Independence Day! The Birth of Texas

On this day 182 years ago, 41 delegates from across what is now the state of Texas came together at a convention held at Washington-on-the-Brazos to discuss and adopt a Declaration of Independence from Mexico.  Mexico had lured many settlers from the United States to take up residence in Tejas y Coahuila as it was known, and had made promises to the people who resided in that vast area.  These promises were never intended to be adhered to, and the Texians were ready for change.  At the convention, Richard Ellis was chosen as the president. A declaration very similar to the July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed  by all attendees on March 2, 1836.  Two of the people who signed the Declaration of Independence which created the Republic of Texas were Francisco Antonio Ruiz and Jose Antonio Navarro.


This is a replicated version of the building where the convention to draft a declaration of independence took place. It is located at Washington-on-the-Brazos just off the Brazos River in Texas. If you have never been here, a visit is in order.

Even prior to the convention at Washington, on February 23, 1836, a battle of Texians assembled inside the grounds of the Alamo fortress against a growing number of Mexican soldiers had begun.  The force defending the Alamo was under the joint command of Colonel James Bowie and Lt Colonel William Barrett Travis and included a group of Tennesseans under the command of former United States Congressman David Crockett.  Their group was outnumbered about 10-1.  For several days the freedom fighters were able to fend off the Mexican soldiers with cannon, musket, and pistol fire.  But, by March 5, General Jose Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had his full force of over 1800 trained soldiers positioned and ready.  On March 6, the Mexican army attacked from the north, west, and south of the Alamo.  The entire battle lasted only about an hour and a half, and afterward there were 182 Texian freedom fighters dead inside the grounds of the fortress.  There were a few women, children, and slaves cowering inside the mission we now know as the Alamo.  Santa Anna allowed these people to leave so they could tell of his victory.  He also demanded that the bodies of the slain defenders of the Alamo be doused in oil and burned.  All of these actions would soon come back to haunt the Napoleon of the West.


This is the Alamo today, the Shrine of Texas Independence. If you have never visited the Alamo please consider a vacation to San Antonio. While there you can also see the River Walk, the Spanish Missions, and the Mercado.

The final stanza of this glorious song took place some days later, after General Samuel Houston had retreated his army across the vast expanse of Texas until he had the army of the President of Mexico, General Jose Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, where he could defeat them.  On the plains surrounded by the San Jacinto River, the Mexican Army of over 1500 soldiers was ordered to camp overnight.  During the night the army of General Houston, amounting to only 800 soldiers, was able to encircle the larger Mexican army, and prepared to attack.  Early on the morning of April 21, 1836, the order to attack was made. The great and powerful Santa Anna and his army were caught completely by surprise.  Over half of the Mexican troops were killed by the freedom fighters who attacked yelling “Remember the Alamo”.  The entire battle lasted only about 18 minutes, and the soldiers not killed were taken captive.  Among those captured was Santa Anna.  The Battle of San Jacinto is recognized in history as one of the most decisive battles of all time.

After the battle, General Santa Anna signed a treaty with General Sam Houston giving Texas its independence from Mexico.  And, thus was born a new nation, the Republic of Texas.  Sam Houston later became the President of the Republic of Texas.


This is a modern day replica of the cabin where the treaty giving Texas its independence from Mexico was signed.


This is the San Jacinto Monument. I am looking up as God is looking down upon Texas.

Texas is the only State in the United States of America that was once a country, although Hawaii was once a kingdom.  Also something that needs to be said is that the men who battled against the Mexican army at the Alamo came from just about every state in the then United States and from European countries.  Every time I visit the Alamo, I am amazed by the variety of people from around the world who are also there in about as much awe and reverence as I.  The last time I was there I encountered Germans, English, Polish, Middle Eastern, Japanese, and even a few Texans.

I’ll see you on down the road.

Uncle Thereisno Justice



Texas History Reveals that Black Beans Can Kill You

Throughout the entirety of my life my favorite legume has been the pinto bean.  In my estimation, pinto beans seasoned properly and cooked to perfection with toppings of onion or chow-chow, served with cornbread and a tall glass of buttermilk are hard to beat.  However in recent years, black beans, which have always been popular in Cuban dishes, have gained a new status in the culinary world.  Yet, as an old white guy with Tennessee and Texas roots, I still prefer my pintos.  But, I must admit that this is a digression from my original intention to tell the story of how black beans really can kill you.

In the days after Texas had gained its independence from Mexico in April of 1836 and become the Republic of Texas, Texans were having trouble with Mexican soldiers coming across the border and raiding Texas cities.  By the 1840’s, the situation had become extremely difficult.  Texas citizens were demanding that something be done, and President Sam Houston finally responded.  He appointed Alexander Somervell, the Secretary of War of the Republic of Texas, to take a group of recruits and make Texas’ presence known in the area between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers.  As a side note, Somervell County which is the home of Glen Rose and the Dinosaur Valley State Park is named for Alexander Somervell.  Somervell took his force of about 700 raw recruits and raided some of the border cities, including Laredo.  After these raids, he made the decision to cease the sorties and return home.  This decision did not sit well with some of his troops, so they remained along the border.  By Christmas day of 1842, this group of Texans had advanced into Mier, Mexico and were engaged in a bloody battle with a detachment of the Mexican military.  The Texans suffered about thirty casualties, but ran out of ammunition and food.  Not knowing that the Mexican forces had about 800 casualties, they surrendered to the Mexican military.  There were probably over 200 Texas soldiers who were then ordered on a forced march to Mexico City.  They had chosen Ewen Cameron as their leader, and he was able to engineer an escape.  The Texas contingent tried to make their way back across the border, but within about a week 176 of the prisoners had been recaptured.  Mexico’s President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna demanded that the Texans be put to death immediately.  After lengthy discussions, the governor of Coahuila and others were able to persuade Santa Anna to change his orders.  He eventually ordered a decimation of the Texas troops, meaning that a tenth of them would be killed.

The method to determine who was to die was simple.  The Mexican military authorities took an earthenware pot and placed 159 white beans and 17 black beans in it.  If a prisoner chose a black bean he was condemned to die at the hands of a firing squad.  Some of the prisoners discovered that the black beans were larger and managed to select white ones.  March 25, 1843 was the date of the drawing of the beans, and by dusk of that day the losers of the lottery were executed by firing squad.

Black Bean Episode 001

“Shooting the Decimated Prisoners”, drawn from life by Charles McLaughlin, one of the prisoners. Obtained from Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Those who were executed after the bean lottery were John Cash, James Cocke, Robert Dunham, William Eastland, Edward Este, Robert Harris, Thomas Jones, Patrick Mahan, James Ogden, Christopher Roberts, William Rowan, James Shepherd, J N M Thompson, James Torrey, James Turnbull, Henry Walling, and Martin Wing.  In addition to those who drew the black beans, Ewen Cameron was also executed as the leader of the group.  Many of those who were not executed did not fare so well, for all the other prisoners were confined to the wretched Mexican prisons and many succumbed to disease and starvation.  By 1844, the prisoners were finally released to the Republic of Texas.  In 1848, after Texas was a state in the United States of America, the remains of those executed were reburied in La Grange, Texas.  This incident from Texas history is referred to as The Black Bean Episode.

Information for this narrative was found in the Texas State Historical Association “The Handbook of Texas Online”, and through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

I do hope that after you have read this you understand exactly how black beans can kill you.

I trust that I will see you on down the road.

Uncle Thereisno Justice


From Coalfield to Brooklyn to Knoxville: The Story of Pat McGlothin

On October 27, 1920, a baby boy was born to Ezra Malachi McGlothin and his wife Ella Bessie Gouge in the town of Coalfield, Morgan County, Tennessee.  Ezra Malachi McGlothin Jr was the fourth child born to Ezra and Bessie.  If you think there might be a clue in the first name he and his father shared, you would be right, as he was descended from Ezra Stonecipher.

Genealogy of Pat McGlothin 001

Genealogy of Pat McGlothin

Ezra Jr, who came to be known as Pat was living with his family in the community of John Sevier in Knox County in 1935, and was attending Central High School in Knoxville.  On November 14, 1936, when Pat was only sixteen years old,  his father was killed in an automobile accident.  In 1937 Pat graduated from Central High School in Knoxville and then enrolled in the University of Tennessee.  While at UT he played on the Volunteer baseball team as a pitcher.  Then in 1941 after his college days, Pat participated in the Knoxville News Sentinel’s annual “Baseball School” and was subsequently approached by the Knoxville Smokies, a minor league baseball team, and assigned to their Class D Appalachian League team the Elizabethton Red Sox which was a farm team of the Boston Red Sox.  While with this team, he pitched a no-hit, no-run game.

Then in 1942, his life started a new chapter when he joined the US Navy to do his part in World War II.  Pat was assigned to the Naval Air Training Base at Corpus Christi, Texas as their Athletic Instructor.  While there, he was also a pitcher for the NATB baseball team, and as such he played against other Army, Marines, or Navy baseball teams.  In all of the games he pitched while in the Navy, one stands out.  In 1944, his Corpus Christi NATB team played the Pensacola Marine Base team.  Ted Williams, who was training as a pilot, played for the Pensacola team.  Pat McGlothin faced Ted Williams seven times in that game, and struck him out five times, walking him the other two.  The game went 19 , yes nineteen, innings.  Pat tied the game up in the 17th inning with a hit and then won it in the 19th with another hit.  And yes, he did pitch the entire game.

After his stint with the US Navy during WWII, he returned home and then was married to Dorothy V. Lindsay.  In 1946, Pat received a letter from the Brooklyn Dodgers to attend their Spring Training Camp at Vero Beach, Florida.  From this spring training camp, he was assigned to the Mobile, Alabama Bears, a Dodgers farm team.  He pitched for the Bears through 1947, when they won the Southern Association pennant.  For the 1948 season, he was assigned to another Dodgers farm team, the St. Paul Saints of the American Association.  During his stay with these two teams, his record was 43 wins and 24 losses.

Shortly after this, Ezra Malachi “Pat” McGlothin, born in Coalfield, was called up to the Major Leagues to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  His debut game was on April 25, 1949. Then on May 7, 1949, he came on in relief of Ralph Branca.  His catcher was Roy Campanella.  Gil Hodges was on first.  Pee Wee Reese was shortstop.  Jackie Robinson was on second.  Duke Snider was in the outfield.  This was a Who’s Who of Professional Baseball Notables.  For Pat, this was his first and only win in the Majors.   That team took the National League Pennant and then lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series.  Then in 1950 Pat signed a contract to play another year with the Dodgers.  In all, he pitched 8 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers with a won/loss record of 1-1.

Pat McGlothin, Brooklyn Dodgers 001

Wore # 23, 6’4″ tall, weight 180 lbs, last game April 18, 1950, ERA 5.60, Batted Left, Pitched Right

Pat's first and only win in Major Leagues 001

The one and only win in the majors

After these two seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Pat was sent to the Fort Worth Cats, a farm team of the Dodgers, in the Texas League.  After this assignment he played for the Montreal Royals of the International League, also a Dodgers farm team.  After having surgery for bone spurs in his right elbow, he pitched a few more years for the St. Paul Saints, the Birmingham Barons, and ended his career with the Knoxville Smokies as a manager.  In all in the minor leagues, Pat had 108 wins and 86 losses, and pitched three no-hitters.

In 1954, after departing the world of professional sports, he joined the Mutual Insurance Agency of Knoxville, Tennessee and eventually became the owner of the agency.  Until the age of 90, he served as president and owner of the company, into which he brought his son and daughter and a grandson.  The Mutual Insurance Agency, Inc. is still a viable part of the Knoxville insurance scene.

Just three days shy of his 94th birthday, Ezra Malachi McGlothin Jr. passed away on October 24, 2014.  In the years after his professional baseball career, he was inducted into the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame by virtue of his being on the 1949 World Series team, the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame, and a lifetime member of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

There have been multiple holiday feasts and celebrations and a 50th Wedding Anniversary that have delayed this post, but maybe your old uncle is on track again.

I’ll see you on down the road

Uncle Thereisno Justice


Heroes of a Different Sort: The Stories of Two World War II Veterans

My first narrative is that of Carl Anderson Justice, a true Tennessee Hillbilly, and I mean no disrespect whatsoever by that term but the utmost admiration.  Carl was born to William Riley and Eliza Ellen Woods Justice in Petros, Morgan County, Tennessee on September 4, 1911.  He was their third surviving child.  Riley worked as a coal miner from years prior to Carl’s birth to the time of Carl’s teenage years.  As a young’un (Tennessee terminology) Carl spent a great deal of his time hunting, fishing, and farming.  Life in the hills of Tennessee during the early days of the twentieth century was always a challenge, and families raised much of their own vegetables and hunted or trapped much of their meat.  Most had chickens for eggs and a cow for milk.  By 1920, the Justice family was living in Oliver Springs, Tennessee.

Carl A Justice, about 1921

Carl, about 1921, probably in Oliver Springs

Carl told stories of him and his buddies on Halloween night flipping over outhouses as pranks, so he was not much different than teenagers of today.  His mother, who he called Ma, was a gentle, sweet, black-haired lady who could make the simplest of foods taste wonderful.  She made what she called an apple sauce cake from dried apples in several thin layers, and it was sublime.  Her recipe for biscuits had no leavening in it, and they were flat little things, but those biscuits were divine.

By 1930, Riley was working as a truck farmer and the family was living on Beech Fork Road in the Joyner community of Morgan County.  In addition to doing odd jobs, Carl helped his father do the farming.  In late winter, they would burn the old vegetation from the mountainside and prepare it for planting.  One of Carl’s sisters said that when there was a lot of smoke in the air people would say, “That’s just Riley and Carl up there burning down the mountain”.

In early 1940, the family was still living on Beech Fork Road just above the Kelly farm, and Carl was working for John Kelly as a farm laborer.  Riley was employed as a land agent, negotiating with landowners for their mineral (coal) rights.  Both Carl’s sisters were already married and he was the only one still living at home.

He enlisted in the US Army Field Artillery at Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina on November 6, 1940.  He was assigned to Battery C, 83rd Field Artillery and trained in the Field Artillery Basic Training for three months.  In March of 1941, his unit relocated to Fort Sill, Oklahoma where he attended the Quartermaster Corps Cooks and Bakers School for eight weeks.  Carl began his military career at Fort Sill as a cook, and progressed to the rank of Technician Fourth Grade while there.  He maintained that rank for his entire time at Fort Sill.  On October 14, 1943 was his last time in the Army to qualify with a rifle, and of course he qualified as Expert.

Menu Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Thanksgiving, 1941, Menu for Battery C

In March of 1944, his unit was transferred to Los Angeles for deployment to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Military Operations.  TEC4 Carl A. Justice departed from the United States on March 28, 1944 en route to New Guinea.  On April 30, 1944, he arrived in Lae, Papua, New Guinea.  He was assigned to Headquarters Battery of the 251st Field Artillery Battalion and promoted in rank to Staff Sergeant (Mess Sergeant).  As such he was in charge of five other cooks.  He prepared the menus, supervised the preparation of food, requisitioned supplies, inspected all foods, and kept a record of supplies and equipment.  The 251st FA Battalion was a 105mm Howitzer Battalion.

105mm Field Artillery unit

This is a picture of a 105mm Field Artillery unit in the European Theater, but the equipment was the same. Picture source, US Army Signal Corps.

Carl A Justice

SSGT Carl A. Justice in New Guinea, dressed like a soldier, not a Mess Sergeant.

By the end of May of 1944, the 251st Field Artillery Battalion had helped to secure the airfields near Lae, and they were transported on to Biak on Pulau Biak Island of the Schouten Islands.  From there Carl’s unit was transported to Luzon, Philippines.  Headquarters Battery was actually stationed in the mountains just above Luzon near a small town by the name of Quezon.  The artillery guns could target any area they wanted from the location.  As a Mess Sergeant, Carl did not see much action, but he was able to appropriate a Japanese presentation flag from an enemy military vehicle, and the flag exists today.  Carl and a buddy got drunk and tossed grenades into a cave on a hill above the field kitchen, not knowing they had taken out a Japanese sniper.  They were called in to the Commanding Officer’s headquarters, but would not admit to what they had done.  If they had they would have received a commendation.  Carl became good friends with a Philippine family while stationed there, and members of both families stay in touch to this day.  During his tenure in World War II, SSGT Carl A. Justice provided a very basic but very important component of the operation.  He and the other cooks kept the actual soldiers well fed and prepared to defeat the Japanese.  On November 24, 1945, SSGT Carl A. Justice departed from the Philippine Islands on the SS Sea Corporal as a part of Operation Magic Carpet, the military operation to bring soldiers home from World War II.  To be demobilized each soldier had to have an ASR score of at least 80, and Carl had a score of 83.

SS Sea Corporal

SS Sea Corporal with SSGT Carl Justice on board.

His awards included the World War II Victory Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, American Theater Ribbon, American Defense Service Ribbon, AP Theater Ribbon with Two Bronze Stars, and Philippine Liberation Ribbon with One Bronze Star.  Everyone who served during World War II received a letter of thanks from President Harry Truman, but very few have survived.

Letter from President Truman

Letter from the White House

The SS Sea Corporal arrived back in the United States at Los Angeles on December 12, 1945, and by December 20, 1945, Carl A. Justice separated from the US Army as a TEC4 at the Separation Center at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas.  On December 22, 1945 Carl married Eunah Rachel Snider in Rossville, Georgia.  They had exchanged letters for most of the time he was in the US Army.  She was born in Oklahoma, but had spent the majority of her life in Ellis County, Texas.

Eunah and Carl, early 40's

Eunah and Carl

After they were married, they made the small town of Wartburg, Tennessee their home.  By 1951, they had four children, two boys and two girls.  During the years that Carl and Eunah lived in Tennessee, he had multiple ways of providing food for the family.  He grew a great many vegetables in the garden beside the house.  He raised and sold “Coon Hounds”.  He raised hogs.  He hunted animals and sold pelts.  He hunted and trapped various animals for food.  He harvested ginseng roots for sale.  He raised a Jersey cow for milk and butter.  He worked on various farms in the area.  He also worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority building the Kingston Steam Plant to provide electricity for the area.  There were always chickens for eggs and for food.  The family was well provided for.  In 1956 the family moved to Texas where his offspring continue to reside.  On June 19, 1996, Carl Anderson Justice, Veteran of World War II, passed away and was buried in Mansfield Cemetery, Mansfield, Tarrant County, Texas.  This is my salute to Carl A. Justice, American Hero.

The second story that I want to tell is that of Guy Clifford West.  Guy was born on February 9, 1919 in Tyler, Smith County, Texas.  He was the son of William Bird and Annie Mae Snow West.  About the first ten years of his life were spent in Smith County.

Guy C West and brother, Wayne

Guy C, West and his brother, Wayne

Just by looking at the above picture, it is clear that Guy had very red hair, which was handed on down the family line.  By 1930, the family had relocated to Plainview, Hale County, Texas, in the panhandle area.  In the early 30’s, Guy’s father farmed land in the small town of Halfway.  The town of about 25 people got its name because it was about 14 miles between Plainview and Olton.  While living there Guy attended grade school at Halfway School.

Halfway, Texas

Halfway, Hale County, Texas, 1979

By 1936, the family was living back in Smith County, and Guy graduated from Winona High School in 1937.  After graduation, he worked for about two years as a laborer at B. L. Ginn Rose Nursery where he learned how to propagate roses by budding, something that he later taught some of his children to do.  Between 1939 and 1941, Guy worked as a plumber’s helper for Economy Butane Gas Company.  Then, on March 11, 1941, he was inducted into the US Army at the Induction Station at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.  After he completed his basic training, Guy attended the Quartermaster Corps Cooks and Bakers School for a period of eight weeks.  He came out of the school as a baker.  By the time that he was deployed overseas, Guy was a Technician Fourth Grade or TEC4.  He was assigned to the 119th Quartermaster Baking Company, and on August 15, 1943, he departed the United States for New Guinea.  His unit arrived in Papua, New Guinea on September 13, 1943.  The soldiers had to be vaccinated for several diseases while there.

Immunization Record

Immunization Record for Guy C. West, Smallpox, Typhoid, Tetanus, Cholera, Yellow Fever

Eventually his unit was transported to Luzon, Philippines.  His unit supplied bread for the soldiers on the front lines fighting to win the war against the Japanese.  A typical baking company was divided into four platoons, each platoon consisting of about 38 men.  The platoons were then organized into four sections of about 9 men each.  A section was able to produce enough bread to supply an entire battalion of about 800 men with fresh bread each day.  TEC4 Guy C. West and his section provided the bread that was necessary to keep the Army fighting the enemy, for an army cannot win a war with empty stomachs.  In September of 1945, the US Army began to demobilize the troops in the Philippines.  To be demobilized, a soldier had to have an ASR score of 80 to be sent back to the United States, and Guy had a score of 89.  On November 9, 1945, TEC4 West departed the Philippines on the USS Admiral C. F. Hughes bound for home.

USS C F Hughes

USS C F Hughes (AP-124) a part of Operation Magic Carpet

Meal Card

Guy’s Meal Ticket while on his way home

On November 24, 1945, the ship was back in the United States, and Guy was sent to the Separation Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas to be separated from the United States Army.  While at the separation center, he applied for a two week leave to go home and get married.  All he could get was a weekend pass, so the story goes that he took off anyway and headed to Tarrant County where his fiancee lived.  Guy Clifford West and Billie Elizabeth Wreay were married by Rev. H. W. Croft of Kennedale Baptist Church on December 16, 1945.

Guy C and Billye E Wreay West

Guy and Billie, Christmas, 1945

Technician Fourth Grade Guy C. West then returned to Fort Sam Houston and was officially separated from the US Army on January 1, 1946.  Between February of 1946 and July of 1946 Guy studied courses at Brantley-Draughn Business College.  Then, between 1956 and 1960 he attended Texas Christian University studying acounting and business.  Until 1973, he worked at General Dynamics as a time keeper and later a cost analyst.  By 1958, Guy and Billie celebrated the birth of their fourth child.  They had one son and three daughters.  Guy also spent time in the employment of the United States Postal Service.  He was a deacon in at least two Baptist churches.  He lost Billie to breast cancer in 1992.  In many ways Guy is a rare commodity.  He served in World War II and is still with us.  He is now approaching his 99th birthday.  He is well liked by all who are fortunate enough to know him.  World War II Veteran and American Hero Guy C. West gets my heartfelt salute.

On this Veterans Day, I pay allegiance to these two remarkable Veterans, and honor them for all that their lives have meant to so many.

Until next time, I’ll see you on down the road.

Uncle Thereisno Justice









Connections: Martin Luther and Morgan County, Tennessee

A few weeks ago, Morgan County, Tennessee celebrated a milestone, the 200th anniversary of its founding.  Even after 200 years of existence, the entire county has a population of only about 21,700.  The county sits in the amazingly beautiful Cumberland Plateau.  What most people out of state would call mountains, the people there refer to as the Tennessee hills.  From the time of its founding, most people relied upon farming, coal mining, lumber milling, various retail and wholesale businesses to support families.  With the building of the state penitentiary at Brushy Mountain, more jobs were brought about.  The advent of the railroad added more jobs, and brought tourism.    Thanks to the Federal government developing the atomic bomb in World War II, Oak Ridge provided jobs during that era.  And, even later, the Tennessee Valley Authority employed many more for the production of electricity.  The original county seat was Montgomery, but in 1870, the county seat was moved to Wartburg.  The city of Wartburg was settled by German and Swiss immigrants who had purchased land hoping to build a new life in the United States while fleeing an overcrowded Europe.  The city was given its name from the Wartburg Castle in Thuringia, Germany.

Morgan County Courthouse, Wartburg, Tennessee. 200th Anniversary.

American Legion Honor Guard displaying the Stars and Stripes during 200th Anniversary Celebration

But we have to go back even further to make the connection referred to in the title.  On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, who had been a Roman Catholic monk and now was in charge of the University of Wittenburg, Germany made public his 95 theses.  In the next few years, Luther made many enemies in the Catholic Church with his beliefs.  In his theses, he proclaimed that righteousness was attainable only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  He further believed that justification is not through works, but through faith in God.  He was completely opposed to the idea of selling indulgences for the eradication of sins.  As a result of Luther’s offenses, Pope Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther on January 3, 1521.  To escape persecution, he sought refuge in Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany.  While there he translated the Bible into the language of his people.  These combined events brought about what is now referred to as The Protestant Reformation.  The Lutheran Church was an outgrowth of the movement.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther

Our great country was founded on the principles of Christianity and owes a significant amount to the pioneering of Martin Luther and others like him who felt that the Holy Bible is the Word of God and should be available to all people.

So as you celebrate Halloween, just be aware that this day is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Be looking for another ramble from Uncle Thereisno on Veterans Day.  Until then, I’ll see you on down the road.

Uncle Thereisno Justice



From Farmer to War Fatality: The Story of Benjamin Burl Duncan

Benjamin Burl Duncan was born on October 28, 1921 and descended from John Justice ( son of Abraham) and Nancy Butler ( daughter of Elias).  Their daughter, Nancy Emily Justice, married George Washington Allen.  A daughter of theirs, Mary Jane Allen, married William Ernest Duncan and their union produced Benjamin.  Prior to joining the US Army to fight in World War II, Benjamin worked as a farmer in the hills of Morgan County, Tennessee.

TSGT Benjamin Burl Duncan

Benjamin Burl Duncan before he shipped overseas

Benjamin enlisted in the US Army at Camp Forrest, Tennessee on June 11, 1942, and was assigned to the Infantry.  From there he was sent by train to Camp Pickett, Virginia and went through extensive basic training and two other forms of training to prepare for war.  By late August of 1942, his unit was shipped to Camp Blanding, Florida for more in depth training in intelligence, radio operation, life saving, and intensive war games.  In March of 1943, his unit, Company L, 313th Infantry, was transported to Camp Forrest for spring maneuvers.  Here they undertook large scale war games in actual battle conditions.  Then, on July 24, 1943, orders came down for desert training at Camp Laguna, Yuma, Arizona, which was nothing more than a tent city with absolutely no amenities.  Here again they were involved in intense war games where actual battle conditions were adhered to.  After completing training at Camp Laguna, the regiment was assigned to Camp Phillips, Kansas for extremely intense training and war games until March of 1944.  At that time they were loaded onto trains and sent to a secret destination, which became Camp Myles Standish in Massachusetts, nothing more than a staging area for deployment overseas.  From there, the regiment traveled to Boston, their port of embarkation at Commonwealth Pier.  There they boarded the Strathmore, a British steamer, manned by a British crew.  By this time Benjamin had been promoted to Technical Sergeant, and with this rank was also a Platoon Sergeant, in charge of about 30 enlisted men.  By June of 1944, the regiment had traveled from Boston to Scotland, through England and was now on its way across the English Channel.  On June 14, 1944, eight days after D Day, they landed at Utah Beach amid the sound of bombs exploding and sporadic shelling by the Germans.

Company L and the rest of the 313th Infantry fought their way inland taking out whatever German forces they encountered.  As a machine gunner, TSGT Benjamin Burl Duncan was at the forefront of the fighting.  On June 22, 1944, his unit began a ground attack, supported by an air attack by the Army Air Corps, on Cherbourg, France.  In the fighting TSGT Duncan stepped on a land mine planted by the retreating German army.  He lost both legs as a result, but clung to life in a mobile Army hospital unit until October 16, 1944.  A WWII Honor List of Dead and Missing Army Personnel listed him as DOW (died of wounds).

TSGT Duncan’s remains were transported back home, and he was laid to rest in Union Cemetery in Morgan County, Tennessee.

This story was shared in another format on Memorial Day, but I felt I would be remiss if I did not repeat it here.  With the utmost reverence and honor, I salute Tech Sergeant Benjamin Burl Duncan who gave up his life in service to and defense of this great country we are fortunate enough to call home.  I also offer up a hearty salute to our flag.

Until next time, I’ll see you on down the road.

Uncle Thereisno Justice



The Significance of Constitution Day

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed by representatives of the then 13 Colonies of the British Kingdom.  But this was just the beginning.  Those 13 independent states then fought a war with a much superior army of the British Empire.  With state militias and an army of farmers and businessmen and craftsmen, George Washington defeated the army of the King of England.  The Articles of Federation had become the governing document of the new states, and a group of representatives was convened to approve that as the basis of the government of the United States of America.  Instead, they produced a document that created an entirely new form of government.  This document was the Constitution of the United States of America.  This new constitution was signed on September 17, 1787, however it required that 9 of the original 13 states ratify the Constitution before it could become the law of the land.

Yesterday was the 230th Anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, and your old uncle, Thereisno not Sam, thought it appropriate to give some time to talking about the significance of a little known holiday, Constitution Day.  Possibly it should be The September Holiday, and maybe even be celebrated more than July 4th, just a thought.

It took 10 months and the promise of a Bill of Rights before the required 9 states would ratify the Constitution.  Virginia and New York were still skeptical, and it was well into 1788 before they ever ratified the document.  North Carolina was still unsure of a Bill of Rights that guaranteed states and individuals the freedoms they deserved, and they did not ratify the Constitution until 1789.  The last state to ratify the Constitution was Rhode Island, and they did so by only 2 votes on May 29, 1790.  The original states were finally unified as a radical new form of government that was truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Our country has not been perfect by any means, but it has been vastly superior to Marxist, Aristocratic, and Fascist governments under which people have little or no rights.

A very important part of making our constitutional republic continue on successfully is an educated populace.  We need to understand what it is that makes our country so desirable a place for people of other countries.  The Constitution coupled with the Bill of Rights and our Free Enterprise system provide a great deal of the reason why our country has always been a desirable place to call home.  It is my firm belief that everyone should own their own copy of the Constitution of the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights.  There are many places from which to obtain copies, just Google it.The Constitution of the United States of America 001   The beauty of our Constitution is that it puts forth the powers possessed by the Federal government, and it restrains that government by establishing the rights of the people and the states in the Bill of Rights.  Take some time to read into the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  They are very concise and have served this country very well for 230 years.  Our Constitution is still as viable and useful a document as when it was it was written.  Take a look at all the amendments to the Constitution over the years, too.

Constitution Day is a much more important holiday than some other holidays we observe, and should be held in much higher esteem.  It is the most important unknown holiday.

Thank you for your time, and I will see you on down the road.

Uncle Thereisno Justice

The Taking of Ryukyu Retto: A Tribute to Roy Elmer Vittatoe

This story first appeared in another format on this past Memorial Day to honor the sacrifice made by Roy Elmer Vittatoe in World War II.  It bears repeating here to once again acknowledge our gratitude to those who fought and died to preserve the many freedoms we enjoy to this day.

Roy Elmer was a first cousin of Uncle Thereisno.  He was born to John Washington Vittatoe and Sallie Matilda Justice on May 1, 1920 in Petros, Morgan County, Tennessee.

Sallie Justice Vittatoe

Roy Elmer’s Mother, Sallie Justice Vittatoe

In the 1940 Federal Census, Roy Elmer was working as a coal miner in Morgan County.  By the time he enlisted in the US Army as a private on July 25, 1944 at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, he was married and had at least two daughters.

Roy Elmer Vittatoe

A photo of Roy Elmer Vittatoe from his Find A Grave Memorial # 64265684

Private Vittatoe was assigned to Company C, 381st Regiment, 96th Infantry Division, and deployed to the Pacific Theater.  By the time he arrived in the Pacific, he had been promoted to PFC.  In late March of 1945, his unit landed by troop transport ship on the Japanese island of Okinawa, also known as Ryukyu Retto.  The Battle of Okinawa began on April 1, 1945, and was the last major battle of World War II.  The Okinawa Campaign involved about 287,000 US Army and Air Corps, US Marines, and US Navy.  The progress of Company C was a slow, tedious, and bloody fight to take out Japanese soldiers and their pillboxes.  The Japanese had little regard for their own civilians, and about 100,000 of them died as a result of the hellish fighting, many at the hands of Japanese soldiers.  The Japanese also lost close to 100,000 military during the Okinawa Campaign.  The US military lost some 14,000 during the time from April 1 to June 22, 1945.  On June 15, 1945, while fighting on the front lines in the Battle of Okinawa, PFC Roy Elmer Vittatoe was killed by the Japanese.  He was originally interred in Okinawa Island Cemetery.  The Commander of the US Forces in Okinawa, General Simon Buckner, also was killed during an artillery shelling by the Japanese.  Victory on Okinawa was declared on June 22, 1945.  PFC Vittatoe was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart posthumously.  Then, on March 9, 1949, his remains were moved and he received a proper burial in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii (The Punchbowl).  His military headstone is located in Plot O, Row O, grave # 266.  If you should venture into  the island paradise take the time to pay a reverent visit to PFC Vittatoe’s grave.

Roy Elmer Vittatoe

Military Interment Form and Headstone, from Ancestry and Find A Grave.

As I close, just remember what I always tell my kids “Liberty for All and Justice for a select Few.”  I’ll see you on down the road.

Uncle Thereisno Justice


An Untimely Death: The Murder of Lori Moon Kastner

Lori Kim Moon was born on July 2, 1963 in Frankfurt, Germany where her father was working at the time for Raytheon Corporation, a company that produces everything from missiles to microwaves.  Lori descended from Virginia Carolina Stonecipher of Morgan County, Tennessee.

Lori Kim Moon 002

Lori during her tenure with the Oklahoma Courts

When Lori was only three weeks old her family returned home to Owasso, Oklahoma.  Through all her public school education, she was an excellent student.  During her years at Owasso High School, she excelled in many areas.  She was the co-editor of the yearbook two different years at Owasso High, and was a member of the All State Orchestra her senior year.  She graduated in 1981.  For the next four years, Lori pursued a Bachelor’s Degree at The University of Tulsa, and graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor’s in Management of Information Systems (MIS).  She was married that same year to John Robert Kastner.  For about the next three years, Lori worked for PennWell Publishing, a business-to-business media company, which publishes books, maps, directories, and a number of business magazines.  Her real dream though was to pursue a degree in law, and she applied to the University of Tulsa College of Law.  She was awarded a Full-tuition Academic Scholarship to the school of Law.

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Lori Kim Moon at The University of Tulsa while earning her Bachelor’s Degree

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Lori while pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree

I quote from Tulsa World Obituaries, “Lori earned many academic and leadership awards while in law school, including the highest grade award in three classes – Administrative Law, Civil Procedure I, and Taxation of Estates, Trusts, and Gifts.  She received the Martin-Fellows-Smith Award for scholarship standing and leadership qualities.  Lori served as the articles editor for the Energy Law Journal and was president of the TU Women’s Law Caucus.  She earned her Juris Doctorate degree in 1992, and graduated with honors in the top 10 percent of her class, receiving the Order of the Curule Chair, the highest honor conferred on a member of the graduating class by the TU law school.”  For the next three years, Lori was employed in various law firms in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Then, in November of 1995, she became an Assistant Appellate Court Justice in the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.  She held that position until 2005 when she became the Judicial Assistant to Justice Tom Colbert of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

During this time, Lori and her husband John had two children, and John was a teacher and coach at Daniel Webster High School in Tulsa.  In early 2007, they had adopted another child.  By early 2008, Lori had left her position with the Oklahoma Supreme Court because the entire family was going to relocate to Israel.  She had told fellow employees that John had previously been a part of the Israeli Special Forces and now was to administer a charitable group in Israel known as the 713 Corporation.  She and the children had all acquired passports and had packed all their belongings to take with them.  They were due to leave on a private jet on June 25, 2008.

At about 4:00 a.m. on June 25, 2008 John Robert Kastner called 911 to tell them that an intruder had broken in to the Kastner home and shot his wife twice in the head, and then shot him in the hand while they struggled for the gun.  He told them the gun was his and had been on a table in a front room.  By the time John Kastner was having his hand treated at the hospital, his story had morphed into something else.  Each subsequent telling was a different variation.  On June 27, 2008, Kastner was arrested and charged with first degree murder.

It was not until September of 2010 that John Robert Kastner was tried for the charge of First Degree Murder, but what came out in court was a horrific story of the collapse of a kaleidoscope of lies.  The lies had begun with his stories to his wife and co-workers about having served with the Israeli Special Forces, and had been amplified over time to the point of specifics.  Then, he had convinced everyone of the reality of an Israeli charitable organization that he was to administer and his wife was to be employed by at a large salary.  Eight days before the departure date, Kastner had bought a .22 pistol and was planning the murder as his only solution to save face, because his story was imploding.  His loving wife had believed his lies and her death was viewed as his only way out of the incredible mess he had made of things.  On September 21, 2010, the case was turned over to the jury.  It took the assembled jury only a few short minutes to find John Robert Kastner guilty of First Degree Murder.  He was then sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Because of the fabricated world of a pathological liar, three children have lost a mother and a father.  A family has lost a daughter and a sister.  The world will never know what this intelligent, dedicated, lovingly devoted woman could have accomplished had she not been murdered in a most horrible manner.

The research for this little biography fell into place so easily that it should have been very easy to write.  However, it was one of the hardest things I have ever written.  I backed away from it several times, and then decided her story needed to be told.  May this help people to remember Lori Kim Moon.  And if I remember John Robert Kastner it will be the same way I remember Luis Arroyo, who murdered a close family friend.  I just check periodically to see that he is still confined to prison.

I’ll see you on down the road, and I hope future ramblings are not so disturbing.

Uncle Thereisno Justice


Trench Warfare in France during World War I: The Story of SGT Maniphe Stonecipher

Maniphe Stonecipher was born on July 5, 1892 in Glen Mary, Morgan County, Tennessee to Curtis and Polly Lewallen Stonecipher.  I have no idea where his given name came from, because I have not encountered it anywhere in the Stonecipher family.  Possibly the name comes from his maternal ancestry which I have not researched.  By early 1916, Maniphe was living in Marion County, Illinois and it was then that he married Hattie S. Wham.  On December 7, 1916, Jesse Wham Stonecipher was born to the couple.  Shortly afterward, in early January of 1917, Maniphe registered for the draft for World War I.  Maniphe Stonecipher, Draft Card 001

It is not clear if he was drafted or enlisted in the US Army, but by late May of 1917, Maniphe was on his way to New York.  He was assigned to Company M, 28th Infantry, 1st Expeditionary Division.  on June 8, 1917, his unit departed from New York Harbor headed for France.  By June 29, 1917, the 28th Infantry had landed at Saint Nazaire on French soil.  They inhabited barracks abandoned by the Germans.  The barracks were roughly constructed by German prisoners of war, and had none of the comforts of home that the new troops were used to.  They underwent extensive training for the kind of combat they were to experience.  This training went on for months.  At Christmas of 1917, the American troops wanted to share their Christmas and they purchased all of the candy, cakes, and chocolates they could find in the surrounding villages and gave them to the French children who had little to smile about since the war began about three years earlier.  Their towns and villages were left as rubble by the invading Germans, and what had been rebuilt was done so with the idea of survival.

On January 5, 1918, the 28th and the rest of the 1st Division relieved the 1st Moroccan Division north of Toul, France.  They were not quite on the front lines, but they were experiencing what it was like to live in trenches.  By April 20, 1918, they had advanced to the Cantigny Sector, more toward the front lines.  Trenches were dug.  Shelling near Cantigny was constant with almost no interruption at any time of day.  On May 14, 1918, the 28th Infantry replaced the 16th Infantry on the front lines in the trenches.  After dark, the cooks with their rolling kitchens, accompanied by a water cart, brought food, water, and coffee as close as they could to the trenches.  It was the only cooked meal of the day that the soldiers would get, and even then the food was cold, the coffee was cold, and the water was lukewarm.  The soldiers were supplied with new rounds of ammunition after dark also.  Between May 28 and 30 of 1918, the American Infantry supported by the French planes and American Artillery and Machine Gunners, made a determined offensive against the Germans and drove them from Cantigny.  Quoting from the text of the History of the First Division, “In recognition of the heroism and sacrifices of the 28th Infantry in the assault and capture of Cantigny, the regiment received the following letter of commendation from the Division Commander.”


From the text of the History of the First Division

Again, quoting from the text of the History of the First Division, “Life in the trenches was one great hardship.  The men had an average of one meal a day, and nothing short of extreme hunger could have made that palatable.  Water for washing was unknown.  No issue of clothing could be made.  Lice infested the garments worn, and it was only during the rest in the back area that delousing could take place.”  The rest in the back area only took place about once each one and a half to two months.

By early July of 1918, there was a critical buildup of troops in the area between Soissons and Reims.  The objective was a massive attack against the Germans along the Marne River to halt any opportunity of advance toward Paris.  The movements of troops was done only during the hours of night.  They marched from July 11, 1918 and were nearing their destination by July 14, 1918.  Finally, on July 17, they had reached their point of attack and made preparation for the assault.  On July 18, 1918, the Infantry, aided by all forms of Artillery shelling and machine gunning, began their advance toward the German lines early in the morning.  For four days they continued to march forward in spite of great losses, fatigue, hunger, and undoubtedly the fear of dying.  They were continually taking prisoners and killing enormous numbers of the enemy.  The farther along the troops went, the closer the fighting became, and much of it resulted in hand to hand combat.

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American troops emerging from trenches and attacking the Germans. Originally published by Editions de la Martiniere, Paris, France.

On the fourth day of the battle, on July 21, 1918, the advance toward the enemy began again at 4:45 a.m.  In the process of this assault, Maniphe Stonecipher lost his life in defense of his country and its allies.  Maniphe Stonecipher KIA report of Soldiers from Illinois 001

In all, through the four days of fighting with bayonets and close proximity firing, over seven thousand soldiers lost their lives in this most brutal of warfare.  This has been referred to as the Second Battle of the Marne.

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Headstone of Maniphe Stonecipher in Iuka Cemetery, in Iuka, Illinois.

Even though his father lost his life in World War I, Jesse Wham Stonecipher fought in and survived World War II.  He served in the US Navy.

May this be a tribute to SGT Maniphe Stonecipher, who gave his life so that we can all remain free.  I’ll see you on down the road.

Uncle Thereisno Justice