A Post

Apologies for my blogging silence of late. A cartoon shared by Kennesaw State’s David Parker sums it up well:

Although, I am pleased that I got to have dinner tonight with Dan Audia ’08, who has recently been promoted to Assistant Director of MBA Programs at the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University. Dan says that he:

currently manages enrollment for the KSU MBA and WebMBA programs, specifically the areas of admissions and academic advisement. Our team provides top-notch customer service from prospective student inquiry to current student graduation. Our efforts for recruitment, retention,and progression to graduation are aimed at maintaining the high quality of the programs as demonstrated by several national rankings.

Dan told me about an interesting blog entitled Faith and History: Thinking Christianly about the American Past, run by Robert Tracy McKenzie, professor of history at Wheaton College in Illinois. He hasn’t updated it in a while, but I quite enjoyed perusing his back catalogue, including this post:

The belief that the Pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom is inspiring, but in the sense that we usually mean it, it’s not really true. I’ve shared this reality numerous times since writing The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us about Loving God and Learning from History, and I almost always get pushback from the audience. That’s understandable, since most of us from our childhood have been raised to believe quite the opposite. But if we’re going to really learn from the Pilgrims’ story, we need to be willing to listen to them instead of putting words into their mouths.

One of my favorite all-time quotes is from Democracy in America where Alexis de Tocqueville observes, “A false but clear and precise idea always has more power in the world than one which is true but complex.” The Pilgrims’ motives for coming to America is a case in point.

The popular understanding that the Pilgrims came to America “in search of religious freedom” is technically true, but it is also misleading. It is technically true in that the freedom to worship according to the dictates of Scripture was at the very top of their list of priorities. They had already risked everything to escape religious persecution, and the majority never would have knowingly chosen a destination where they would once again wear the “yoke of antichristian bondage,” as they described their experience in England.

To say that the Pilgrims came “in search of” religious freedom is misleading, however, in that it implies that they lacked such liberty in Holland. Remember that the Pilgrims did not come to America directly from England. They had left England in 1608, locating briefly in Amsterdam before settling for more than a decade in Leiden. If a longing for religious freedom alone had compelled them, they might never have left that city. Years later, the Pilgrim’s governor, William Bradford, recalled that in Leiden God had allowed them “to come as near the primitive pattern of the first churches as any other church of these later times.” As Pilgrim Edward Winslow recalled, God had blessed them with “much peace and liberty” in Holland. They hoped to find “the like liberty” in their new home.

More at the link.

Mat Pinson ’05

Pleased to have had a visit today from history major Mat Pinson ’05, who has worked at Candler School of Theology at Emory University since 2007, and since 2016 has acted as Candler’s Associate Dean of Advancement and Alumni Engagement.

Jonathan Good, Mat Pinson, Kenneth Wheeler.

We were thrilled to learn that Mat has just been appointed Assistant Vice President and Chief of Staff for Emory University’s Senior Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Engagement, Josh Newton. 

What you can do with a history degree!

New Echota

On Saturday we had the pleasure of visiting New Echota State Historical Site near Calhoun. New Echota was the capital of the Cherokee Nation from 1825 until 1838, when U.S. government forces, under the command of Winfield Scott, rounded them up and forced their removal to Oklahoma. This is the infamous Trail of Tears, and a monument commemorates this as you arrive at the visitors’ center.

The flag on the left is that of the United Keetoowah Band, and the flags on the right are those of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation, the three federally-recognized Cherokee tribes. (The United Keetoowah Band and the Cherokee Nation are headquartered in Tahlequah, Okla., while the Eastern Band is headquartered in Cherokee, N.C.)

A plan of the site. Alas, the Worcester House (8) is the only original building here. This was the home of Samuel Worcester, a missionary to the Cherokee and publisher of the Cherokee Phoenix (see below). Convicted by the state of Georgia for living in Cherokee territory without a license, Worcester appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found the Georgia law unconstitutional, as it was the federal government that had the exclusive right to treat with Native Americans. President Andrew Jackson is reputed to have said in response that “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” Worcester went west with the Cherokee and died there in 1861.

Other buildings are reconstructions, like the Council House (3), where the Cherokee legislature convened…

…or the Supreme Courthouse (4), which doubled as a school.

What made this visit especially pleasurable was to see Reinhardt history graduate Cole Gregory, now employed with the state parks service. Here he is in the Vann Tavern (9), explaining how it worked (an interesting detail: a window on the back served as a drive-thru for people that the manager did not want coming in). James Vann was a Cherokee leader who owned several taverns; this one does date from the early nineteenth century but was originally located in Forsyth County and moved here in the 1950s.

The reconstructed Print Shop (11) represents the locale of the famous Cherokee Phoenix. A friendly and knowledgeable volunteer explained things to us. The newspaper was largely written by Elias Boudinot, who believed that relocation to the west was in the best interests of the Cherokee and who thus signed the Treaty of New Echota with the federal government. This “Treaty Party” represented a minority of the Cherokee Nation, and the signatories, including Boudinot, were assassinated not long after they arrived in Oklahoma.

You can buy a copy of Vol. 1, No. 4 in the gift shop. This one contains notice of Cherokee laws passed, news of ongoing negotiations with Washington, poetry, and news of the escape of some missionaries from Maori cannibals. As you can see, it is printed both in English and in Cherokee, using Sequoyah’s syllabary. (We learned that they type foundry had changed some of his characters for easier casting – and that archaeologists at New Echota had recovered a cache of individual letters [“sorts”] at the bottom of a well, into which they had been thrown by U.S. troops in 1838.)

We were pleased to find this book in the gift shop. John Ross was a Cherokee leader who opposed forced resettlement in the west; his house is in Rossville, Georgia, less than 1000 feet from the Tennessee state line. Jeff Bishop is Reinhardt’s new director of the Funk Heritage Center and, as you can see, an expert in Cherokee history.

***

On our way home we stopped at the Rock Garden, situated behind Calhoun’s Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The Rock Garden is the creation of one DeWitt “Old Dog” Boyd, and features sculptures made up pebbles glued together to form miniature buildings. My favorite was this interpretation of Notre Dame cathedral, complete with flying buttresses, but I loved the whole thing – I respect anyone with the vision and the patience to realize art like this, like Howard Finster and his Paradise Garden.

Alumni News

Was pleased to get a visit this week from Chap Lindstrom. A math major, Phi Alpha Theta inductee, and member of Reinhardt’s baseball team, Mr. Lindstrom is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Applied Geography at Georgia Southern University, where he is doing his thesis on gentrification and the Atlanta BeltLine.

Alumni News

Pleased to get a visit today from history major alumnus Dylan Ellis ’14, who has left a teaching job at Pickens High School in Jasper, Georgia to train as an insurance broker. He continues to make music and to work for his family’s cleaning business. He and his wife Holly are expecting their first child in three weeks.

Alumni News

History major Owen Bagley ’13 has returned to campus as an admissions officer. He and his wife Lauren Bagley ’13 are expecting their first child in July.

Alumni News

I was pleased to chat with Reinhardt alumnus Andi Demçellari ’06 when he stopped by earlier this week. An Albanian by birth, Mr. Demçellari now resides in London, Ontario, where he works for Wolverine Industries (tagline: “we tackle your most complex aluminum projects”) and enjoys it very much. Business travel frequently takes him to Wolverine’s head office in Decatur, Alabama, and he was able to squeeze in a visit his alma mater this time.

Alumni News

Be it not said that our history majors lack a sense of entrepreneurship!

1. History major Jed Martin Mills ’12 started blacksmithing a while back, and with a friend has opened J and P Forge, where “we mix traditional coal forges and modern gas forges to heat steel and work it into functional items for the home, yard, or whatever else you can imagine. Everything is handmade with anvil and hammer!” He writes that “we started getting a lot of requests to do custom projects for folks so we figured we would give a small business a try.” Visit the J and P Forge Etsy shop to purchase items like these.

2. History major Trevor Rhodes ’12 stopped by last week. He and some friends have also started a small business: Gearcraft Holsters. If you want to pack in comfort and style, you could do worse!

3. Dual history and business major Alex Bryant ’15 has founded Sarcraft, a “wilderness skills school and outfitter that empowers people with the knowledge, confidence, and gear to prevail in whatever circumstances they may find themselves in, come what may.” Check out their website, where you can sign up for their courses or purchase gear.

Alumni News

1. After working for several years in Los Angeles for DeBlase Brown Eyerly LLC, Reinhardt history major Tyler Lemen ’13 has returned to the area and is now an owner and manager of Rice Sushi restaurant. He will be marrying his fiancée Kaydee Whipple this week in Mexico.

Photo: Tyler Lemen

2. History major Dan Audia ’08 worked for the Office of Admissions and then the Office of the Registrar at Reinhardt. In 2014, he accepted a job in the admissions department at Georgia Gwinnett College, and in 2015 he got an offer he couldn’t refuse to work as an admissions counsellor and STEM recruiter at Kennesaw State University. Since then he has been promoted to Admissions Director for MBA Programs at the Coles College of Business at KSU.

Photo: JG

I was pleased to have dinner with Mr. Audia in Kennesaw last night – and especially pleased that he credits his success to the skills he learned as an undergraduate history major!

3. History major Lindsay Taylor ’10 taught at Dorchester Collegiate Academy, a charter school in Dorchester, Massachusetts before moving back to Georgia in 2015. Since then she has been teaching history at Wheeler High School in Cobb County. Last fall, Ms. Taylor was inducted into the Marietta Athletic Hall of Fame for her achievements as a soccer and basketball player for Marietta High School (two sports she continued to play at Reinhardt).

(Click on the link for a photograph from the Marietta Daily Journal.)

4. History major Lance Patrick ’06 recently received a JD degree from Emory Law School. He worked for the Office of the District Attorney for the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, and as of last year is now with J.M. Heller Law Firm of Canton, Georgia. His practice areas include criminal defense, bankruptcy and debt relief, and wills and trusts.

Photo: Heller Law Firm

Lindy Smith, 1993-2017

Sad news: I have been informed that Lindy Smith, a former Reinhardt student, died last November at the age of 24. I had the pleasure of teaching Lindy in one of my classes, and she came with the history club to hear Ken Wheeler speak at the Rock Barn back in 2014. She also worked at Cabela’s, and was very helpful to me when I made a major purchase there in 2015. She will be missed. Requiescat in pace.