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Mike Watson: Reckoning time via the Eclipse

This event, the eclipse of later today, might be a time to reflect on why and how we remember what we do...and if we do. - Mike
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By Mike Watson

The reckoning of time and placement of events in proper order is often a daunting task. As an historian, a dumpster-diver for history, one might say, I have found the memory to be quite fragile. We often remember an event in vivid detail, but the sequence leaves us lacking.

With the near-total eclipse (for many of us) coming around noon today, and not having this close proximity, at least here at home, again in our lifetimes, we shall remember this one for many years. We shall likely reckon some events by this occurrence. By that I mean, it will be of such significance to use that we will remember other events in relation to the eclipse.


Some years ago, in civil court case research in the Adair County records, I discovered that in the late 1870s and 1880s local lawyers were using the death R.A.C. Martin as a time reference when questioning witnesses in court, or taking depositions.

R.A.C. Martin was the Cashier of the Bank of Columbia, and was shot and killed in the "Jesse James" robbery of 1872.

The attorneys did not use the "robbery of the Bank of Columbia", but Mr. Martin's death as the reference point. For example: "...was this before or after the sudden death of R.A.C. Martin..."

Certainly, for many of us, it is difficult to remember specific dates. The lawyers knew that this exact day would forever be impressed upon the memories of citizens of Columbia and Adair County. Witnesses could more readily state if a specific incident was before or after the "sudden death" of Cashier Martin.


A story from Glens Fork correspondent Welcome Hamon

Here is another time-event reckoning story, related by the late Welcome Hamon, long-time Glensfork correspondent to the Adair County News and Statesman. This particular contribution was printed in his column in the News, 23 November 1971:

"...a story told by H.K. Taylor. Bob Cabbell, a close neighbor of the Taylors, married before he was 21. Mr. K. and brother, Will, went down to Cabbell's to hear what they (Bob's parents) would have to say about Bob's marriage.

"Mr. Ches Cabbell, Bob's father, said, 'Someone is going to get into trouble. Bob isn't 21.'

"Mrs. Jane Cabbell, Bob's mother, said, 'I don't know how old Bob is, but I know how old Joe is. He was born the day of the Zollicoffer fight (Battle at Mill Springs, 19 January 1862).' But she didn't known the date.

"Mr. Cabbell said, 'I don't know how old Bob is. He was born the night the storm blew down the big tree at Uncle Robin's spring.' But he didn't know when that was."

Mr. K. Taylor was Herschel Kenyon Taylor, commonly called "K" or "Mr. K," born 1871, died 1949, the father of Mrs. Ruby Taylor Johnson Marshall, and grandfather of Joe Johnson.

So, in short, remember the eclipse of this date and other events will come to mind as if by magic!

- Mike Watson


This story was posted on 2017-08-21 10:32:29
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