Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Air dates of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" in its First Twenty Years

 My brother and I were discussing A Christmas Story and how folks have tried to date it using clues in the movie such as the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, a calendar on the wall, the appearance of Wizard of Oz characters, events in sports mentioned by the Old Man, and so forth. I brought up that perhaps since the movie narration is done by the adult Ralphie looking back perhaps his memory of events in his childhood was faulty. Thus he could remember his Dad mentioning some baseball player being traded that Christmas and got mixed up and thought it was  Bill "Bullfrog" Dietrich. "Bullfrog" was actually traded three or four years earlier than the year the movie seems to take place. The same explanation could be used for an upcoming game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears that was mentioned in the movie, and many other things.

This conversation segued into a conversation about our own memories we found not to be accurate. And I mentioned that when I was younger I thought Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer always aired on December 1st. This made me curious so I searched online for a list of air dates of Ruldolph.... but could not find any. Still curious I went searching through old TV listings to see if Rudolph... ever aired on December 1st when I was a child and found it did one year. In the process I came up with a list of air  dates of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer when I was a child. I expanded this list out to its first twenty years. Note, this list may not be totally accurate as stations sometimes aired network programming at different times. However, I did try to cross reference between station listings to make it as accurate as possible. There is always the off chance though two stations both aired it at a time different than the network on the same night though.

Air Dates of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer  the first twenty years it aired.
1964: Dec. 6
1965: Dec. 5
1966: Dec. 4
1967: Dec. 8
1968: Dec. 6
1969: Dec. 5
1970: Dec. 4
1971: Dec. 6
1972: Dec. 8
1973: Dec. 7
1974: Dec. 8
1975: Dec. 3
1976: Dec. 1
1977: Nov. 30
1978: Dec. 6
1979: Dec. 5
1980: Dec. 3
1981: Dec. 14
1982: Dec. 1
1983: Nov. 27
1984: Dec. 1

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Many Film and TV Versions of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"

Two years ago I undertook an endeavor to see what the most accurate film adaptation of A Christmas
Carol.  As I went through watching the various adaptations I would reread it to refresh myself of its contents. What follows are my commentaries on the various adaptations that I posted on Google Plus. These by far are not all of the adaptations. These are merely the ones I got to watch during the holiday season of 2012. There are more which I did not have access to. Each adaptation is called by the name of the actor that played Scrooge except for the Disney animated version which is simply called the Disney Animated Version. One version I did not comment on was the musical with Albert Finney. Being a musical it departs from the book in many ways, but generally follows the plot of the book and its scenes in a fairly loyal way. It is unique in that the ghostly death coach appears when Scrooge enters his home near the beginning of the book. As I recall it does not appear in any of the other film adaptations I cover of Dickens' book.

Google Plus Post on December 19, 2012 Sim, Scott, and Hicks Adaptations

Last night I read Dickens' A Christmas Carol to see how the movies differ from the novel. Thus far this year I have watched the Seymour Hicks version, Alastair Sim version, and the George C. Scott version of the movie adaptations. None of these versions are loyal to the novel. The Seymour version added dialogue and characters to some scenes, alters some scenes so they appear very unlike those in the novel, and omits some very important scenes that are in the novel. Fan, Scrooge's sister does not appear at all in the film. It does include one scene not seen in the other two films but in the book. Finally, Scrooge has very little interaction with the ghosts. Indeed, they only appear on the screen for a couple of minutes.

The Sim version left out several scenes in the book, added several not even hinted at in the book, inserted characters in scenes where they do not appear in the novel, and altered other scenes and dialogue. The added scenes are not even hinted at in the book in a couple of cases, and only alluded to in others. The added scenes do not appear to add much to the story other than to establish that Scrooge is a rather stingy fellow, or to establish things that were established later in the book.

The Scott version left out scenes from the book and added dialogue in the opening scene in Scrooge's office, and altered at least one scene by leaving out characters. None the less it is the most loyal version of the three films even with the added dialoge in the opening scene.

None of the movies are really loyal to the book, although I have to say of the three, the Scott version is the most loyal with the Sim version departing from the novel the most with added scenes. The sad thing is if scenes had not been added to the Sim version, more scenes from the novel could have been kept in the screenplay and other scenes not altered, it would have been the most loyal of the three. At 86 minutes the Sim version is long enough to cover much of the novel. The Scott version is longer at 102 minutes, and spends more time with each scene from the novel. If dialogue had not been added in the opening scene and here and there, some of the scenes from the novel that were left out could have been added instead.

One thing I find interesting in the Hicks, Sim, and Scott versions is the need to reference coal in the opening scene. In the  Hicks and Sim versions Scrooge gets after Cratchit for trying to add coal to the fire. He does this too in the Scott version going as far to lecture Cratchit on the use of coats and waistcoats as an alternative to using coal. None of this dialogue appears in the book. Neither Scrooge or Cratchit ever mention coal. In the book it only described how there are very few embers in the stoves, and that Cratchit is trying to warm his hands by the candle. I think adding these lines to the films about coal seriously alters the character of Bob Cratchit. In the book we are given the impression he is loyal and obdient and would not seek to displease Scrooge, and when he does he is very apologetic. Our impression of him is altered with these added lines about coal in the films. With the Scott and Sim versions they also insert Belle in the Fezziwig scene. I think that is because they feel a need to introduce the character. In the novel we first see her when she is breaking up with Scrooge. She makes no appearance before then. In the Hicks version the school scenes do not appear at all. In the Sim and Scott versions only the second school scene appears with the Sim version being seriously altered. 

Google Plus Post on December 22, 2012 Patrick Stewart Adptation

I watched the Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol. It has several scenes that appear in the book, but do not appear in many of the other movie versions. One scene is that of Cratchit in his upstairs room with Tiny Tim's body when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is showing Scrooge the future that may be. The only other movie that it appears in is the Hicks version. It also shows the first school scene with the Ghost of Christmas Past that does not appear in many of the other movies (though never has that scene from the book appeared in its entirety  nor has the second school scene appeared in its entirety for that matter). And it shows the lighthouse and ship scenes with the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the scene with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and the debtors happy at Scrooge's death. It does leave out the scene of Belle being happily married with the Ghost of Christmas Past though which I think is an important scene in the book. Some of the dialogue is altered from the book, some key lines left out oft times not for the better in my opinion. That is not to say that the alterations are bad, it is just to say that they lack the power of the original dialogue Dickens wrote in my opinion. One particular line that is omitted when the Ghost of Christmas Present appears is noticeable to anyone that has read the novel or seen the other movie versions. There are also some lines left out from when Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come  visit Cratchit 's house that is pretty glaring. However, where the original dialogue from the book is used unaltered, it is sometimes more powerful than in the same scenes from the other movies. And some dialogue from the book omitted from some of the other movies is included. I guess that is the trade off. The scene when the reformed Scrooge visits his nephew Fred plays out differently from the book, but none of the movies are very loyal to this scene. There is an added scene at the beginning which while it is  not seen in the book fits nicely in the movie. There are some anachronisms such as people singing "Silent Night." "Silent Night" was not translated into English until many years after the novel takes place. But then you see similar anachronisms with the other movies Overall, I would say it is a toss up between it and the Scott version as to which is the most loyal to the novel. It is odd as they are both made for TV movies, while the others were feature films. I have yet to watch the 1935 Reginald Owen version of A Christmas Carol, but at 69 minutes it is the shortest of the movies, and therefore much perhaps left out. I will try to watch it tomorrow.

Google Plus Post on December 23, 2012 Reginald Owen Adaptation

I watched the Reginald Owen version of A Christmas Carol. Of the versions I have watched (Hicks, Owen, Sim, Scott, and Stewart) it is the least loyal. There are scenes from the book that do not appear. For example Belle does not appear at all in this retelling. And there are major plot changes such as Fred is not married, he is only engaged, and Scrooge fires Bob Cratchit. There are added scenes that do not appear in the book (a church scene with Christmas Present, and various scenes throughout the movie), and many of the scenes from the book are altered sometimes to make them appear very different. The school scenes are condensed into one, the scene with Fezzywig is abbreviated (there is no party), and the ending is changed drastically (Scrooge shows up at Bob's house with the turkey and presents for the kids instead of being in the office the next morning). The dialogue is often different from the book, either changed or not appearing. Never the less despite it being the least loyal version it is very enjoyable. Ann Rutherford is fun as Christmas Past, and the Lockharts were very convincing as the Cratchits. I also watched Mr. Magoo's A Christmas Carol. For an hour long cartoon (with commercials) it is surprisingly loyal despite taking the ghosts out of order. It is very funny. Next for me to watch is Disney's A Christmas Carol. I have heard this version is very good and that it contains scenes from the book that do not appear in some of the other movies.

Google Plus Post on December Disney Animated Version
I watched Disney's A Christmas Carol.  It is the only animated version I am doing commentary on. There are some added scenes, and some changed dialogue. Some lines are left out here and there. Entire scenes from the novel were left out in some places as well, while others appear in this version that do not appear in the other adaptations. Both school scenes are included although in abbreviated form which is the norm for the film adaptations of A Christmas Carol.  The scene with Belle happy with her husband seven years before the events of the novel does not appear. There is an exchange between the Ghost of Christmas Present and Scrooge included that is in the book that does not appear in the other adaptations. The lecture by the Ghost of Christmas Present about how many see Scrooge as less fit to live than Tiny Tim does not appear. The scenes with the miners, the lighthouse, and the ship do not appear. And the scene with Ignorance and Want is altered slightly from the book. There are added scenes with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. A sequence with Scrooge running in the streets of London from a wagon driven by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in a shrunken form has been added. I do not see it adds anything to the story.I think they would have ben better leaving it out, and instead keeping scenes from the book that do not appear. He is still shrunken when he comes to the pawnbroker's. In the pawnbroker scene only two of the five characters that appear in the book appear. The scene with the debtors happy that Scrooge has died appears, and it is rarely seen in film adaptations. The ending is altered with Scrooge's housekeeper being in the house when Scrooge awakens. She is not the house in the book, and only appears at the pawnbroker's. Scrooge also grabs on back of a carriage and slides along as it goes, that is not, of course in the book. Overall, were not scenes added to give it more the character of a cartoon (which it is), it would be a very loyal adaptation. At least it would be no less loyal than most of the live action versions. Yes, scenes are left out, but this is done with all adaptations. After the Stewart and Scott versions I would say it is the third most loyal of the ones I have seen (Hicks, Owen, Sim, Scott, and Stewart) in my opinion. Were it not for added and altered scenes it would be the most loyal in my opinion.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Double Standard in Advertising

People have began criticizing television commercials and print advertising for electronic cigarettes that appear to try to glamorize vaping. The use of celebrities like Jenny McCarthy by Blu, an electronic cigarette manufacturer as well as advertisements and commercials by Blu and Fin showing people using electronic cigarettes in glamours settings are the grounds for this accusation. An example of such an ad, this one from e-cig manufacturer Fin is below:

There is a further accusation that there is a push to market electronic cigarettes to children. The claims that e-cig manufacturers are marketing to children stems from only two things. A recent study by Research Triangle Institute International   found that e-cig commercials are shown at times children and young adiuts are watching TV. The second claim that e-cig manufacturers are marketing to children comes from some of the nicotine juice flavors. That claim is that flavors like bubble gum, cherry, and root beer are being made to get children to try vaping since these flavors appeal to children's tastes.

While there is little denying that e-cig manufacturers are trying to glamorize vaping they are not the only industry to try to glamorize their products. Alcohol manufacturers have long marketed their products by showing attractive people drinking their products. For beer manufacturers this has largely been showing average looking men in bars attracting beautiful women as they swill down a Busch or Milwaukee's Best. For Scotch and Bourbon manufacturers this goes further to show folks in expensive suits and evening gowns in such glamorous settings as a mansion. Below is an example of a commercial featuring the "most interesting man in the world" for Dos Equis, a brand of beer:

As for the accusation e-cig manufacturers market to children, what the study by Research Triangle Institute International does not address is whether the commercials targeted children or young adults. Viagra and beer commercials are shown at times children and young adults can see them too. Yet no one has accused or Pfizer or  Anheuser-Busch of marketing to children. And I have yet to see a e-cig commercial showing teenagers vaping. As for the flavors nicotine manufacturers use, nicotine juice manufacturers have pointed out adults like these flavors too. And if there is such a concern over nicotine juice having flavors like apple, why is it no one has complained about Nicorette Gum having flavors like White Ice Mint or Fruit Chill? Nicorette gum can get a teenager addicted to nicotine just as easily as an e-cig can. In fact the use of nicotine gum by teenagers might go unnoticed while it would be more difficult to hide the fact one is using an e-cig.

The fact of the matter is there is a double standard going on when it comes to the advertising of electronic cigarettes and other dangerous products. The effects of vaping are largely unknown with some studies showing little danger while others show there may be some risks. What all studies agree on is that vaping is healthier than smoking. And if one is talking health risks, drinking alcohol is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the country, not just for the one drinking it, but those around them. In 2012 according to MADD there were 10,322 deaths due to accidents caused by drunk drivers (by comparison the CDC estimates about 7,333 people die of lung cancer from second-hand smoke and all agree vaping is safer than smoking). As far as I know no one has taken many drags on an e-cig jumped in a car and killed a family of four due to impairment caused by the use of the e-cig. One in ten people die from alcohol use according to the CDC. If an e-cig user is responsible and uses his or her device away from others, the only person's death they may be bringing on faster is his or her own. So why then are alcohol manufacturers not criticized for glamorizing their products, but e-cig manufacturers are?

And while no alcohol manufacturer shows ten year olds swilling down their products they do use very young actors and actresses in their commercials. How many times have you looked at an attractive young lady in a beer commercial and wondered if she was even old enough to get in a bar? And taverns and bars in college towns encourage young adults to drink by having game nights, having live bands, and having various contests. Some even serve alcohol to underage drinkers not caring whether they are old enough to drink or not.

It is therefore somewhat perplexing as to why there is this double standard. You have this product many are using to quit smoking which while its effects are not totally understood it is agreed it is healthier than the alternative. And then you have this industry that produces a product known to kill people, that glamorizes the use of its products, and actively markets to young adults that goes on uncriticized  except by groups such as MADD and law enforcement. MADD's aims are mainly to stop drunk driving and prevent underage drinking, not to stop the alcohol industry from glamorizing drinking. Law enforcement does not address the health risks of drinking. Law enforcement only addresses the violation of the drinking laws such as those concerning drinking and driving and underage drinking.

There is no reason there should be this double standard. Either folks should criticize both the electronic cigarette and alcohol industries for glamorizing their products, or criticize neither. There is no reason for one dangerous past time to be the subject of being stigmatized while the other goes unchecked. Don't get me wrong, I drink on occasion, but this double standard really makes no sense to me. And the fact one nicotine product (e-cigs) is criticized for its flavors while another (nicotine gum) is not makes even less sense.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Small Town Newspapers: A Thing of the Past?

On July 30, 2014 the Macon Chronicle-Herald of Macon, Missouri printed its last issue. It had been in print since at least 1926 as the Chronicle-Herald. Its owner GateHouse Media decided there was no longer a need for the paper. This ended a long history of newspapers in Macon, and the small town is now without a newspaper, although it will still be served by the The Home Press which is headquartered in nearby La Plata, Missouri. Once upon a time many small towns had more than one newspaper. It was not unusual in the Victorian Era for a town of 12,000 or even as small as 5,000 to have two or three daily or weekly newspapers. Even small hamlets of only a few hundred people had weekly newspapers. As time passed these papers would either go out of business or merge until a small town had only one newspaper. Many of these small dailies are still in business.

A local newspaper was the lifeline of a small town. They could report local news in more depth than radio, and reported on a wide variety of things. In the pages of a local newspaper one could find in addition to major news stories, news on the local government, businesses, birth announcements, announcements of engagements, wedding announcements, death notices, society news, local entertainment, local sports, and more. Local persons were often interviewed about such topics as local history, or the opening of a new business. A wide variety of information was available daily. During much of the 20th century small town newspapers served much the same purpose as the internet does today. One needs only browse such sites as or newspaperarchive,com to see the amount of local news a small town newspaper covered. Beginning in the 1960s and earlier major corporations began buying local papers. Unable to keep up with the cost of printing and distribution many small presses found the need to sell, and were quickly snatched up by large news syndicates. This spelled the beginning of the end for local newspapers.

Many small town weeklies ceased publication after being purchased by news syndicates as they were merged with local daily papers. An example of this was the Randolph County Times-Herald which was purchased by the news syndicate owning the Moberly Monitor-Index. The two papers were merged with the Times-Herald becoming a page in the Monitor-Index. After several years of being published this way, the Times-Herald simply disappeared. Many small town newspapers disappeared this way having been purchased by a large company and then merged with a larger paper in a nearby town. This was actually an extension of a process that had been going on for many years. The newspapers of many small hamlets had already been swallowed up by the newspapers of nearby towns. For example, the Times-Herald had been created by the merger of several Huntsville, Missouri papers over the years.  The Times-Herald in turn purchased the village newspaper of Clifton Hill, the Clifton Hill Rustler. The Times-Herald then was bought up and merged with the Monitor-Index, and so the process continued.

Ownership of small town newspapers by news syndicates has had disastrous side effects. As the news syndicates cut the staff of local papers, less local news could be covered. The local papers therefore had to run more news from the national and international news wires. This arrangement worked fine until the late 1990s when the world wide web came about. Suddenly, folks were no longer reliant on the local small town newspaper to get national and international news in depth. Instead they could simply go to sites like Yahoo News, or one of the major city newspapers' websites. Since much of the news printed by many small town papers was no longer local news people no longer felt a need to subscribe to local papers and circulations dropped. As circulation  of a paper dropped, advertisers sought out other outlets for their ads such as radio and television, not to mention the internet. As ad revenue dropped, the large news syndicates no longer saw the local papers profitable. And this brings us to the Macon Chronicle-Herald. It has met the fate of many small town newspapers across the nation. When a small town newspaper ceases to be profitable in the eyes of a news syndicate it risks being closed. One has to wonder if there will be a time when there is no longer such a thing as the small town newspaper.

There is perhaps a way to reverse this trend. First, in order to increase circulation and thus remain profitable small town newspapers need to go back to running local news no one else will run. They need to print news one will not find on the internet, and that may only get a passing mention on radio or television. Small town newspapers need to take advantage of the fact they can still cover news in depth. They are not hindered by time as are radio and television. Unlike radio or television they are not limited by the amount of time a news show can run a news segment. If a small town newspaper so desired they can dedicate an entire page to a local news story mentioning things that would have been edited out by the local radio or television stations due to time.In addition small town news papers can run news stories that no one else will run such as local society and business news. There is perhaps a way small town papers may be able to survive.

It may be too late for small town newspapers. It certainly was for the Chronicle-Herald. Many may have already reached the point they can never rebuild their circulations so that a news syndicate would not think of closing them. This is truly sad as newspapers have played such a big part in American history. Alas, new technology may have already spelled their doom. One can only hope local news outlets on the internet will rise to take their place. Otherwise, residents may wind up without a way to learn about what is going on in their towns. Television and radio simply do not have the means to cover local news in depth, and thus far for most small towns there has not arisen a substitute for the local small town paper. Only time will tell.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Randolph County Missouri Old Settlers Reunion and Fall Fair

The Randolph County Missouri Old Settlers Reunion and Fall Fair will take place September 11, 12, and 13 in historic downtown Huntsville, Missouri. This is the 126th anniversary of the fair. Those that have lived in Randolph County, Missouri for more than 60 years get a free dinner Thursday the 11th. Registration for this begins at 9 am at Trask Hall of the Baptist Church in Huntsville. The Old Settlers Meeting takes place at 11 am, and the dinner at Noon. There will be many other activities throughout the evening including a performance by the band Loaded Chamber, a parade, a street dance, royalty contests, a fun run, and a three on three basket ball tournament. This is a county wide event and those from Cario, Clark, Clifton Hill, Higbee, Huntsville, Moberly, and Renick Missouri and all places in between in the county are encouraged to take part. For more information go to:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Video Catchphrase: A Symptom of a Society that Cannot Think for Itself

A Video with a Catchphrase not Telling Someone What to Feel
I first noticed it last year. There were a bunch of videos on Facebook that were along the lines of, "Watch this dog greet its master, you won't believe what happens next!' You might watch the video and see nothing out of the ordinary. It is just a video of a dog greeting his master after the master has been away, and the dog does the usual doggie things. About the time folks started commenting how this catch phrase was melodramatic or at least an extreme exaggeration of what takes place in the videos the catchphrase disappeared. This catchphrase was replaced with videos being posted to Facebook with catchphrases like, "You will be in tears!" or "You will be rolling on the floor laughing!" These catchphrases perhaps because there is some variety have lasted longer.

From the start I hated any text that went with a video that said something like, "You won't believe what happens next" or "You will be in tears." How dare they tell me how I will react to the video! Maybe I think the idea of a kid throwing oatmeal on his dad's head is something to cry about, and not laugh at. Who are you folks to tell me what I find funny, what I find sorrowful, what I find stimulating? Who are you to tell me how to think? Yet videos with such catchphrases persist on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere.

Part of what irritates me is I was taught in college how to write headlines, and how to write copy for advertising. There are some things you do not do. One of them is you do not tell the person how to feel or what to think. You present what you feel the facts are, and let the reader or viewer decide for his or herself. Thus you may have a headline for a news story like, "War in Iraq. Thousands Killed," and not "War in Iraq, You will be Appalled at the Death Toll." With advertising you have a bit more leeway. You can get away with something like "Dawn Soap: We Think You Will Like the Results."  On rare occasions if you are feeling cocky you might even say, "Dawn Soap, You will Like the Results." For the most part though you do not tell someone how to feel, you present them with a catchy phrase about the product like :Kentucky Fried Chicken, finger licking good," and hope your suggestion leads them to eating chicken.

A friend and I were talking about the effectiveness of such catchphrases as "You will be in tears." His argument was they must be effective or else they would not use them. He pointed out that they collect all kinds of data on these click throughs such as what site the person came from, if on a social network, who are his or her friends, where they come from, what other things does he or she like, what kinds of videos get the most hits, and more. Further they experiment with catchphrases and the preview pictures of what works and what doesn't based on click throughs. I agreed he was right, but I said that since everyone of these videos uses same sort of catchphrase they do not even know if that method is or is not more effective than simply saying, "A dog greets its master after the master's long deployment." I further said that they may not know if perhaps it was the preview picture of the video that drew the viewer to click on it. Even with all this data I did not think they could figure out why someone clicked on a video link to view it. In essence my faith in humanity would not allow me to think folks would actually click on something that tells them how to feel.

After some more discussion I arrived at the conclusion that the American people may now have become accustomed to being told not just how to feel, but how to think. After all Fox News has been on the air since 1985 all the while telling its viewers how to think, and not just presenting them with the information. They are not the only network to do this though others may be more subtle. Commentators like Rush Limbaugh regularly tell folks what they should feel or think about some such or another. Even politicians tell folks how to think or feel. You do not hear many Americans speaking their own opinions, but repeating catchphrases or slogans from their favorite news channel or political commentator. If you enter a debate with them you are not likely to be presented with data or information to back their claims, but with simple quotes from some person who is not even an expert about the subject. Therefore, I concluded that being told, "This will put you in tears" or "This will have you on the floor laughing," may not offend them. Indeed, it may even reassure them that they do not have to think for themselves. They may take some comfort in the fact this video will make them laugh or cry. It saves them the trouble of making up their own minds.

It is a sad commentary on our society that people can no longer think for themselves, but have to be told such and such video will have them laughing their hearts out. Once upon a time folks were simply presented with information, and were allowed to decide for themselves how to feel or think. Sure, even then the media filtered what you were presented with. You might be told the marines have taken Iwo Jima, but not what the death toll was. But if you persisted you might be able to find the information. And never were you told, :"The Marines Took Iwo Jima Today, You Will Cry for the Fallen Japanese." In that day and age, advertisers might try to tell you how to feel, but that was advertising, and for the most part even advertisers avoided telling folks what to do. You would see things like, "Smart Shoppers Shop at Value Mart," and not "Shop at Value Mart, It will have you leaping for joy." The second example was not rare, but no one paid attention. It was advertising. My point is people have been taught they must be told how to feel and what to think. We have ceased being a society of freethinkers.

I think therefore it is time purveyors of such videos take a different route, one that will appeal to free thinkers, and encourage those that are not free thinkers to be. Perhaps  have a video with a description like, "Is this dog cute or what?! Decide for yourself!" Or perhaps, "Is this cat funny? What do you think?" Maybe it is time everyone stops telling other Americans how to think or feel. Maybe it is time we just present the information and let folks decide for themselves how they will react. After all what is wrong with describing a video simply as, "This cat apparently loves its companion, watch and see?"

Monday, August 11, 2014

Enhancing My Laptop's Audio: A Review

Last week I decided I wanted to improve the sound I get from my laptop so I went looking for audio enhancers. The first one I downloaded was DFX Audio Enhancer by FXSound. The free trial version was somewhat stripped down, but still usable. I found it preformed at the levels I wanted even given the limitations. The sound it delivered was good. Overall, I was pleased with its performance and would have continued using it save for some annoyances. It had this popup that would come up every 30 minutes or so asking me to order the full version. You could not minimize the software's window either. The ability to minimize it to the taksbar only came with the full version. Worse yet, I found I could not use my laptop's audio without it running. Even still I might have bought the full version, but at $39.99 it was a no go. There was no way I was going to pay that for something that did not behave like a full equalizer and only gave me five items I could adjust to customize my sound.

I had seen mentioned in a review of DFX Audio Enhancer a program called ProfoundSound Audio. While ripping DFX Audio Enhancer (which the reviewer was justified to do IMO) the reviewer praised ProfoundSound Audio. So after uninstalling DFX Audio Enhancer I decided to give it a go. There are two versions. There is ProfoundSound Lite which is a 5 band graphic equalizer that has presets for music, movies, and voice. It has outputs for headphones, internal speakers, and external speakers. Then there is ProfoundSound CSharp. It is a 10 band graphic equalizer with (and I am directly quoting from the website): "variable loudness, auto volume leveling, variable dynamic surround sound, variable dynamic virtual bass, variable high frequency restoration, a 20 band spectral analyzer, variable dynamic bass and dynamic voice, plus the ability to customize and save your settings" I went whole hog and downloaded the free trial of ProfoundSound CSharp.

It was unbelievable. Not only did it give better sound than DFX Audio Enhancer but it was also fully customizable allowing you to decided how you wanted something to sound. Yet at the same time there was a variety of presets for different genres of music, as well as movies, and voice if you did not want to fiddle with the sliders. You could also save your own presets so once you had something sounding as you liked it you did not have to go adjusting things again. A big plus was you could still use your computer's own audio when you shut ProfoundSound down. I was blown away by how useful this software was and by the sound it delivered through my headphones and speakers.  Further it is only $4.96 for CSharp. The stripped down Lite which would do for most music listeners and video viewers is only $1.99.

My advice for anyone wanting to enhance their computer's audio is avoid DFX Audio Enhancer like the plague and go straight to ProfoundSound. It is by far the better choice. A word of warning though, with both audio enhancing programs YouTube videos are jerky or out of sequence with the audio. There is nothing you can do about this with DFX Audio Enhancer that I could see. With ProfoundSound you just shut it down and use your computer's own native software do its job.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Historic Huntsville Missouri" Website

About 13 years ago I created a website on Rootsweb Freepages called "Historic Huntsville." I never did much with it except provide an incomplete history and a bunch of links to other websites. And so it sat for 13 years with only minor updates a year or two later. Then last week after completing work on my "Historic Map of Randolph County" I decided to revisit it, perhaps complete the history and write my own pages instead of linking elsewhere. One week later it is done. In the meantime the web address has changed. Last Monday had a Distributed Denial of Service Attack. This knocked Freepages offline for about a week. Freepages was operational for a few hours Friday which allowed me to complete the history, then again I did not have access until today. This gave me time to complete the biographies and other pages. I also decided to move the site to Google Sites. Google Sites allowed me more features such as a site search, and overall made the site easier to manage. The resulting site is much bigger than the old one with added features such as the "Historic Map of Randolph County;" a map of Huntsville; a photo gallery; a section for community news; new listings for Huntsville clubs, churches, government offices, and businesses; and all new biographies of famous people that have lived in and around Huntsville. I am rather proud of it although it could be so much more, and I am going to work to add to it. I need to bring the history up to present times, and I need to find news to add to the community news section. But for now it is a working and I hope informative site. If you wish to visit it go to: If you have any comments please email me at the links provided or comment here. I could have enabled site comments, and I am still considering it, but for now they are disabled.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Map of Historic Places in Randolph County, Missouri

A while back I got the idea of trying to document the villages and towns that have existed in Randolph County Missouri. In the early days there were places that were little more than a store and a post office that are now forgotten, yet they were important enough to make it on maps of the time. Among these are Bournesburg, Edwardsville, Oak Point, and Smithland. In the case of Bounresburg, Edwardsville, and Smithland their rough locations are known. Other early places have had their names and knowledge of their locations survive to the present day like Mount Airy and Milton. Still others like Elk Fork and Berthaville despite appearing on maps leave us confused as to their locations.

Later, after the early settlements, mining towns would be founded often within a couple miles of each other as competing mining companies did not wish to use the others' towns. Such is the case with Shafton and Tuanton which were within a mile or two of each other and only a mile or so from present day Renick. These too have largely disappeared and been forgotten. Some mining towns though despite having only a brief existence remain on the map. Kimberly and Harkes are just a couple of examples of such towns.

Some of the locations of places on this map are conjecture and where that is the case a question mark is placed after the name. With some places only a rough location is known, but in those cases I have hoped from directions given in old newspapers and histories to have located the places within a mile or two of where they were. Such is the case with Shafton and McMullen. The location of many places are well known in the county, and some remain on maps to this day. Outside of the major towns these are Darksville, Fort Henry, Grand Center, Hubbard, Kimberly, Levick's Mill, Milton, Mount Airy, Roanoke, Rolling Home, Ryder, and Yates. There is a special exception and that is Kribb's Corner (Kribbsville) which has never appeared on maps or had a post office. It was an attempt at a village that never gained traction in the mid to late 20th century. but remains in people's memories. Finally, there are villages and stores the location of which may never be known. From a post office list there were once places named Breckenridge, Clarno, Hillis Crown and Plum Point. Some such as Hillis Crown even operated post offices for up to 12 years. Yet they are now forgotten.

Towns, villages, and settlements are designated by stars on the map. Historic places are designated by circles. And diamonds designate geographic features. Settlements and mining towns listed besides the major towns are Allen, Belview, Berthaville, Bournesberg, Darksville, Edwardsville, Elliot, Elk Fork, Fort Henry, Grand Center, Harkes (Wilcox), Hubbard, Kimberly, Kribb's Corner,  Levick's Mill, McClainsville, McMullen, Milton, Mount Airy (Uptonville), Oak Point, Penney's, Roanoke, Russell, Ryder, Shafton, Smithland, Sunshine, Taunton, Thomas Hill, and Yates. All of these are in Randolph County except for McClainsville which is over the county line in Macon County, and Russell which is right on the Randolph and Howard County line. Historic places listed are Bagby's Mill. the Battle of Roan's Tanyard, Burkhartt's Fields and the Monkey Nest Mine. Geographic areas that are listed are Dark's Prairie, Foster's Prairie, Grand Prairie, and Titherow Hills. To enlarge the map in another window, please click on the little rectangle in the upper right hand corner. You can zoom in and out by clicking on the + and -.  And when you click on one of the icons (rectangle, circle, or star) you get little tidbits of information about the place.

If you see any corrections that need to be made to the map, let me know. And if you know of anything that needs to be added by all means let me know. This is very much a work in progress.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beware of Companies Selling you Family Coats of Arms and Crests

One of my interests over the years has been heraldry. Heraldry is defined by the Oxford Dictionaries as "the system by which coats of arms and other armorial bearings are devised, described, and regulated." I have been aware for a number of years individuals of my mother's family held coats of arms. One is described in the February 23, 1896 issue of the Courier-Journal (published in Louisville, KY) as "a prostrate foe, an exalted victor standing over him with upraised club." This is just a description, not an official blazon.  Blazoning is the way a herald describes what a coat of arms looks like. If a herald blazons an arms he or she is in a fairly precise language using specialized terminology describing what a coat of arms looks like. A heraldric artist can then take this description using standardized pictures and colors and reproduce what the arms look like in a work of art such as on a shield or a scroll.  It is a science developed over centuries of work on coats of arms and family crests. Another coat of arms registered to an individual of the Towles family is found in the book Encyclopaedia Heraldica Or Complete Dictionary of Heraldry Vol. 1 (as well as in other works of the period), and is blazoned "per pale, and per chev. erm. and sa. four cinquefoils counterchanged."

Having found these arms my curiosity was piqued so I went searching for more coats of arms registered to individuals of the Towles family. As usual with the searches on Google for the topic "coat of arms" results came up from many of the companies purporting to sell folks scrolls and plaques with their "family coat of arms" or "family crests" on them as well as family histories. I came up with results from companies such as and House of Names. I knew immediately that these companies had not done their research. House of Names and both give previews of one's "family coat of arms" or "family crest." In the case of both the arms pictured I knew from books listing the arms of various families were registered to an ancestor of the Tolson family, not the Towles family. They also had these arms as being the arms of the Towle family. Apparently according to these sites, these arms are the coat of arms of many familes with Towl- or Tol- in their name. While there is some evidence the Towle and Towles families may be related, I am aware of none showing that the Tolson and Towles families are. Similarity of names though was enough for these companies to assume the families were somehow related and therefore the coat of arms of one individual of the Tolson family must be the coat of arms of all these families. Of course this is not so. The arms of an individual of the Tolson family are in no way the coat of arms of the entire Towles or Towle families.

Further to the point, families from England and France do not have "coats of arms." A coat of arms is awarded to an individual, not a family. While a child may have the right to have their father's arms as a part of their own, for the most part arms are unique to an individual and are not hereditary. It has always been that way as long as the various England and France have been granting coats of arms. On the College of Arms Website FAQ (which serves the United Kingdom) it says this:
Q. Do coats of arms belong to surnames?
A. No. There is no such thing as a 'coat of arms for a surname'. Many people of the same surname will often be entitled to completely different coats of arms, and many of that surname will be entitled to no coat of arms. Coats of arms belong to individuals. For any person to have a right to a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them or be descended in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past.

Therefore telling someone their family has a "coat of arms" is entirely misleading. Some nations did assign coats of arms to families, but many of these sites do not distinguish between countries that awarded arms to families and those that did so only to individuals. They give the impression all countries awarded arms to families which is not so. Now in England, families did and do have heraldric achievements, more commonly known as "family crests." These are the items surrounding the shield on which a coat of arms is portrayed. Crests usually consist of something like a helm atop the shield and supporters to either side of the shield like lions or other animals or items often with a scroll under the shield with the family motto. Even then some families that are not related to each may use the same crest, and sometimes the same motto. A crest is not necessarily unique to a family, and a family may use more than one crest (I have found two for the Towles family). If you can document the coat of arms of one of your ancestors from a reliable source such as Burke's Peerage or the United Kingdom College of Arms, and you find that one of these companies has that individual's arms as your "family coat of arms" and want a cool representation of them then buying a plaque or some such might be great. But otherwise do not rely on these companies to honestly give you a "family coat of arms" or a "family crest" or even a reliable family history. Instead turn to reliable sources such as Burke's Peerage and see if you can find arms registered to your ancestors. If you are of English, Welsh, or Scottish descent you can pay to have the College of Arms do research for you  (a warning though if you go that route it is a very expensive undertaking). The point is though do not rely on these "coat of arms" companies for research into any arms ancestors of your family may have used. They simply are not reliable enough to do so.

For more information on coats of arms I suggest the following websites:  College of Arms and Burke's Peerage

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Repeal Daylight Savings Time

I wanted to let you know about a new petition I created on We the People,
a new feature on, and ask for your support. Will you add your
name to mine?  If this petition gets 100,000 signatures by April 09, 2014,
the White House will review it and respond!

Here's some more information about this petition:

Cease the practice of Daylight Savings Time and go to Standard
Time all year long.

We need to move to Standard Time year round. Every November and March we  change the clocks backwards and forwards. Studies have shown each time we  move the clocks backwards or forwards there is an increase in car accidents,  workplace accidents, and heart attacks in the two or three days that follow.
It has been shown that Daylight Savings Time does not save energy as it was  supposed to do, and costs millions in lost revenue. Many children have to get  up and go to school in the dark in March when clocks are moved forward, and  then again in the early Fall months as days get shorter. Going to Standard Time year round would prevent the increased risk of accidents and health  issues as well as allow children and workers to travel to school or work when  it is light outside.

You can view and sign the petition here:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Many Benefits of Hemp and What it Could Mean to Missouri

Long ridiculed and called "ditch weed" by marijuana users for its low THC content, and yet still banned by the government due to essentially being a variety of the same plant marijuana is, hemp seems to get no love. Hemp is banned as it is simply another variety of cannabis, the same plant marijuana is a variety of. Yet it has many, many uses in industry. The one most historians may be familiar with is in making rope. At one time Missouri was one of the top producers of industrial hemp, and with that production of hemp came rope factories. In the small town of Huntsville, Missouri where I live in there were actually two rope factories and the same was true of other small towns around Missouri in the 1900s. It was a big industry, and could be once again. Even George Washington grew hemp.

Unlike its more well known cousin marijuana, hemp is a hearty plant that is easy to grow. It does not need any special care. Indeed, you basically plant it and it grows until you harvest it. There are fields of it here in my county that have grown wild for over 150 years. This despite being routinely cut down and burned by law enforcement officers to show that they were waging a war on drugs. The fact is hemp has only 1% THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that gets one high. It therefore cannot be used as a recreational drug. Hemp is a plant that does not harm its environment by needing fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. It therefore has very little impact on its environment. In essence, industrial hemp is easy to grow, and at the same time gives high yields in a little space. It is therefore a desirable cash crop to grow from an economic standpoint when one considers what it can be used for.

Its uses are many, in addition to rope, industrial hemp can be used to make textiles for clothing among other things. Cloth made from it is very durable and it can be used to make jeans, coats, T-shirts, suits, shoes and yet it can also be mixed with other fibers like silk to make lingerie. It is so durable it can be used to make heavy canvas of the variety you use to cover your car or boat. Industrial hemp's potential for use in the garment industry alone are reason enough to permit its being grown and used in manufacturing. However, it has many other uses. One is in the manufacture of plastic. Many plastics today are made from petroleum which has a negative impact on the environment in their production. Plastic made from hemp though would have much less of an impact on the environment and would be cheaper to produce as well given the price of petroleum these days.  And the plastic from hemp is very durable. In 1941 Henry Ford had a car made that had doors and fenders made of hemp and soy plastic. He demonstrated its durability by using a sledge hammer on it. Unfortunately, the car never made it out of the stage of being a prototype. Now though many automakers are moving to using hemp plastics in their cars. Ford, GM, Honda, and Mercedes are all manufacturing door panels and dashboards molded from hemp plastic. Currently, most of the hemp used to make this plastic is grown overseas, but it could be grown here if the ban on industrial hemp were to be lifted. In addition to car parts hemp plastic can be used to make plastic bags, water bottles, computer parts, nearly anything and everything currently made out of plastic from petrochemicals. Hemp can also be used to manufacture such building materials as insulation, fiberboard, floor tiles, floor boards caulking, shingles, and more. There is even a form of concrete called hempcrete which is a mixture of hemp hurds and lime and sometimes additional ingredients like sand. It is not brittle like regular concrete and therefore has the advantage of  not needing expansion joints when used in construction. One of the oldest uses for hemp is to make paper, and this was done as early as 2,000 years ago. Most paper today is made of wood pulp, and the trees to get the wood pulp from take years to grow. Hemp on the other hand can be harvested every year. By using hemp for paper we would be saving our forests, and our forests help fight global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the air. Finally, hemp oil can be used to manufacture biodiesel much like vegetable oil is used now. With dwindling petroleum supplies, the price of diesel is only going to go up, and a cheaper alternative needs to be found. Hemp oil can provide one of those alternatives.

Given all of hemp's uses the legalization of industrial hempcould mean an economic boon for stagnating rural. economies where it could be grown. With all its uses, its growth and use in manufacturing could bring billions of dollars into rural areas with struggling economies like the one I live in. The county  I live in, Randolph County, Missouri was once one of the biggest producers of hemp in the nation. There were four rope factories alone. Now imagine what a county like the one I live in could have with the legalization of hemp now we know even more uses for it? In addition to hemp farms, there could be clothing factories, rope factories, plastic factories, places that produce fiberboard and insulation, bio-fuel plants, to name a few things. It only makes sense to place these plants near where hemp is grown, and Missouri is ideal for growing hemp. With Missouri towns suffering from the loss of industries to places overseas, the railroads ceasing passenger service and closing lines, hemp could serve to revive ailing economies. There is no reason to be against the legalization of hemp with its many uses in manufacturing. Even marijuana has many medical uses that could benefit the economy.

But alas those wanting marijuana legalized for recreational and medical use drown out those that may present the more logical argument that the legalization of marijuana will also mean legalizing industrial hemp with all its economic benefits. Politicians love money, and tell them their backers can make a lot of money growing and using hemp in manufacturing, and they might be more behind lifting bans on both varieties of cannabis. Right now according to a recent poll 51% of Missouri voters are against lifting the ban on the growth and sale of cannabis. The reason perhaps is that all these voters think the legalizing of the growth and sale of cannabis would mean is that potheads would have the legal right to get stoned. Their minds shift to the dangers of people driving cars and operating heavy equipment while high from smoking marijuana. But lifting the ban on the growth and sale of cannabis could mean much more than that. It could mean bringing a lot of money into rural economies that badly need it. As for the dangers of people driving or operating heavy equipment while high from smoking cannabis we have the same problem with folks doing such while drunk, and no one is suggesting we go back to the prohibition of alcohol. Even though I have pointed out the benefits of hemp here, there are many reasons for marijuana to be legal as well with its many uses in medicine as a potential way to fight cancer. Even recreational use can benefit the economy. Colorado is expected to make over one billion dollars off of taxes on marijuana sold for recreational use. Such an influx of tax money for the state government to use could mean better schools and better roads that would benefit all. The reasons for keeping the ban on the growing and sale of cannabis are dwindling. There simply are too many reasons to make it legal, and rural Missouri economies need it. With the legalization of cannabis we could see a new era of prosperity for small Missouri towns. If you wish, by all means share this post to Facebook, Google+, or tweet it on Twitter. And write your State Legislators. Tell them you want it to be legal to grow industrial hemp and use it in manufacturing. I could care less myself whether marijuana is ever made legal, but I feel passionate about making it legal to grow industrial hemp, and to use it in manufacturing in Missouri. However, if marijuana has to be legalized for industrial hemp to be grown, so be it. You can get your State Legislator's addresses by going to the State Senate website. Just enter your address in the Legislator Lookup form and it will give you all the contact information for your State Senator and State Representative. The State Senate website is at:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Forgotten Village of Smithland, Randolph County, Missouri

On many maps of the State of Missouri dating between the years 1844 and 1875 there appears a place called "Smithland" located in the Southern part of Randolph County. Often it may be the only place shown in the county besides Huntsville and Mount Airy, places still remembered today. Smithland though has been largely forgotten. Many that have lived their entire lives in and around the town of Higbee, Missouri but two or three miles away have never heard of it. Its name does not appear once in the numerous county histories written as early as 1884. I, myself did not recall ever hearing of it, and would have been blissfully unaware of Smithland had I not noticed the name on so many maps of the period. I therefore went on a quest to learn more about it. The only place I found detailed information on it was from a pamphlet entitled Higbee Centennial 1872-1972: Higbee Through the Years compiled and edited by Emily F. Patison now deceased. I presume the information in the pamphlet was compiled from early editions of the Higbee News (sadly for many years a defunct newspaper) about the history of the area many years before at a time when folks remembered Smithland. While what information there was was enlightening, it did not answer the one question I had, exactly where was Smithland? The early maps clearly show it in the Southern part of Randolph County in the general area of the towns and villages of Higbee, Roanoke, and Yates. That is a very large area though. Too, I had many other questions about it. While the piece from the Centennial pamphlet was interesting, it really did not provide much information. So I went searching.

Here is what I learned. Smithland was an active community roughly between 1830 and 1871 founded by prominent landowner Joel Smith. It served as a stage coach stop on a line from Hannibal, Missouri to Fayette, Missouri, and had a post office that served between 1838 and 1858 (it was only one of five in the county at the time). In 1833, State Representative George Frederick Burckhardt of Randolph County was going to introduce a bill declaring the stage road from Paris, Missouri via Smithland to Fayette, Missouri a state road. I could not find out whether he did or did not do so. According to Esther Leech's Master's Thesis published in 1933 Place Names Of Six East Central Counties Of Missouri  the stage line stopped operation when the Western  Branch of the North Missouri Railroad began operation which would have been in 1866. The biography of William Smith, son of Joel Smith found in Randolph County, Missouri, Cemetery Records and Histories says much the same thing. I also learned from Missouri As It Is in 1867 by Nathan Parker that in 1867 Smithland had a population of only 50. The last State of Missouri map I can find that it appears on is from 1875. As early as 1885 it was being called "Old Smithland" in obituaries. In this part of the country a town or village is only called "Old" if it has ceased to exist. However, in its heyday Smithland boasted a post office, a small inn, a blacksmith shop, a general store, a tavern, and even a horse race track. It was large enough that political rallies were sometimes held there according to old stories told by old timers of their parents found in editions of the Moberly Monitor-Index from the 1930s.

What caused its decline is anyone's guess. Its post office ceased operation in 1858, the same year the Renick post office in Randolph County opened. Indeed, it is said in such sources as Ester Leech's thesis that Smithland was displaced by Renick. The Civil War may have done it no good either as the Battle of Roan's Tan Yard was fought within a couple of miles of Joel Smith's land. According to Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume III Joel Smith was pistol whipped and had two horses taken from him by some of Bloody Bill Anderson's men as they traveled through the area from their raid on Huntsville, Missouri in July of 1864. It could be the guerrilla activity in the area seriously hurt the business that kept Smithland alive. Finally, it is known that Joel Smith was a slave holder from government records (Descriptive Recruitment Lists of Volunteers for the United States Colored Troops for the State of Missouri, 1863-1865) that show he sent two slaves to fight for the Union army during the war. Many slave owners suffered economically due to the loss of income from the labor of the slaves after the war. The final blow was perhaps the stage line ceasing operation in 1866. It had continued to appear on maps though throughout the Civil War, but it may have already have been in decline by then. Its days would have been numbered anyhow. In 1872 Higbee was founded not three or four miles away to the Southeast to be followed by Yates not many miles to the Southwest. The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad went through Higbee in 1874, and Yates got a railroad in 1879 when the Chicago and Alton Railroad built through both it and Higbee. Later the mining town of Elliot would spring up not far away as well as the town of Harkes. All these towns were in about a six mile radius of  what had been Smithland. Joel Smith moved to Moberly, Missouri in 1880, and died two years later though his daughter Sarah remained living on the original farm. Any number of factors could have lead to Smithland's demise. Most likely it was due to accumulation of many things. All that is known is by 1885 it was being called "Old Smithland" a clear indicator it was no more. My brother Terry has suggested that perhaps it was like a "company town" that declined with the fortunes of its owner. I cannot discount that idea.

I have compiled a list of people that lived in and around Smithland from sources on the internet. First off there is Joel Smith's family. Joel Smith was originally from Kentucky. His wife was Dorcas Smith nee Tureman. They reportedly had nine children, but I can only find the names of six. He had one son William Smith who married Florence Head daughter of Doctor Walter Head of Huntsville, Missouri. He operated the stage line between Allen and Fayette and between Paris and Huntsville all in Missouri during the years of the Civil War and built and operated the Grand Central Hotel in Moberly, Missouri in 1880. The rest of Joel and Dorcas Smith's children were daughters and they are listed in no particular order. One of his daughters was Mary who married William James, William James was through his sister, Susan, brother in law of Doctor James Marion Walker who owned land beside some of Joel Smith's properties. Then there was Sarah Catherine who married James Edwin Rucker. According to her obituary in the Higbee News she lived on the farm she was born on her entire life and died there in 1924. The Smiths' daughter Elizabeth married John Tunstall Coates who would become a Circuit Judge and was influential in the early days of Moberly (he has one of the streets in Downtown Moberly named for him). Elizabeth died young. and after her death her sister Amanda married Judge Coates. Finally their daughter Annie married George Bradford. George became a prominent farmer Southeast of Columbia, Missouri.

There are others that may have lived in or around Smithland. I say, "may have lived" because some of these names are from genealogy pages which do not always have correct information. Smithland produced one famous or should I say infamous son. According to the Encyclopedia of  Frontier Biography Thomas F.M. McLean also known as "Bison" McLean was born in Smithland. He attended the University of Missouri and was recommended for an appointment to West Point by W.W. Hudson Professor of Mathematics as well as University President John Hiram Lathrop. He was admitted to West Point in July of 1844, but was dismissed in August of 1848 for being "deficient in conduct." He then traveled to California where he took up life with Native Americans and took to raiding. It could be he is related to Doctor William B. McLean whose estate was listed for sale near Smithland in a January 24, 1846 edition of the Boon's Lick Times, a paper out of Fayette, Missouri. A Mary McLean according to the 1876 plat map of Randolph County Missouri owned land adjacent to Joel's Smith's property. I cannot help but think they are all somehow related. Abiel Leonard who was at one time Secretary of State of Missouri and lived in Fayette apparently stayed in or near Smithland at some point. He received a letter there in 1855 from a Mrs. Terrell according to The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 58.  Also according to that volume Fleming Terrell lived in Smithland or nearby. According to postal records Reubon Watts was Postmaster of Smithland in 1856. Other people are mere names, and they are Thomas H. Withers, his wife Susan nee Shackleford, William Fleming Boulware, Peter Bass, Susan E. Creason nee Robb, Henderson D, Wilcox founder of the village of Harkes, Missouri owned property adjacent to Joel Smith's property.

Now to the question of locating Smithland. To do so I started first by checking the An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Randolph County, Missouri, 1876. Despite its glorified name it is essentially a plat map showing where people owned property within the county along with the acreage they owned. Through this I was able to locate where Joel Smith owned property in 1876. However, this is long after Smithland's heyday, and he may have sold or bought property in the intervening years. It would be of little use in locating Smithland. I then decided to check for the purchase of land patents by Joel Smith at the Bureau of Land Management website. He obtained land from the government in 1833, 1835, 1837, 1843, 1856, and 1859. The largest patent was the one in 1833 for 160 acres, though he obtained more acreage in another year by buying two patents. The 1833 patent was the largest one at one time. As the township, range, and section are given on the documents I could then locate them on a present day county map. With this information, I set about making my own map. I first drew in the land grants up until 1843. We know Smithland existed in 1838 as that is when the post office was opened, but I figured the later grants may be near to his original holdings. I then went back to the 1876 plat map, and drew in the properties he held in 1876. Amazingly he only sold one of his original land grants that being the 40 acre one in Section 35. Now to the map itself. Sections where he may have owned property between 1832 and 1876 are outlined in red and white. His land patents up until 1843 are outlined in blue and white with the dates of the grants given. Land he owned in 1876 in addition to the land patents are outlined in heavy red lines. As can be seen nearly all the properties run along present day Randolph County Road  2480 or close by. Only two of the properties had residences on them in 1876 (that are marked on the plat map anyway), and I have marked these on my map. In the Higbee Centennial pamphlet it is stated the settlement was near the main house. For that reason I think Smithland was in most likely Section 31, the location of the 1833 land patent. It is possible it was in Section 32 as we have no idea when he obtained that property, but I find that unlikely. It is possible there were other residences on the properties that were torn down before 1876, or that simply were missed in the making of the map. We have no way of knowing. So for now I think the best bet is that Smithland was in Section 31. It would be nice someday, if the present land owners were to allow it to explore Section 31 with a metal detector to find the exact location. Perhaps still there may be those that know the exact location.

Update February 25 2014: I emailed Randolph County Commissioner Jerry Crutchfield who someone said is very knowledgeable about county history. He said he did not know, but he asked County Commissioner Wayne Wilcox (Great, great, great grandson of H.D. Wilcox who founded Harkes) who lives very close to there. According to Mr. Wilcox, Smithland is South of the County Road 2530 and County Road 2520 intersection. It lies West and slightly South of a low water crossing on County Road 2520. Joel Smith did indeed own 80 acres there a little to the South in 1876 in Section 9 Northeast of Higbee shown on the map above. And his son William Smith owned 80 acres catty corner to the Northwest of this property in Section 4. This is a little West of where County Commissioner Wilcox says it is, and far from where I thought it was. However, the Smiths may have owned more property in that area and sold it by 1876. I have no doubt Commissioner Wilcox is probably right and this is the general location of Smithland. It is very near Route A which is a state road, and we know Representative Burkhardt was trying to have the road from Paris to Fayette via Smithland declared such. If that is the case Smithland is probably in Section 3  directly West of Renick. This would be in keeping with old accounts that put it West of Renick. Part of the problem has always been is Joel Smith owned so much land in the area, and referred to all of it as Smithland making locating the village difficult. I owe the Commissioners a great deal of thanks for their help! I cannot thank them enough!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Making Windows 8 a Desktop User's Dream

It has been 3 weeks since I first started using Windows 8. And to be fair I have not fully explored it, shying away from the Metro Screen after playing with it a bit. What little experience I had of it helped me figure out it is not for me. I am not saying it is a bad thing, some users may actually like it. I am saying I could not find anything that any of its apps could do that could not also be done on the Desktop, often times better. I have therefore spent almost all my time since those first few days on the Desktop. For a Desktop user Windows 8 is a fantastic system, but you have to work to make that so. What follows is how I made it so I almost never see the Metro screen on my laptop with Windows 8.1 installed unless I choose to see it.

Step 1: Go to Microsoft and upgrade to Windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 introduces some features that help make the OS more bearable to Desktop users like booting to the Desktop instead of the Metro Screen. The download and installation will take several hours (it took about three hours on my machine), so you need to set aside some time for it as you may be prompted to restart at a couple of points. My install went flawlessly. I have however heard of installs that have not gone well. At the same time I have heard that Microsoft Support is more than willing to help, and when they do they can usually manage to get Windows 8.1 installed on your machine. The tutorial on updating to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8 is at:

Step 2: Once Windows 8.1 has installed you will want to make it so your machine boots to the Desktop. This ability was introduced with 8.1 and you cannot do it in Windows 8. Once you have Windows 8.1 installed, booted up your machine, and gone to the Metro screen click on the Desktop icon and go to the Desktop. Anywhere on the Taskbar in an open area right click. Then click on Properties when the little menu pops up. When the Properties window opens you will want to click on the Navigation  tab. You will then want to check the box next to  "Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in." While you are there you may also want to disable the hot corners, check off the first two boxes dealing with the corners. There are several other options, and I leave those choices up to you. When you reboot your PC though it should now automatically go to the Desktop.

Step 3: You will then want to download a Start Menu replacement to add a Start Button and Menu like those in Windows 7. There are several Start Menu replacements out there, each with its own merits. Personally, I use Classic Shell. Classic Shell gives you the options of the Classic Start Menu (like the one in XP), Classic with two columns (sort of a cross between the Windows XP and Windows 7 Menus), or the Windows 7 Menu. It is easy to configure and there are plenty of options to get your Start Menu just the way you want it. You can download Classic Shell at:

Step 4: Change your file associations. Most all of the most common file extensions used by Windows are associated with Metro Apps. You may be perfectly content in your Desktop home, decide you want to see a jpeg listed in File Manager, click on it, and wham-o you are in the Photo App on the Metro Screen, and then have to navigate back to the Desktop. To avoid this you must set all the file associations to Desktop programs. This is a little time consuming, but well worth it. Assuming you downloaded Classic Shell or similar Start Menu software, in the Search Box on the Start Menu  type "file associations." You will be faced with a list of choices. You will want to click on "Change the file type associated with a file extension." A menu will then load listing all the file extensions on your computer and what program they are associated with. If you see simple names like "Music" or "Photo" you can bet the default is a Metro App. You can then highlight the file extension, click on the "Change Program" button in the upper right hand side. A list of available programs for that kind of file will come up and you can choose a Desktop program to open the file. Say you want to make it so Photo Gallery opens jpegs on your Desktop. Scroll down to the extension .jpg and click on it. You can then click "Change Program" and see the list of choices. If you scroll down you will see Photo Gallery. Click on Photo Gallery and your jpeg files are now opened with Photo Gallery when you click on them in File Manager. Like I said, this is time consuming, but well worth the effort if you do not want yourself thrown off the Desktop and into a Metro Screen App.

Step 5: Change Auto-Play options. Like file extensions Auto-Play options generally default to Metro Apps. I learned this the hard way when importing photos from my camera. I hooked up my camera expecting to be asked what to do, and immediately I was in the Metro Screen Photo App. It was not a bad experience, but I still had to navigate back to the Desktop which is time consuming and unnecessary.  Unfortunately in some cases with Auto-Play you may have to install third party software. If you import photos from a camera regularly and do not want to use the Photo App, you will have to install third party software like that which came with your camera. You are no longer given the option to use File Explorer or Photo Gallery. Once you have installed any third party software you use go to the Start Menu search box (assuming you downloaded and installed Classic Shell or similar Star Button software) and type "Autoplay." A list of choices will come up and you want to click on "Autoplay." The Autoplay menu will then come up, and you can choose how every sort of media is handled. You may want to have it ask you every time or have a specific program open whatever media you are dealing with, Note, with cameras and other equipment you will have to have had the camera or other equipment connected at some point to your PC to set the Auto-Play options for it. If you have more than one camera each will have to be handled separately.

Step 6: If you are on a laptop with hand gestures for the touch pad you may have to disable gestures. One problem I had was that making a straight line movement with my index finger right to left on the touch pad of my laptop would open the Charms Bar. Since I move rather rapidly on the touch pad it would never fail that I would scroll to the left hand side of the screen to click on something, the Charms Bar would come open, I would click, and next thing I know I would be on the Metro Screen or somewhere else I did not want to be. I went to my touch pad settings to see if I could disable that gesture, and there was no option to do so, so I disabled all gestures. I only used one or two gestures so this was no big deal to me. Hopefully, your machine is different and you can disable just that gesture.

I now have Windows 8.1 where I want it. I have not seen the Metro Screen in a while now without me having chosen to see it. For me it is a glorified Windows 7 and that to me is not a bad thing. I am a Desktop user and have no need for a tablet like experience on a PC. I do like the new File Explorer and Task Manager of Windows 8.1 a great deal and the fact 8.1 is much faster does not bother me either. Overall, once I got it where I wanted it, I am quite happy with Windows 8.1. However, it does take a bit of work to get it where you may want it as a Desktop user. Once you do however I think you will be pleased.