Category Archives: Ireland

Issue 367 – Jacob Mac Paregien, Part 3

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The Paregien Journal    –     Issue 367     –     Oct. 27, 2027

 

Jacob Mac Paregien, Part 3:

1870 to 1902

[Note: Most of the information in this 3-part blog may be found in the research which I did for my self-published book, Paregien Family History: 1816 to 2006. That book, published in 2006 and having some 675 pages, covers the following related groups: Paregien, Paregine, Peargin and Pearigen. — SP]

The U.S. Federal Census of 1870 for Jackson County, Ill., lists an “Elizabeth Peregin”, age 22, born in 1847 in Missouri as living in Kincaid Township and her occupation as “Domestic”. It also lists a Melicy A. Peregin, age 2, born in 1867 in Illinois as living in the same Township. [RESEARCH NOTE: Did this child belong to Elizabeth Paregien??]

The St. Louis City Directory (which only lists the head of the household) for 1870-71 lists J.M. Paregien, “carpenter and builder,” with a business at 310 N. 7th St. and his residence at 1417 Cass Avenue. In December of 2004, Stan Paregien, Sr., tried to visit these spots. The business address is now part of a large area where the football stadium where the former St. Louis Rams team stands. And the residential address, close to the downtown area, is a vacant lot.

2004-104 St Louis, MO - Stan Paregien at the place where Jacob Paregien lived after 1865

Stan Paregien, Sr. in 2004 in front of 1417 Cass Ave., in St. Louis. The vacant lot to the left of this building was both the residence and business address for Jacob M. Paregien back in 1870. [Photo 2004-104]

The St. Louis City Directory for 1872-73 lists “Samuel M. Paregein” living on east Pennsylvania Ave., between Neosho and Itaska, in Carondelet. It gives the same address for “J.M. Paregien”

30 Oct., 1873   –   Marriage of Elizabeth Paregien  (daughter of Jacob & Nancy Paregien)  to Richard Connell in St. Louis (St. Louis County, Ill.) on 30 Oct., 1873.  William Powers, a Justice of the Peace, performed the ceremony.  [St. Louis County Wedding Records, filed and recorded on 29 Jan., 1874]

1874 -- 01 The Eads bridge was dedicated in St Louis on July 4, 1874and still operates in 2017

In 1874, the Eads Bridge, the very first bridge in St. Louis to cross the mighty Mississippi, was dedicated with famous  a famous Civil War soldier, General William T. Sherman presiding. It was Gen. Sherman who took his Union troops on the march across Georgia, destroying most everything in sight. That bridge is still there and in 2016 was carrying about 8,000 vehicles each day between St. Louis, Missouri and East St. Louis, Illinois.

14 Oct, 1874   –   Marriage of Nancy Paregien (daughter of Jacob Paregien and his second wife, Avis Paregien) at age 16 to 21 year old Antoine (“Ollie”) Guion in St. Louis, Missouri.

The St. Louis City Directory for 1874-75 Lists “Jacob Mac Paregien”, a carpenter, living on East Pennsylvania near Neosho St.

The Union Railroad Depot, a magnificent structure, opened at 12th and Poplar Streets. Today the old Depot houses dozens of upscale retail shops and restaurants and is still quite beautiful.

The 1876 directory lists him as “John M. Paregien, builder, Pennsylvania Ave. near Neosho. And it lists Jacob’s son, Samuel, as a laborer who boarded at the same address.

So, the last documentation we have of him living in St. Louis is in 1876.

28 Jan., 1876   –   Death of 5-yr old Melinda Paregien died of bronchitis at 1214 W. 9th St., St. Louis, Missouri. Who is she?? Could this have been a daughter of William and Huldah Paregien?  Melinda Paregien was buried at Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery, and the undertaker was listed as “Father,” meaning probably that he dug her grave and buried her. [St. Louis Death Registers — City, County, 1850-1908 — Vol. 7, p.57.  St. Louis County Library Film #RDSL 16 ]

According to other sources, Holy Trinity was a “poor man’s” Catholic Cemetery where mainly German and some Irish immigrants from north St. Louis were buried. In 1878 it was called “New Bremen Cemetery”. And in 1909 city fathers decided to use that land to create O’Fallon Park and they ordered the graves to be moved to Calvary Cemetery at 5239 W. Florissant (Calvary Cemetery Association, 5239 W. Florissant, St. Louis, MO 63115    Phone 381-1313). In July of 2005, I went there and they checked their computer and had no record of Melinda Paregien.

In 1876, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, itself, was located at 3519 N. 14th St. (14th St. & Mallinckrodt St.) in the community of New Bremen. It was just north of where the St. Louis city limits ended in that day.

On 19 Sept., 1877, the steamer Grand Republic burned down to the water’s edge as it lay at dock in the Mississippi River there at St. Louis. “The steamer Carondelet, laying alongside, was burned at the same time” (E. W. Gould, Fifty Years on the Mississippi. St. Louis, Mo: Nixon-Jones Printing Company, 1889, p. 436).

That second steamer, the Carondelet (named after a suburb of St. Louis), was one of the warships that James Alexander Paregien saw on the Tennessee River during the battles of Ft. Heiman and Ft. Donelson back in February of 1862.

It was in 1878 that John Pulitzer bought the bankrupt St. Louis Dispatch newspaper at auction. His name is now best-known for the annual prizes in literature.

1880

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census lists Jacob M. Paregien as a farmer who was 64 years of age (born in 1816 in Kentucky) and his wife, “Avis” Paregien as living in Cold Spring (Phelps County), Missouri [main town in the area is Rolla, Mo.]. (Note the spelling of the first name for Jacob’s wife. That is the same spelling of her first name as given in the 1900 Census, when she was living with son Henry Pearigen and he listed her last name with the same variant spelling that he used. This is why we are now using the name of “Avis” as the first name for Jacob’s second wife. She listed her age, in 1880, as 52; occupation: “keeping house”)

The Census lists five of their children living with them:  Samuel (son, age 26), Nancy (daughter, age 22), Stephen (son, age 18), Mary (daughter, age 16 — would have been born in about 1864 — during the Civil War), and Henry B. (son, age 12; actually Henry Clay Paregien).  [RESEARCH NOTE:  Any school records available in Phelps County, Missouri?]

And it lists three of their GRANDCHILDREN living with them:  May Gion (female, age 4), Maud Gion (female, age 3) and Thomas Gion (male, age 1). We have a photo of a Mr. Guion with Henry Paregien.

Our Only Connection to Ireland

The 1880 Census says that both Jacob and his wife were born in Kentucky. His wife’s father was born in Georgia and her mother in South Carolina. SPECIAL NOTE: The Census says that Jacob’s father was born in IRELAND and his mother in SOUTH CAROLINA.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census lists just above the Paregien entry the William H. Parmley family. This was Jacob Paregien’s stepson (son of  Avis Parmley Paregien and her first husband, Daniel Parmley).  William Parmley is listed as a 34-year-old farmer and his wife, Ellen as a 22-year-old “Keeping House”. They had a 1-month old child, William R. Parmley.

 [NOTE: There was a William Parmley born on 17 Nov., 1880 in Missouri. According to the SS Death Index, he received his Social Security card, # 494-40-4933, while living in Missouri. He died in zip code 64097, meaning the Wellington (Lafayette County), Missouri area — just east of Kansas City, Missouri. This may be our William Parmley.]

In addition, the 1880 U.S. Federal Census lists seven “Peregin” family members. One, an Ann C. Peregin, age 20 and born in about 1860 in Missouri, was a single white female living with her niece in Black River (Lawrence County), Arkansas.

Further, the 1880 U.S. Federal Census lists Antoni O. Guion (age 27, a laborer born in 1853) living with his mother Margaret Guion. Had he and Nancy divorced?

It is believed that Jacob Paregien worked as a Methodist minister and a carpenter during the last years of his life. [RESEARCH NOTE: Would there be a record of his ordination or other documentation with the Methodist Church?] 

Now, concerning the family connection with Ireland. We have found no other documentation, other than Jacob’s affirmation for the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, that any of the family came from Ireland. He did state that his father was from Ireland. Lillian Paregine Hughes (daughter of Doug Paregine) firmly believed that Jacob was from Ireland, as she said Doug told her that on many different occasions [Interview with Evelyn Paregien in 1970].

In about 1970, Lillian Paregine Hughes (daughter of Jacob’s son, Stephen Arnold Douglas Paregien – or “Paregine” as Doug spelled the name) said that her father (Doug) investigated and all the Paregiens that he could find were definitely related to them.

Further, Lillian said that Doug always told them that his father (Jacob Paregien) “went back to Ireland to try and find some of the Paregien family. All he could find in Ireland was a Catholic priest. He was kinda afraid he was an illegitimate child by ‘Father Paregien’. Ha-ha.”. [Interview with Evelyn Paregien in Ventura, Calif., in 1970]

1910--05 HouseBuiltBy JacobParegien

The photo on the previous page is of an unidentified woman standing in front of a house that Jacob M. Paregien supposedly built in St. Louis, Missouri (no date on photo). It was given to me by Melvin L. Pearigen in 1973. [Photo 1910-05]

In 1926, Lillian Paregine Hughes (daughter of Stephen Arnold Douglas Paregine) received a letter from her first cousin, Eldora (“Dora”) Pearigen. Lillian told Evelyn Paregien in 1970 that Dora told her in that letter about Dora’s father, Henry Clay Pearigen, going to St. Louis “to their old home place . . .  to see the house that his father built.” The house may have been the one pictured above, and Henry may very well have taken the photo.

Melvin L. Pearigen told me on Sept. 14, 1970 that his grandfather, Jacob Paregien, died in Rolla, Missouri.  That may be, but we just don’t have any proof. Ms. Corena Wegrzn, a volunteer genealogical researcher in Phelps County, Missouri sent an email to me on June 7, 2004. She said, “I did not locate Jacob Paregien (or near spellings) for a burial in Cemeteries of Phelps County, Missouri, Volume III. Nor did I locate him or any family in my records compiled for the state cemetery records. These records are not the complete records for all of Phelps.”

But then she added this: “I did locate a couple of marriages in the Phelps County (Missouri) Marriage book:

“(1)   “Stephen Arnold Douglas Parequin, age 19 and Miss Celia Lowe, age 18. July 24, 1881 (Record Book 3). Robert C. Adams, MG. Father of groom J.M. Pareqin. The wedding was held in Miller Township.” This is certainly our Doug Paregine. It was his first marriage. I spoke with one of his granddaughters, Marie Clark Palm, on Nov. 27, 2004 and she was not aware that he had been married before he met and married her grandmother. Nor did she know that he had at least one child by Celia Lowe.

“(2) Columbus F. Richardson, age 23 and Miss Mary A. Paregien, age 18. Jan. 19, 1883 (Book 3, pg. 092). Jonathan Harrison, Justice of the Peace (Rolla, Mo.) officiated. The groom was from West Plains (Howell County). J.M. Paregin was father of the bride.”

Jacob M. Paregien died sometime between Jan. 19, 1883 and 1900, perhaps in or near Rolla, Missouri.  The question remains: exactly when did he die and where is he buried?

1900

In the U.S. Federal Census for 1900 there is listed one   “Avis Pearigen” [this definitely is our Avis Paregien, second wife of Jacob Paregien, and mother of Henry Pearigen).

For some reason, Henry must have changed the spelling of his mother’s last name to match his own variation of the family name. The newspaper account of her death in the

Wapanucka, Oklahoma newspaper in 1902 lists her as ” Aries Pearrigen “. I guess if you’re going to get the spelling wrong, you might as well get both names wrong.

Is “Pearigen” the name under which she is buried and perhaps listed in a death certificate?

In the 1900 Census she is listed as 85 years of age and as having been born in Kentucky in about 1815. She is listed as the mother of the head of  the household (i.e., Henry Pearigen). She reported that she had given birth to 13 children, seven of which were living in 1900 (children by Daniel Parmley and by Jacob Paregien).

Further, Avis Paregien (i.e., Avis “Pearigen”) stated that she was a widow. That means Jacob M. Paregien died sometime between early 1883 and 1900. She also affirmed that she could neither read nor write.

(2)  Henry & Sarah Pearigen and children: Eldora Pearigen, Bird McKinley Pearigen, and Melvin L. Pearigen. Sarah reported that she had given birth to five children, three of which were still living. Henry’s occupation was listed as “farm manager” on rented land. Like many people of that day, he was a sharecropper. He worked the land and, in turn, gave a stipulated amount of the profits to the land owner.

That same 1900 Census listed in the same location  Thomas C. Guion, age 20 (son of Antoine Guion and wife Nancy Paregien Guion). He was listed as head of his own household. He would have been Henry Pearigen’s nephew (i.e., Henry’s sister’s son).  He had been born in Missouri, as had his mother and father. His occupation was given as a farm laborer and he could neither read nor write, while his wife could do both. He, too, was a sharecropper.

Thomas C. Guion’s wife was Lula M. Guion, age 18,  born  in Sept., 1881, in Arkansas (both of her parents had been born in Tenn.). No children were listed. They had been married for two years (since about 1898).  They apparently followed or moved with Henry Pearigen and his family from St. Louis, Missouri to the area around Boggy Depot, Indian Territory. By the 1930 Census Thomas and Lula Guion were back in St. Louis, Missouri.

When Did Jacob Mac Paregien Die?

When did Jacob Paregien die?  We don’t know, yet. However, he must have died sometime between Jan. 19, 1883 and 1900 . He was present at the marriage of his daughter Mary in 1883, but in 1900 Avis Paregien reported to the U.S. Federal Census taker that she was a widow.

In October, 2005, as I was doing a final review of the file on Jacob, I discovered a line that I had missed previously. My mother, Evelyn Paregien, had interviewed Lillian Paregine Hughes in 1970 and said that a letter from Dora Pearigen in 1926 stated her father—Henry Pearigen—told her that his father, Jacob Paregien, had died in Spadra, Arkansas (“near Coalhill or Clarksville”).  

At this date, I have no way to prove or disprove that assertion. I personally believe Henry must have been talking about his brother, Stephen Arnold Douglas Paregine, who certainly did die there. Here, again, it is something that the next generation of Paregien family genealogists will want to pursue.

Death of Mrs. Jacob (Avis Murdon Parmley)

Paregien

After the death of Jacob Paregien, his widow — Avis Murdon Parmley Paregien — moved to Wapanucka (Johnston County) to live with their son, Henry Clay Pearigen.

The Wapanucka Press newspaper on Feb. 6, 1902 gave this notice of her death:

Mrs. Aries Pearrigen, aged mother of H.C. Pearrigen, died at her home in this city Tuesday morning. The deceased was 76 years of age, was a member of the Methodist Church of long standing, and was loved and highly respected by all who knew her. Remains were interred in the cemetery in this city Tuesday evening amid a concourse of heart-broken relatives and sorrowing friends. The Press joins many friends in extending condolence to the bereaved family.

So she died on Tuesday, 4 February, 1902 in Wapanucka. Note that in this newspaper article her first name is spelled “Aries” and her last name is spelled sort of the way Henry spelled his last name. That was an error even at that, of course, because Henry spelled his name “Pearigen” with just one “r”.

Avis Murdon Parmley Paregien is buried in or near Wapanucka. The question remains as to which cemetery that may be. Later in 1902 the town decided to abandon their current cemetery (“by the school”) to adopt “the Brown cemetery” [1 1/2 miles south of town ] as the official city cemetery. Presumably, she was buried in the first cemetery, but we don’t know as yet. Still later the Brown Cemetery was abandoned and people used the Rose Hill Cemetery about 1 mile north of town.

Adding to the mystery is a note I recently found from when I talked on the telephone with Melvin L. Pearigen (Henry’s son) on Sept. 14, 1970. I was in Stroud, Oklahoma and he was at 1625 Madrona Ave., St. Helena, Calif. He said that his grandfather, Jacob Paregien, died in Rolla, Missouri. And he said his grandmother was buried in the church yard of the old Presbyterian church near Wapanucka. So where is that?

In July of 2005, I made a trip to Wapanucka and actually visited the Brown Cemetery located about 1 1/2 miles south of town and east of the highway. Unfortunately, the cemetery is abandoned and has been vandalized. The few tombstones that remain have been knocked over and it is covered with tall brush. I would not recommend going there. I could not find her tombstone.

Then in August, 2005 I  re-read a brochure by Letha Channell Clark titled, “Wapanucka: Glory Days — Early 1900s”. In that she states that “The first church was a Presbyterian church built south and west of Button Springs. It was also used as the first school . . .  This was the first subscription school started in this area . . . and only those who paid could attend.”

Ah, ha!  It would appear, then, that Mrs. Jacob (Avis Murdon Parmley) Paregien [ perhaps known as “Pearigen” while living with son Henry Pearigen in Wapanucka] was buried in the original cemetery on the grounds of the Presbyterian church south of town — but that cemetery apparently is not the same as the Brown Cemetery. The mystery continues.

In October of 2005, I discovered Button Springs listed on the internet as one of the “ghost towns of Oklahoma”. It suggests that Button Springs was the original town site for what is now Wapanucka, but that it was moved sometime before 1900 to the present-day Wapanucka site and gave up the name Button Springs for Wapanucka.

That web site gave the directions to the Button Springs town site as follows: From Highway 69, take Highway 7 west into Wapanucka. Turn left at the stop sign and go south (toward Coleman and Durant). Turn into the last school road and park. Walk up the hill and you are now in Button Springs.

Well, here is something else. In making my final review of my file on Jacob and Avis Paregien, I found a small note from a short interview I had done at least 12 years ago with my aunt, Loretha Paregien Young of Duncan, Okla. I asked here where her great-grandmother was buried. She said the location was one mile south of Wapanucka, on the west side of the highway, in the corner of the property and that there were only a couple of other graves there.

And, to make it even more interesting, I recently spoke with Mrs. Louise Faulk of Wapanucka. She has lived there virtually all of her life. She remembers where the Presbyterian Church and the school were located. She says they were just south of town, on the right (west) side of the road. She says there is a hay barn near the few remaining tombstones.

So, there is still plenty of work to do to resolve the seemingly conflicting information and to find the tombstone (if one every existed).

FOOTNOTES

 The 1880 U.S. Census lists Jacob Paregien’s second wife name as “Avis” Paregien. It says she was born in 1828 in  Kentucky, that her father’s birthplace was Georgia and her mother’s birthplace was South Carolina. One document dated 10 Feb., 1857 lists her first name as “Arias”.

The 1860 U.S. Census for Jackson County spells the Parmley name as “Parmlee”.

The database of the Illinois Land Sales shows that Daniel Parmley purchased some land on 13 Sept., 1853. Record ID #429949 shows that he bought 40 acres of lace at $1.25 per acre in a Federal sale. The description was: County 39, Section 15, Section Pat SWSE, Township 09S, Range 03W, Meridian 3. Archive: Volume #32, page 173.

Daniel Parmley’s father was Hiel Parmlee and his mother was Rebecca Hardin. No doubt that Rebecca Parmley was named after her paternal-grandmother.

The Jackson County, Ill., Index of Cemeteries indicates there is a “Paregin” buried in “21”. That can refer to one of the following cemeteries:  (1) McBride Cemetery – this cemetery is not accessible (private land; swampy; or something). It is located in Kinkaid Township, Section 34, SW corner of SW Quarter.  (2) Christ Lutheran Cemetery – located in Fountain Bluff Township, Section 35.      (3) Modglin Cemetery – located in Bradly Township, Section 26, far west “26”.  (4) Morris-Creath Cemetery – Sand Ridge Township, Section 9. We were warned not to visit this cemetery during the warm months, as it is awfully “snaky”. However, Daniel Parmley’s first home was on Big Muddy River “between Swallow Rock and Sand Ridge” until they moved “further north, in the same county”.

There is a Worthen Cemetery in Jackson County. In Murphysboro, go south on 20th for 4 or 5 miles (will be on the right). Several families moved together to Jackson County from Kentucky, including the Worthen and Parmley families. In fact, Robert Worthen married Daniel W. Parmley’s sister, Rebecca).

RESOURCES

Jacob M. Paregien is listed in the Family Search International Genealogical Index as Film Number 1904030. He is also listed as Jacob M. Paregin under #1903907.

Jackson County Historical Society Museum in Murphysboro, Ill.

Illinois State Historical Library, Newspaper Microfilm Section, Old State Capital, Springfield, IL. 62701-1507.  217-785-7941.

Southern Illinois University Library at Carbondale, Ill.

U.S. Federal Census Records 1800  to 1930.

I did an Internet search on every name in this section in February, 2005.

 

______________________   End of Part 3 of 3   ________________________

 

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Issue 348 – This Land Is Your Land

 

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Issue 348     –    February 6, 2017

This Land Is Your Land

I did not watch the Super Bowl football game on Feb. 5, 2017. Half-time entertainer Lady Gaga seems to have gotten favorable reviews from lots of folks. I did catch a news clip of her singing a portion of Woody Guthrie’s popular song, “This Land Is Your Land.” It is a populist, kind of get-together-and-sing-Kumbaya song. 

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However, as the late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, . . . here is the rest of the story.

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I made the following statements about the history of the song, “This Land Is Your Land.” in my 2012 eBook, WOODY GUTHRIE: HIS LIFE, MUSIC AND MYTH (Chapter 5):  

“On Feb. 23, 1940, Woody wrote ‘This Land Is Your Land’ while living with friend and fellow folksinger Burl Ives at the Hanover House in New York City. He wrote it to counteract what he considered the mindless sentimentality of ‘God Bless America,’ penned by the great Irving Berlin. That song just really irritated him something awful.

“Slowly but surely he worked out the words of his own song and, as usual, simply matched the lyrics up with an existing song. In this case it was the melody of a gospel song, ‘Oh, My Loving Brother,’ a melody that was also borrowed by the Carter Family for their song, ‘Little Darling, Pal of Mine’. Woody titled his song, ‘This Land Is Your Land’ and pretty much forgot about it until April of 1944.

“When the song finally surfaced and was recorded, it only included the first four verses (see below). And it quickly gained traction. Today the first few verses are sung by people all over the world, sometimes with a few adaptations to fit the Canadian or Japanese or Irish or whatever culture. It has been recorded by virtually everyone under the sun, from Bing Crosby to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In the 1960s President Lyndon Baines Johnson was one of the first to wonder if maybe it should replace our national anthem. And various big-name corporations, including United Airlines and the Ford Motor Company, have used bits of it for their sales pitches on TV and radio.

“Here is how those first four verses read:

1   This land is your land, This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

 2  As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

 3  I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

 4  When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

“The problem with most of the admiration for this song is that the four-verses-only version hides or at least ignores the whole point of the complete song. With all of its verses intact, ‘This Land is Your Land’ stands as a Marxist chant for communal property. Here is how those last three verses read:

5   As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

6   In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

7  Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

“Now, go back and read the first line of the first verse. Doesn’t it take on a much darker meaning? It should because this song is, in fact, radical leftist Guthrie’s most clear challenge to life as most American’s know it.

“He understood that private property rights were, more often than not in the United States, used by land-owning corporations to put down the workers. They and their henchmen, the courts and law enforcement, constantly trampled on workers’ constitutional-granted rights of freedom of speech and freedom to assemble.

“So he was calling on people to join the fight against the concept of private ownership of property which, historically, has been the lynchpin of American politics and economics. Woody reasoned that he was taking the high moral ground in advocating that all Americans should share equally in America’s wealth and property.

“Keep in mind, too, that one of the reasons Guthrie wrote this song was to protest the idealism of the big hit song of 1939-1940, ‘God Bless America.’ And it is in verse 6 that he makes the point that the America he saw, from sea to shining sea, was filled with poor and unemployed people standing in welfare lines. And he felt that capitalism and its innate greed were responsible for the awful situation in which there was a great gulf between the bankers and the guys digging ditches or even those who just wish they had a job of any kind. So nothing would change—the poor will continue to be with us en mass—until we change capitalism to communism. And, though not stated in the song, it was his belief that the labor movement—and unions, in particular—could accomplish that goal.

 “Was Woody a Communist Party Member?

 “Was Woody Guthrie a member of the official Communist Party or was he just a sympathizer on the outside looking in or was he just a guy who sympathized and identified with poor, hard-hit people and sought help from any source?

“Guy Logsdon expressed his point of view when I interviewed him in 2006: ‘Woody loved the United States of America. He loved Oklahoma. And he loved Okemah. He never wrote anything bad against them. He wrote against greed and anything having to do with the suppression of innocent people. If that makes him a Communist, then Jesus was a Communist. Woody was the poet philosopher of the people, the voice of the ordinary person.

“’However, Woody was not radical enough to be a communist. The Almanac Singers, some of whom later became stars as a group called The Weavers, wrote and performed pro-labor and anti-war songs. You know Franklin Roosevelt had a program to rebuild the economy and get production and prices stabilized. It involved killing every fourth cow and plowing under every fourth acre. So the Almanac Singers recorded a song called, ‘Plow Under Every Fourth Soldier’ in protest to the war. That offended a lot of people.

“’And the public sentiment changed radically when Germany waged war against Russia. So the Almanac Singers dropped that song from their programs very quickly. And they started writing and performing anti-Hitler songs.

“’When Woody went to New York City, he was in awe of what they were doing. And he sometimes attended meetings of the Communist Party but, as Pete Seeger has often said, ‘Woody was not a Communist. The Communist Party was a tightly structured organization. And Woody Guthrie wouldn’t join anything like that, because his nature was too independent and unstructured.’”

“Perhaps so. But as we have quoted previously, Woody made that admission or assertion of membership himself. And he did it in what my dear ol’ English teacher at Fillmore (California) High School—Mrs. Percy—would call a simple declarative sentence: “The best thing I did in 1936 [he got the actual date wrong; it was 1939] was to sign up with the Communist Party . . . ” (see Chapter 4.)

“When all views are heard, it seems clear that Woody Guthrie was at the least a solid sympathizer and supporter of the Communist Party. He was a man of his times, and those times were very hard for the working class. So whether he was a card-carrying member of the Party seems immaterial today. And it seems to me that, in the final analysis, Guthrie really had more faith in the unions than he did in Communism. In 1944 he said, ‘I live union. I eat union. I think union. I see union. I walk it and I talk it. I sing it and I preach it’ (Quoted by Ed Cray, Ramblin’ Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie [2011], page 283).

 “Well, as I said, he filed the song away and pretty much forgot about it for several years. But it would finally end up as his signature song and in its four-verse form one of the most sung songs in the world.”

One more thing. The big news right now is about our immigration and deportation policies (or lack thereof). It is old news, really.

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Woody Guthrie had a big place in his heart for the frequently abused immigrant workers and their families. He spent a great deal of time traveling around to make-shift worker’s camps to listen to their problems and to encourage them with his songs. 

In 1948, an event happened that triggered a great deal of anger in Woody.  The U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Department had chartered a DC-3 airplane to deport back to Mexico both illegal immigrants and those Mexicans whose work permits had expired. They left Oakland, Calif., on Jan. 28th with 28 such deportees on board, plus the pilot, a co-pilot, a guard and a stewardess. The plane crashed in a ball of fire near Los Gatos, California.The news reports mentioned the staff members by name and said 28 deportees were also killed. No mention of their names, leaving the impression they were of no importance.

Guthrie took that as a personal insult and an outrage. He went into a writing frenzy, pouring his heart and soul in a song he titled, “Deportees” (also known as “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos”):

Plane Wreck at Los Gatos

(also known as “Deportees”)
by Woody Guthrie

The crops are all in and the peaches are rott’ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
They’re flying ’em back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be “deportees”

My father’s own father, he waded that river,
They took all the money he made in his life;
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract’s out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
We died ‘neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, “They are just deportees”

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except “deportees”?

Sad to say that the practice of devaluing other people is still alive and well. We often find fault with those who are different from ourselves — morally, culturally, racially, religiously and politically. The list goes on.

Now, friends, if you look at this thing strictly logically and scientifically (not morally or religiously) the woes and injustices to the poor, the weak and sickly and the disenfranchised should be of no concern to those of us who are winners in the lottery of life. After all, scientist Charles Darwin preached the survival of the fittest as being in the best interest of the world. So why should one glob of atoms (a human) give a flip about another glob (another human)? You know the routine: (1) Look out for Number 1; (2) What’s mine is mine and I’m after yours; (3) The real “Golden Rule” is that whoever has the gold rules; (4) Greed is good; and (5) Don’t get involved.

Well, . . . if you buy that premise, then it is kinda irrational to do otherwise, don’t you think? Maybe that’s why you’re never seen anywhere a hospital founded and funded by the American Association of Atheists. That’s why there are no major philanthropic foundations operated by the American Humanist Association. That’s what the Society for Humanistic Judaism sits around gazing at their navels. 

Thankfully, however, there are people of goodwill and generous acts of kindness in every group and country. Concern for others, whether a friend or a neighbor or an enemy, is still alive and well.

For example, loving concern is a fundamental theme in the sacred Jewish texts. Here is a sampling from Exodus 23:1-9: “(1) Don’t spread rumors. Don’t plot with evil people to act as a lying witness. (2) Don’t take sides with important people to do wrong. When you act as a witness, don’t stretch the truth to favor important people. (3) But don’t privilege unimportant people in their lawsuits either. (4) When you happen to come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has wandered off, you should bring it back to them. (5) When you see a donkey that belongs to someone who hates you and it’s lying down under its load and you are included not to help set it free, you must help set it free. (6) Don’t undermine the justice that your poor deserve in their lawsuits. (7) Stay away from making a false charge. Don’t put an innocent person who is in the right to death, because I will not consider innocent those who do such evil. (8) Don’t take a bribe, because a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. (9) Don’t oppress an immigrant. You know what it’s like to be an immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.” — from the COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE (used with permission)

Christians, too, recognize their duty and honor to serve others who have hit hard times. John the Baptist, who was in prison at the time, sent word to this new teacher named Jesus and asked him for some proof that the was the longed-for Messiah. Jesus did not cite as evidence that he had formed a large anti-Roman army, nor that he had a large political campaign war chest, nor that the Who’s Who of Israel were his backers. Amazingly, Jesus told the messengers, “Go, report to John what you hear and see. Those who were blind are able to see. Those who are crippled are walking. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. The poor have good news proclaimed to them.” (Matthew 11:4-5, CEB)

A lawyer with the Pharisee sect of Judaism tried to trap Jesus one time by asking him what the greatest commandment was in the Law of Moses. Jesus said, ” (37) You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. (38) This is the first and greatest commandment. (39) And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:37-39, CEB)

It is clear in both Judaism and in Christianity that love for others–not just a good feeling but positive, practical help–is fundamental to religious faith.

The apostle James chided his peers by saying, “(2) Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. (3) Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, ‘Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.’ But to the poor person you say, ‘Stand over there’; or, ‘Here, sit at my feet.’ (4) Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges?

“(5) My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? (6) But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make life difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court? (7) Aren’t they the ones who insult the good name spoken over you at your baptism?

“(8) You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (James 2:2-8, CEB)

That, my friends, is why you see hundreds of hospitals and universities and homes for the needy founded by and funded by the faith community. Highly respected Jewish hospitals and Christian hospitals are found across America, as are homes for the homeless and abused. Back in my old stomping ground, Oklahoma City, we had the Baptist Hospital, Deaconess Hospital (Methodist), and Mercy Hospital (Catholic), each of them a fine facility caring for anyone who walked through the door. Other religious organizations work every day to help migrants with legal work or with learning English, or helping pregnant women save their babies from abortions, or rescuing young men and women from sex traffickers and drug dealers. And the list of good works goes on and on.

“This Land is Your Land” is a nice song title and sorta give us a warm, fuzzy feeling. In fact, I have personally adapted it to create songs for the people of Rwanda (“Rwandans, This Land Is Our Land”), for the people of Honduras (“Hondurans, This Land Is Your Land”), and for the people of Ireland (“Ireland Is Your Land).  View videos of those songs and 50 others on my “Stan Paregien’s Studio” on YouTube at:https://www.youtube.com/user/CowboyStan/videos

My point is this: it takes that “good feeling” and $5.00 to get you a cup of java at Starbucks. Fact is, it is up to you and to me to look for opportunities to honor God by doing good wherever we go and by teaching others to do the same.  

So if you are looking for hope and purpose in your life, please take a serious look around you. Observe how your neighbors are living. Is it the Believers who are more happy and fulfilled . . . and busy helping others . . . or is it the Non-Believers? There are exceptions, of course, for no one is perfect in practicing their philosophy of life. But my 75+ years of experience has shown me that people of faith actually believe that history is headed somewhere and they are not just sitting hopelessly on a spinning earth.

Just sayin’.

[NOTE: My eBook, WOODY GUTHRIE: HIS LIFE, MUSIC AND MYTH, is available in seven popular formats at:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/StanParegien . You’ll find over a dozen more of my eBooks there as well. And before long there will be another one on the list, right now tentatively titled MANATEE COUNTY, FLORIDA: FACTS, FOLKS AND PHOTOS. Stay tuned.]

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Issue 267 — What We Did in 2012

Issue 267    —    The Paregien Journal    —  Stan Paregien, Sr., Editor

What We Did in 2012

by Stan Paregien Sr.

The full body of Issue 220 will be found at: http://www.issuu.com/cowboystan/docs

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There you will be able to read Issue 220 and previous ones right there online for free.

In addition, if you register for free you will be able to download any and all postings from me for free. Otherwise, you do not have to register at all.

Thanks,
Stan Paregien Sr