Thursday, September 23, 2004


I have solved part of the mystery regarding the mysterious stone slab that's in my backyard (see post 09/19/04) thanks to a local historian who has used a "gravestone kit" on the faded lettering and done quite a bit of research.

The names on the stone are JAMES WILSON, and WALKER & MARY WILSON. The top name is the son, the names below it are of the parents : WALKER & MARY WILSON.

Walker came to Kentucky from Virginia in 1802 with his mother Elizabeth Wilson and his brothers, Jeremiah, Thomas, John B. and James, and his two sisters Martha and Sally. Elizabeth's husband, James, died in Virginia and his will directed that 1,000 acres of land from a military warrant be purchased by the executors of his estate.

Walker married Mary Yancey (from Barren Co., KY) on 27 April 1826 in Barren Co.(KY.). His brother, John B., witnessed the marriage. (Source: Barren Co. Marriage License transcripts by Martha Reneau)

I am assuming, at this point, that James is a young son of Walker and Mary (named for his deceased father). The DEATH YEAR on the stone is 1844. Since census records prior to 1850 do not list each individual in the household, I have no way of knowing James' birth date. It appears to be 182? but is still unclear.

Mary Wilson was listed in the 1860 census in Hart Co.(KY.) living with her daughter and son-in-law, Martha and John M. White, however, I do not find her listed in the 1870 census so I am assuming she died before 1870. I have searched all of the cemeteries records and do not find a burial site for Walker or Mary....could they be in my backyard???

I believe that James is buried in the backyard since the old homestead was at that location, according to the Edwards book.

If all of this is true, where I'm living now could very well be the site of one of the earliest settlements in this town.

As I continue this "investigation", I will let you know if I find any new information.

My eternal Thanks to Judy Lawler for all her help with this!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

"The AUTUMN Comic Book Blog"

Two Comic Blogs in the same month? Outrageous, you say? Well, I guess I can get away with it this time since I'm calling this my Autumn Comic Blog. Besides, I got in and read some new books and have a few comments I'd like to make regarding them.

Both are DC Comics titles: DC Comics Presents A Tribute to Julie Schwartz, and, the new series of Plastic Man, by Kyle Baker.

The DCCPATTJS appealed to me because I grew up during the silver-age era and naturally seeing something along that line would be worth my taking a gander at. The PM interest is due this time mainly because of Johnny Bacardi's insistence that it's a great book.

But, the DC Presents are first. There's 8 seperate issues in this Tribute to Julius Schwartz series, each of them numbered as #1. They include(in alphabetical order): The Atom, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Justice League of America, Mystery In Space & Superman.

Each of these is based, at least loosely, upon a silver-age comic of that particular title: Batman #183, The Atom #10, The Flash #163, Green Lantern #31, Hawkman #6, Justice League of America #53, Mystery In Space (with "Adam Strange") #82, & Superman #264. Okay, well, the Superman actually is NOT a silver-age comic, but rather a bronze one. The cover price had already gotten to be twenty cents by then. In fact, I thought there were probably better issues of that title to use, but...anyway---

I think the number one thing about a tribute is...the guy to whom the tribute's FOR can't appreciate it, since Julius Schwartz died earlier this year. Had they really wanted to make this a tribute to him, they'd all gotten together somewhere in the secret confines of the DC offices and planned this all as a surprize for him during his lifetime.

It's not that these issues aren't "good"; they're sort of a walk down the memory lane, but the stories themselves aren't written in a real silver-age style. In fact, each issue makes Mr. Schwartz a star in the story. Once again, that'd be fine...IF Julius Schwartz was alive to read these.

So, what is good about this series? Well, for all of the Marvel Zombies out there I suppose it either shows them the genius behind what made the DC silver-age so memorable, or, "who was the blame" for all the silliness sometimes that went on in the titles. For myself, I LOVE silver-age DC stories and I'm much appreciative that such a man as Julius Schwartz existed, as we wouldn't have the DC Universe as we know it today had it not been for him; perhaps not even a DC Comics at all. We wouldn't have had The Flash, or Green Lantern, or The Justice League, or a ton of other great reading that now exists in the the history of comic books.

Other parts of this series that I liked were the new covers, along with a repro of the original cover inside the book, just for comparison sake. It was real nice to see such greats as Alex Ross, Brian Bolland, Adam Hughes and others do their recreations of classic comic book cover artwork. But whether this set would be worth spending the $20.00 to obtain it? Well, I'm not here to suggest that either way, but simply to review.

Okay. Now Plastic man. How can I not like this title? The mere mention of the name Kyle Baker makes me want to see the book just from the track record of his previous good work.

Don't expect this new series to be anything like any other series the character has had before. It's not Jack Cole, it's not Ramona Fradon, or like the first issue of the 60's series drawn by Gil Kane or issues thereafter, or the previous series by Phil Foglio. Kyle Baker's style is truely unique. It's a bit quirky to many, but that's just the way his work is. It's humorous; I wouldn't say "slap-your-knee-funny", but it's entertaining. It's drawn in more of a trade paperback style rather than the traditional comic book format. The colors are bright and each panel stands out.

And it's fairly true to his original origin, which is one thing in today's lack of continuity many comic books seem to have, that I prefer. Kyle Baker didn't re-create the character in his own image; he has simply enhanced it. Kyle's involved in every issue, except for #7 which is by Scott Morse, and that's an enjoyable issue as well. Baker may have had some "assists" in issues after #6; style's not quite the same in 8 or 9.

This series will cost you more to get up-to-date with issue #9 than trying to pick up the beforehand mentioned Schwartz tribute, not just because there's an extra issue, but because the price is .45 higher per book. (Unless you're like me who won both sets off on on line auctions for less than twenty bucks).

Whether I would continue to purchase future issues of either of these titles? Well, the point's sorta mute with the Julie Schwartz tribute, I mean, that's all there is of that set. If they did future issues, however, I more than likely would not buy any more of them.

But Plastic Man? Yeah..."maybe". As long as Kyle Baker continues his work on the title with the excellance he's done thus far, I probably will.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

"The Back Yard Slab"

Out in my backyard, is this stone slab. It is flat to the ground, made of probably limestone, and is six ft. long by approximately 3 1/2 ft. wide. I had noticed it since the first day I moved into this house back 4 years or more ago, and when I asked about it, the owners said it was part of the foundation on which once sat a house trailer. So, I never really thought much about it... at first.

But about a week after I moved in I needed to mow the back yard, and of course, had to mow around the edges of this slab. It was then that I noticed there was an inscription carved on it. Looking closely, and although it was pretty weathered, I could make out letters of a name and partial dates, as well as the words: born, and died. So it was then that I first discovered that this slab was not just some piece of stone, but actually a marker of some sort. It was either a memorial, or, a grave site!

Intrigued that it might actually be a burial site on my property, the first thing I did was inquire from the people who sold me the house. They were totally clueless. It seems that in the several years they'd lived there, they'd never given it much thought and didn't have the slightest idea as to "whom" it might be if indeed someone was buried in the back yard. So, my next step was to ask the owner of the local bookstore because the house once belonged to his grandmother. Perhaps he had some answers. But once again, I came up empty. He recalled playing in that backyard as a child, and remembered seeing the slab, but his grandmother never told him whose names were carved upon it, and with her being dead several years now, my questions were still coming up unanswered.

This has only made me more and more curious about this ingraved slab.

So here this week I got out in the back yard at the slab site and took a garden hoe and cleared all the grass off the top of it where it had taken seed. I used weed killers around it to keep the edges cleared off, swept and scrubbed it with cleaners, hosed it off and tried to inspect it further. The first thing I noticed since my original inspection is that the names seem fainter than I'd originally seen them. Plus, it seems that the slab has now cracked all the way across dead center. But the biggest discovery this time is that I've now made out two seperate names ingraved upon it! The names "appear" to be:

William (something) Wilson, AND Willis (something) Wilson. So, what do we have here? Brothers perhaps? And the death date seems to be 1941 or or '42, which leads me to believe they may have both died during World War II and this is, instead of a grave, a memorial to them.

Oddly, as I sat there, I began to get a headache. The same type of headaches I've occasionally gotten inside the house. Is there paranormal activity going on here? I don't know; probably just a coincidence. But I'm determined to learn all I can about this mystifying slab of stone now!

I'm making inquiries through the local historic organizations and county seat to see if I can find any birth or death records regarding the names associated with the death date.

I'll keep this updated as I discover what I can.


Saturday, September 04, 2004

Monthly COMIC BOOK Blog:

SWAMP THING was always one of my favorite of the DC Comics' characters, and I've pretty much followed all of his various app.'s over the years, from his intro in House of Secrets 92, to his first title, misc. guest-app.'s, specials, his movies and tv stuff (as bad as that was), Saga of...(the second series) and the 3rd. Series which featured his & Abby's "child", Tefe.

Not to say I've read EVERY issue of all of these series as I haven't read anything past #125 of the second series,or have I picked up any of the new 4th. series but occasionally I'll go back and buy several issues in a lot and try to catch up a bit on what went on with this continuous storyline of the woods' elemental.

So anyway, recently I bought a set of #'s 114 thru #125, which is a pretty complete story arch. It starts out in #114 with a guest app. by our favorite non-mystic, John Constantine("Hellblazer") visiting the Swamp Thing and Abby at their home in The Bayou of Louisiana to warn the couple that they and their child may be in danger. Seems that a great ancestor of Constantine's who was a blood-thirsty pirate was getting ready to raise a bit o'havok.
This storyline is carried over into #115, where they defeat this evil spirit and his legions, of course, with a little help from Constantine and all ends well, and the issue is rounded out with a nice little tale about how the Cajuns celebrate Christmas.

#116 is a complete story in itself about a child who finds a tuber from one of Swamp Thing's discarded husks, plants it, and it becomes this fantastic playhouse composed of vegetation. The child has an abusive father who ran out on the family only to return some time later feigning he'd got religion and that all was going to be "one big happy family" again. But,being an alcoholic, this doesn't last long and he gets angry and threatens to beat the boy. The kid runs to his "playhouse", which is huge by now, with the father in pursuit. Hesitantly, the man chases the boy into it as well only to finally get killed by falling into a vat of what was the digestive juices of this creation, and the kid and his mom finally move out of The Bayou. Real nice art in this issue by Shawn McManus.

#117 has Swamp Thing and his family and some friends all taking a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras , where his otherwise odd app. blends in well with the partying crowds. Not a lot happens in this issue except we get a bit of Mardi Gras history, but the twist is that ST follows a jester in the crowd who turns out to be the forrest god, Pan.

It starts picking up again with #118 when Tefe deliberately kills a kitten which scratches her after she pulls its tail. Well, you can very well imagine that ST & Abby are pretty worried about this, since Tefe's a powerful entity already, harnessing powers of elemental plants AND animals, so Swamp Thing seeks advice from The Parliament of Elder Wood Elementals as to what he should do in this case. They dismiss him after a bit and tell him that they'll ponder the situation. Finally an answer is decided. One of The Parliament would come to help raise and teach Tefe to responcibility of her powers. It's in this issue we first see just a glimpse of a character that becomes a stable in this title, Lady Jane( but only in shadows). This issue also contains a cute cameo of Sugar & Spike, plus the first app. of an avenging ghost spirit which appears again in the following issue.

In #119, Tefe is kidnapped by a deranged child abuser who has kept his dead parent's bodies around in a trunk (he killed them, of course because they abused him as a child). When the child disappears, Swamp Thing & Abby call the local authorities who pretty much beg Swamp Thing NOT to do HIS sort of judgement to this guy, but let them handle it. They find the guy, but neither the police OR ST stop him as much as a creature composed of the bodies of the several victims of this madman, which catches up to him and devours him in the end, (after which the creature dissolves back into the various dead bodies). It's at the end of this tale that we finally see the first app. of Lady Jane.

In this whole run, #120 is the best of them with the first full app. and origin of LADY JANE. After she explains to ST & Abby she's been sent by The Parliament to help raise Tefe, Abby's not too pleased about the whole situation in the least, and protests. It is then that LJ touches Abby's mind with her own telepathically and relates how she became a woods elemental.

Her origin began in 1851 in the county of South Yorkshire, England, and her name was Alicia Huston. As a young woman she married a man a bit older than she who had a good position at a bank, but due to heavy drinking and other questionable things, loses his job and goes bankrupt, which also causes the couple to lose their house, and they are forced to live the lowest of existences at that time, in the slums of Sheffield. She has children along the way, and her husband takes a job at a steel mill, 7 days a week. After the birth of his son, he celebrates too much that evening, and the next day is accidently killed in a factory accident. This leaves Alicia to fend for herself and her child by working long hours in a textile factory, doing pretty much slave labor. The boss there takes a shine to her and gives her a "better" job as his secretary, which also involves various sexual acts she must endure by him, but she does whatever it takes to survive.

Then, a good friend of hers also dies in an accident there in the factory where SHE works. She morns as her friend's body is unceremoniously carted away, wondering what bad thing could possibly happen next...when it does indeed. Her apartment building is on fire and her children are there! She unhesitantly dives into the flames, only to bring out her dead offspring and herself on fire, and dives into the river. And dies. Well, at least a mortal death, as soon, such as Swamp Thing himself was reborn of fire, so is she into a woods elemental. She then returns to the factory and extracts revenge upon his ex-boss forcing him to perish, caught up in one of the textile machines just as did her dead friend.

Then the mind-link is broken with Abby, and she now has the whole story and realizes that Lady Jane is indeed a true help-mate, and they become friends.

In #121, Lady Jane becomes a regularly appearing character, and this issue also introduces us to Connie Sunderland who is the daughter of one of ST's old (now dead) enemies. Connie has taken over her father's business and wants to build a toxic waste dump in ST's "back yard". A group of activists(called Monkey-Wrenchers,which are also introduced in this issue) try to stop this and get in trouble, and ST comes to their rescue.
This, naturally, doesn't set well with Connie especially since ST was her father's enemy, and thru this and the following issues, #'s 122 & #123, she sends an assassin called The Needleman to take out the opposition. ST stops him but before he can turn him over to the authorities, the assassin takes his own life. Other aspects of this particular storyline revolve around racism and various sexual prejudices.
#121 also sports a couple of very nice one page pin-ups by the likes of Charles Vess and Art Adams.

In #124, natives of Central America do ancient rituals to summon ST, thinking him to be their ancient god of the corn. And, indeed, when ST arrives at this destination, his appearance changes to resemble that of the ancient god. Seems that the Sunderland Corporation had done a bit of experimentation on their crops which led to birth deformities and the destruction of the native's crops and now the corporation wanted to kill all of them off to cover it up. This issue has some pretty dramatic scenes, especially when ST actually BECOMES this gigantic ancient corn god at the end of the tale.

Finally, #125 wraps up this story arch with it being the 20th. Anniversary Issue of ST's first app. in HOS 92. The story is about ST's arch-enemy Arcane escaping Hell and possessing Tefe's body. It all ends well with Arcane finally being defeated and Tefe made safe once more, but only thru the help of both the spirit of a dead Cajun named Ya-Ya and the "angel", The Phantom Stranger. Some scenes this issue are right outta The Exorcist when Tefe becomes possessed.

The scripts in these issues were written by the likes of Nancy A. Collins(Issues 114,115,117-125) and one issue by Dick Foreman (#116), with artwork by Tom Mandrake(114-115), Shawn McManus(#116, as stated before),Jan Duursema(#117) and, Scot Eaton (#'s 118 thru 125).

And VERY ENJOYABLE run indeed! I wanna read some more!