Spikenard: Connecting Our Mountains with the Bible

As a botany nut I’m always amazed at the diversity of plants we have in the mountains, as I’m constantly coming across plants I don’t know. One I’ve observed for a number of years but only recently caught it in bloom to identify it is Spikenard, which is mentioned in the Bible several times. The most familiar one is its use to anoint the head and feet of Jesus just prior to His crucifixion.

The ointment spikenard mentioned in the King James version (and as “nard” in other Bible translations) was derived from a plant by the same name that grew in the Himalayan mountains and so had to be shipped long distances to the Holy Land. An essential oil that was distilled out of the roots was very aromatic and had numerous uses. The Romans used it as a medicinal to make perfumes. It was used as an incense offering by the Hebrews in the Jerusalem Temple. In Old Testament times, pungent perfumes and oils were used to prepare a body for burial, which was why the act of anointing Jesus’ head with spikenard prior to His crucifixion was highly symbolic. Because it was imported from distance lands and extracting the oil was complex, it was very costly. Spikenard or nard is mentioned in Mark 14:3, John 12:3, and Song of Solomon 14:13.

The plant used in Biblical times is not even closely related to American Spikenard found in moist forests of our Appalachian Mountains. The Himalayan plant is small with flowers similar to red clover. Our Spikenard looks more like a bush but is actually an herbaceous perennial. It is often wider than it is tall and can reach three feet in height and width. It has compound leaves that are twice divided, and each leaflet is roughly heart shaped with a toothed edge. The stem is a purplish color. The flowers are a spike of small, white blooms that form in round clusters, and bloom in late summer. I was curious as to why our local plant was given the same name as the Biblical variety but couldn’t find a definitive connection, but I think I can offer a possibility. The roots of both species are very aromatic, with a smell described as “balsamic”, which I take to mean medicine-ey or perhaps resinous. To me our native Spikenard has a spicy smell. Another similarity is that both roots have a cluster of black tendrils near the root crown that looks like a clump of hair. I’m assuming whoever first discovered the American Spikenard saw the resemblance and named it accordingly.

American Spikenard is in the same plant family as ginseng and has similar chemical properties. It has traditionally been used as a medicinal plant to treat coughs, asthma, lung ailments, rheumatism, and kidney ailment. Native Americans used a root tea for menstrual irregularities, lung issues and cough, and to flavor other medicines. The root was also used as a poultice to treat infections, swelling, and wounds. As a flavoring it was used to make a flavorful tea, root beer, and a spice.

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Awards Abound at 2019 Heritage Festival

picture of Rocky Top Award winner for best portrayal of the festival theme, More Fiddlin' Around, was A& B Bookkeeping and Tax Service. Picture has two white rocking chairs in front of a banner made of pumpkins that say More Fiddlin' Around.  The rocking chairs are surrounded by mums in washtubs with a fiddle displayed on haybales.

Rocky Top Award winner for best portrayal of the festival theme, More Fiddlin' Around, was A& B Bookkeeping and Tax Service.

At Wilson Park, over 100 vendors competed for various booth awards at the 2019 Union County Heritage Festival last Saturday. A&B Bookkeeping & Tax Service claimed The Rocky Top award for the best portrayal of the festival theme. The Best Heritage Award for the best example of Union County history portrayed in a craft went to Martin Shafer for making maul handles on an Ole' Time Hit 'n Miss Engine & Lathe. Ralph Webster of Webster's Woodcrafts won Best Unique Craft Item for his handmade Black Walnut Bowl.

Heritage Fiddle Contest Announces Winners

picture of an old front porch with 2019 Fiddle Contest Winners: Eric Nafzigar (2nd), Kasey Moore (1st), Austin Stovall (3rd)

2019 Fiddle Contest Winners: Eric Nafziger (2nd), Kasey Moore (1st), Austin Stovall (3rd)

There was “More Fiddlin' Around” as fiddle lovers of all ages welcomed competitors in Union County Heritage Festival's Second Annual Fiddle Contest on Saturday, October 5, 2019. Amateur fiddlers took the stage and performed their best renditions of some fiddle favorites. While the judges were wrestling with very difficult decisions, all of the fiddle participants and several of the guitar, string bass, and mandolin players leaped to the stage to entertain the crowd with an impromptu performance of several popular fiddle tunes.

2019 Heritage Festival Quilt Show Winners

Picture of a memory quilt with hearts, initials, and other icons to remember family members

The Union County Historical Society sponsored the Heritage Festival Quilt Show at the Union County Museum & Genealogical Library. More than thirty quilts lined the museum balcony. Ellen Perry and Patricia Campbell coordinated the event.

Connie Johnsey won Best of Show for her quilt entitled “Harvest Spice”. Best Heritage Quilt was Kim Beeler's “Diary Quilt” that reflected memories of loved ones that "walk beside us every day".

Other awards included the following:

Rubbing Your Belly and Tapping Your Feet

My thoughts were of “Sleeping Beauty” and “Rumpelstiltskin” as Tim I walked down the line of vendors at the Union County Farmer’s Market. We were searching for the lady with a spinning wheel since I was to conduct an interview with her.

“There she is!” Tim pointed, but I still couldn’t see a spinning wheel anywhere; in fact, I didn’t notice it until we reached her tent. You see, I had assumed all spinning wheels were made like the ones mentioned in old fairy tales. I had assumed wrong.

Historic Road Signs

Since it is my birthday, I decided to write about my birthplace and the historic sign at its site: the old Ailor Mill on Route 144, Ailor Gap Road. Of course, this is not really my birthplace, but as a four-year-old I did believe my father when he said that it was. My real birthplace was in a 1958 Chevrolet in Claiborne County, but that's another story. It may not have been that mill on that site, but simply a barn constructed there after the old mill was torn down. Regardless, I believed it to be true and now a historic marker commemorates the site.

Can backpacks really cause long-term problems?

More than 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Can these childhood injuries result in long-term back problems or chronic pain?

By the age of 14, seven percent of children report that back pain affects their everyday life. The lumbar (lower) spine is vulnerable to injury when children carry heavy loads. Such injuries may also lead to early degenerative changes in the lower spine.

And it’s not just the weight you carry in your backpack, but how you carry it.

Cadillac Style

On Sunday morning, I get up and get ready for church. I have gathered all the materials I will need for the day on the Saturday night prior—clothes, Sunday school booklet, Bible and commentaries. This way, I don’t have to rush to get things done and can sleep a little later than would otherwise be possible. All I have to do is get up, shower, shave, put on my clothes, and grab my Sunday school bag before heading out the door.

Local Rivers Were Early Interstates

Back in the early and mid-1800s the industrial age and a growing population created a demand for raw materials to make products, especially from wood and metals such as iron and lead. Our area had metal ore deposits to produce pig iron in locally owned furnaces fueled by charcoal and coke. Pig iron needed to be shipped to big cities like Chattanooga where it was refined and made into metal products such as tools and farm implements.

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The Endangered Small Country School--Birchwood Elementary

Birchwood Elementary School, picture courtesy of Shannon Wright (because I can't locate mine!)

The year 2005 was momentous for me. I had been looking for work in an ever widening circle from Athens. I had interviewed in Monroe, Loudon, Bradley, McMinn, and sent applications to every school district that I could drive to in 45 minutes.

Finally in August, I sent applications to Knox and Hamilton counties, even as I cringed at the commute time it would be to any school in those counties. Two weeks after I had sent those applications, I received a phone call from the principal of an elementary school at the northern tip of Hamilton County.

Scrapple

When I was a kid, the fall of the year was butchering time. Dad usually had a castrated boar that he had fattened up for the kill. I never understood why a farmer would fatten up a pig. You can only use so much lard. Anyway, I have a question for you. Have you ever made scrapple? I remember when the pig's head would be cooked and all the meat carefully cut or pulled away from the bone. Sounds gross, doesn't it? Head cheese is good but it is a bit different from my recipe for scrapple. Do you have some pork sausage languishing in your freezer? Here's a use for it.

Events

FALL COOKOUT

Saturday, October 26, 2019 - 17:00

Alder Springs Baptist Church will be having a community wide fall cook-out Saturday, October 26th from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at the church. Come join us for food, fellowship, fun and of course candy!

Kenneth “Dink” Brown Benefit

Saturday, November 2, 2019 - 16:00
Kenneth “Dink” Brown Family

Kenneth “Dink” Brown Benefit Saturday, November 2nd 4pm - 8pm

Kenneth “Dink” Brown of Luttrell received a kidney transplant on September 17, 2019. This benefit is to help them with medical expenses and household bills. He will not be able to work for around 3 months. 100% of the proceeds go directly to The Brown Family.

Union County Opry

Saturday, November 16, 2019 - 19:00

Balsam Range Saturday, November 16th Doors open at 6pm The show starts at 7pm

Bluegrass music's reigning Entertainers of the Year: Balsam Range are coming to Maynardville on Saturday, November 16th!

Union County Board Of Education

Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 18:00
UNION COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION

The next regular workshop and meeting of the Union County Board of Education will be held at Union County High School on Thursday, September 12, 2019. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting immediately to follow.

Extension of Dr. James E. Carter's contract as Director of the Union County Public Schools will be discussed and considered for approval at this meeting.

UCBPA Meeting

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 12:00

UCBPA meets the second Tuesday of each month for approximately one hour. Membership is $25 annually. The meeting begins at noon at Hardee's in Maynardville. Anyone interested in making Union County a better place to live, work, worship, or play may attend.

Obituary

Inez Evon Shelton

Inez Evon Shelton-age 93 of Washburn passed away Monday afternoon, October 21, 2019 at her home. She was a member of Mt. Eager Baptist Church since she was 9 years old. She received her Masters Degree of Science from the University of Tennessee and taught school in the Grainger County School System for 41 years. She was preceded in death by grandparents, Paris and Lucinda (Williams) Hamilton, Samuel and Nora (Nicely) Shelton; parents, Rev.

Charles Franklin Kerekes

Charles Kerekes-age 62 of Knoxville passed away Saturday afternoon October 19, 2019 at the home of his daughter. He was a loving father and grandfather. He worked at Dalton Foundry in Kendallville, Indiana for 30 years. Preceded in death by his wife, Marlene Kerekes; parents, John Kerekes and Mary Toth; brother, Andrew Kerekes, sister, Wanda Kay Kerekes Potter.

Survivors are daughter, Sarah Campos, grandchildren, Aryana and Jaydon Campos, brother, James Kerekes and several nephews.

Sierra Huiting

Sierra “Iver” Huiting – age 22 of Andersonville, passed away peacefully on October 18, 2019. She was a member of Byrams Fork Baptist Church. Sierra loved her pet frogs and fish, nature, art, Chick-fil-A; and her online friends.

Wayne Eugene Adams

Wayne Eugene Adams, age 75 of Knoxville, TN went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Friday, October 18, 2019, at home surrounded by his loving wife and family. He had suffered with numerous health issues through the years.

Brenda Oleda "Williams" Hutson

Brenda Oleda “Williams” Hutson-age 72 of Luttrell joined the Heavenly Choir Wednesday evening, October 16, 2019 at her home surrounded by her loving family. She was a lifelong member of Mountain View Church of God of the Union Assembly. Retired employee of Atlantic Research Corporation, Knoxville. Preceded in death by great-granddaughter, Isabella Grace Nicely; parents, James A. and Pearlie Williams; brother, Doffise Williams; sister, Lela Williams.

Melba Jennilee Brewer Kitts

Melba Jennilee Brewer Kitts-age 86 of Knoxville went home to join her family circle unbroken. The angels set her spirit free peacefully Tuesday evening, October 15, 2019 at her home with her family by her side. She was a member of Dante Church of God. She loved to sing and spread the word of God. Devoted caretaker to many family and friends. Her legacy will continue through her children and those she influenced by interaction of her faith in Jesus Christ. At last she is Home where there is: “Peace in The Valley”.

Rickey Eugene Ray

Rickey Eugene Ray-age 60 of Luttrell passed away Sunday morning, October 13, 2019 at the home of his sister. Preceded in death by wife, Tammy Nicely Ray; parents, Harvey and Minnie Ray; brothers, R. H. Ray, Jr.; Silas Walter Sweat; sister, Kathy Kay Bell.

Barbara Booker

Barbara Christine (Warwick) Booker – age 83 of Luttrell, was born August 8, 1936 and passed away October 12, 2019. She was a member of Fairview Baptist Church in Tater Valley.

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