Bits of Stone
Boy who grew up in Blount County makes American History cover
Sam Houston, a national hero who spent his teenage years in Blount County, is featured on the cover of the February 2013 issue of American History magazine.
A Houston portrait fills about two-thirds of the cover. It is accompanied by the question in large type: “Why can’t we find more leaders like Sam Houston?”
Small type on the cover indicating contents includes George Armstrong Custer, Marilyn Monroe, William Seward, FDR, Emily Dickinson, John Quincy Adams, Peary’s push to the North Pole and rocket ships of the 1850s. However, the meat of the issue is about Houston, including an excellent page of nine facial photographs dating from 1826 to 1860.
A subhead on the main story reads: “Honest, witty, fearless, non-partisan, humble, wise, self-sufficient and bold — why are politicians like Houston so rare?”
The article tells the story of the 70-foot high statue of Houston just outside of Huntsville, Texas, apparently the highest statue of any American.
Included are three important quotes from Houston:
“I would give no thought of what the world might say of me if I could only transmit to posterity the reputation of an honest man.” — Feb. 16, 1844, from a letter to Andrew Jackson.
“I am aware that in presenting myself as the advocate of the Indians and their rights, I shall claim but little sympathy from the community at large, and I shall stand very much alone.” — Feb. 14, 1854, from a speech to the U.S. Senate.
“Preserve Union and you preserve liberty. They are one and the same, indivisible and perfect.” July 9, 1859, from a speech delivered in Nacogdoches, Texas.
The subheads throughout the article offer these highlights about Houston:
• Wasn’t afraid of the unknown.
• Was brave yet witty.
• Suffered for love.
• Risked his life for freedom.
• Turned his enemies into friends.
• Rose above partisan politics.
• Didn’t abuse power.
His equivalent today would be equally as outstanding. It is interesting reading each area resident should enjoy and absorb.
Lest a few newcomers aren’t aware, the restored one-room log cabin where Sam Houston taught school here as a teenager is a state-owned facility open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The cabin and adjacent museum with interesting information about Houston is on Sam Houston School Road which runs from a traffic light on Old Knoxville Highway (East Broadway) to Wildwood Road.
Jeff Wells serving in key post in Tennessee state parks
A Maryville resident for several years while head of the Fort Loudoun State Park, Jeff Wells joined the current administration as State Parks Director of Interpretive Programs and Education.
Those who had an opportunity to deal with Jeff and his operation of Fort Loudoun were impressed with his efficient, businesslike operation of Fort Loudoun. He is pictured in the current issue of the Tennessee Conservationist magazine with Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill, and State Parks Chief Historian Ward Weems.
The photograph was made when the four visited the state parks’ 75th anniversary traveling exhibit in Sevierville. As part of the exhibit, Wells was dressed in an 1940s park superintendent attire.
The Wells moved nearer his new job but their son remained here to complete school and their daughter is a law student at UT.
New National Landmark honors first U.S. Admiral David Farragut
Within the last few days, the National Park Service designated 27 new National Landmarks, including one marking the grave site of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut (July 5, 1801-Aug. 14, 1870) in New York City.
Born just across the Tennessee River in the present site of the town of Farragut in Knox County, he was the son of Jorge Antonio Farragut-Mesquida, a Spaniard from the island of Minorca. Admiral Farragut is universally recognized as one of the most accomplished officers in American naval history, as well as one of the finest naval commanders who fought for either side during the Civil War.
On April 28 of this year, the state of Tennessee erected a Civil War Trail marker at the site of his birth in Knox County.
Farragut, the first American admiral, is best remembered for his remarks while leading a raid on Mobile Bay during the Civil War. He is quoted as saying, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” At that time floating sea mines, set to explode on contact, were known as torpedoes.
Notes of interest:
• Based on an article in National Geographic Traveler, the cleanest air on our planet may be Cape Grim on the northwest tip of the 26,400 square-mile island of Tasmania. Located south of Australia, it is that nation’s southernmost state.
Cape Grim claims to have the world’s cleanest air and water. Its atmosphere measures 200 particles per cubic centimeter of air versus tens of thousands in major cities.
• The recent issue of Popular Science included a number of interesting tidbits.
One is a new pill that will soon reach the market. It helps doctors and family know that their loved ones have taken their medicine. World Health Organization indicates patients fail to take their medicine half of the time.
Two new pilotless K-Max chopper planes can haul 6,000 pounds up to 250 miles avoiding roadside bombs and other IEDs. Since last December, they have hauled more than 2 million pounds in Afghanistan.
The fastest-selling game in the history of the PlayStation Network has no sniper rifles, no speeding cars, and not a single word of dialogue. The journey is a piece of interactive art. It is a pilgrimage through open desert and a ruined city toward a mountaintop. Players start alone and encounter other wanderers — fellow pilgrims logged into the network — and help lead one another to the destination.
An open-heart alternative won the 25th Annual Best of What’s New Award. Annually about 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from aortic valve stenosis, a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve that can lead to a heart attack. In severe cases, doctors replace the valve but many are too frail to undergo the surgery and die within two years. The $30,000 device, the Sapien Transcatheter Heart Valve, can be used on patients unable to withstand normal surgery.
Some of our most notable scientific accomplishments are taken for granted. For more than seven years, a team headed by Adam Stelzner worked on landing a mission on Mars without crashing the rover into the surface. When NASA decided on a heavier load for Curiosity, the most recent landing, it agreed to consider the device which lowered Curiosity through the Martian atmosphere and on to the surface in one piece. It worked!
Dean Stone is editor of The Daily Times.