Tag Archives: mann

Raising money for my grave

Saturday I spent the day helping to raise money for the upkeep and care of my future grave. I’ve got a nice spot picked out for me and BJ on a gentle downslope of a hill—that way my head will be slightly inclined—I hate it when the blood rushes to my head—overlooking…well, farmland.

Some of you think I’m kidding (well, about the grave site), but I’m not. The cemetery is the Gravel Hill Cemetery and is located on the hilly ground of Crowley’s Ridge in St. Francis, Arkansas. St. Francis, once a bustling booming town with 5 banks, now has a population of about 250. BJ and I got the plot almost right after we were married. Hmmm, now that I think about it, I see why she was so hesitant back then! Ha. It’s only a few miles from the Civil War battlefield of Chalk Bluff, and believe it or not, has about three Yankees buried there.

Brittany doesn’t like to hear me talk about the plot, which is situated near several of names that occupy blanks on my family tree, but it doesn’t really bother me any to think about it. It’s gonna happen sooner or later if Jesus doesn’t return first, so I’ve never seen what the worry is, really.

But up in that little area of NE Arkansas, many of the small cemeteries are really in danger of losing the folks who care for them and have to worry about money. So, what the communities do is put on annual “picnics,” which are kinda like little county fairs. They have entertainment, food, beauty contests and benefit auctions, all designed to make money for the cemetery associations. Really, it’s a good thing. Further, most of the local folks make plans to spend some portion of their day at the picnics so they can spend money there to help the cemeteries—even if it’s just stopping by for a burger. It’s as much a part of life in rural NE Arkansas as Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Families who’ve been in the area for a long period of time and are well-established there like mine, tend to have people in several of the different cemeteries. So from July 4 until about Aug 4, those families are often busy trying to help raise money for several different cemeteries. Often, volunteer work is hot work. Not so much hard, but usually very hot. It’s July in the South, after all.

Out-of-towners often plan their trips to the area to coincide with the picnics and often the picnics turn into family reunions. Some of those a little further away send in donations. Heck, some of them know they’ll be buried in those same cemeteries in no time at all.

This past Saturday was a beautiful day and I’d be willing to bet it was one of the highest crowds to show up in several years. Brittany had the opportunity to perform as part of the “entertainment” and Brett spent 11 straight hours there playing without stopping. Yes, eventually I’ll be there and I sure do like the thought that someone will be there raising money so they can cut down the trees growing nearby. I don’t mind grass growing over the top of me, but I don’t like the idea of tree roots in my ears.


Filed under Columns

April is a good month

April is a good month for the Mann family. Good, but always very busy. Seems like April is the month when so many things happen.

For instance, April 6 (which just so happens to be today), is the date on which my daughter Brittany was born. Yes, can you believe it? She is 14 years old today. She’s already talking about getting her driver’s license! It also happens to be the date on which my mother was born, albeit several years before Brittany. And it also happens to be the date on which my grandfather Bill Mann was born, in 1919. When Grandpa was alive, we had a few years in which we celebrated all three birthdays! And although Grandpa isn’t with us anymore, his twin sister is still living in St. Francis, Arkansas!

For as long as I can remember, Dad has always had a good time with the fact that he married an older woman. You see, Dad’s birthday is 4 days later…April 10.

I once teased Brittany and told her that I’d always be able to remember her birthday if I couldn’t remember anything else. The American Civil War battle of Shiloh, Tenn., took place on April 6 and 7 in 1862. Brittany even celebrated her 7th birthday on the grounds of Shiloh when she went with me to participate in a reenactment.

April is also Confederate Heritage Month in many Southern states. Admittedly, it’s becoming fewer and fewer as more Southern Governors turn coward and give in to political correctness. Why April? April is the month during which the war began…and ended.


Confederate Memorial Day also happens in April…mostly. Unfortunately, the Southern states can’t all get together to agree on this date. For instance, it was January 19 in Texas this year. In the Carolinas, it’s May 10 (but will be observed on May 11)…and then in Geo., Miss., Ala., and Fla., Confederate Memorial Day is April 27. An interesting tidbit about this finds that the Federal Memorial Day began after many in the North discovered Southerners honoring Southern dead after the war. As is often the case, the Feds took the date and turned it into Memorial Day, causing the Southerners to switch to a different date. Initially, Memorial Day was only for Union dead…that changed after WW1. If you’re a Southerner, you should mark this date down on your calendar and remember the Southern dead who generally do not get remembered any other time…unless they’re being portrayed as the villains. They are no more villains than the current US Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last, but not least, April is the month in which I was married. Yep, April 28 of 1990 (for those of you ticking away on your fingers, this makes 19 years!) is the day I tied the knot with BJ. Of course, for those who knew me before then, you’ll remember we dated for SEVEN (yes, 7!) years before we got married. There were quite a few, I think, who wondered if it would ever happen.

So, Happy Birthday Brittany, Mom and Aunt Juanita! May you have many, many more!


Filed under Columns

Family reunion revisited

I attended my first family reunion in 2004. I’d been wishing to have one to attend for nearly 20 years. Y’see, I started “looking up my family tree” around 1986-ish. What caused it was my growing interest in history, particularly American, specifically War Between the States.

Really, I got so interested in the war, the causes of war, migration patterns during expansion and all…that I just got to wondering where my family was during all this. I also discovered the historical/heritage organization The Sons of Confederate Veterans and wanted to join. In order to join, however, you had to prove direct link to a confederate soldier. So, I started searching.

Eventually I found the ancestor who fought and joined the organization. I eventually took my own research back to about 1790. (The family has since “met” another branch and the lines go back another hundred years or so)

I think every family should try to attend a family reunion. We live now in such a society that very few folks even know great grandparents. I remember asking one of my classes at Northwest Shoals how many knew their grandparents and on back. I was amazed at how few knew beyond grandparents.

Attending a family reunion allows you to meet cousins that you might never have known. Also, one of the things I found neat was to hear different stories of the family–or different perspectives.

2008 Mann family reunion in Piggott, Arkansas

Photo of the 2008 Mann Family reunion in Piggott, Ark. Photo taken by Ken Renshaw- renshaw@newwavecomm.net and used here with his permission (click photo to see larger version). His website is: http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador/profiles/Kenneth_Renshaw.htm)

Dad and I were talking after the most recent reunion that they seem to go by too fast. It seems, organized the way it is, folks come and then leave right after the meal. Heck, I’d rather have everyone plan to stay for another couple of hours so that we could sit around and talk with each other. There are members of the family that I’d like to at least spend 10 minutes with to say, hey, who are you, what interesting things do you know about the family? That, and what do you do where do you live, etc. I’d like to see that happen at the next one, maybe a more kicked back and relaxed atmosphere to allow us to spend some more time actually talking with extended family members. I’d also like to see us take it back a generation or two and try to get a whole host of families to come. THAT would be interesting.

If your family doesn’t have one–start one! Get to know your family; who they are, what they do and where they come from!

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Filed under family, General