Archive for November, 2015

The Gold Mine in the Closet: Statement by Elizabeth Georgia Basinger of the experiences of her mother, Jane Susan Starr Basinger, & herself during the occupation of the City of Savannah by Sherman’s army on December 20th, 1864.

November 29, 2015

This Gold Mine in Sugar’s Closet is as wide as it is deep.

I was tootling through some Garrard papers (Hi Emily! I’m working on it!) when I found this statement and a transcription. I don’t know when the statement was written, and I don’t know when the transcription was transcribed, or who the transcriber was. I wonder if it’s the same typist and/or typewriter who transcribed William Starr Basinger’s “Reminiscences”. Regardless, I don’t know who transcribed the “Reminiscences”.

What I do know is that it appears to have been written long afterward Sherman’s occupation of Savannah based on some of Elizabeth “Georgia” Basinger’s statement.

So here I’ll present the images and then my digital transcription of the transcription. The original statement is difficult to read, but really? It’s possibly 150 years old. The paper it is written on is solid and only slightly worn on the edges. It is one continuous sheet.

Here we go…

BasingerEG 1864P1BasingerEG 1864P2BasingerEG 1864P3

BasingerEG P1

BasingerEG P2

BasingerEG P3

Here’s an oddity on the back of page one. It’s a carbon. I haven’t attempted to flip the page in a digital fashion. I remember the old days of manual typewriters and carbon sheets. I think that the carbon was inserted incorrectly between two or more sheets. I remember that usually, when typing an important paper, the first draft was not the final draft, and I think that this was an early attempt at transcribing the statement.

BasingerEG Back of P1

Statement by Elizabeth Georgia Basinger of the experiences of her mother,
Jane Susan Starr Basinger, & herself during the occupation of the City of
Savannah by Sherman’s army on December 20th, 1864.
The 20th Dec 1864 was a sad and sorrowful day in Sav, for we
knew the Y army was but a short distance off, and that during the night the City would be evacuated by the Confederate troops. There was but little provision What provision was the Quartermasters had were distributed to the citizens. The Hospitals & Soldiers Homes were disbanded, dismantled & their
little stores divided out among those who were at hand to receive them.
Night drew on dark & threatening, the stars were veiled in clouds as if in sympathy, those whose fate it was to remain in the City retired to their houses, glad to light their lamps, & sit around their fires, though they could do nothing, & talk of nothing but the events of the past day & the anticipations of the morrow. About 10 o’clock we suddenly remembered a sabre we had in our possession & was at that moment leaning in the corner, which had been taken from the enemy & given us by a friend, we had no time then to dispose of it in a safe place as we had done other articles of the
same kind, so Mother & I took it & went to the door & listened for some one to pass to whom we could give it. Presently we heard the noise of a horse’s feet & the rattle of a sword, it was so dark (there was no gas) that we could see neither horse or rider, but we went to the pavement & called. It proved to be an officer, & we knew by his voice & manner a gentleman, so we gave it to him, with a few brief words of explanation & he rode on. We went to bed, more from habit & because we did not know what else to do.
The first sound we heard early the next morning was Oh Miss, Oh Miss Lizzie, de Yankees is come, dey is just as tick (thick) as bees, dey is so many on horses & de horse’s tails is stanin’ out right straight, you jes come look out de winder. We were sorry to see the daylight which brought such a sight to us, what the little negro had said was too true, our street was full of them, there were pickets in the lane, a vacant lot near us was full & they had taken the next house wh was unoccupied. We had our gates & door securely fastened, several did get into the yard, because the servants were obliged to go in & out sometimes, but nothing was taken from the premises.
Our cooks husband would stand at the front gate a few moments & he had a ring taken from his finger & stolen & I was glad of it for it made them more careful. We closed our windows & mourned all the day, sad & listless, all our energy gone, & not a cent of money which was available of any use then we could not eat so we did not realize then that when our stock of provisions exhausted we had no money with which to get more. We retired that night.
At night there were fires in the lane & soldiers around them, their muskets stacked near by. We were amused when on retiring to our rooms we made a little noise with the windows, to see every man spring to his feet & grasp his musket, looking around as if expecting an attack. Thankful that our house had not been invaded we went to sleep. Quite early next morning Mother called “Come, let us up & be doing! As soon as we can get our breakfast we
must go to work, the Yanks all want something sweet & we want some green-backs, we will make cakes & pies &c and sell them”. We did so & were quite successful, we had several little negroes about who were delighted to do it. Several trays full were stolen by the soldiers. This was our life for some time & we made enough to get many things we needed. The rations which were given out, I think belonged to the City, they were given to all white persons who presented themselves. We as well as most others received the rations, because we had no money but Confederate. Whether any were ever denied or not I never heard; those persons appointed to distribute them were well acquainted in the City & I presume much had to be left to their discretion. It was some time before we took any of the enemy into our house; we heard so much about other persons providing for their whole families from the rations brought by those in their house, that we decided to take the next who applied; so shortly five asked to have a room, they would pay
for the room, & the gas, would bring their rations & we would have them prepared & put upon our table, where they & ourselves would take our meals.
The provisions were such that we could not stand it long; so we had to eat our own meals first, then go to the table & pretend to eat. Of course we could have no conversation with them, tho’ they tried their best to induce us, by discussing person & event in which they knew we were deeply interested, but we had made up our minds to be silent & we were. Their very presence soon became so hateful, & the feeling of degradation at even sitting
down with them so great, that we told them they might keep the room but we could no longer cook their meals.
Before breakfast one day, one of the servants said “Miss (they called mother so, short for mistress) I bleve dem Y is going, one big wagon is at the door”. Before we could turn round, they were gone sure enough, & we never heard more of them, the gas bill they did not pay, it was afterwards presented to us, but we declined to pay & so the matter ended. I do not remember the names of the men, we were only too glad to forget all about them.
If we had been sociable with them I have no doubt they would have provided much better; but our pride could not come down to that. Brother was in Va. all that time & Mother had been very sick, the grown negroes had left, & my time was fully occupied. We never came in contact with any of the enemy, so knew next to nothing except from hearsay. Occasionally we would hear from
what was left of the Confederacy. We had (& I have never ceased to regret it) taken the oath in order to receive our letters, for we felt as if we must hear from Va. & a letter did reach us sometimes.
On April 6th (???) I think, was fought the last battle of the confederacy, at Sailor’s Creek Va. Brother’s battalion was there, many were killed & he with many others taken prisoner. The first particulars came to me from my cousin who was also a prisoner. I well remember the number of persons who met me that afternoon on leaving the P O. The news soon flew over the City & by the time I reached home our house was full all eager to hear of their
friends who were in the fight. We had to tell many of the death of their sons, brothers &c, others were left in doubt of the fate of friends, many  were wounded & carried to prison. Brother was taken to Johnsons Is, my cousin to Fort McHenry. After that our amusement was to write long letters & take them to the Provost’s office to be approved & sent off. Three or four would undertake to read one letter, but would soon tire, put it in the envelope & mark it approved. We always took care to give them something sprey
to read about themselves & the fun was to see them make faces over it & yet could not exactly find fault. Brother remained in prison about 6 months, he with a number of others would not take the oath ordered, so they were kept, until their captors got disgusted I suppose for they were released & took no oath. The prison fare was very hard to those who had no money, many
ate rats & scraps left by the more fortunate. Those who had means & obtained better food, put up boxes in the passages, & would put in them what they could spare, & those who needed took from the boxes, so their feelings were saved & those who gave were pleased. We were able by exertion & some sacrifice to keep Brother provided. When he came home we were all right again.
The Mayor as on the approach of the enemy , met them & gave up the City. At the time we felt that terribly & thought we had rather have been bombarded, in our cooler moments we believed the Mayor was right. One night while the five Y were in our house, there was an immense fire in W. Broad St.; powder, shell &c were stored there, of course there were explosions & the shell went all over the City, in some cases through the roofs & into the houses. There was great excitement, & everybody much frightened. Our 5 thought at first that the Confeds were trying to retake the City. I do not remember, but I think the rations were given for about a month.
Many persons were much annoyed by the Y soldiers, but we escaped. The houses of those who had left the City were generally taken possession of, the furniture, clothing &c destroyed & given away, the negroes were paid for their services with it, carpets cut up for horse blankets, vaults in the cemetery broken open to hunt for treasure, particularly those which seemed to have been recently opened for interment. Sav on the whole fared much better than most places.

It’s a favorite old Southern story that the Confederate families that were left behind buried the family silver at the approach of the Union Army. The Basingers were city people, and even though they had a town lot, there is no story of any hiding of family valuables. Sugar has a story that the Basinger silverware was placed in a safe-deposit box at a bank in the 1900s. It was never recovered, if the story is true.

There are a few pieces of silver that Sugar has in his collection. We were looking at them over the Thanksgiving holiday this year, and he found a fork with the initials “E G B” on the underside of the handle.

Do you suppose, when Elizabeth Georgia Basinger took her meals at the table with the Yankees, that she used this fork…

A Headwarmer for Smaller Heads

November 29, 2015

Some of us have smaller heads because we are economical and pack a lot of brain power into smaller packages. 

Some of us are freaks. 

Whatever your pleasure, here’s the same Headwarmer in a slightly smaller size. Follow the same directions as yesterday, just cast on 92 stitches instead of 100. 


I used Lion Brand’s “Amazing” yarn in color way 825-217 Olive Medley. It is probably discontinued which is why it was on sale at Michael’s. If you try to find it on the Internet, and end up at my Etsy shop “Catcatcher Corner”, don’t attempt to buy it. It has been appropriated in a parallel universe by a me who did not update the shop listing. 

Using a size 5 circular 16″ needles, cast on 92. 

Join, being careful not to twist. 

K2P2 9 rows, using a twisted knit stitch on the knit stitches for extra stretch. 

P 7 rows, K 7 rows twice. Purl 7 rows. 

K2P2 9 rows, using twisted knit stitch for the knit stitches to build in extra stretch. 

Cast off. Perfect for a ponytail.

It’s hard to get a proper selfie of the back of your head. You there, in the back, STOP LAUGHING. 




Aha! A neckwarmer! The ribbing tucks neatly inside.

I took these photos in front of Sugar’s holly bushes. He said not to show the next photo because it was scary. 

So here it is. I wore it like this one cold morning, and the corrugated design carried my warm breath all the way around to my ears.  I know!  I’m impressed, too. 


If you knitted more units of P7rows/K7rows, you’d have more length to tidily cover your neck. 

I *know*! I thought so, too!

A Headwarmer, or: Because the Blog is My Scrapbook

November 28, 2015

Sometimes I just need to knit.

I’ve come up with this design that I knitted in some of my hand-dyed yarn. You remember the yarn that I dyed with food-coloring because the internet said I could? Yeah, that.

I’ve been soaking them for two weeks, changing to fresh water every day. When I knitted each one, my hands turned hot pink. Note to self: the Internet is a liar.

But I do have a happy new design out of it.

It’s like a wooly headband that’s big enough to cover your ears. Some of us need bigger headbands than others, for obvious reasons.

You can pull your ponytail out the top.


New ear/head/neck warmer. Size 5 circular 16″ needles. Cast on 100. Join. K2P2 9 rows, using a twisted knit stitch. (P 7 rows, K 7 rows) twice. Purl 7 rows. K2P2 9 rows, using a twisted knit stitch. Cast off in pattern. Perfect for a ponytail.

A BatesonFest Goodbye

November 28, 2015

Sugar and I are sad. It’s time to say goodbye to his Canadian cousins. 

But first a few photos from Walter’s collection…


Richard Bateson of Lancashire. He’s Sugar’s great-great-grandfather, and Walter’s, too.


This old photo is labeled the Bateson home in Oakleigh, Ashton on Mersey, which still stands. We don’t know why it’s a Bateson home. Fascinating history of the home nonetheless.


Susannah Wagstaff Bateson, wife of Richard Bateson, who predeceased him.


This last old photo is YoursTruly, Audrey, Walter, and Leslie. I’m squinting because the darn selfie won’t work.

See you next year! (Anybody want to go to Canada?)

At Honey Horn: the Butterfly House

November 26, 2015

We ended our outing at Honey Horn with the butterfly house.



It reminds me of a pole structure that’s been screened. The man that made my shed used a “pole” method that he used for other out buildings, like pole barns. The poles are sunk into deep, concrete-filled holes, and it’s super-strong. If we have a hurricane and don’t evacuate, I’m going to the shed.

This means we are at the end of our outing, and there’s only 2 meals left before the SugarCousins will be on their way.

Oh, sadness.



At Honey Horn: the Art of Stanley Meltzoff

November 25, 2015

I don’t know of him. Perhaps you do. 

His works were featured in a temporary exhibit. 

His underwater works have an ethereal quality (that being a good thing and not meaning spacey). Yet why didn’t I photograph any? Perhaps I was too entranced by the real thing. 

There were other objects of interest in the room. Like this chair once belonging to John Holmes, a Gullah fisherman who died in 1972 at the age of 86. 

 We toured a bit longer into the room that displayed local artists’ works. And I couldn’t resist taking one more photo of a storyboard about freedom. 

There are walking trails and a butterfly house, even though it’s too late in the season for butterflies. 

It’s probably mid-afternoon by now, and we walk down to an observation deck into the marsh that overlooks Jarvis Creek. 

Do you see the Bateson cousins?


The talk turns to the time and the tide, the calls of the birds, the smell of the marsh…

Along the walkway to the butterfly house, there’s a memorial section. There’s Sugar’s friend Fred’s parents. 

It caused us to pause in moments of silence while we read their tributes. 

We finished our day here at the butterfly enclosure. All I can say about that is this: now I want a butterfly enclosure…

On to Honey Horn

November 25, 2015

Sugar had considered for a long time how to round out our BatesonFest with his Canadian cousins. 

A trip to Honey Horn Plantation was his answer. It’s not only that it’s the location of the Coastal Discovery Museum, it’s also the former home of his childhood friend Fred. 

The drive winds through the trees to get to the house. We pause outside the house to check out some of the storyboards. 


There are excellent trees on the grounds.  It is thought that the name Honey Horn is a derivation of the name of an early owner, Mr. Hanahan. 
Once inside, there are so many things to see and absorb yourself in. Displays, dioramas, books and gifts and souvenirs, art exhibits, an entire room geared for kids, and storyboards about the history of the people, the plantation, and the island are just waiting for you. 


You can enlarge any photo by clicking on it.






Sugar pointed how the interior had changed. The rooms had been opened up to make the floor plan flow into an airy space. The ceilings have not been lowered. Twelve feet? Fourteen? I don’t know, but tall ceilings aided in cooling a house in this climate. 

We head into an area where the art exhibitions are… 

Along the Rivuh

November 21, 2015

We’re out in the churchyard at the Church of the Cross in Bluffton on a BatesonFest. We used to only go on LawtonFests, because Sugar didn’t know any other Batesons. But since Julie in Belgium found an online family tree I posted, and she found a cousin’s wife in New Zealand who connected us to another cousin in South Africa, who connected us to her daughter and family in North Carolina and yet another cousin in Saskatchewan, he’s feeling not so lonely. It’s his Canadian cousins who have stopped for a visit and the subsequent BatesonFest. 

There’s a sort of sundial in the yard, and we weren’t sure it it was still on Eastern Standard Time or Daylight Savings. Maybe you can tell. 

There are some carvings around the base. We don’t know what they mean, but here they are. 

We stand in the shadow of an ancient cedar tree. There aren’t many cedars to be found in this part of the country, and when you do find a cedar, it’s old. 


The Maye Rivuh


Then we piled back in the van and drove around old Bluffton and Sugar showed us his boyhood haunts. We drove over the little causeway to Myrtle Island, and he told us how people would go crabbing there. We drove around Myrtle, a small residential island with beautiful homes and matching views in every direction. We drove past Sugar’s boyhood home, which was set away from the road and closer to the marsh and so overgrown that the actual hour could not be seen. We saw some of the other historic houses and properties, like the Heyward house, the John Lawton Property, and the Boy Scout hut where Sugar and his buddies met. He said his troop was unique, Bluffton-style, and it was a mixed bag of boys, with the younger ones on the roof throwing sticks, and the older ones smoking cigarettes. He had a friend from Hilton Head named Fred, and Fred’s father wanted his two boys in the scouts until he drove up one day with the boys in the car to join the scouts. He saw that rough-and-tumble group and just kept driving.  
Then we did something I’ve always wanted to do. 

We went through the boat landing. There is a nice portapotty there, which was not the reason we went. 

Okay, it was the reason we went, but it was a perfect opportunity to walk down to where the boats put in on a point of land. 

Across the way are other little islands. 

We drove around a bit more as we wound our way to the British Open Pub for lunch. We thought it might be fun for the Bateson boys to eat in a British pub, since their families were born Brits. The meal was unremarkable and no photos are forthcoming. 

But then, we head toward Hilton Head even though it is Saturday, which is changeover day for the tourist rentals and no one in their right mind gets on the one road in and out of Hilton Head unless it’s the offseason. Sometimes we are not in our right mind, but it’s offseason, and on we press to see the house and property where Sugar’s friend Fred grew up. It’s a museum now. With a gift shop. Which will have books!


More Batesons, More Bluffton

November 20, 2015

We’re at the Church of the Cross. We were here once before, a few years back, and Sugar was shocked to see that there were *tourists* touring his church. (I see what you’re thinking. If it’s his church, why doesn’t he know about the tours.) To be fair, he hasn’t lived there for years, and how things can change in the blink of an eye. Or forty or fifty years.

Here’s a fun little insert: an old postcard of Calhoun Street looking north from Sugar’s Gold Mine in the Closet. It looks as if this photo was taken almost directly in front of the church with the photographer’s back to the rivuh. This strikes me as strange because this doesn’t look like a particularly photogenic view when you compare it to the river and the church. Yet I’ve never seen another postcard of this vintage of the church. The white two-story house on the left at one point was a bed-and-breakfast, but now according to the docent at the church is a church property.

scan0009 (4)

Sugar told us some far-fetched story about bees that build their hives in the church walls, and the church recovers the honey and patches up the wall. Totally preposterous. Except true.

Someday I am going to learn to believe him.


Holy Honey

The table in the foyer had memorabilia. In fact, an entire notebook of photos and newspaper clippings and research materials. I looked around for a corner that I could curl up in and look at the notebook, but, finding none, I had to satisfy myself with a few photos.

The santuary part of the church is much larger inside than I’d imagined.

In an amazing reversal in my through-the-window technique, keep in mind that finally I am inside a church taking a photo through the window, not the other way around. If I went to this church, I wouldn’t be sitting in a pew and listening to the service, I’d be chillin’ by the window.

Yes, we are still inside the church. These windows are magnificent.


On the way out, we stopped to chat with one of the docents. She and Sugar reminisced about the old town and how things had changed.

Then we headed outside and over to the rivuh…


Batesons in Bluffton

November 20, 2015

Sugar’s Canadian cousins are here! It’s better than Christmas!

Sugar worried over what to do and where to go. Most of our outings center around food and dead people, and this trip proves no different. 

We’ve already done Savannah and Beaufort, so Sugar decides we’d tour Bluffton, where he grew up. 

The first stop of the day is to see the Maye River. There’s an excellent vantage point at the end of Calhoun at the community dock/pier, with an extra beautiful historic church. 


The Church of the Cross

It’s hard to get a good shot of the front without tourists wandering in and out. Today the church is open for touring, so should we go in?

First, our volunteer guide gives us his personal history tour. He was an acolyte here when a typical Sunday morning service might have 7 attendees. 

Soon, we go inside…