I've been in the same family for 10 Generations
|The War Hammer
NOTE: This story is based on personal family history going back to 1714.
You may think this is an unorthodox way of telling a story, but it must be told from my point of view because – I was always there. You see, I am a hammer. Not just any old hammer, I am a proud War Hammer, two and one-half pounds of solid tempered iron.
How to begin? Well, I’ve been around for hundreds of years, probably thousands. If memory serves me, I think I was originally forged in Britain, in a town named Camulodunum, during the time of the second Roman Invasion by a blacksmith in the 9th Roman Legion. The 9th was decimated by the Boudica Rebellion of 61 AD and that’s how I wound up in Scotland. But to keep it short, I will start with where I have been for the past ten generations. You heard me, ten generations in the same family. (More generations actually if I had the space to list them here).
My owner at that time was Cornelius Skinner, born in 1714, a blacksmith in the 43nd Regiment of Foot, (The Black Watch) British Army, recruited from Scotland. In the year 1745, we were engaged in a little battle in Flanders called the Battle of Fontenoy. Our commander, Col Sir Robert Munro, taught us to drop before the French fired their fusillade, which made a lot of common sense, and rise up and fire back when their muskets were empty. This guy was great and knew what he was doing. Unfortunately, the rest of the British army didn’t think it was the gentlemanly way to do battle. They’d rather stand up and let the enemy muskets obliterate them. No wonder they lost the darn battle. Lots of dead gentleman there.
Cornelius was a hide skinner (cows, goat, deer, etc.) from a small village called, Lossemouth, in Scotland. I guess that’s where he got his family name - Skinner. He also worked as a part time blacksmith for his lord. Cornelius often said I was the perfect size for carrying off to war.
Perfect! Did you hear that, I was perfect.? After this rather unsavory defeat, (The French kicked our collective butts), my owner Cornelius packed me away and retired from the army. He took his small pension and moved across the ocean to the Colonies and made his home in a place called New Jersey. He continued to be a blacksmith and used me until he got to old. He then passed me on to his daughter Hanna.
Hanna Skinner, born in 1733 was not quite blacksmith material, (not a female profession in those days) but she married a blacksmith by the name of Henry Landers. They moved down to Louden, Virginia, where Henry worked in his father’s shop, who was also a blacksmith.
In 1758, Henry took me back to where I belonged - war. He joined the Royal American Regiment under Colonel Bouquet, a Swiss officer, and marched off to fight at a place called Fort Duquesne, located at the junction of two rivers, called the Monongahela and Allegany.
That was quite a battle and we did manage to defeat the French. After many other small battles and skirmishes, Henry returned home and worked in the family smithy until he got too old to lift me, so he then passed me on to their son Jacob, born in 1757.
Jacob and his wife Catherine decided on a different business. Although Jake knew well the blacksmith trade, he preferred to work as a wheelwright. So he put me to work bending metal and working on coach and wagon wheels. At least I felt useful. He also give me a new handle, a piece of stout old oak.
However, once again the nasty head of war flared up, this time the Colonies decided to declare independence from Great Britain, a revolution they called it. Not to be left out, and since his dad and grandpa were sort of war heroes, Jacob joined the 2nd Virginia Regiment commanded by Colonel William Woodford. They fought in the battle of Great Bridge where they defeated the British under Colonel Dunmore. Jacob also fought in many other small battles. He carried me along because his additional duties were to work on the army wagons in his spare time.
No one wanted me when Jacob retired, so he passed me on to his daughter Catherine, born 1801. Catherine married a frontiersman named Captain John Henry Foy, Born in 1797, the son of Judge Benjamin Foy who was the famous co-founder of the frontier city of Memphis, Tennessee. He was also a representative for the Chickasaw and had a Chickasaw wife named Sarah.
John Henry was not much of a blacksmith, but he was a respected officer in the militia and he fought in Indian skirmishes in Arkansas and Mississippi, mostly with the Indians against Indians. He and his family had a large plantation in Arkansas where I was kept very busy.
When their daughter Mary Ann, born 1826, was old enough to have a place of her own, I went with her. This was good because the man she married, Perry Milo Bird, born 1820 was - guess what? A blacksmith! Yeah! They moved first to Kentucky, and on to a place named Ottumwa, Iowa. Strange name that! Native American name I guess.
Perry Milo Bird was a very good blacksmith, so good that the 15th Iowa Infantry begged him to join them when the American Civil War broke out. Guess what folks, after too many years of sitting in Mary Ann’s barn, I was off to war again. A big one this time.
As a member of the Union Army, Perry took me to places named, Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, Atlanta and other war sites, and he made it back alive, and, without losing me. A couple of his brothers, Lysurgus in particular, got banged up pretty bad, but they did live. His best friend George Huff went along for the fun of it. Once again, Perry and Mary Ann moved to a place called Oklahoma.
While in Oklahoma their son Oliver Perry, born in 1850, got into blacksmithing. He liked it but he also did other interesting things, like joining the 6th, U.S. Cavalry. I remember when he wrote this letter home: I will now take and write to you a few lines, to let you know that I am yet alive, and doing well. I joined the Army in January and had a good fight with Geronimo and his Indians. I also had two hard fights, where I came very near getting killed, but I got thrue alright. I was made Corporal when I first enlisted, but have now got high enough to be in Charge of Troop D. 6th U.S. Cavalry and it requires a good man for to get that office, and that is more than I expected. George Huff came out with me and got in the same Troop with me, and I sent him with twenty more men out on a Scout after Indians and he was lucky enough to be shot down by Indians the first day, and only him and three of my men returned. I was very sorry but it could not be helped. The Territory of New Mexico is a very nice place never no winter and lots of Gold and Silver Mines all around but for all that it is a disagreeable place on account of so many Indians. I like it first rate but I think as soon as my five years are up I will go back to Oklahoma.
Perry and his wife passed me on to their daughter Mary Alice, born 1883, (Seems like the girls in the family were the ones I always went with) who married one of the Huff boys, Walter George, born in 1881, who was a blacksmith, coal miner, and cobbler. Seems like blacksmith and war run in our blood line.
Walter and Mary lived in Oklahoma, and when the Great War broke out, Walter joined the 36th Texas & Oklahoma Infantry Division. He fought in many battles in a place called France, places like Verdun and Meuse Argonne, and St. Etiene. Unfortunately, I stayed on the homestead with Mary because they were mostly using those new fandangle contraptions called trucks instead of wagons.
When the war was over, Walter settled back down and passed me on to his son Floyd, who gave me to his brother Lloyd George. Floyd wasn’t the rugged type, more of a thinker, whereas George was, a Cavalryman, rancher, and, you guessed it, a part time blacksmith.
When the big World War II broke out, all the Huff boys joined the army. George joined the 7th Cavalry and fought in the pacific with them and also with the 25th Infantry division in places named, Guadalcanal, New Georgia and the Philippines, Jessy fought in Europe while Floyd worked in the Signal Corps with the Windtalkers. Upon returning home, George continued to be a rancher, blacksmith, and mechanic but moved to New Mexico where his grandpa Perry wanted to settle down at one time. George gave me a new handle made of iron hard hickory.
In 1946 Floyd Eugene Huff was born. That’s the same person who is now named Eugene Ladnier and the one writing this nice little story. (His name change is too long a story to tell). Eugene grew up to love the ranch and George but was often separated from them by family circumstances. Although he often picked me up in awe when in the shop as George told my wonderful historical story. Since they were so close, I was given to Eugene.
In 1963 Eugene (Gene) joined the Army, but by then there was not much need for blacksmithing. Gene became a paratrooper and did other strange and dangerous military things. He fought in Vietnam with several different units in places with strange names like Cu Chi, Tay Ninh, Go Da Ha, etc. After generations of family warriors, this was the only life Gene wanted to live.
Gene never let me go. Today I am one of his prize possessions and I have a significant place of honor in his office. He said he was going to pass me on to his son Kevin, once a U.S. Marine, when the time is right. Kevin will probably give me to Jacob Grace, Eugene's grandson who is in the US Air Force, of course there isn't much need for me in the Space Command. Sounds cool! After all, I’ve fought in an awful lot of wars, sort of.
That’s why I am proudly called – The War Hammer.
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