for Cameron. He would be there alone with a dead mule in camp. He wanted a little extra protection while he sleep. We heard after we got home that two Grizzly Bears did come in and were fighting over the mule. We were down one mule and need another to pack out the meat, so we used two of Cameron’s. We packed ham and cheese sandwiches to eat while riding. It was another long ride out. At one point during the ride, we met another hunter and mule train in a tight area of the trail. Todd lead us in to the woods and we let the other party pass. Todd knew the man, he was the county sheriff. We also met three people hiking. It was late when we got onto the trail and we spent a good bit of time riding in the dark. Sarah was leading and was the only one with a light. Too many light would confuse the stock so it is best to only have the one. We were still several miles from the end of the trail and riding in the dark when we came to a stop. I was in the back of a 60 yard mule train. We could not tell what was the problem but after a few minutes we started moving again. We found out the next day that Sarah had heard a strap snap on one of the mules. She heard it and knew what it was. Then stopped us and had Todd fix it. Her skills with the stock was amazing the whole trip. The moon was almost full and we could see the outlines of the mountains. We got back to the trail head at 11 PM. The sheriff told us about a pizza that he had in his truck. That was a nice bit of Trail Magic when we got there. Another hour to unload the packs, take off the saddles and pack the trailers. We got back to the wilderness lodge after midnight. We turned the horses and mules into the coral and spent the night in the cabins again.

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September 25th, Saturday

We loaded the stock up for the last time, said good by to the Wilderness Lodge and drove the long the 52 mile dirt road out of the Flathead National Forest. Once in Colombia Falls we stopped and ate breakfast at the Night Owl. We then stopped at a bar called the Blue Moon to see the owners big game trophy collection of Polar Bears, Grizzly Bear, Big Horn Sheep, Elk, Deer and so on.

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Back at Todd’s house, we unloaded the stock and supplies. Processed the meet of Brett’s Elk. Showered and repacked our bags that we would ship home. We then wanted to take Sarah out to dinner, to thank her for all she did while on the trip. We went to the nicest place around, On The Rocks. We pulled up and there were like 10 cars in the parking lot and Todd and Sarah said it was packed. We had to wait 10 minutes for a table. Apparently that was unusual. I think we all had stakes. Mine was delicious.

September 26th, Sunday

One more breakfast at Jacks in the little town of Eureka, Montana. Todd then showed us his old house on the way to the airport. We all said our good byes. Brett was on the same flight to Saint Paul, Minnesota as we were. We ate dinner together at the airport, then he went on to D.C. and we made it to Atlanta by midnight, where Tony and Sonya were waiting to pick us up.

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Some closing stats from the trip.

Miles Traveled:

Air miles – 4950

Paved road miles – 630

Dirt road miles – 322

Miles on horse back – 68

Miles on foot – 18

Animals Killed:

5 -Mountain Grouse

2 – Bull Elk

1 – Skunk

1 – Mountain Goat

1 – Mule

Several Cutthroat Trout

Animals Seen:

One Black Bear with two cubs

One Big Bull Elk at Todd’s and several Cow Elk

Countless White Tail Deer all over

Several Mule Deer

Mountain Goats

Two Coyotes, one at Todd’s and one in the Bob

Golden Eagle

Bald Eagle

Osprey

Ducks

Blue Jay

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Google Earth photo of the Chinese Wall Continental Divide where we made our Spike camp. The Lake in the foreground is Levale. Lake in the background is Heat Lake. Spotted Bear River is top right. Our Spike camp was almost center of the photo. Point on the left of the lake is where I walked to, 8300 feet above sea level. Just as high as Table Mountain in the top right.

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Google Earth photo of Pivot Mountain where Brett killed his Elk. The location was down the ridge to the right of the Pivot Mountain Summit in one of the clearings about low center of the photo. Our Camp was about dead center along the river, but we had to ride up the ridge line of the mountain to get to the hunting spot. Table Mountain it top left. Spotted Bear River runs down the photo.

This was a great Western Adventure.

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Meek Vs. Weak

Meekness vs. Weakness

To often we in the 21st century think that to be meek is to be weak. But the true meaning of the word is quite the opposite. To be meek is a great virtue to be admired among men.

Meekness is the ability to control your own temper, anger, frustration and bitterness with a calm mind that is not easly provoked. To be put in a unfavorable situation and accept the will of God with patient and hopeful endurance.

The use of the Greek word when applied to animals makes this clear, for it means “tame” when applied to wild animals. Meekness is to tame yourself even though you are strong.

So be Meek and Mighty in the faith.FullSizeR21

Growing Streams

Just thinking about life and raising children.  I think of the hike I was on this weekend.  I would come off a ridge line into the head of a hollow.  A little stream would form. The hillsides would be tall and steep. The valley would be very narrow.  The stream would flow straight down the center.  Then the valley would widen some but the hillside would be tall and steep. The stream would go side to side being guided by the hillside.  Over time the valley would be even more wider and the stream would flow more freely but would be turned if it runs into the hillside.  The hills are not so steep and are easier to climb and are not so high.  But the the valley would narrow and force the stream down a straight way or the stream may hit a rock face and have to make a 90 degree turn. There are several falls and troubled waters in this part of the run. The stream runs over rocks and runs fast at times.Then the bottomland becomes larger and the stream has grown from what it has gathered on its journey.  It travels it’s on path between the rolling hills before it leaves the mountains and hills to open land where there are no hills to hold it on course.  But it continues on its path, larger and stronger.  Growing  as it goes. Fast and troubled waters now run slow, slightly and deep. Water that you can swim in. If I have done anything,  I hope it was to be a good father to my children to guide them on their journey.  To give them freedom to run their race.  To show them the way to go as I was. It takes two hillsides to guide a stream and I have had a good hillside to help me. Sometimes one turn the stream sometimes it was the other and sometimes it took both to guide the stream where it needed to go. Always working together.  I love my little family of hills, valleys and streams. Wendy Tibbitts Wyatt Tibbitts and Sarah.

All these Tomatoes

Mr. Doyle Holland  was a well respected Godly man who lived near and attended Mount Moriah Baptist Church in the Burnt Hickory community of Paulding County Ga. many years ago. During one summer he and his sweet wife had a bumper crop of tomatos come in all at once. They spend the better part of a week , harvesting tomatoes, cooking tomatoes and canning tomatoes.  They would work all day and into the night. They finally got done late on Saturday.  They were extremely exhausted from the weeks work. Mrs. Holland suggested that they spend the next day resting and not attend Church meeting as they would normally do on Sundays.  Mr. Holland  said no, “we’ve got to go to Church and thank the Lord for all these Tomatoes. ”

Moral of the story, always be thankful for what God gives you.

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Mr. Joe Burt’s home below Narroway Baptist Church along Murray branch across the road from the Baptizing Hole. This well served the church for nearly a hundred years.

“Trent. My mother & daddy were married at that well Dec 14,1924. They made arrangements with Rev  Joe Craton to meet them there after church. Seems everybody walked down there for a drink of water after church” – Doris Lance 

Joe and Malinda had six children. Oldest was G.S Burt who married Kate Crew

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Kate is my Grandmother Marie Crew Tibbitts sister.

Other children of Joe an Malinda:

George who died young

Charley who married Isabel Tibbitts

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Otis who did not marry

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Lela who married Leonard Tibbitts

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Ruby who married Robert L Ferguson

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By Trent Tibbitts

Growing up on the banks of the Raccoon Creek,  I had often wondered where the waters went. I knew that they flowed north and entered the Etowah River some 10 miles away.  But how did they get there and what was it like along the way.  From a young age I wanted to make this trip.  I have made it a goal to travel the entire length of the Raccoon Creek and to eventually follow the waterway to the Gulf of Mexico.  But one step at a time.  I have covered most of Raccoon Creek, only needing to complete the uper most section of  a few miles.  However, I was able to complete a large portion of Raccoon Creek with a canoe trip from our property at the Ford, all the way to the Etowah River.

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It was Saturday  May 28, 2016, Memorial day weekend. We had a party at the creek  for Wyatt who had just graduated from North Paulding High School. Being a three day weekend,  I wanted to take advantage of the time I had. John had been at the party all day and had helped setup.  His wife and kids had plans for the night so he was free to do whatever. I told John that I wanted to canoe down the creek to the Etowah.  He was up for it. The party wrapped up around 7 PM. It took about an hour to get everything together and in the boat. We both keep our backpacks packed and ready.  John gathered his supplies, emergency food and clothing. I took an extra MRE. We weren’t sure how long we would be gone. I then loaded a cooler with leftover ice, drinks, uncooked  hamburgers and hotdogs. I had the bread, pop tarts for breakfast, candy and a few ofher things in grocery bags under the seats. I put my portable gas grill in the back of the boat. I was sitting in the back with the cooler between my  legs.  Both packs were in the middle and John was in the front seat. I was trying to video document the trip,  so after a short video, we were off.

We launched at the camper right below the Ford.  I quickly realized that I didn’t have my sunglasses. We stopped at John’s Pavilion and I ran back to get them. Good thing, I had left the camper door open. I ran back to the waiting boat and we were off again. The creek water level was down some. One indicator of how much water is flowing is if any water is running over the road or not. There wasn’t any water flowing over the road, all of it was going through the pipes. This made the shoals difficult to navigate.  We were able to push our way through some if the waters were to one side of the creek. Often this ment we were right next to the bank and the low hanging tree limbs. John cleared the spider webs out for me.  If the waters were wide going over the shoals,  it would only be a few inches deep and we would have to get out and pull the boat along. Most of the time we would keep walking until the water got up to our knees. Just below John’s Pavilion is a small stream flowing into the creek from papa Hollis Tibbitts original Lake.  The stream forms the land line between John and Carlton. We paddled past Carlton’s place and to the Poky hole.  A favorite swimming hole of my youth.  It is a small rock ledge named after a female slave of the McGregor’s who were the first white settlers to live here. Papa Hollis Tibbitts was baptised here. A few hundred feet on down is the remnants of a cable Crossing.  The inspiration for my zip line across the creek at the camper.  Only a few dozen feet on down is the Mill Branch.  It is a good size branch with lots of water. You can read about it in my other post. It does drain a large area of the Sheffield WMA. The old Tall Pine road comes down the ridge here. It comes from Dent Myers Camp. Dent owns Wildman’s in downtown Kennesaw Ga. I’m not 100 percent sure of how the story goes but I believe he bought that land from Alton Cates, or papa who bought it from Alton.

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Poky Hole

 

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Mill Branch

 

Side note about Dent,  he was hired to be in a commercial for Canon Ball Tobacco. The seen was Dent and other Confederate reenacters charging across a field and a Canon being fired. This was in the 1960 and was being filmed in the pasture where the sub station is now on Tibbitts road. A lot of people gathered to watch the filming. When the canon was fired, it blew off the wheels. Dad said Papa got a big kick out of that and would tell the story often and laugh about it.

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The Tall Pine road used to follow the creek down stream before crossing it just before where the power lines cross now. The creek has washed away the bank and the is no longer room to walk in some places, much less have a road. Once across the creek, the road is the same one that comes up by Carlton’s and then on by Fed’s house. When Papa bought this land it was a public road. He had to put a fence on each side.  During  WW2 War years, when Papa and his three oldest sons and his brother Maston with his sons were cutting lumber, they would haul lumber out of the mountains on this road.

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Below the Mill Branch,  the creek makes a hard right against a big Boulder and travels East. Then in a few hundred yards goes under the power lines for the first time for this trip. One of only two times it travels on the east side of the lines before Crossing a final time in Taylorsville.  As we cross under the power lines we are on the lookout for deer and jump one on the North shore.  A King Fisher then flys by. We didn’t go five minutes the whole trip without seeing a King Fisher.

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Cliffs

 

Just past the power lines is the area known as the cliffs.  Not sure how tall they are, maybe 70 feet or more. On top of the cliff is the Copper mine.  A shaft that goes into the mountain about 30 feet and then has a shaft that goes down who knows how deep. The well part stays full of water.

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Copper mine

A little ways down is some bottom land, the old Charlie Burt farm.  The farm was bought by Jim Grant, he operated Lama’s of Atlanta from this farm.  Jim keep exotic animals on the farm.  He would have several types of deer, Elk, ostrich, zebra, I’m not sure what all he had. The watershead from my land ends up in the stream that flows through his farm. Along with everything between mountain Road, the top of the mountains at the water tower and Burt road. The creek makes a U turn at the Grant house that is on a bluff just above the creek.  We are now going in a northwest direction.  It is starting to get noticeably dark. We spook Wood Ducks a few times.  Once being right in here.

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Camp

We pass our last home sight before going into the WMA section of the creek.  We get right to the edge of the power lines before the creek U turns back to the northeast. It makes a big upside down S shape here and as we enter the top of the upside-down  S,  on the left is a flat area about a 3rd of an acer. The creek is on three sides and a large hillside is to the back. It is truly dark now. We have been using flashlights while padding for the past 15 minutes.  We beach the boat. A good bit of water is in the boat and several of our items are wet, including what we are waring.  We pick out our campsite and start a fire. John gathered most of the wood while I started the fire. Once we had a good fire going, we hung our hammocks. Luckily none of our sleeping gear got wet. One of my pads did but no big deal.  We got out the grill and cooked up two hamburgers each. While the burgers cooked we stripped off our wet clothes and dried them by the fire. I had a pair of dry pant and a long sleeve shirt to sleep in. We had a armadillo come through camp. John has a crank radio and we enjoyed country gold to midnight, then went to sleep shorty afterwards.  I had set out a crayfish trap that night and in the morning had caught, with out any bait, 3 crayfish,  two small fish, and a small turtle. No bigger than a 50 cent peace. We keep the turtle for a collection to the Aquarium. It made the trip to the end, not sure from there what happened to it. Packing up was uneventful.

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Hill Climb at Forsyth Shoals

We may have gotten on the water around 930 or 10. John was now in the back seat. Just above our camp was a small stream coming in on the left. It drains a small Valley in the WMA. There is a old home place there but I am not sure who lived there. Could have be a Forsyth because not far from there is a shoals on the creek called Forsyth Shoals. It is just below our camp and is under the next power line crossing. The creek has a good rock bottom here and was used as a place to ford the creek for many years.  On the North side of the creek is what was once a hill climb for motorcycles in the 60′ and 70’s. Several organized races where held here and covered in dirt bike magazines of the time. At the shoals,  the creek turns a little and is running west. As we go over the falls, John sets up his camera and gets a good action shot of us.

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Forsyth Shoals

Past the Shoals,  the creek stays straight for 1/8 of a mile and then turns North and to the right. At this point is where the wildcat den is supposed to be.  I have yet to find it. It may have be filled in with debris over the years.  I think Joe built a box and put down in it an caught a bobcat.  Just a few more yards down is the stone fence / rock wall that no on knows who built.  We believe it was built by Indians. Papa Hollis Tibbitts said he played on it as a boy and no one at that time knew who built it. It serves no purpose that I can tell. It runs up the side of a steep embankment about 100 feet. It would have been 3 or 4 feet tall when first built.

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Stone fence

We saw a lot of different types of fish in the water as we went. The water was clean and clear.  Very little man made trash was in the water. We only saw a few cans and a few tires the whole trip, and most of that was closer to Taylorsville.  We saw lots of big turtles fallin off log as we would turn a bend in the creek.  We only saw 3 snakes.  We also saw a Blue Heron and a few Red Tail Halks. The health of the creek is very good. The best part of the trip for me, was to know how well the creek is doing and how natural it is.

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About a 1/4 mile on down from the Stone fence, is the Murray branch coming in on the right.  This is the largest amount of water to enter the creek below the Ford.  It has a larger watershed;  From Blue hole road to Burt road to Braswell  Mountain, to HWY 61 to the north end of Narroway Church Cr., to Clay root Rd. The branch was once know as Gold Creek and a few gold mines we operated at its headwaters.  I have seen gold come out of it before and one good nugget.  Narroway once conducted baptisms in the branch below the Church.  Many of my family,  including myself was baptised there.

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Not to far on down the creek is where Clay Root Rd cross the creek.  The road one ran the ridge top from the city of Braswell,  through the Braswell Mountains,  past Iron Stob, past Clay Root,  past Pine mountain,  crossed the creek,  crossed the power lines and ended on Narroway Church Cr.

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We then passed several cabins along the creek belonging to the Cochran family.  The Grindstone Branch enters the creek in this area on the left. The last large branch to do so while in the mountains. The branch gets it name from a mill that once was on this branch.  From the top of Pine mountain there was a road that turned south off of Clay Root Rd and followed a ridge down to Grindstone Branch.  The mill site was just upstream from where the road crossed the branch in a small Valley.  When I was young,  beavers damed up the branch and a good size pond filled the valley.  Dad and I counted 17 dams in that area at that time. The road was blocked by several piles of dirt dumped between the high road banks. This made great four wheeler jumps and mud holes for me to play on. Brandon and I spent a lot of time there. He and I hiked there not to long ago.

Just before the creek exits the mountains there is one more noted area. Harris Bottoms or Sand Bottoms is another area we used to ride four wheelets. There was a large sand bar that had a bowl in it from all the four wheeler that had done donuts in the same spot. It was always a fun destination.  Once I rolled my four wheeler in the creek there. It took several hours to get it running again after getting the water out of the engine.  Another time I came up on Jason Tibbitts walking out. He had run out of gas. That is a long walk so I gave him a ride home. John and I hiked this area last year. Part of the  Union army crossed Raccoon Creek here on their way to Burnt Hickory then onto New Hope and Dallas.  It has a hard rocky bottom for a good long ways.  We decided to stop here for lunch. We grilled the last 3 hamburgers and 2 hotdogs.  We had a nice lunch on the gravel bar. Up to this point we had a tough time with shoals . A lot of dragging the boat. I was hoping that from here on we would be in deeper water.

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I was right about having deeper water but the number of logjams exploded. Up to this point we had only gone under 3 trees. From here to the river, must have been 20 or more. Two of them we cut our what thru,  two we carried the boat around, several we lifted the boat over and some we got out and floated the boat under. The rest we navigated. If the log looked like we could clear under it, no matter how small the space,  John though it fun to gain as much speed as possible and see if I could duck to the bottom of the boad before being decapitated.

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Last Crossing of the Power lines.

We were now in the Etowah River Valley and out of the Braswell Mountains.  The creek travels through hay fields,  cow pastures,  cotton fields and small patches of woods. We cross a few field roads and got out at one to make contact with the rest of the world, having been cut off in the wilderness for atleast 18 hours. John made plans for Linsey to pick us up and we were off again. This was the toughest part of the trip. The logjams really wore us down.  We only saw two other people while on Raccoon Creek and it was a man and woman hanging out on a sand bar in this area. We said hello and kept moving

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Not much to report in this area. We did see one more deer in the creek. About the only history I know is that about half of the Union army crossed Raccoon Creek in this area also on their way to Dallas. (Different from the aboved units)  I read just yesterday about the men bathing in the creek and watering livestock.  May of 1864. We did travel about a mile or more along a farm where the owner had lined the banks with old concrete. We did pass one more cabin and just before the 113 bridge there was a house on the right.

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Once at the bridge we called Linsey again to give her a up date. From Harris Bottoms to the bridge was a longer distance that I thought it would be.  From the bridge to the rive is about a half a mile. We only had one difficult log to cross. We went under the old Railroad bridge for the line that travel from Cartersville to Rockmart.  People used to take the train out to Rockmart and the on over to Van Wert to hear Sam Jone Preach at Van Wert Methodist Church. It later became a Baptist Church. I have direct ancestors buried there on the Johnson side.  We went under the Railroad bridges that supplies plant Bowen. Coal is delivered via train. It is one of the largest Coal fired plants in the country.  Just passed the last Railroad bridge is the Etowah River.  Several people were taking a break from kayaking and on on the left shore.

We enter the Etowah River feeling a real sense of accomplishment. I don’t know of anyone else who has made this same trip.

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Confluence of the Raccoon Creek and Etowah River

From Raccoon Creek at river mile 128 to the Euharlee road bridge at river mile 132 it is an easy 4 miles. The river looked to be up but did not seam to be moving that fast. We quickly pass by the Etowah Cliffs, an antebellum plantation.  At the base of the bluff is a spring coing out of the rock face.

At mile 129.8 is one of dozens of fishing weirs along the river. This one is a little more impressive. It is in a very wide part of the river and is a double V. Lots of nice homes are on this section of the river.

At mile 130.8 is the water intake and discharge for Georgia Powers plant Bowen. The plant takes out 40 million gallons a day and returns half.  The rest is evaporated.  The returning flow is the size of Raccoon Creek and is hot to the touch.  The plant produces 20 percent of the power Georgia Power sells.

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Milam Bridge

At mile 131.2 is Milam bridge. Only the iron skeleton remains.  This is where in 1955, Grady Cochran, who was working for Green Tibbitts at the time sawmilling,  dumped the body of Patricia Cook, a 13 year old girl who he had murdered.  He used chains belonging to Green to weigh the body down. Grady was arrested at the job site. A relative who was a GBI agent was able to get a confession and the location of the body.  He was coveted and died in the Georgia Electric Chair. During the War of Northern Aggression, and before the iron bridge was biilt, half of the Union army crossed the river here. The Confederate Soldiers burned the wood bridge but the Union built a pontoon bridge in its place.

At mile 131.5 is the Euharlee creek. Only a half mile up the creek is the old covered bridge and the old mill. The sisters who ran the mill last had some type of dealings with papa Hollis Tibbitts about timber they owned. I believe he gave them advice on its value. Euharlee is rich in history and has a good little Museum. Well worth the trip.  You can tube the creek down to the river from the town.

Only a half mile more is the Euharlee road bridge at river mile 132. We ended our trip here. Linsey came and picked us up in my truck with in 10 minutes of our arrival.

Very tough adventure.  A little tougher than I thought that it would be.  But very rewarding also. I am very happy with the health of the creek and the amount of wild life we encountered. This completed a live long goal and a bucket list item for me. Raccoon Creek is a channel that I can take to my past, my history,  my family history, history of the land but it is always flowing.

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At the north west end of Florida’s forgotten cost is the 20 mile long St. Joseph Penniscla. From Port St. Joe, travel south then turn right on to a 5 mile cause way at Cape Sand Blast that takes you to the penniscla that turns sharply 90* back north. Where the causeway meets the penniscla, it is only a few yards wide. Just enough room for two lanes of traffic. With the sea threating to make an island out of the pennisclea, the DOT has added huge boulders at the turn and at high tied the waves crash into them. You wont find any high rise condos here like at other beaches. There is not even a hotel. Maybe around 100 homes, one gas station with a store and one icecream shop that serves sandwiches. No restrants, No Bars, No nothing. Just the way we like it. The state park takes up half of the Penniscla. The first three miles house a public beach, a boat ramp into the bay and a campground. The last seven miles are left to nature with one primitive sand road down the center. Closed to auto traffic. The park boast of the tallest sand dunes in the state.

Growing up we would visit Panama City Beach Florida every year. I didn’t know there were other beach for a long  time or that there were roads that could take you there. PCB was the default beach for most people in north Georgia. It was the closest and was cheap. Back then it was local mom and pop, small two story hotels with maybe a small pool. My favorite place to stay was the Page Motel. It was an old two store cheap place but it was right on the beach. We would walk from the living room out the sliding glass door and be on the beach. This was before anyone was building dunes, installing fencing to catch sand or building board walks. The unit had a kitchen, living room and two bed rooms. A lot of times two families would share one unit. Adults would get the beds and kids on the floor. We didn’t care.

The Page is where my younger cousin “only drowned once”. We were swimming in the pool and Jody was around three or four. We had been diving, swimming under water, through in a coin and dive down and get it. Remember there was no pool toys back then. If they were we did not have them. So we made our own. One thing we did have that you wont find at any hotel pool today is a diving board. After a good time swimming we went back in the room and dad asked if we had fun swimming. That is when Jody said he “only drowned once”, meaning he had only went under water once. We all got a big kick out of that.

PCB had a water slide, not a water park with hundreds of different slides and pools and stuff like it has now at Ship Werck Island. This was just maybe two slides. One tall one and one not so tall. The teenagers got to do those, I may have done it once. PCB also had a amusement park called The Miracle Strip. It was more on the lines of a carnival. It did have a wooden roller coaster, a faris wheel, bumper cars, swings, old timie cars, a train, haunted house a lot of the rides you see at carnival and the mid way games too. The ride that got my attention was the one I now know as the himalayon, it is where you are sitting in cars on this big disk and it spins around and around very, very fast going up and down while playing loud rock n roll muice. Well this one was housed in a big iglue with a huge abonable snowman standing over the entry. Very intemadaing for young boy. The other cool thing PBC had was Alvens Island. This was a beach wear, gift, t-shirt supper store inside a volcano. The interior looked like a cave. They had a alligator pit, and you entered through a great white sharks mouth. A must see and still there today.

One trip to PBC was with a large group, as always. In our  ford LTD on the way down was dad driving, mom in the passager set, Tammy my sister in the rear and her friend and cousin Kinda on the other side. Also in the car was my friend and cousin Chris in between them and I was riding on the arm rest between mom and dad, called the hump. Chris was a year or two older than me and we were between the ages of 5 and 7. Chris was a talker and about half way down on our 6 hour plus drive, Kinda offered him five dollars to not say another word till we got to the beach. Well Chris would stay quite for a while and then he would say something. He would want the money and would promise not to talk so Kenda offered him four dollars. This went on until he was down to his last dollar. He stayed quite for a long, long time, until at last he said “you can keep you money, I wished I had talked way before now”. It was on this same trip that we were all at the Miracle Strip, Chris and I were riding on the train. Two teenage girls sitting behind us said hey Chris remember me. Well of course not. We had never seen them before in our lives. They told us that they were his kindergarten teacher. To a 6 year old they looked old enough. They were having fun with him. We knew we did not know them but how did they know Chris’s name? Well by the time the trail pulled in to the station they told us they had read his name off the back of his air brushed shirt and made up the story.

The only time I ever road in a hellocopter was at PCB. This trip it was just me, mom and dad. Dad and I took a hellocopter tour down the beach in one that has the big glass bubble around the cockpit and no doors. Yea that is the one. Being little I was between the pilot and dad. We were half way down the beach, flying along, everything going good when the pilot asked me if I wanted to go on the roller coaster . I remember very distantly saying NO. He didn’t take no for a answer, We went on a roller coaster ride. Strait down to the ocean, strait up to the sky, back to the ocean, back to the sky. We did that three or four more times. Mean while back at the helipad where mom is waiting, a little boy runs up and says that “they went down”. I am surprised mom didn’t have a hart attack right then. She thought it was us. In fact it was the paraselers being pulled by a boat. I am sure it was normal operations for them. But mom didn’t know that at the time.

We had a lot of fun over the years at BPC. I knew it like I lived there my whole live.   More and more condos were built. All the little hotels sold out. We started staying in high rises where it took a lot of effort to get to the beach. You have to walk to the elevator, wait forever on it to get to your floor, it then stops on every floor on the way down, then you have to walk through the pool area to the board walk and finally get to the beach 10 or 15 minutes latter. It soon became the spring break capitol of the world. When Wyatt and Sarah were very young we were staying at a hotel that allowed a church group play loud muisce till midnight in the pool area that our room over looked. None off us could sleep. I complained several times to the front desk but got no satisfaction. That is when we decided we would not be going back to PBC on vacation. However we have going to ship Werck Island and other places there while staying at St. Joseph.

Going to St. Joseph adds another 45 minutes to the PCB trip but it is well worth it. From PCB you go south east down the coast. Most of the trip is the 17 miles through the Kendale Air Force Base. Then the beach community of Mexico Beach. There are a few small hotels and beach homes. Next is Port St. Joe. More of a fishing town because it is on the bay created by St. Joseph Pennicial. A few hotels and small restraint. There is one fast food restraint and grocery store. These is were we do out shopping when staying at the park. Further south down the coast is Apalatchacola, Apalatchacola bay and St. George Island. All the water from Atlanta ends up in Apalatchacola bay via the Chataloochee river, Atlanta’s river.

We have camped at St. Joseph at least four times. The kids have grownup going there and know it well. When they were younger it was easy to keep them entertained with the beach and ocean. As they have gotten older they want more things to do. Wendy and I are beach bums and love to site and just watch the waves role in. We would build sand casels, throw a football or baseball, play with frisbys, fly kits, feed the sea birds, catch crabs and play in the waves. The lay out of the beach is first the privet homes before the park, then the public beach, then the beach for the first campground and finally the beach for the second campground over a three mile span. This makes the beach not  crowded at all. It’s hard to count more than 80 people in eye sight. So there is plenty of room to spread out. The first campground is open with no trees and is just a little closer to the beach. The other campground is very wooded and has a boardwalk leading to the beach. We have stayed in both areas. I think I like the wooded lots better, they offer a little more privatsy. The campgrounds have very nice bathhouses with hot water for showers. We have a shower in the camper but it is easier to go to the bathhouse. Taking showers for a week in the camper with four people would fill the grey water tanks on the camper. Some Campgrounds have swear connections at each site and there is not a problem with taking a lot of showers.

The first year we were there Wyatt and I took the kayak out into the bay. We tried fishing but ended up collecting shells, clams, crabs and scalps. The bay is around waist deep for a long way out and full of sea weed. This was the first time we had caught live craps and scalps.

Wendy’s mother, Hellen spent some time with us on one trip. Another trip Wyatt took his buddy Jona and Sarah took her friend Mikenzy with her for the week. They were between the ages of 12 and 15. As a side note we had a flat on the trip down and the under pinning of the camper started to come off. If you have read more of my post you know these things happen to me. I used straps to hold the underpinning in place. Once at the campground I went back to town and bought a drill and some self-tapping screws. I reattached the underpinning and it is still holding today. Wendy drove the Thaho with the girls and the guys were in the truck pulling the camper. The six of us had a lot of fun. The kids had their bikes and were able to come and go on their own. We spent a lot of time on the beach and in the ocean. We got them mask and snorkels. They explored the bay side of the park. We caught all kinds of sea creatures. We did do a few day trips and one was to a spring that is a state park. It was about an hour or so south east. A very nice place. Once was a private hotel on the site.  1930 . The park runs the hotel now. I was hoping to ride the glass bottom boats like they have at Silver Springs.  But the water quality was poor and the boats were not running.  Here comes the side note. I have been to Silver Springs three or four times. All but once was when I was young.  I remember going with mom, dad, Emily, Turrl and Brandon.  We went on lots of trips together.  We stayed in a hotel outside the park and I remember swimming in the pool.   once with Wendy,  Wyatt and Sarah.  Sarah was just a baby.  That was a fun trip. Silver springs was our first stop. We did it all. The glass bottom boats the petting zoo and gardens. It is a very nice park. We then went to another spring called Juniper Spring. A state park. It had a nice big pool to swim in where the water springs up. The water is very cold. We walked a little was down the creek that was formed by the spring.  This is where Wyatt got into “quick sand” it was where more water was bubbling up and the sand looked as if it was bolling. He sunk down a little.  This same trip we to Bush Gardens. Back to the Spring at St joe. This water was cold too. There is a real big swimming area where the water spring up and create a river. Like Silver Springs.  They have two docks you can swim out to and jump off that are just a foot or two out of the water. All the kids hang out there. Then there is this three story tower that you can jump off. Me and the boys did it at least once. We all took the jungle boat ride and got to see a lot of wildlife up and down the river.  We ate dinner at the hotel in there super nice dinning room. The kids had fun.

Cramping on the beach. I brought my backpack with all my gear with plans to hike the seven miles to the tip of the island.  I headed out in the late afternoon first on my bike. I rode it to the last board walk on the beach and left it there. I hiked on the hard packed sand of the surf just out of reach of the waves. I had only sandals on. I didn’t know it at the time but that was a big mistake.  I passed a few beach goers who were packing up to go in for the night.  The futhur I went the more man made trash there was. Little pieces of plastic,  ropes,  flotation equipment and you name it.  It started to get dark and I had not made it to the tip. I need to find a place to hang my Enos Hamrick. It took a little doing but I found a spot on top of a sand dune that had some small pine trees with a view of the sea. I did have to scavage some rope from the beach to rig up my tarp. I made a small fire and had a frieze dried dinner.  I was really hoping to see a sea turtles come to shore and lay her eggs. They had been nesting all up and down the beach.  Volunteers checked the beach each morning and documented each new nest. They dig up the eggs and count them.  Then the eggs are buried and the nest is marked with a wire mesh to keep predators out and wood stacks to mark the corners.  The date is written on the stacks. There are dossens of nest that I pass. I checked the beach during the night but not turtles.  I did see a dune fox though.  The moon was full and the sea was calm. I made a lot of good photos. The next morning after packing up I explored the sand dunes. From the ocean to the tree line of tall Pines, the dunes extend inland about 300 yards.  It is a very different landscape that I had experienced before. I didn’t make it to the tip,  I came across a four wheeler trail and thinking this would be a good way to cross over to the other side of the pennisclea, I took it. I made it to the bay side by following the trail.  There is no way to walk in the woods here. The undergrowth is way to thick.  A lot of small palms. The bay side wasn’t that fun of a walk. The “beach” was only a few feet wide and on a steep slop.  I walked several miles and decided if I could I would take the next trail to the interor.  The bay side was not a straight line like the ocean side, it had a bump out into the bay. This would have added to the total distant I would have traveled so I wanted to avoid it.  My chance came and I took it.  I would regret wearing sandes to hike in on sand. At first the road out was hard packed but the last mile or so was very loss dry sand. My ankles rolled with each step.  It was about noon. There was no fresh water to filter so I packed all my water in with me. I was about out and it was getting hot. I made it back to my bike for a successful trip.

The kids had seen a vollyball net on the drive in. It was nearly on the mainland a out 10 miles from the camp. With out a since of distance,  they headed out on their bikes to play. They got to the icream shop before stopping.  Lucky that they had a few dollars they were able to buy some drinks.  Even more luckily they were spotted by Wendy on her way back from the laundry mat in town.  She stopped at the store and bough them icream and drinks.  Then gave them a ride back.

Lots of fun at St. Joseph Penniscla.  I am afraid that it to is starting to get developed.

20160314_183906By Trent Tibbitts.

If you know me, you know I dig history. And I like Paulding County History. And I really like Burnt Hickory History. And I love family History. So as boring as this is to all of you. I was very excited over a discovery I made. There is a small stream flowing out of the Braswell Mountains into the Raccoon Creek very close to the house. I have exploded this branch all my live. One of my favorite places on earth. It’s name is the Mill Branch. So there has to be a mill, right? There is, it is an old mill site, just some small stone walls. Not much to it.

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Mill site.

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Raceway to the mill.

I never have given it much thought until this week. I asked dad if he knew much about it. He said it has looked the same all of his life. I asked if he knew who ran the mill. He said all he knew was it was called the Roe Elsberry mill and the old grown up road next to it was called the Roe Elsberry road. So, I started with this bit of information. I checked the Paulding County History books and found that my 4th Great Grandfather, Paulding pioneer Lindsey Elsberry had a grandson, by his son Joseph Curtis, named William Monroe Elsberry. I thought, could Roe be short for Monroe? I started digging more. Turns out that his mother is Miriam Francis McGegor. So what, right? Well you don’t know what I have known my whole life, McGegors owned this land before Papa and descendants of S.D. McGegor, father of Miriam, still own the land that the mill sits on. So, I found out that William Monroe Elsberry, who is my 1st cousin 4 times removed, was the millwright and his mother’s people, who are my Neighbors, still own the mill. I think that is amazing.

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Another note, the Mill Branch enters the creek below the poky hole. Named in horror of a slave of the McGregor’s, named Pocahontas who loved to fish there.

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This is where the Mill Branch enters the Creek.

 

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Surviving The Playground

By Trent Tibbitts

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I was talking with a coworker today about childhood playgrounds. That got me thinking about how we survived the playgrounds of the 1970’s and 1980’s.

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We will start with the playground at Dallas Elementary, where I attended K through 4th grade.  There were two separate playgrounds, K through 2nd grade and 3rd grade through 4th grade. Let’s explore the first one. There were the Monkey Bars. Constructed of galvanized steel pipes. If you don’t know what Monkey Bars are let me describe them for you.  Image two ladders about 6 feet high and 15 feet apart connected with another ladder across the top. The idea is to climb the ladder and cross over to the other side by hand over hand hanging from the top ladder. What made ours more interesting was the mud puddle under it. The sun would make the bars very hot. Next to the Monkey Bars were the Jungle Gym. Again made from steel pipes.  Think of a framework of three-foot square boxes stacked on one another, about 21 feet wide and 12 feet high.  Kind of a pyramid. Then we had a poll maybe 12 feet tall that had wedges cut in so you could climb up and then jump off.  Next were eight giant tires that were sunken a third of the way in the ground.  I would crawl inside the side walls of the tires and hang out.  Behind the tires was the tunnel.  The tunnel was a 30 inch concrete Pipe at ground level with dirt piled on top. It to had a mud puddle inside the whole length.  On the side of the playground were the swings. Again made from steel pipes and steal chains. The coolest thing on the playground was what we called the platform and was a long the rear  area. The platform was 4 or 5 feet high,  60 feet long with ramps on each end.  It had several slides coming off of each side that were made of sheet metal.  Very hot. You could hang out under the platform to keep cool but you had to watch out for the nails that were sticking out.  We had a few balance beams and see saws. The other supper cool structure was the cargo net. This one was not like the ones you may see today that are on an angle.  This one went straight up 10 or 12 feet. There were a lot hard surfaces for 5 to 8 year  olds to play on. The worst injury I can remember was someone cutting their head on a nail under the platform.

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swings

The second playground was a lot more open.  There was a ball field where we played kick ball. A “baseball” style game where you drilled your friends with a rubber ball to get them out. We would play Red Rover Red Rover. A game where two teams would line up across from one another and a teammate would run across and try to break the grip of the other team.  We had a tether ball pole. That was not to dangerous but it was just a steel pipe concrete in an old tire. There was a huge concrete pad that had a basketball court on part of it. That was were I learned to shot baskets using the square on the backboard.  During one class out on the pad we  built ovens out of cardboard box’s and tinfoil that we cooked hot dogs in. We would also try to break dance out on the pad.  I remember one day some buddy’s were eating Cool Aid powder on the playground and the teachers though it was drugs.  I don’t think any of us had ever heard of drugs. This playground had Monkey Bars and Jungle Gym too. It also had swings.  These were big swings.  We would get as high as we could and jump off, lot of hang time. Once playing this game I got side ways and on the down swing I hit one of the pole square in the back. I thought I was dead. It knocked the breath out of me. I ran to get help from my teacher who was smoking.  That’s right,  smoking.

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The other regular playground of my youth was the McDonald’s.  Everything there was dangerous also.  There was the ride on Fry Guys that were mounted on a big spring. You would go as back and forth as fast as you could with your head just inches from hitting the ground. If you got going to fast you were slung off.  Then there was the Mary Go Round. You hung on as long as you could while your friends spun it around as fast as they could. Then there was the Hambugerler tree house. All metal.  It was a pipe that had a ladder inside it that you climbed up to get to the hamburger section.  It was alway super hot inside. I think that playground had a super high all steel slide. All the slides would burn you because they were so hot. Every kid in Dallas had their birthday party there.

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I think we stayed at a hotel once that had one of these.

Just some memories.


This is a list of my ancestors who fought for the Confederacy during the War of Northern Aggression or you may know it as the American Civil War.

MASTON GREEN TIBBITTS.

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My Great, Great, Grandfather Maston Green Tibbitts.  Private, Company K (Etowah Guards of Bartow County), 14th Regiment, Georgia Infantry, Army of Northern Virginia. Born October 13, 1845 and Died February 13, 1924. He is buried at the old Harmony Grove Cemetery  in North Paulding County Georgia. On March 19, 1864, at the age of 18, he enlisted into the Confederacy at Coppers furnace in the town of Etowah, Bartow Country Georgia.

The story goes that his two older brothers, who had joined years earlier and were home on furlough, talked him into joining so they could recive a signing bonus. He was promoted to Private on March 19, 1864. He was wounded in the knee on May 6th, 1864 on the second day of the Battle of the Wilderness, VA. His first battle of the war. A mini-ball had passed cleanly through his knee. A silk handkerchief was passed through the hole to clean the wound.  He was transported to a hospital in Augusta, Ga for treatment. After he recovered, he would walk with a limp for the rest of his life. Sherman seized Augusta in November of 1864. Company records show that Maston Green was sick in the hospital in Augusta Ga. on February 28, 1865 . The story goes that he walked home after the war was over. I am not sure if he walked from Augusta or a closer train depot.

He came home a changed man (19 years old) to a changed land.  When he had enlisted, he had two brothers fighting and another had been killed in battle, his father was a member of the Georgia militia, he had a 3 year old brother named  Jefferson D. Tibbitts. I can only assum the D stands for Davis. The Union army under Sherman had the Confederate Army of the Tennessee on the defensive and were battling just a few dozen miles up the road in Dalton Georgia, February 1864. The war was very real to him and I am sure he felt it was his duty to fight. During the time Maston Green was at war, Sherman distorted most of what he knew. During May of 1864, the same month Maston Green was wounded,  the two armys moved away from the railway in Bartow County and down through Paulding County.  More than 120,000 men were raping the country side for anything they could eat. Very little was left after the battles of New Hope, Pickett’s Mill and Dallas. One could argue that no other community Georga was more effective than that of Paulding County and that effect lasted long after reconstruction.  On May 22, 1864 Sherman ordered the destruction of the town of Etowah and its war supporting industry. The town, the biggest in Bartow County at the time, was never rebuild. Etowah was where he in listed into the Confederacy, the unit was known as the Etowah Guards.  I believe Etowah may have been what he would have called his home town. It was much bigger than Dallas at that time.

Being a wounded Confederate Veteran, Maston Green was eligible to attend Bowdon College in Bowdon Georgia, where he learned the craft of a cobbler.  He along with Bill Sheffield and A.C. Scoggins walked from their home in Paulding County to the college, Maston Green was on crutches. The other men would have been wounded also.  From my understanding,  he made two trips.  I am not sure how long he stayed each time at the college.  On his last return trip home, he bought a bread heifer cow from a man named Mr. Dyer in Sand Town who he stayed with overnight. The men relied on the kindness of strangers because of the long journey. Yankees had destroyed everything, there were no stores, hotels, restaurants or anything of the kind.  He was about to get married to Mary Ann Starnes and needed a cow of his own. This was the first livestock to enter north Paulding since the Union invasion of May 1864. They were married on April 5, 1868. At the age of 22. He received a pension of $50.00 for his wounded leg. Recorded on March  29, 1894.

One other story about Maston  Green Tibbitts after the war. He had befriended a Yankee named John while in the hospital. John was wealthy and paid for Maston Green to visit him at his home. He had a fine home in town.  After their greating and socializing,  Maston Green asked to use the rest room. To his surprise, there was a painting of General Robert E. Lee on the wall across from the tollet.  When he returned, he asked John about the painting.  “John why would a Yankee have a photo of Bobby Lee”? John told him, “nothing moves the bowels of a Yankee like seeing General Lee”.

Maston brothers who had talked him into joining were James W. (Jim) Tibbitts and Thomas J. Tibbitts. He had another older brother named William A. Tibbitts who also served in the Confederacy.  We will review them next.

JAMES W. (JIM) TIBBITTS.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle Jim Tibbitts was the oldest of the four brothers who served. He was born on June 29, 1837 and died in 1909. He is buried at Old Harmony Grove Cemetery in North Paulding County, Georgia.

Corporal James Tibbitts served in the 14th Regement, Georgia Infantry, Company K.  Army of Northern Virginia. He was promoted to Private on July 9, 1861 and the promoted to Corporal.  He served through the entire war. He was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Mechanicsville, VA in 1862. He was with General Robert E. Lee at the surrender at Appomattox, April 9, 1865. He also received a  $50.00 pension for his wound.

WILLIAM A. TIBBITTS.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle William Tibbitts was born on June 26, 1839. He moved to Arkansas where he joined and fought with the 6th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry, Company H. He was killed in action on December 31, 1862, at the Battle of Stones River in Tennessee. He is believed to be buried in a mass grave of unidentified Confederate Soldiers in the Evergreen Cemetery in Murphysbor, Tennessee.

THOMAS J. TIBBITTS.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle Thomas Tibbitts was born  December 12, 1841 and died on June 18, 1924. He is buried at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in North Paulding County, Georgia.

Thomas Tibbitts was a Sergeant in the 14th Regiment,  Georgia Infantry, Company K, Army of Northern Virginia. He was promoted to Private on July 9, 1861 and then appointed Corporal in 1864 before being promote to Sergeant.  Like his other brothers before him was wounded in the leg  a few days after Maston Green at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House,  VA., on May 12, 1864. He was on w  He was awarded a  $25.00 pension on July 16, 1888. He went on to join the KKK and his headstone  still has those letters on it today.

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Photo of Tibbitts brothers.

JOSEPH CHATMAN TIBBITTS.

My Great, Great, Great Grandfather Joseph Tibbitts was the father of James,  William,  Thomas and Maston Green Tibbitts.  He was a member of the Georgia militia but saw no action as far as we know.

THOMAS PERRY STARNES.

My Great, Great, Great Grandfather Thomas Starnes was the father in law to Maston Green Tibbitts and was listed in the Georgian Guard. His age may have keep him out of the regular army but I suppose that since his family ran Starnes Mill on Punkinvine Creek he was exempt from the front lines.

Elijah T. Starnes

My Great, Great, Great, Uncle Elijah T. Starnes was born in 1833 and died on June 18, 1822. He is buried at the Kennedy -Starnes Cemetery in North Paulding County.

Elijah T. Starnes  was a Private in Company D, 36th Regiment, Georgia Infantry.  He died from measles at home in Paulding County while on sick furlough.

Elijah T. Starnes had a brother in-law, David Kennedy who also served as Private in Company D, 36th Regiment, Georgia Infantry. He to is buried in the Kennedy -Starnes Cemetery in North Paulding County Georgia.

David Kennedy

David Kennedy was brother to my Great, Great, Great Aunt Sarah Kennedy Starnes.  He was born on January 29, 1835 and died on December 12, 1924.

David Kennedy was promoted to Private on March 11, 1862. He was captured at Barker’s Creek, Mississippi on May 17, 1863. He was paroled on July 3, 1863 at Fort Delaware, in the state of Delaware.  He was exchanged at City Point Va. On July 6, 1863. He was captured again at Marietta, Ga. On July 18, 1864. He was released at camp Douglas in Illinois on June 17, 1865.

David Francis Marion Starnes

My Great, Great, Great, Uncle D. F. M. Starnes was born in 1839 and died in 1899. He is buried at the old Harmony Grove Cemetery in North Paulding County Georgia.

D. F. M. Starnes was a Private in Company A, 40th Georgia Infantry.  He was promoted to Private on March 10, 1862. He was captured on May 16, 1863 at Barker’s Creek, Mississippi. He was part of a POW exchange later in 1863. 

My father is Thomas Hershel Tibbitts son of Joseph Hollis Tibbitts, son of  Maston Elihu Tibbitts, son of Maston Green Tibbitts and Mary Ann Starnes. Maston Green is the son of Joseph Chitman Tibbitts and Mary Ann is the daughter of Thomas Perry Starnes.

WILLIAM  (BILL) BONE.

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My Great, Great, Grandfather  Bill Bone was born on May 26, 1828 and died on July 4, 1908. He is buried at the Dallas City  Cemetery, Paulding County Georgia.  He served as a Private in the Georgia Cavalry,  4th Regiment, Company L. Under L. B. Anderson.

Bill Bone had two brothers, Henry and John, and one son, Bailey Bone Jr, plus two brother in-laws, Esech Owen and George Owens, that served with the CSA.

BAILEY BONE JR.

My Great, Great Uncle Bailey Bone Jr was born on March 18, 1848 and Died on Feb 27, 1934. He is buried at the Dallas City Cemetery in Paulding County Georgia.  He was in the Georgia State Troops,  1st Regiment,  Company A. Not sure when he would have joined but it would have been before he was 16.

HENRY BONE.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle Henry Bone was born on October 15, 1832 and died March 19, 1904. He is buried at the Dallas City Cemetery in Paulding County Georgia.  He served as a Private then a Sergeant in the Georgia Infantry, 60th Regiment, Company K, Army of Northern Virginia.  Major battles he was in were Gettysburg,  2nd Manassas and the Wilderness. He was promoted to Private on May 10, 1862 and appointed Sergeant February 1863. Roll date of November 9, 1864 last on file shows him absent.

JOHN BONE.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle John Bone was born June 3, 1836 and died March 2, 1904. He is buried at the Dallas City Cemetery in Paulding County Georgia.  John was a 2nd Corporal in the Georgia Infantry, 22nd Regiment,  Company C.

ESECH BROWN OWEN.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle  Esech Owen was married to Mary Bone. He was born July 27, 1841 and died May 3, 1901. He served in the Georgia Infantry, 22nd Regiment, Company C.  He is buried at the Dallas City Cemetery in Paulding County, Georgia.

GEORGE A. OWENS.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle George Owens was married to Nancy A. Bone and brother to Esech Owen. Though one spell their name with an “S”. Their Grandfathers were Revolutionary Soldiers,  Thomas Owens and Esic Brown.  George was born 1822 and died Feb 6, 1901. He was a millwrigh for the Confederacy and owner of Owens Mill on Punkinvine Creek,  the same site as what is know as the old electric dam.

My mother is Letty Jane  Bone, daughter of Tom Watson Bone, son of Clifford Anderson Bone, son of John T. Bone, son of William Bill Bone.

WILLIAM HARVEY CREW.

My Great, Great, Grandfather William Crew was born September 24, 1830 and died February 13, 1903. He is buried at the High Shoals Cemetery in North Paulding County Georgia.

William was a Sergeant in the Georgia Infantry,  60th Regiment, Company K. He was mustered into service on May 10, 1862. The following is a list of engagements he would has fought in with the 60th Georgia Infantry.

Second Winchester, VA.  June 14, 1862.

Seven Day Battles, VA. June 25 to July 1, 1862.

Gaines’ Mill, VA. June 27th, 1862.

Malvern Hill, VA. July 1, 1862.

Cedar Mountain,  VA. August 9, 1862

Bristol and Manassas Junction, VA. August 26 and 27, 1862.

Kettle Run, VA. August 27, 1862.

Second Manassas, VA. August 28-30, 1862.

Chantilly, VA. September 1, 1862.

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.  Septembe 12-15, 1862.

Antietam, Maryland.  September 17, 1862. Where he was wounded and sent home to recover.

As Sherman marched into Georgia down from Chattanooga Tennessee in the spring of 1864, William Crew enlisted a 2nd time. This time as a Private in the Army of the Tennessee,  Georgia Cavalry,  4th Regiment,  Company L.  Avery’s, under General Joe Wheeler, on May 9th in Dallas.  Just two weeks before Union forces would enter his community of Burnt Hickory on their way to the Battles of New Hope,  Pickett’s Mill and Dallas. The following is a list of engagements William fought in while serving in the Cavalry.

Resaca, Georgia

Pickett’s Mill, Georgia.  Near Allatoona church.

All engagements through the Atlanta campaign.

The defence of Savanna.

The Carolinas campaign. 12th Georgia Cavalry.

Served to the end of the war and was surrendered by General Joseph E. Johnston at Durham Station,  N.C. on April 26, 1865.

My father is Thomas Hershel Tibbitts, son of Marie’ Emily Crew, daughter of Arthur Harvey Crew, son of William Harvey Crew.

ALFRED GABRIEL DUKE

My Great, Great, Grandfather Alfred Duke was born May 24, 1850 and died May 13, 1920. He is buried in the Duke family Cemetery in Powder Springs.

He served as a Private in the Georgia Cavalry, 1st Regiment, Company G, Army of the Tennessee.  He had six brothers who also served. One who had been killed in action, one had died in a military hospital and another died in 1862 and is buried in a Confederate Cemetery in Petersburg VA. Alfred enlisted April 12, 1864, in Oxford Alabama.  He was surrendered on April 26, 1865, at  Durham Station N.C. with General Joseph E. Johnston and the Army of the Tennessee to Sherman.  He was paroled on May 3, 1865 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  He died in the Confederate Soldiers Home of Georgia in Atlanta. Of note, Alfred’s Grandfather, Georgia Norwood was a Revolutionary War Soldier.

JAMES F. DUKE.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle James Duke was born December 20, 1830. He enlisted on September 25, 1861. Served in the Georgia Infantry, 30th Regiment, Company G.

WILLIAM H. DUKE.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle William Duke was born Decembe 5, 1833 and died on August 18, 1862. He is buried in the Duke family Cemetery in Powder Springs with his brother Alfred.

William was a Private in the Georgia Infantry,  2nd Regiment, Company I. He died in Lookout Mountain Hospital,  Chattanooga Tennessee. Not sure but may have been the hospital that was in the cave at the base of the mountain. When building the Railroad tunnel, the cave entry was covered.

GEORGE W. DUKE.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle George Duke was born on July 3, 1836. He enlisted on August 23, 1861. He was a Private in the Georgia Infantry, 7th Regiment, Company D. Army of Noth VA.  He was discharged on December 25, 1861, Christmas day, at Richmond, Virginia. The same day his brother Noah was killed in action. They were in the same Company.  I assume he was discharged so he could accompany the body home.

JOHN L. DUKE.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle John Duke was born on  November 13, 1838. He enlisted as a Private in the Georgia Infantry, 1st Regiment,  Company L. Army of the Tennessee on February 27, 1862. On May 1st, 1862 he made 2nd Corporal and later Sargent.  He was surrendered on April  26, 1865 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

NOAH S. DUKE.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle  Noah Duke was born in 1841 and died on December 25, 1861. He was a Private in the Georgia Infantry, 7th Regiment, Company D. Army of Northern Virginia.  He died at Culpeper, Virginia. Culpeper was a hot bed throughout the war with over 160 battles and skirmishes.  I suppose that he was killed during on of the skirmishes.

THOMAS MARION DUKE. 

My Great, Great, Great Uncle Thomas Duke was born March 14, 1828 and died August 30, 1862. I  believe he was a Corporal in the Georgia Infantry, 27th Regiment, Company F. I  also believe he is buried in the Confederate Soldiers section of the Blandford Cemetery,  Petersburg City, VA.

My mother is Letty Jane Bone, daughter of Tom Watson Bone, son of Mamie Estelle Duke, daughter of William Harvey Duke, son of Alfred Gabriel Duke.

J. WYATT LEE.

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My Great, Great, Grandfather J. Wyatt Lee was born February 17, 1840 and died January 9, 1903. He is buried at High Shoals Baptist Church in North Paulding County.  He was a First Lieutenant in the Georgia Infantry, 22nd Regiment, Company C. He had one brother to serve.

JAMES HARTWELL LEE.

My Great, Great, Great Uncle James Lee was born August 11, 1845 and died November 22, 1898. He hung himself.  He is buried at High Shoals Baptist Church in North Paulding County Georgia.  He was a Private in the Georgia Cavalry, 22nd Regiment, Company C.

My father is Thomas Hershel Tibbitts, son of Marie’ Emily Crew, daughter of Annie Fairfield Lee, daughter of J. Wyatt Lee.

SEABON LENOIR WESTMORELAND.

My Great, Great, Great,  Grandfather Seabon Westmoreland was born  November 6, 1840 and died November 29, 1935. He served as a Private in the Georgia Infantry Batts, Smith Legion. He enlisted onAugust 16, 1862. He transferred to the Georgia Infantry , 60th Regiment, Company K.  In March 1863. He was detailed as a nurse because of Smallpox in Frank Ramsey Hospital,  Loudoun Tennessee, from April 15, 1863 to September 21, 1863. Seaborn had one brother to serve. Note, Seaborn had a Great Grandfather, John Westmoreland who was a Revolutionary war Soldier.

ROBERT DERRY WESTMORELAND.

My Great, Great, Great, Great Uncle Robert Westmoreland was born in 1839. He was a Private in the Georgia Infantry, 60th Regiment, Company C and H.

My mother is Letty Jane Bone, daughter of Polly Ruth Manley, daughter of Erwin Manley, son of  Alice Westmoreland, daughter of Seabon LeNoir Westmoreland.

 

YOUNG MARCUS ALEXANDER HANLAWAY DURHAM.

My Great, Great Grandfather Young Marcus Durham was born September 15, 1823 and died November 2, 1900. He is buried at the old High Shoals Cemetery in North Paulding County Georgia. He went by Young and was nick named “alphabet”. The story goes that each of his sisters got to give him a name.

I don’t know much if any about his service.  I had one peace of information that said he was a Confederate Soldier. I did find a Y.M. Durham that was in the Tennessee Cavalry, 5th Regiment, McKenzie’s. I am very unsure.

My father is Thomas Hershel Tibbitts, son of Marie’ Emily Crew, daughter of Arthur Harvey Crew, son of Emily E. Durham, daughter of Young Marcus Alexander Hanlaway Durham.

REV. WILLIAM R.D. TWILLEY

My Great, Great Grandfather Rev. William Twilley was born in 1825 and died in 1911. He is buried at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in North Paulding County, Georgia.  He was a Sergeant in the Georgia Cavalry, 9th  Battalion, Company F.

While William was away at war, his daughter Rosanna, age 11, was seriously burned when her dress caught fire. I  believe from stumbling into the fire place or just being to close.  She was unable to eat and survived on milk. One report states that when seeing the child’s condition, a Confederate Officer said that William’s services was need more at home taking care of his family and sent for him. I’m not sure if he made it home before she died or not. When Sherman marched through,  his Soldiers killed the cow and took only the liver. With the cow dead, there was no source of milk and Rosanna died of starvation.  In 1880, her mother Mary Townsend Twilley made a rope and hung herself with it. They are all buried at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in North Paulding County, Georgia. Where in 1880, the New Hope Baptist Association was formed and Rev. William Twilley was it’s first Moderator. Also of note, Mount Moriah was constituted and built in 1842 from logs. This Church was dismantled and used to make a bridge over Punkinvine Creek near Jones Mill, just below the Church.  My Grandfather Hollis Tibbitts and my father Thomas Hershel Tibbitts were Pastors of this Church and My brother Todd Tibbitts is currently Pastoring there.

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M father is Thomas Hershel Tibbitts, son of Joseph Hollis Tibbitts, son of France Victoria Bowman, daughter of Sarah Elizabeth Twilley, daughter of Rev. William R.D. Twilley.

JOSEPH ATTAWAY MANLEY.

My Great, Great, Great, Grandfather Joseph Manley was born in November 1819 and died in 1901. I  believe he served in the home Guard.  His brother, Jasper also served. Note, Joseph’s Grandfather was Daniel Manley and he too was a Revolutionary War Soldier.

JASPER MANLEY.

My Great, Great, Great, Great Uncle Jasper Manley served as a Georgia Sharpshooter, 4th BH. He was captured at Missionary Ridge November 25, 1863. Was sent to Rock Island POW camp and survied the war.

My mother is Letty Jane Bone, daughter of Polly Ruth Manley, daughter of Erwin Manley, son of James A. Manley, son of Joseph Attaway Manley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Builders” by Charles Elliott. It appeared in the February 1952 Edition of Outdoor Life magazine.

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The hunters made camp in a mountain glade and sheltered it from the weather with a emerald backdrop of massed hemlock and Rhododendron. They could hear the wind screaming through the leafless winter branches of the trees high on the ridge. Scattered flakes of snow whirled through the clearing and died in the heat of the campfire.

They were a discourage group of men. For two days they hunted the hillside and crouched near game trails through tense, frozen visual. They had flushed doe deer and found Bucks signs, but no one hand sighted a worthy trophy.

E.F. Corley threw a green oak log on the blaze. When the Cascade of spark subsided he kicked a stray firebrand into the flames and sat down again.

“Fellas”, he said, “I did some thinking out on that ridgetop today. Every year we come up here in the Blue Ridge for deer hunting. We could do the same thing a lot near home.”

“We could sure do as well,” one of the hundred snorted. “We ain’t got deer at home and we can’t find none here worth shooting.”

“What I’m figuring”, Corey said, “is stocking deer in the hills behind home. Our country in Georgia isn’t much different from this, only smaller and not so high.”

“You ain’t got a chance of starting deer in there”, the hunter said. “Town people and farmers too would shoot’em before they could be put out of a truck.”

“The six of us here,” Corley persistent, “represent a sizable chunk of land – maybe 12,000 acres. That’s a start. And there’s twenty times that much wild land in the corner of Polk, Bartow, Paulding counties. That’s enough to grow a fittin’ deer herd.”

“Even if everybody agreed, which they won’t, where you gonna get the deer?” Another hunter asked. “How’ll you protect’em? What authority-”

“I don’t know all the answer”, Corley admitted, “but I reckon findin’em out might be worth a try.”

The men around a campfire were sons of the soul. Most of them made their leaving from the Earth from cotton, milk, bottom lane corn, and livestock. Corley himself was a farmer, saw mill, trucker, contractor, and, to take up his unused hours on Sunday, an ordained Baptist minister. Two were dairymen who sold their milk in bulk to the nearest processing plant. For a week each year the men went hunting deer together.

That night the men laid out there new idea just as they might plan next season farming operation. They realize that there wasn’t a chance in starting a game refuge until all their neighbors and acquaintances favorite one. Half a dozen hunters could blast deer out of the woods faster than they could be put in. In many ways Paulding was then a typical backwoods County. The courts regarded cases brought in by the local game warden as annoying and frequently pigeonholed such complaints. Any man who wanted a fish dinner simply seined for it, and everyone knew that squirrels were fatter  and quail easier to kill weeks before this season open.

Quietly and without fuss, preacher Corley, Hollis Tibbitts, Gene Colbert, Bennie Jones, Joe Mathis, O. N. Black – the men around the campfire – begin to sell a program which has improved the status of their county more than anything since the Civil War ended. From an idea that started as a game project, it has blossomed into a county wide system of soil conservation, forest protection, rural electrification, and better schools and roads.

It didn’t come easy. Testimony to that may be found in the rough, forest clad hills that rise to 1,700 feet on both sides of state highway 61, North out of Dallas. For almost 80 years since the Yankees storms  around Kennesaw Mountain and turned southward to the Battle of Atlanta, the farms scattered widely through this rugged terrain remained about the same.

With the help of the county agent, Corley, Tibbitts, and Corlbert made up a map showing ownership of every tract of land in the area. The territory consisted of  150,000 acres lying roughly in the triangle between Dallas, Cedartown, in Cartersville. Then they went to work selling their plan to neighbors.

A hunting committee was organized, and it prepared an argument whereby each land owner who signed pledged himself to bar hunting of any kind on his property for 5 years. He also promised to help keep down forest fires and to help control predatory animals either by his own efforts or through the Paulding County Conservation Club, in which he automatically became a non-dues-paying member.

The committee made several trips to surrounding towns, to the State Capitol at Atlanta, and even crossed the line into Alabama to get signatures. Non-resident owners sign without hesitation, for it ment protection of property some of them had hadn’t seen in years but a few farmers close to home couldn’t see any sense in “turning good laying back to the varmints.”

“What’ll I do for a mess of squirrels in Hickory Nut cutting time if I agree not to go busting no cap for five years?” When asked.

“If one man shoots,” Corley argued, “everybody’ll want to, and some aren’t as honest as you. It’s only a couple of miles from your place across the highway into the Hickory Nut bottoms on the other side. You can get your squirrels the there.”

Nevertheless ,this farmer didn’t put his +name to the document into the members of his parish corners him in the the church Grove for four straight Sundays in a row and kidded him into it.

Two or three signatures made their marks willingly but with glints in their eyes as they visualize the prospect of a private hunting area at their back door. Canvassers made mental note of this. A local businessman who owns a small forest track on the edge of the preserve read the agreement carefully and send it with a big smile. “First time I ever put my name to something that I didn’t cost me money,” he said.

The businessman was only partly correct. Getting folks to sign the pack, which took more than a year of Education, and checking, and pressure was only the first step in the long range program. The second step call for raising money for the initial stocking program. The hunting partners made a list of how much each member could afford to donate, and then issued invitations to that infallible southern crowd-collecting affair, a barbecue with Brunswick stew and m(meat cooked over Hickory coals.

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At that first “formal” meeting of the Paulding County Conservation club, Corey outline the whole plan. It wasn’t new by then. For more than a year it has been discussed and cursed around those at Crossroads, Country stores, in church groves, and across plowstocks. But Corley went over it again, and ended by donating $200 to be used for the stocking program. When each man present had made his pledge, the treasure added up the subscription. The total came to $1,400, some $400 more than the committee anticipated.

” We hadn’t figured on spending but $1,000 for dear”, the preacher said. “We got too much money for that”.

.”Them creeks are mighty cold,  maybe they’ll take trout, ” Another suggested.

We’ll need something for fire protection, ” a farmer cautuoned.  “We can put out the fires ourselves if we can find out when they start and where they are.

The committee gathered the newly hatched proposal under its wing and went back to work.  The telephone line stopped at Dallas City limits,  so the committee applied for an expansion of phone service and then signed up potential subscribers.  Committee members spent hours away from home during the hot summer months,  taking the temperature of the streams to determine whether the water was cold enough to support mountain trout.  They talked with the county agent and the county commissioner about setting up funds to provide for forest protection. The agent was willing.  The commissioner had only one brief comment: “Costs too much”.

At one time or another, uncontrolled fires had burned every acre of woods thereaout. Why waste money and manpower to stop them now? Trees grew in spite of annual burns. It would be an extravagant use of taxpayer’s money. That was that. But it didn’t stop the committee. The group inquired into the cost of pumps, axes, shovels, hoes, and other fire-fighting equipment which could be keep handy at strategic points.

Laying the groundwork for good fishing and hunting near home took the better part of two years. Now the club members were ready for the first real test – getting the state to help . A committee of four called on the State Game and Fish Commission in Atlanta and laid the club’s plans before it.

“We got the money and the land,” Corley explained. “All we want is information on how to legally set up a refuge, and where we can buy a stock of deer”.

“How do you propose to protect it?” the commission director asked.

“We got that figured out,” a committee member put in. “If you’ll deputize five or six of our members as game wardens they’ll do the job with help from your local officer.”

The project was approved at the next game-commission meeting. Though a little skeptical that this was on the up and up, or could succeed in a county where game protection had long been a joke, the commission located a herd of twenty deer for sale on a private estate in South Carolina.

The price was $1,500. Corley got them for $1,000. In February, 1944, deer went bounding into the hills of northwest Paulding County for the first time in more than half a century.

Before fall that same year 100 wild-turkey eggs were purchased from an Eastern game breeder, hatched at the state quail farm with unsatisfactory results, and reared to stocking size with still unsatisfactory results at a farm on the edge of the project. Against the recommendation of the game technicians, the club purchased fifty half-domesticated turkey hens and gobblers and turned them out with the wild poults.

That fall club members also hauled 20,000 fingerling rainbow trout from the Summerville hatchery and released them in the headwaters of the creeks rising on the project. The club applied to the State Department of Forestry for a county-wide fire-protection system, and was promised assistance if the county commissioner would agree to co-operate financially. From then on the commissioner couldn’t walk down the street without being pestered by his constituents for the forest-fire unit and for better roads to make the project more accessible to those engaged in protecting its trees and game. He never did give in but his successor was won over.

Thus the refuge, so carefully nurtured thought its think and theory stages, at last became a reality. Corley and his associates had thought that when thy reached this point most of the work would be  behind them. Instead their headaches and heartbreaks had just begun.

One buck in their first truckload of deer suddenly turned into a man hunter. Raised in captivity and unafraid of humans, he developed a propensity, as big bucks sometimes do, for stalking men and nudging them in the seat of the pants with his antlers.

He hooked a railroad worker who was walking down the side of a steep embankment, and then attacked an old man who was hoeing his garden. A clamor went up for his head. Who ever heard of wild animals being allowed to run loose and hurt people/ So the first hunt of the project was organized, but not for game. Men with specially loaded shotgun shells peppered the offending buck with peas and rock salt and drove him back into the woods.

Then the poacher problem came up. The violators were not town people or nonresidents, but several natives who lived within the boundaries of the preserve and who had signed the agreement.

The worst offender, from all reports, had just added deer slaying to his other crimes. He made bootleg whisky and to help hide the smoke from his still, set forest fires. He also stole automobiles, stripped them, and sold all non-traceable parts.

The committee decided that this character was beyond reform, and that the only way to get rid of him was to buy him out. With the sheriff and state patrol on his trail, he was persuaded to sell his place and move away.

The other known poachers had no bad habits other than stealing game occasionally. As an experiment, the club hired some of these men and assigned them to keep down game-law violations and control predators.

Typical of these good-natured hill men was on who raised only enough crops to feed his hogs, chickens, mule, and family. This didn’t take too many weeks out of his year. He spent the rest of his time ranging the slopes and ridges with his single-barreled shotgun. He took a heavy toll of wild creatures within a ten-mile radius of his home. Corley and Tibbitts went to see him in September. They found him barefoot on the steps of his weathered house.

“We’re looking for deer sign,” Corley said.  “Seen any of he bucks we turned loose over in the valley?”

“Some,” he admitted. “One’s been in the pea patch, an’ I seen several hoof tracks where they crossed the ridge.” He led the two farmers over a narrow mountain trail to show them the tracks in the next gap.

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll get bitten by a rattler, going around like that with no shoes on?” Tibbitts asked.

“Been doing it fifty year, I reckon,” the hill man said, “an’ ain’t never been bit but twicet.”

He agreed to take the job as deputy warden and protect his side of the refuge from hunters. The club bought him some steel traps and set him up in the fur and varmint business. He took his job seriously from the beginning. He visited neighbors with whom he had hunted in the past years and explained his new status. They agreed to keep their guns and dogs off the preserve.

Other trappers scattered around the preserve warred on the wildcats, skunks, opossums, and foxes which had played hob with the attempt to restock turkeys.

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Meantime the state game officials, realizing that the club’s venture might succed, let a helping hand. Charles Pierle, co-ordinator of Pittman- Robertson projects sponsored jointly by the state and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, arranged to have a truckload of big Wisconsin white-tails released in the mountains. Two additional loads of surplus deer from Texas were turned loose in the bottomlands of Raccoon and Peggymore Creeks, where the larger northern deer were not ranging.

This herd immediately started to feed on a hay bottom belonging to the brothers Harvey and Bob Crews. When they casually mentioned this fact to Hollis Tibbitts, he brought it up at a meeting and was instructed to use club funds to pay for any damage done. The Crews boys allowed that they’d rather have the deer than the hay, but the club paid them anyway for an estimated two tons of feed.

As for the 20,000 rainbow trout, most disappeared. No on knew why. It may have been a change in water, or maybe the fish traveled downstream to look for larger pools, only to be trapped the next summer by the warm, muddy rain water that flowed off the fields. After a second stocking also failed, Corley and his associates thought up another idea.

Bennie Jones furnished the land and ten club members pledged the money to build a fifty-acre lake at the head of a tributary flowing into Peggymore Creek. Wartime lack of labor and materials put a halt to the plan, but Bennie later built the lake himself.

Corley started the construction of a 100-acre lake on a creek immediately below. This set off a chain reaction that within two years saw a dozen manmade lakes thereabouts. Corley’s lake, built out of concrete and earth, was completed and stocked last fall-with largemouth bass, smallmouths, and bluegills – and will be ready for fishing in another year.

But the club’s main interest centered around the deer. A total of 107 animals were stocked on the rugged mountain and in a six-year period. The herd was seriously threatened a couple of years ago when hunters slipped in from neighboring towns and for a month took pot shots at any animals they saw from the roadside between Remus and Beatty Switch. Deputy game wardens found two dozen cripples that had gone into the woods to die. The club increased the number of men assigned to guard the area, and went to see the judge. Word got around that the court was prepared to jail anyone caught with a loaded rifle on the refuge. The malicious practice soon stopped.

The club plans to hold its first buck hunt next fall, when perhaps a dozen bucks-mostly those that have been hanging around the farms and nipping at the crops – will be harvested. The area will be open to the pubic, with shooting by permit only, and it’s hoped that the meat will be divvied up so that all hunters can have a taste of venison. Meantime, club members estimate that their original stock of 107 deer has increased to perhaps 600 animals, spreading from east of Cartersville clear across the Alabama line.

The club has big plans for the future. More landowners have requested admission. Now that the predatory animals and stray dogs are at an all-time low, the gobbler committee is again looking around for a stock of wild turkeys.

And in the meanwhile the quail – which haven’t been shot since the preserve was set up – are doing fine. Men have jumped coveys all over the place, and there should be some swell hunting when the lid goes off.

The spirit has spread into other community affairs. When the district schoolhouse burned down, the club members got local suppliers to sell them construction materials at cost, then pitched in and erected a new building with their own hands. It cost around $ 15,000 and is valued at $75,000.

Paulding County now has complete forest-fire protection – trucks, jeeps, radios, and fire-fighting equipment. The unit co-operates  with  neighboring setups when fires break out anywhere in that part of the state.

“You can hardly strike a match to light your pipe but a fire truck skids to a stop behind you and a patrolman jumps out with a hose in his hand,” Corley says.

The roads around the area and one that runs through it have been improved and made part of the county highway system. The area got R.EA. electric power in 1948 to improve living conditions on the farms, and the telephone company expects to service the whole north end of the county within the next few months.

Corley and his associates are planning big thins ahead. Their community is fired with the spirit of progress, and its list of achievements grows month by month. But most important to the sportsmen who sat around the campfire on that cold winter night in the mountains, big-game hunting has now been brought to their very back doors.

The conservation idea is so firmly implanted in the minds of their neighbors that it will be a long time before those parts will again be as barren of game and fish as they were only seven short years ago.

The End.

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