Category Archives: Milestones

Big birthdays with special people!

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Kitty Cats For A Cure For JM on Crowdrise

History of the U.S.Colored Troops

(provided by Cameron Art Museum)

When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation effective January 1, 1863, it was a turning point for the war and the fight for freedom by authorizing the engagement of African Americans as soldiers in the Civil War. And on May 22, 1863, the Bureau of Colored Troops was established under General Order No. 143 to coordinate and organize regiments from all parts of the country. This coordination effectively impacted the war through 39 major engagements and more than 400 lesser ones fought by the United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.) in support of the Union Army.

Twenty-four African American soldiers received the Congressional Medal of Honor for extraordinary bravery in battle in addition to their white officers. One such event was the Battle of Forks Road which led to the fall of Wilmington, NC,  and was fought by 1600 U.S.C.T. alongside other Union soldiers.

In contrast to many Civil War battles, at Forks Road there were white and African American soldiers serving in both the Union and Confederate forces.  Three-fifths of all African American troops were former slaves, but they were, nonetheless, on their home ground in Wilmington, NC, as were the white Confederates.

It was at great personal threat to their lives that African American soldiers participated in the Civil War. The Confederate government threatened to execute or sell into slavery any captured U.S.C.T. soldiers–and it was not uncommon for them to carry out such threats. President Lincoln threatened punishment against Confederate prisoners whenever black soldiers were killed or enslaved.

During the war, African American troops battled against discrimination in pay, promotions, and sparse medical care. Blacks were in separate regiments with white officers as their commanders. They received less pay, inferior benefits and food and equipment was lacking. Blacks received just $10 a month–$3 less than whites, out of which $3 was deducted for clothing—while whites enjoyed a $3.50 clothing allowance and the black soldiers were refused enlistment bonuses, common to white soldiers.

There were African American soldiers, too, who had been sent, as slaves, to serve in their owner’s place, throughout the Confederate army. These men, along with other Union troops, were victorious at Forks Road, defeating the Confederate forces, taking control of Wilmington, and hastening the end of the war. The U.S.C.T. emerged from the war as heroes, viewed by former slaves and freemen alike as liberators of their people. Very soon after the end of the war Wilmington’s population shifted from a majority white population to a majority African American population; an effect that some have attributed to the influence of the soldiers who remained to make Wilmington their home. The cultural and political effects of that population shift were profound and are still reflected in the social and political life of the region.

Dot Celebrated Her 80th

Dot Herron was surprised on her 80th birthday with the whole neighborhood throwing a big party for her.

Dorothy Herron

The center of her life is Bill, her husband of 61 years. They have raised six children and seen them through college. They seem to be inseparable as they are frequently seen biking or enjoying beach time with friends.

Dot and Bill

A talented artist, she said she had always painted in oil colors until moving to the beach 17 years ago. Her work can be seen on FineArtAmerica.

“The oils seemed too heavy for the softness of  our southern landscapes. I switched to watercolors with the help of Betty Bee.”

She is a member of the Back Porch Painters, The Waccamaw Arts and Crafts Guild and South Carolina Watercolor Society.

She has been active on Briarcliffe Town Council in the small South Carolina beach community, as mayor pro tem and as mayor.

Congratulations on achieving such an important milestone!

Beachcombers Defined

True beachcombers might be recognized by the rich burnished hue of their sundrenched skin, by their love of all things coastal or by their perpetual happy nature derived from loving life.

Carroll and Dori Pensinger split their time among three homes while traveling up and down the East Coast. At 82 years of age, the beachcomber lifestyle suits them fine. They spend summers in their Waynesboro, PA ranch home which they have owned for 58 years.

Upon retirement they got the “Keys disease” and went to Key Largo where they spend winters. Between those homes, especially during the glorious fall season, is their favorite large home in a quiet upscale Myrtle Beach neighborhood with private access to the beach.

Their love of the coast has spanned their lifetime together.

“We grew up going to the beach,” Carroll said as he recounts buying a car with friends when they weren’t old enough to drive and had to hire someone to take them to the beach.

“We started courting in high school,” Carroll tells of the life he and Dori share which has just passed the milestone of a 60-year marriage.
He went into the service after high school, being sent to Germany in 1945 and 1946, and they married when he returned.

Their square dancing passion took them throughout the East Coast for events in the 1960s, and they continue to square dance, round dance or participate in ballroom dance clubs at any opportunity.

Driving their Born Free camper, they visited every state except Hawaii and many of the eastern Canadian provinces.

It doesn’t occur to them that they are old, because they have never had complaints, although Dori did admit that “A few things started falling apart at 80.”

At either of their coastal locations, the Pensingers might be found soaking up rays while reading and relaxing on the beach, although they are often busy helping others.

In Waynesboro, he drives a friend to the hospital, delivers meals on wheels and volunteers wherever there is a need. Upon their retirement, she also volunteered for secretarial assistance at their local hospital.

If you see Carroll and Dori, you’ll recognize his straw hat and she will be wearing bright sunny colors to complement her tanned skin and her sunny smile. They’ll be talking to passersby, and you will know you have found the definition of a beachcomber family.

What Does it Feel Like to be 100 Years Old?

Jason Worley Snyder turned 100 years old on August 4, 2010. He answered the question.

“It feels like you’re old,” he said.

Jason Worley Snyder with Pastor Ron Murray

His birthday was celebrated with his family at lunch and with two dozen of his church friends at an afternoon party. He also was honored with a presentation by the Shriners and a gift from his Sunday School class in his name for disadvantaged children to attend the circus. Dozens of cards and phone calls poured in during the week.

Shriners Honor Jason

With a sharp mind and good health, his only complaint is that he’s slowing down and that he can no longer see to read which was a lifelong passion. His memory amazes younger family and friends, and he continues to discuss politics or national news which he always has followed.

He has lived in his own apartment in Colonial Hills Retirement Home in Johnson City, TN, since choosing a rental there when his wife Frances was first hospitalized and later needed full time care. Selling their home on Holly Hill Road in the meantime, he appreciates the availability of high quality care, laundry and cleaning services as well as hotel-atmosphere in the dining room for delicious meals. He enjoys the exercise room and entertainment which is often provided for the residents. At the age of 99, he borrowed his brother’s Santa Clause suit for the home’s Christmas party where he distributed to the staff the gift money which he had collected for them from residents.

Jason was born in Doe Valley, Johnson County, to Roy Mieneyard (sometimes referred to as R M) and Mary Alice Snyder who lived to the ages of 102 ½ and 93, respectively. R M and Alice married when she was 16 and he 21. Their 77 years of marriage produced 10 children. Jason’s remaining younger siblings who all live in the Johnson City, Elizabethton, Valley Forge or Doe Valley areas of Tennessee are Hazel, 93; Ben, 85; Floyd, 82; Myrtle, 79; John, 74. Deceased are Wanda, Watt, Dudley and Maywood.

The Snyder family lived on a 50-acre hillside farm, across the river from Valley Forge, where Jason said there was absolutely no level ground. He remembers picking blackberries to sell for 10 cents a gallon. His dad and the younger children picked as many as 25 gallons a day, and his job was to walk to the store to sell them. Then they were shipped to Johnson City via a narrow-gauge train which ran from Boone and stopped in Valley Forge. Corn, hay and wheat also were grown. Jason remembers taking the wheat to the mill to have it ground into flour and then having a dozen 24-pound bags stacked in the house. He remembers his mother once giving a bag of flour to a church family who had nothing else to eat.

Jason’s dad borrowed $500 to send him and his sister Hazel to college. He graduated on his birthday August 4, 1939, from East Tennessee State, which was then a teachers college, with a B. S. and a four-year teaching certificate. Later he obtained what was called the permanent certificate and taught for five years in Valley Forge Elementary and Hampton High School.

His first car was a 1929 A-Model which his dad purchased for the boys by trading land, although they sometimes rode to college with a friend who drove from Roan Mountain. When he bought his own first car it was a Chevrolet Business Coupe.

Joining the Army in June 1942, Jason traveled to Mississippi for basic training. During his term of service he was stationed in Texas, Utah and then in Casablanca. He recalls cattle cars transporting the troops for four or five days to Tunisia. Not seeing combat, his job was assigning work details in the orderly room in the 12th Air Force Service command. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant before his discharge in Kentucky in December 1945.

After the Army, Jason found work in Elizabethton at the Veterans Administration (VA) assisting with employment of veterans.

He married Viola Wilson in 1947 in the living room of her family’s farm home in Doe Valley. His sister-in-law Zola Snyder introduced them where Viola was teaching in Bristol.

Jason and Viola lived in Knoxville for five years, where he continued his work with the VA. They were proud of their fine brick house with a tile roof and double brick garage which then sold for $14,000.

His family always called him Worley. Then the government use of first names carried over to his social life where he was called Jason. He transferred to the VA headquarters in Washington. His job there was in paperwork management with the task of reducing forms. He then worked for the U. S. Navy where he was responsible for visiting shore facilities to review their following of guidelines sent from the main office. Those travels took him frequently to such locations as Norfolk; Oxnard; Charleston, SC; Brunswick, Maine; Bermuda and even as far as Adak and Kodiak, Alaska.

He and Viola lived on Arlington Ridge Road in Arlington in 1954, then moved to Crestwood Drive in Alexandria.

His “angel on earth” — first love of his life – Viola died in 1973. She was in fragile health for many years, retired from teaching, and Jason enjoyed cooking and caring for their duties at home to make life easier for her.

One of his proudest lifetime achievements was serving as lodge master of the George Washington Masonic Lodge in Alexandria in 1979. His photograph is on the wall of that impressive structure. He had joined the Masons when in Elizabethton, and he and Viola were heavily involved in lodge activities in the Washington area. Continuing his lifelong loyalty as a Mason, he was featured in the Johnson City Press in early 2009, for his plan to distribute the lodge newspaper to residents of the retirement home.

Jason married Frances Shoun Coates in 1980. She was also a Tennessee native, and their families had been friends for many years. He retired, and they bought a lovely home in Johnson City where she worked in the library at ETSU for several years. They traveled frequently, never hesitant to get in their big Cadillac or on a plane – to such destinations as Washington, DC, Florida, Myrtle Beach, Russia, London – and enjoyed spending time with family and many friends as well as Frances’ daughter Sandra and Sandra’s son Brandon.

Jason and Frances attended Central Baptist Church in Johnson City, although he maintained his membership in National City Christian Church in Washington, DC. It was an impressive church home where he served as deacon or elder for 25 years. During the years that President Lyndon Johnson and his family also attended that church, Lady Bird and the President often sat beside Jason’s wife Viola.

Jason’s friends and family refer to him with respect and admiration. He’s soft-spoken, kind and generous, enjoying remembering his family activities and complimenting their strong qualities, yet always reticent in talking about himself.

Tee Tee Celebrated Her 90th

Helen Burton

There is something about the generation that made it through the Depression that makes them special. Many of those people who made it through those tough times can remember the hardships their family endured. They are now approaching their ninth decade of life and some near the century mark.

One of these special people reaching 90 years old is Helen Burton.  Several dozen of her family and friends gathered at her daughter’s home in Richmond July 17 to celebrate this important milestone.  Most of those who attended were from the immediate area; however, one had traveled from the Philippines.  Also there to help with the celebration were her two remaining siblings as well as her four grandchildren, with one of them and his wife traveling from their home in the Caribbean.

The Burton Family

Although in somewhat fragile health, her memory is super sharp and her bridge game formidable. She commented, “I might be around for the 95th.”

Helen has had a very exciting life in her 90 years. From being a member of a championship high school basketball team, to sitting on a jury in a death penalty rape trial,  to surviving a bank robbery by a gun-wielding thug – she has seen a lot.

Helen is known by the nickname “Tee Tee” to almost all family and friends of long ago. However, I have my own nicknames for her. She has always been such a fun loving character that I have called her “Hellion.” “Sweets” is another name that I have often used for her also. She has been so sweet to me during my whole life.

Sweets, I love you always!