Monday, August 8, 2022

Milliron Monday: Underground Railroad

Jody at the "Negro Den" on Milliron Farm
August 3, 1997 The Athens Messenger Photo by Chad Stiles

Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography, including his wife Jody (1938-2021)

“We should use the Underground Railroad to
exemplify what can be done, what a great
nation we can build, if we forget about 
division and look at unity.”
– Henry Burke, Ohio Historian

If you have visited the Smith farmhouse or taken a trail ride through the Smith woods, you probably know about the Negro Den and how the farmhouse played a role in the Underground Railroad. Jody was featured in The Athens Messenger in an article written by Dan Linneman (August 3, 1997): Athens County played a role in the Underground Railroad. 

Linneman writes of local historian Henry Burke and his research. Here's an excerpt:

According to some historians, the Underground Railroad, an escape route for fugitive slaves, dates back as far as the 1500s. But according to Henry Burke, a historian from Marietta, the real organization probably came later in the early 1800s. Because Athens County is just beyond the all-important Ohio River, many fugitives came through it on their path to freedom.

Burke said the Underground Railroad was a sophisticated system of escape that even had its own jargon. Station master, conductors, freight and station keepers all played a significant role. Because of the secretive nature of the Underground Railroad, few documents exist to verify individual stations or conductors. There are, however, many stories of houses that have secret rooms which are rumored to have been stations.

The Negro Den is a large cave that provided railroad travelers' refuge. Part of the cave can still be seen through dense woods, but at some point, the interior collapsed. The farmhouse once had hidden passageways, but to Jody's dismay, the home had been renovated, removing traces of the historical era by previous owners. 





 It is estimated that more than 2,000 slaves traveled through Athens County on their trip up the railroad. Crossing the Ohio River was dangerous and bounty hunters patrolled the river for runaways. Traveling away from the river, into Athens County and northward, increased the chances for permanent escape. 

Read more about the Underground Railroad as part of Ohio History at ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Underground_Railroad. 

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

  

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Ranch Wife Ramblings: An Interview with Selena Bradshaw

Selena Bradshaw - Ranch Wife Ramblings
Photo by Dee Dodson

Ranch Wife Ramblings: An Interview with Selena Bradshaw
By Gina McKnight
Archived from the July 2022 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission.
 
From Sterling, Oklahoma, Selena Bradshaw is the ultimate cowgirl. Selena and her husband raise commercial cattle, bucking horses, and bucking bulls! A seasoned rider, Selena writes, “My favorite thing to do is show horses, everything from jumping to cutting but these days you are most likely to find me in Ranch Horse classes. I am so blessed to be a ranch wife and love the challenges and great rewards that come with the life. I am so glad to have you along for the ride.”
 
Welcome, Selena!
 
GM: We are excited to have you in this edition of Florida Equine Athlete! I enjoy reading your blog and learning about all the things you do! And your horses are beautiful. Tell us about your first horse encounter…
SB: I was one of the really lucky kids! My parents had horses before I even came around. I have been around them from day one! So, I don’t really remember my first encounter, I do however remember my first solo riding adventure! I had a little miniature horse and I remember my dad putting me on bareback and all was well until we started to trot and then I promptly bounced off the side. Needless to say I was definitely not a natural!
 
GM: You were a lucky kid! Growing up with horses certainly prepared you for your current role. Tell us about the horses on your ranch…
SB: We have A LOT of horses on the ranch right now, most of them are bucking horses, we raise about 10 babies a year and have three different studs. But I’ll introduce you to my main saddle horse string!
 
Smart Trey or Trey for short is my main man! He is basically living the semi-retired life now but he has been with me through thick and thin. He has lived every place that I have and has taken me on many adventures. He even paid for some of my college as he was my mount when I showed on the Versatility Ranch Horse teams at Northeastern Junior College and Tarleton State University. He is an AQHA sorrel horse that proves that he is little but he is mighty! We have spent time doing a little bit of everything from running flags at a rodeo, roping, showing in showmanship, hunter under saddle to dragging calves to the fire and everything in between. However, we have found our best success in the NRCHA events and AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse.
 
Play In The Woods or Elle Woods for short - you know like the movie “Legally Blonde” (The best chick flick ever!). Anyways, she's a gray AQHA mare that is just starting to become the main mount. I have started showing her at some small ranch horse events and we have been using her more and more on the ranch. I have big hopes for her as my next show horse and to start taking more responsibilities on the ranch.
 
Slick is a red roan grade horse. He is the true MVP of the group! He is the one that gets saddled when we need to get something done and I know he will take care of me with no funny business! No matter if it’s freezing cold and snowing or super-hot out when we have a job to do, Slicks the one I want to be on.
 
Curious George was supposed to be a bucking horse but he decided that he would rather be a working horse. He is mainly my husband's horse but every once in a while I like to climb on him and play around. He is like riding a big tank and is just a lot of fun with his larger than life goofy personality. He has a lot of Draft in him and being a sorrel with a flaxen mane and tail, he looks a lot like a Belgian horse.
 
Bay Boy is a bay grade horse. He is definitely my husband's horse but I just couldn’t keep him out. He is the definition of a gritty ranch horse. Sometimes I’ll talk my husband into letting me ride him and he is all business! He used to not be the friendliest of horses but I introduced him to horse treats and he has decided it’s worth getting fussed over to eat some treats.
 
GM: Treats are always a plus! In the show arena, what is your favorite event?
SB: I am such a sucker for a good horse! I love all of the horse show classes! However my very favorites and favorites to show in myself are the Working Cowhorse, Reining, Cutting, Ranch Riding, Ranch Trail and Ranch Pleasure.
 
I qualified for the AQHYA World Show on Trey in the Working Cowhorse and then the AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Show. We had a lot of success showing in the versatility ranch horse classes through the years including being the reserve AQHA high point youth versatility year end. I like that it’s more than one class that we get to show in.
 
While the Working Cowhorse will always be my favorite of all time, reining has definitely become a top favorite. I have been blessed to get to scribe at the NRHA Derby, Futurity and NRBC and it has made me a huge fan. I can’t tell you how honored I feel getting to sit in the scribe seat while history is being made. Those horses and riders are so talented and it’s so special to have an arena seat.
 
 
GM: Sounds like fun. Horses all day, every day! Congratulations on your accolades. As a ranch wife, what is your go-to for motivation and inspiration? How do you stay fit and energized?
SB: I am a sucker for motivational quotes! I think that my favorite thing about Facebook other than getting to keep up with friends and family is finding those little gems of inspiration all typed up pretty. I am always saving them on my phone, it’s full of them!
 
I also like to surround myself with a goal list that is the locked screen of my phone. I think that these help me stay focused throughout the day. I started following Rachel Hollis years ago and she suggested every morning starting out with a journal which has five things that you are grateful for that happened the day before, 10 dreams I made happen (they haven’t happened yet, you just write them like they have because you're going to make them happen!) and then the goal that you’re going to achieve first. I have taken this journaling and ran with it! It’s the first thing that I do every morning whether I’m at home or on the road. It helps me remember to be grateful for the things that I have while I stay focused on my goals and dreams.
 
I would also be lost without snacks and a book! I bring them with me everywhere! I don’t like to be hungry and you never know if something that you thought would only take a little while turns into a whole day ordeal so I am always squirreling away snacks! I also bring a book with me wherever I go! I love to read and I find it's something that I enjoy doing if we have a little down time rather than scrolling on my phone, especially since I don’t always have service.
 
I would love to say that I have a special exercise plan and diet but I am very inconsistent with working out unless I have a run coming up. I like to do at least one 10K a year running for Team Beef Oklahoma and when I’m gearing up for that I try to run five days a week. Otherwise, I try to sneak in a run and YouTube Barre class a few times a week if we're not too busy. As for diet, my husband is a great cook! If it wasn’t for him I would be eating TV dinners and Mac and Cheese every day! He does a good job of having us eat a balanced diet of beef and veggies each day. We raise our own beef and during the summer we have a pretty good size garden that helps us get some fresh veggies! We tend to eat a good breakfast and lunch and just have a small snack at night. I also sneak in my fair share of sweets since that’s definitely my favorite thing!
 
GM: Take us through a day in your life...
SB: Oh, goodness! Our day varies so much each day and especially during different seasons and sometimes I am on the road working horse shows. However, right now we are done calving spring calvers and have just finished working all of them (giving vaccinations, castrating the bull calves, worming and fly spraying them). We have a few months before we start calving out fall calvers which will find us spending most of our day horseback checking cows and pushing calves to the shade so they don’t overheat in the summer heat.
 
So, our typical day right now starts around 5am. I will get ready and dressed, do some house chores and my husband makes breakfast. After breakfast we go out and feed the saddle horses and whatever else is up and gets grain. We then saddle up and check cows and calves and doctor anything that is sick. After that we come in and eat some lunch. After lunch we will work on whatever other projects we have around the house, things like spraying weeds, fixing fences, putting out minerals and other miscellaneous things that need to get done. I have a project horse that I am working with right now so I will generally go work with her and finish my barn chores and sometimes go work horses depending on who got rode that morning. We will come in for the night and I will try to work at least an hour on the side hustles of my blog, ranchwiferamblings.com or Punchy Designs.
 
GM: Working cattle and horses can be fun and dangerous, especially around bulls. What techniques do you use to confront a misbehaving animal?
SB: My husband and I work together so much that we know what each other is thinking or going to do next without having to say anything which makes working together really nice, especially when things are a little dicey. It also helps that my husband is an amazing hand around horses and cattle and he keeps things running pretty smoothly! However, you always find yourself with that one pesky animal that doesn’t want to corporate. We recently got out of raising bucking bulls, so luckily we don’t have as many standoffs anymore.
 
I would like to tell you that when confronted with a misbehaving animal I handle it with grace and professionalism but that would just be a lie! It generally starts out with me getting angry and calling them names, because they definitely care about the name you call them, right? Haha, then, I go to the pleading with them to just behave and then I do what I should have just done in the first place, take a step back, take a deep breath, think about why what I’m doing isn’t working and re-adjust.
 
GM: Once you raise a bucking horse and/or bull, do you get the chance to follow them on the rodeo circuit(s)? Do you maintain a connection to the animal?
SB: It depends on where the animal goes. Each bronc and bull carries our ranch brand, the stuk B, and then a letter and number that identifies each animal. We have had some broncs and bulls get sold to contractors for the PRCA and the PBR and we are able to follow those horses and bulls because each time they get drawed by a rider we are able to see who got them and how they were marked. It has also been fun with social media because lots of times we can look up the guy that drew them and see the video of their ride! Last summer when I was working the Colorado State Fair horse show, a mare that we raised had drawn up in the reride pen of the rodeo going on there and although she didn’t end up getting used I was still able to go see her and it was really neat! When they go to the amateur rodeos we will see them pop up on videos and pictures which is always fun! I have also halter broke a few that didn’t want to buck and instead went on to careers as riding horses and I love when the owners send me pictures and updates on how they are doing.
 
Just like any animal, some are more friendly than others. While most of the broncs that we have you can’t go out and pet in the pasture we have a few that like horse treats and will let you pet them. We spend a lot of time with them from feeding, getting them used to the chute and equipment, moving them from different pastures, checking on them and just plain hanging out with them. They get pretty used to humans and I don’t think that they mind us that much and some seem to like us.
 
On the other hand some never do end up “liking” people. I had a little bucking bull that I bottle fed from the time that he was itty bitty until he was a big bull and he never got to the point that he wanted to be around people. He was super talented but definitely on the mean side and no amount of bribing with treats could win him over.
 
GM: What advice do you have for women who are seeking your lifestyle? What challenges will they face? What can they expect?
SB: The biggest advice that I can give to women that are seeking my lifestyle is that you can do it! It’s not the easiest but it’s worth it and if I can do it so can you!
 
The two biggest challenges that I faced were having to plan better and not having friends close by. Planning better comes with experience and honestly with the help of Amazon, I have probably gotten a little bit less than I was before. Before I moved here I wasn’t too far from town and I worked in town so it wasn’t a big deal to run to the grocery store and pick up something. Moving here I only go grocery shopping twice a month and learning to check certain things before I leave and make a good list was a must! The next challenge I faced was not having friends close by. We live in a little town and it wasn’t like I had a town job or was going to school where I could make friends right away. Being a very social person this was hard for me but I realized that we are so lucky! We live in a time in age where my best friend who lives across the country is just a text, call, or message away! Over time I was able to meet some amazing ladies that I get to call best friends that live super close to me, one just across the road! So while at times it might feel lonely when you are just getting started out I promise your “old” friends aren’t that far away and you will meet some great people. It might just take a little longer since most days the only person I see is my husband.
 
Some things to expect are getting used to doing things by yourself. With as many animals as we are taking care of it is hard for both of us to get away at the same time. People might make jokes when you go to weddings and other things alone, just go! Sometimes, going and doing things by yourself not only makes you a strong person, it can be fun! Make the best of it! Also, get used to people acting like just because you don’t have a 9-5 job you just sleep in and do nothing all day. It used to make me mad when people would make snide little comments about how it must be nice to not have to work, when I was working much longer hours than them but I’ve gotten used to it and they can think what they think. While I never get to leave my job and living this lifestyle while we don’t have as much freedom as people would think we do get to dictate what we do every day, well unless an animal has different plan for us, and while there's always something to do I wouldn’t trade it for a 9-5! I have done that and while I loved my town jobs I like this one much better!
 
GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
SB: To me horsemanship is a person that is constantly working to improve their connection with the horse. I believe that to have horsemanship you have to constantly be working to get better. I also feel like horsemanship expands from how you take care of your horse all the way to your riding. I feel like a lot of people skip over the care of their horse and that’s a main part of being a horseman. From what you feed your horse, to grooming and healthcare, all of that is just as important as how well you ride.

Photo by Dee Dodson

Photo by Dee Dodson

Photo by Krista Davis Signature Portraiture

Photo by Randy Duran


 


Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Second Chances by Clyde Hoch

 

Vietnam 1969. (Standing left) S/Sgt. Clyde Hoch Tank Commander - (Standing right) Corporal Richard Gerszewski (Ski), Gunner - (Kneeling left) Lance Corporal Jerry Holly, Tank Driver - (Kneeling right) Private Todd Phillips, Loader

Second Chances 

by Clyde Hoch 

I sold my last motorcycle when I turned 70. It was a Kawasaki Concourse 1400. It was fast as hell and very reliable. I had a chance to buy some land. I wasn’t using the bike often and I thought bike or land? It was a hard choice. I took that bike to the Rolling Thunder meet in DC once. That was a great time.

When I first got out of the military, I went to a friend's house. He had a little 90 CC Suzuki laying in his yard. It was covered with snow. We brushed it off, put new gas in it and it cranked right over. We beat that thing unleavable. Near the end of summer, the handlebars were broken off, it had nubs we used to steer it, the fenders were torn off, and the tires were egg shaped but it still kept going. I was impressed with Japanese bikes from then on.

I had bikes most of my life. I started riding on a DKW. A friend stopped by with it. I asked him if I could ride it. He asked, “Do you know how to ride?” I said, “Sure.” After a disastrous start where I went in circles a few times with the motor racing and the back tire spinning, it turned out ok. 

Three days after graduating high school I was on my way to Parris Island. Almost three years later I was a tank commander in Vietnam. Everything was going very well for me. I was moving up in rank far faster than I ever expected to or wanted to. Late in my tour we were on an operation with a company of infantry (grunts). We were a blocking force for a much larger operation. We expected to spend the night sleeping on the ground next to the tank and eating cold C-rations. It was too hot of an area to have any kind of fire or flame.

My last tank and crew in Vietnam 1969 

We got a call on the radio telling us to come back in. This was great news. We would be spending the night at company headquarters. They had an airplane fuel tank that warmed in the sun during the day, warm showers. They had a refrigeration unit in the club, cold beer. We were all very happy.

On the way back I remember taking a breath of air and it was all very hot air, then things started to get blurry. I remember thinking to myself’ uh-oh, this is it. The next thing I remembered, my life was like a brown blob. I started talking to myself saying you can’t let go, you have to come back. I remember saying this to myself over and over. I was teetering back and forth between life and death. It seemed to me this went on for twenty minutes. I do not know how long it actually was, but it seemed like a very long time.

Soon I remember seeing a light. It reminded me of drinking a glass of water and looking down through the bottom of the glass, everything was distorted. I had no idea what happened. Now everything was super quiet. I saw people’s mouths moving but I didn’t hear any sound. I climbed down off the tank. The tank was lying in a hole that was about five feet round and three feet deep. The track was off, and the first three road wheels were blown off. This was the same side I was sitting on. It was hard for me to comprehend we hit an anti-tank mine. I never heard the explosion.

I was in a daze for weeks after this. Back then if you were not bleeding profusely, you were fine. I didn’t realize it but from this incident I had traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Coming home from Vietnam everyone looked down upon us veterans. This was the worst time in my life. I was more comfortable in the war than my own country.

Over the years I learned to live with my illnesses. They never go away but I learned to live with them. I thought of suicide almost every day. Life just didn’t seem worth the effort. The biggest thing that prevented me from doing it was I feel God put us here for a reason. It would not be right of me to cut that reason short.

After I got out, I bought a BSA. I had that for years. I wound up burning up the engine. I had the opportunity to buy a Suzuki 750 CC. That was a great bike. One time I got tired of everything and took that bike to New Mexico. I went by myself and had a great time. As I was leaving Pennsylvania there were thunderstorms all over. I managed to miss them all. I thought to myself often if I break down, they may find a skeleton sitting beside a motorcycle in the desert. I got caught in a severe thunderstorm in the desert. It got to the point my tires started to hydroplane. I pulled over and sat under an underpass with a bunch of Native Americans. The bike performed flawless. I pushed that thing going out. I did about 90 most of the way after getting away from a lot of traffic.

The end of that bike came when my garage burned. My dad had a big two-story wooden structure. I tried to save the bike but when I opened the door, I could barely see and the heat was unbearable. I thought better of it and closed the door. The overhead doors were plastic and in no time they melted. I watched a very bright blue and white flame come from the lower part of the engine.

Since then, I had a BMW, my friend with the DKW got a Harley Sportster. He let me use it whenever I wanted. That dammed thing leaked oil and at times you had a hell of a time getting it into 4th gear.

I started writing totally by accident. After researching a book, I was alarmed by the amount of veteran's suicides. I wanted to do something about it. I started the Veterans Brotherhood. I wanted an organization to help prevent veteran suicides and I never wanted anyone to live the life I did. I believe I didn’t die in the anti-tank mine explosion because I was given a second chance. Many of us today need a second chance. Many just need to know someone cares and is willing to help us. The Veterans Brotherhood have some outstanding members and is growing rapidly. In 2021 the Veterans Brotherhood helped 115 veterans, many had wives and children. The impact is far more than 115.

So now I turned 75. A friend of mine bought a used 883 Harley. He decided a motorcycle was not for him. I went to look at it. The tires were muddy, a foot peg broken off and it wouldn’t start. It sat in his garage. I felt this bike like me needed a second chance. He offered it to me very cheap. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Now to break this to my wife who hates motorcycles.

My neighbor Ryan Winter has a small shop in his garage. I asked him if he would go over it for me. I decided this would be my show bike. Not for long runs. He pulled the fenders and tank and sent them out for a custom paint job. A long time ago an artist did a painting of my tank in Vietnam. I now have a custom tank painting on the tank of the bike. It is almost too nice to ride. 




About the Author

From Pennsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, welcome today's guest writer Sergeant Clyde HochClyde is an award-winning author, Vietnam War Veteran, public speaker, and much more. In his books, Clyde shares his experiences of wartime, life, and beyond.  


Connect with Clyde…


Read Clyde's Interview Here


Stories by Clyde Hock:

So, You Want a Service Dog

The Chestnut Mare

Spike: A Childhood memory



Monday, August 1, 2022

Milliron Monday: County Fair


Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography, including his wife Jody (1938-2021)

“Fair goers be like, 'Can I pet your horse?'.”
– local 4H competitor


It's August! Time to plan your trip to southeast Ohio's County Fairs! The Athens County Fair is August 5 - 13. Jody's favorite event was Friday night's harness race! 

Upon arriving in Ohio and beginning his new career with Dr. Bratton and Dr. Phillips, Pete was assigned as the Athens County Fair veterinarian, responsible for the entry of livestock, etc. Jody said he enjoyed it at first, but after several years, he was happy to hand this position to another veterinarian. The Smith kids were active in 4H, sometimes winning awards to advance to State competition. Here are photos from the Smith family archives...







Throughout their lifetime, Pete and Jody invested in several harness horses. They enjoyed watching their investments race at county fairs throughout Ohio. 

The Athens County Fair Harness Racing begins at 5:00 PM, Friday August 5th. Hope to see you there!

 

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

 

Milliron Monday: Underground Railroad

Jody at the "Negro Den" on Milliron Farm August 3, 1997 The Athens Messenger Photo by Chad Stiles Abbott "Pete" Smith ...