Sunday, May 27, 2012

Exit 56 Blues Fest and Pre-Memorial Day Roadtrip

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Enjoying the blues at the Exit 56 BluesFest

We took a road trip to Haywood County, TN yesterday to check out the Exit 56 Blues Fest and to celebrate Memorial Day a little early. We needed some mood music for the trip from Memphis so we popped in an old CD that came from a past music issue of "The Oxford American." I love that magazine and it doesn't hurt that my good friend, Tom Martin at Tom Martin Design, is the art director. I always read my "Oxford Americans" cover to cover and real slow so they last as long as possible.

All the music at the Exit 56 Blues Fest is performed on the front porch of what was "Sleepy" John Estes' house. It now sits behind the Welcome Center so visitors from around the world can check it out when they are headed down I-40.

Sleepy John, along with Hammie Nixon and Yank Rachell are three legends of the Blues who are from Brownsville. They played together for more than 50 years.

Here's a great clip of Estes and Nixon in 1976:

Very soon, Sleepy John's house will have a new next-door neighbor. In the 1940s, Tina Turner attended the Flagg Grove School, located in the Nutbush community of Haywood County. Plans are underway for the school to be moved, restored and placed permanently next door to the home of Sleepy John at the Welcome Center.

The center will add new exhibits about African-American education as well as a Tina Turner exhibit. Under the leadership of Sonia Outlaw-Clark (also a distant Outlaw cousin through our mutual ancestor Elizabeth Temperance Outlaw), that welcome center is rockin'!

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Spending a little cash
In addition to the great blues and barbeque, there was some great art for sale at the Blues Festival. We bought a print from a local artist named John Jarrett who painted this from a photograph of his family at St. Peter CME Church in Brownsville. If someone out there is looking to discover a folk artist, you might want to check him out. Here is a closer look at our print:

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St. Peter Church by John Jarrett

Monday is Memorial Day so we stopped by the grave of my second great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson "T. J." Castellaw and placed a flag.

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Me at the headstone of Nancy and T. J. Castellaw
T. J. joined the Confederate Army and fought in The Civil War as part of 7 Duckworths Tennessee Calvary. I'm not certain exactly when he joined the army but it is known this unit was organized in Jackson, Grand Junction and Trenton in August of 1862. 

In the Battle of Shilo, April 6 - 7, 1862, most of the regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel Kelley, was assigned to the duty of escorting the Federal prisoners from General B. M. Prentiss' Division. At the end of the Civil War, his were the last Confederate forces east of the Mississippi to surrender. I also don't know exactly when the war ended for T. J.  but the 3rd Consolidated Tennessee Cavalry Regiment was surrendered and paroled at Gainesville, Alabama in May 1865.

T. J. didn't marry Nancy, my third great grandmother, until August of 1865 so its possible he was paroled, returned to Haywood County and then married.

I recently read a great book on this unit called "Coming Like Hell!" which I just noticed you can read online for free.

On the way home, we stopped by the Zion Baptist Church Cemetery and it was nice to see all the flags on the grave sites of the veterans for Memorial Day.

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Zion Baptist Church Cemetery

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or check out my Haywood County Line Genealogy Site.

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