Sunday, September 17, 2017

Nannie Jumps

The Richmond Daily Dispatch of September 29th, 1870 brings the following story. The Nannie McCallum in the story married Russell County Confederate solder Robert T. McElyea and lived in Robeson County, North Carolina. However, the historical record is confusing, McCallum married McElyea in 1867 in North Carolina and McElyea was apparently living in North Carolina by 1865.

"From Russell County - Explosion of Kerosene Lamps - Thrilling Scene - Narrow Escapes from Death

{Special Correspondence of the Index.}

September 24, 1870.

Messrs. Editors: My long silence has been occasioned for the want of some local topic to speak of, and that was furnished last night in the way of a kerosene explosion.

Miss Nannie McCallum, principal of the Female Academy at this place, proposed giving, with the assistance of her scholars, a number of brilliant tableaux in the large public hall situated in the second story of the court-house building. The entrance to this room is from the court-room below, through two long, winding stairways enclosed by walls on either side.

Nearly every man, woman, and child in our little town, with a large number of persons from the adjacent country, had seated themselves in this spacious room - supposed to be about three hundred in all. Everything was going on as merry as a marriage belle, and several scenes had been exhibited to the great delight of the audience, when an awkward attempt on the part of one of the managers to draw the curtain overturned a large lamp, used as a foot-light, which at once took fire; one of the musicians, in attempting to move a second lamp broke that, and in an instant the flames leaped from floor to ceiling, the curtains and scenery took fire, and the whole end of the room seemed to be in one solid sheet of fire. The audience, with few exceptions, sprang to their feet, men hallooing, women screaming, and children crying, broke pell mell for the doors leading down the narrow stairways, in which many were badly bruised and trampled, though none fatally, as yet heard of. Miss McCallum being upon the stage at the time, with the fire between her and the door leaped from a back window to the ground, a distance of twenty-five feet. When found she was insensible, and is said to be seriously hurt from her fall, or leap, as you may call it. Some half dozen men now engaged the fire, and, by rolling up the large carpets over the flames, succeeded in extinguishing it, and thus saved to the county its costly and beautiful seat of justice.

How so many men, women, and children, in pell-mell order, passed down the narrow stairways and so few seriously hurt, is the wonder of all.

Many laughable and ludicrous scenes occurred during the excitement, which, but for the want of space, would be given.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

World War I Letters of Russell County, November 22, 1918

The following letter originally appeared in the November 22nd, 1918 issue of the Lebanon News.

"Somewhere in France, Oct. 20.

Dear Ellie:

Will answer your letter received some days ago, was real glad to hear from you. This leaves me well and getting along fine.

We are back for a rest now, have been back four days. We were up in the drive for sixteen days, the one which started on the 25th of September. We drove "Jerry" back about ten miles, captured lots of prisoners, several large guns, amunition and material.

Say, on the night of Sept 25th, (I think) the Allies put over the greatest barrage of the war, there must have been over ten thousand guns firing at one time. We didn't feel like waiting for the word to "GO OVER" the top.

This was the place where the French fought so hard in 1914-15. But it didn't take us long to do the job and drive them back ten miles, and they are still going I don't know how far or where they will stop.

Believe me, they had some good dug-outs on this front, I think they were prepared to stay there all winter.

But there is nothing doing when Uncle Sam's boys get after them, they run just like rabbits. Well, I guess you have read all about this big drive in the papers by now.

Since I landed in France I think I have traveled almost all over it. Have been through Paris but was on the train and didn't get to see very much of the city. We were up on the British front for a while when we first came over here, up close to the Channel. We could look over and see Dover, England, alright on a clear day. We were up there with the New Zealand boys, we liked them fine.

Say, I will have lots to tell you when I come home, of how the French people live and their kind of buildings and how they farm, and also many war tales. I have had several letters from Walter Price, get lots of mail from home. We are always so glad to receive them. It does us good to know you people are doing your bits back home, JUST KEEP IT UP, and we will all soon be home to stay. I think from the way it looks over here we will eat our Thanksgiving dinner in PEACE. We have the Huns going and we are not going to let them [...] side of [...]. That is the way we feel about it over here.

We sure do thank the red Cross for what they are doing for the soldier boys, and the Y. M. C. A., they keep all the cigaretts and writing paper we want, beside we can buy most anything we need. We have plenty to eat - for supper I had steak and gravy, butter, syrup, rice pudding and coffee, and a box of cigarrettes and matches on the side. Another thing which is plentiful is rain and mud, it rains about every other day over here, and the climate is much colder than at home. Say, you ought to be over here and see the flying machines. I have seen as many as two hundred and fifty in the air at one time. They drop newspapers in the front lines to us when we were up. It is a great sight to watch air battles. Believe me, they sure can do dirty work. Well I think all the Russell county boys have come out alright, only one or two wounded in the big drive.

Say, you should see old Conley Buttery. I'll bet he weights 180 or 200 pounds. All the boys are looking good.

The hardest fight we have over here is with the German "COOTIES," you can see the boys sitting around anywhere fighting them.

Where is Garland Fleenor now? and has he been drafted? I don't guess there are many boys left at home now.

I'm having some time trying to write this letter by candle light so guess will have to close. Give my best regards to all inquiring friends and tell them that all the boys are getting along fine. I think the war will be over in six weeks. Write and tell me all the news. Here is hoping to see you all soon,

Your friend,