My Blog is…Priceless?

Did you know your blog is actually worth something?

Of course it’s worth something; why else would someone devote their time, talent, and energy to writing one if it wasn’t worth anything?

Well, it turns out there’s actually a tool that can calculate how much your blog is worth in currency. The POD People blog discovered an applet that will determine it simply by entering its URL. Emily discovered that the above blog is worth $16,371.66! Wow! That kind of information will definitely make you feel good about yourself, not to mention justifying your time spent blogging.

Of course, I had to see how this humble blog measured up in the statistical eyes of the applet. And here’s the result:

That was definitely a confidence boost! 🙂

Judge Hurst and the Search for Hurst Nation, Part 1

It’s a mystery: when was the term “Hurst Nation” first applied to that portion of northwest McNairy County (and present-day Chester County) where the Hurst and allied families lived?

As judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit of Tennessee, Fielding Hurst reportedly directed McNairy County sheriff (and former captain of Company A, Sixth Tennessee Cavalry) Samuel Lewis “‘to go back into the ‘Nation’ and bring back 25 men to serve as jurors.’ This happened regularly to ensure a guilty verdict against unreconstructed rebels in areas beyond the ‘Nation.'” (This is found in W. Clay Crook’s partisan article “Hurst!”)

So today, I began meticulously reading the handwritten Circuit Court Minute Book B on microfilm at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville looking for such a reference. So far I’m through the first 57 pages but no mention of the “Nation” or Judge Hurst instructing the sheriff to pluck jurors from friendly territory. I still have a lot more to read (and based on the quality of the microfilm, I may need to plan a visit to Selmer and look at the original book), but I’ve yet to find any underhanded or conniving behavior by Hurst.

When Hurst took the gavel on July 15, 1865, the 12th Judicial Circuit Court had not convened in McNairy County in over three years, and then it was a Confederate and not a Federal judiciary. The first day back saw the convening of the Grand Jury (all its members being loyal to the Union, no rebels allowed). It returned a flurry of indictments, mostly for larcenies and murders committed during the court’s absence.

The fifth bill of indictment handed down that day was an interesting one: William Roark, Roland D. Williams, and David Spencer were charged with the murder of William Hurst, nephew of the judge, on April 1, 1864. As you may recall from reading Hurst’s Wurst and other articles, the murder has always been blamed on “the Wharton gang,” which supposedly led to their executions by Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee. William was murdered a year after the executions — so obviously Wharton and his men didn’t do it. I haven’t found record of the murder trial itself yet.

As for the claim that Judge Hurst sought his own people for jurors, such a rigged effort really wasn’t necessary, if it occurred at all. There was no real danger in the years following the end of the war that ex-Confederates could gain access to the jury box. As state senator, Hurst did his part a few months before taking the bench to ensure they had no voice or vote in postwar society with the enactment of the Franchise Law. He knew who was loyal and who wasn’t, so there was little chance anyone other than Unionists would be in the jury pool. There really wasn’t the need to “go into the ‘Nation'” and find them.

I’ll check back when I have the opportunity to dig deeper in the minute book.

Book Signing and Artisan Trail

Saturday’s book signing at the McNairy County Historical Museum was a big success! After four hours, every copy of Hurst’s Wurst that my wife Cindy and I brought with us was sold–27 in all! We met a lot of nice people and I enjoyed talking with everyone who came by.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’ve had book signings before that drew no one, so I hoped for the best yet expected the worst. But when we arrived, we had about five people waiting for us (we were a little late in getting there) and I didn’t sit down and catch my breath for the next three hours! It was a better turnout that I could’ve expected.

I had the chance to meet many people who are interested in McNairy County history, many of whom are readers of this blog. Thank you for stopping by. I also met several members of the Hurst family, who appreciated the fairness that I’ve shown him in the book. There’s been so much of a negative slant to most everything written about him that they’re apprehensive when anything new comes out.

I’d like to thank Judy Hammond, president of the McNairy County Historical Society, for giving me the opportunity to have the book signing that day as part of the Arts in McNairy Artisan Trail. It’s a great way to spotlight the talents of artists throughout the county.

We were only able to make one stop on the Artisan Trail. We visited the workshop and museum of Hockaday Homemade Brooms at 2704 Hwy 142 outside Selmer. There we met owner Jack Martin, who makes brooms the same way his grandfather Jack Hockaday did over 90 years ago and with the same equipment he did back then. He does excellent work and I would encourage anyone interested in quality, handmade brooms to visit Jack’s workshop or his website at www.hhbrooms.com

Book Signing Reminder

I’ll be having a book signing event at the McNairy County Historical Museum in Selmer, TN tomorrow (Saturday) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you live in the area, I hope you’ll stop by. The museum is one of many stops along the day-long AiM (Arts in McNairy County) Artisan Trail.

Click here for a map of the various tour stops throughout McNairy County.

The museum is located at 114 North Third Street in downtown Selmer.

Book Trailer

Recently I learned that authors (particularly self-published ones) are creating their own video trailers to promote their books and posting them on sites such as YouTube. I think it’s a great concept and gives authors a new venue to promote their work.

So I decided to make one for my book Hurst’s Wurst. It wasn’t very difficult to create a trailer using Windows Movie Maker, a few spare hours, and a healthy dose of patience. It was neat to explain the gist of a book in visual form.

Proof of a Ghost in the Hurst Home?

(I intended to add this post on Halloween, but my computer’s hard drive decided to die and left me without Internet access for the past week.)

My last post concerned Russell Ingle’s “Ghosts of Purdy” article that mentioned the possibility that Fielding Hurst’s home could be haunted. Until I exchanged a series of e-mails last week, I had never heard–let alone seen photos–that there might just be something to it!

I mentioned that I had been there last November and had even walked inside, but saw nothing except a terribly vandalized historic home. Randy Lute sent me an e-mail two days before Halloween and shared what he experienced when he ventured into the Hurst home. Having read the article in last week’s McNairy County Independent Appeal and being interested in old homes and barns, Randy drove to Purdy and took some photos of the outside of the Hurst home. He walked inside and even went upstairs and looked around. “My heart was racing,” he recalled. “[N]ot scared, but [my] heart was racing.”

Later, he uploaded the photos from his digital camera into his home computer. He zoomed in on the window above the front door of the house and saw a very disturbing image he had not seen the day he was there. “I’m here to tell you, what I saw looking at me out that window stood the hairs on the back of my neck on end,” he wrote. “There’s a face looking out of that window, and it’s not a happy looking face. [It’s a] stern, mean, cold look.” He claimed to see not one, but two faces in the window.

“I want you to know I’m not doing drugs or drinking,” Randy assured me. “I’m a stone cold, sober, decent kind of man.”

I had no cause to doubt him and he promised to send me photos to prove it. Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued. I love to hear ghost stories, especially with a local flavor, but still I was a bit skeptical.

Until I saw the photos.

Here’s the photo Randy took of the front of the house.


It wasn’t until he zoomed in on the window situated directly above the front door and porch roof that he saw this image.

In the middle pane’s upper left-hand corner, there’s what appears to be a human face!

I’ll add the other photos he sent me, but this one was the creepiest one to me.