A Tree Connection to the Declaration of Independence

When holidays roll around, I like to poke around for a connection with the natural world, and I found some interesting stuff about The Declaration of Independence. This most revered American document kicked off our nation’s quest to rule itself, which we celebrate on the 4th of July, Independence Day.

Were I to ask what tree derived material was used to create this famous document, a lot of folks would think it’s the paper, which is a good guess but wrong. Early drafts of the document were likely written on paper made of hemp or flax fiber mixed with recycled cotton cloth fibers, which was the standard paper of the day. For important documents like the Declaration, they used the more expensive parchment paper, which is specially treated animal skin, sheep most likely. It’s very durable and had been in use for centuries.

So, the only thing left is the ink, and that’s it. The ink used to write the Declaration was called Oak Gall Ink, made with an acid obtained from oak galls. These are ball-like structures growing on oak leaves, and you may have seen them on oak leaves or other tree species. They are caused by an insect called the gall wasp. The female wasp lays an egg in leaf buds in the spring, which hatches a worm-like larvae. It feeds on the leaf bud and injects a secretion that causes the bud to modify its growth and grow a ball of spongy material around the larvae. The resulting gall protects the larvae until it metamorphs into an adult. The gall is very high is tannic acid, which was collected from the forest and processed into a liquid that was mixed with iron sulfate to create a dark purplish-black ink. A binder called gum arabic was added to the ink, which is also a tree derived product from the sap of acacia trees growing in northeast Africa. This ink goes way back in time and was used during the early Roman Empire, and many drawings by Leonardo da Vinci were done using oak gall ink.

The combination of oak gall ink on parchment created a very durable document. The parchment was tough and holds up well over time. The ink was water resistant and would adhere to the parchment so well that it could not be erased except by scraping a thin layer off the writing surface. This durability turned out to be crucial or we wouldn’t have the original document on display in Washington DC, where it is now protected in a titanium case filled with argon gas to reduce deterioration. But back in the day the original document was simply rolled up and carried around in a saddlebag by the Continental Congress and shown to whoever wanted to see it. Later it ended up on the wall of the patent office and hung there for 30 years near a bright window. It faded but endured until somebody recognized it was an important document and started protecting it. The original Bill of Rights and Constitution were also written using parchment and gall ink.

One other piece of trivia I picked up is that there is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence: "Original Declaration of Independence, dated 4th July 1776" written at the bottom of the document, upside down. Have a great 4th and remember your freedom’s not free.

Tags: 

Advertisement

Articles

Theatrics take the stage in Maynardville

Theatrics and performing arts will soon take the stage in Maynardville. A local Union County native, Michael Bailey, brings his passion of the arts along with years of experience to the county with the introduction of Thunder Road Theatre.
Bailey, age 22, has many theater productions under his belt with several major fundraisers, such as last year’s T1D: Zombie Edition at Wilson Park for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He began in theater as early as elementary school and it soon became something he loved dearly.

Congratulations to UCBPA Man and Woman of 2019

UCBPA Man & Woman of 2019 Gary England and Ms. Melanie Dykes. Photo by Chantay Collins

Each year, the Union County Business & Professional Association chooses a man and a woman to serve as ambassador to promote cooperation among the business and professionals for the benefit of the citizens. These individuals exemplify the spirit of community service and use their knowledge and expertise to make Union County a better place to live, work, play and pray. The UCBPA Man & Woman of 2019 are Gary England and Melanie Dykes.

Tags: 

Williams opens veterinarian clinic in Paulette

Dr. Williams with family and friends cutting the ribbon at the new Paulette location.

Pet owners in and around the Paulette community now have a veterinarian next door. Located just up the road from Paulette Elementary School and only eight minutes from Halls, Thunder Road Veterinary Services, LLC celebrated their grand opening last month during a ribbon cutting and open house with family and friends. There were free prizes, raffles, discounted merchandise, facility tours of the new veterinarian clinic and a food truck.

Locals set record with Operation Christmas Child

Milan Baptist Church wants children in need around the world to receive a gift this Christmas season and to experience the love and hope that we find in Jesus Christ.
For the seventh year, Milan Baptist Church has partnered with the Samaritan’s Purse project, Operation Christmas Child, to make a difference in the lives of children affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine. The annual project takes empty shoeboxes and turns them into gifts filled with fun toys, school supplies, and hygiene items that will be delivered to children in need around the world.

Combating elder abuse in Tennessee

Tennessee’s District Attorneys General are on a mission to protect seniors from elder abuse. We are improving laws, increasing public awareness and, with the help of other partners, using criminal investigations and courtroom prosecutions to protect our seniors.
But, we need the help of informed citizens to win this battle.

Injury Prevention Tips

Following these guidelines can help you prevent injuries: Avoid doing too much, too soon. Never increase the length of your workouts by more than 10 percent from one week to the next, and never increase both the length and intensity of your workout at the same time. Never skip your warm-up or cool-down. Tight or stiff muscles around a joint will make the area more prone to injury. This is especially important in sports that require quick movements, such as basketball and tennis.

Horses transformed into magical unicorns

Kallie Hopper Noblin with husband Jeff. Photo by Nicole Delfraino Photography

Everyone enjoys capturing milestones and memories in photographs so that the joy can be relived through the generations.
Here in Union County, KH Equine Event Rentals focuses on the happiness of clients and the take-home factor for moments like these. The creative business offers photo shoot setups and themed shoots as well as the very popular unicorn interaction at shoots and parties.

National Authors Day celebrated

Authors Guild of Tennessee members enjoy National Authors Day at Union Ave. Books: Cheryl Peyton, AGT President; Jody Sims, Bobbi Phelps and Linda Fitzpatrick.

Authors around the nation celebrated National Authors Day November 1. Here in Knoxville, the celebration went into the evening. The event was presented by the Authors Guild of Tennessee, in collaboration with Union Avenue Books and the Knoxville Writers Guild.

Johnson's Deer Processing & Taxidermy

A family tradition has sprouted into a family business for the Johnsons. Tyler Johnson and his dad, Terry, created a deer processing and taxidermy business partnership in Corryton, and it is a busy season for the fellows as deer hunting season is in full steam.
Inspiration for the industry arose from childhood stories told by Tyler’s papaw, Raymond Johnson. After a weekend hunt in Chuck Swan, Raymond and his brothers would cut the deer up in the kitchen floor.
Tyler says, “I guess you could say it’s in my blood.”

Country Connections: The musical Woods family

On April 11, 1932, in Goin, Claiborne County, Tennessee, a marriage was performed between Clifford Renee Woods Sr. and Virgie Alvelda O’Dell. Four months later, a song was recorded at the Victor Studio on Fifth Street in Camden, New Jersey, by the great Jimmie Rodgers.
The Great Depression was deepening worldwide. The song was “No Hard Times” about living in the country with a mule, a bucket of lard and chickens in my backyard.
On April 13, 1933, a girl child was born to Clifford and Virgie. They named her Wanda Lucille Woods. The family lived in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Events

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, December 12, 2019. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting immediately to follow.

The Union County Board of Education will meet in Executive Session at Union County High School at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 12, 2019 in anticipation of litigation.

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

James A. "Jim" Clay, Jr.

James Anderson “Jim” Clay, Jr.-age 63 of Washburn went home to be with his Heavenly Father Friday morning, December 6, 2019 while surrounded by his family at his home. He was a long-time member of Mt. Eager Baptist Church. Jim was a former employee of Plasti-Line Inc. and was a retired Barber. Everyone who knew him loved him. Preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Ruth Clay; sisters, Lois Dalton and Rhonda Clay; brother, Rev. Johnny Clay.

Barbara Beeler McGinnis

Barbara Beeler McGinnis-age 84 of Washburn went to be with the Lord Thursday, December 5, 2019 at her home. Preceded in death by brothers and sisters-in-law, J. R. (Grace) Beeler; Don (Wanda) Beeler; Bill (Lillian) Beeler, all of Washburn; Hazel Lester of Tazewell.

She is survived by her children, Rick (Alice) McGinnis of Knoxville; Rita (Jim) Teffteller of Rutledge; Debbie (Gary) Wood and Jeff McGinnis, all of Washburn. She had eight grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren. Several nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

Wayne Clifton Smith

Wayne Clifton Smith-age 86 of Heiskell passed away peacefully Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at his home with is family by his side. He was of the Baptist faith and a member of Macedonia Baptist Church. He was a U. S. Army Veteran and a member of the Tri-County Veterans Honor Guard. He was a member of J. C. Baker Lodge #720 F. & A.M.

He leaves behind his wife of 61 years, Shirley Smith; children, Charlotte Diane, Wayne, Tim, Rick and wife, Dolly; Darrell and Beverly. He was also blessed with 19 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

E. J. Ray

E. J. Ray-age 73 of Maynardville went home peacefully Monday evening, December 2, 2019 at his home. He was a member of Fairview Baptist Church. Preceded in death by parents, Andy and Maggie Ray; sisters, Dorthy, Gladys and Mary Patricia Ray; brother, Jr Ray.

Cynthia Dawn Hensley

Cynthia Dawn (Cooper) Hensley-age 53 of Luttrell, born January 18, 1966 passed away Monday morning, December 2, 2019 at her home. Cynthia was a member of Jim Town Baptist Church and an employee of the Horace Maynard Middle School. Preceded in death by father, Rev. E. R. Cooper; mother, Opal Raley Cooper; brothers, Mark and Tony Cooper.

David Ray Richards, Jr.

David Ray Richards, Jr. age 43 of Knoxville passed away Thursday, November 28, 2019 on Thanksgiving Day. David worked at Legend Fitness in Knoxville. He was born and raised on the south side of Knoxville and blessed to have touched so many lives with his charm and outgoing personality.

John Bolt Tatum, Jr.

John B. Tatum, Jr.-age 70 of Sharps Chapel, Tennessee, formerly of Piqua, Ohio passed away suddenly Saturday, November 30, 2019 at his home. He was a member of St. Mary Catholic Church in Piqua, Ohio; U. S. Air Force Veteran of the Viet Nam War; retired employee of Dinner Bell Meat Processing and also worked at Simpson Industries and Clopay Building Products. John loved living on Norris Lake where he enjoyed boating, fishing and hunting. John, along with his wife fostered several children for 13 years.

Lt. Kenneth Thomas Bowman

Lt. Kenneth Thomas Bowman – K. T.’s family are sad and heartbroken to announce his passing November 27, 2019 peacefully at his home after a lengthy illness. Much appreciation to all his doctors, nurses, DCI Dialysis Clinic on Martin Mill Pike and Amedisys Home Health. He was born January 18, 1939 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of the late Ralph and Francis Bowman. U. S. Army Veteran of the Viet Nam War and served 1956 – 1966 obtaining many awards to include the Bronze Star Medal. K. T.

Pearl (Graves) Kitts

Pearl (Graves) Kitts, “Granny Pearl” – 93 of Maynardville, passed away November 28, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. She was one of the oldest members of Alder Springs Baptist Church. Pearl retired from Knox County Health Department.

Gerald Gillette

Gerald Gillette-age 87 of Maynardville passed away peacefully Wednesday morning, November 27, 2019 at his home and is now rejoicing in his new Heavenly home. Gerald loved the Lord and was one of His faithful servants. He made sure that everyone he talked to knew about Jesus. He loved and served his country and was a U. S. Navy Veteran of the Korean War and served again in the Army National Guard. He spent most of his life in foundry work and retired as a foundry coordinator with J. R. Hoe and Sons, Middlesboro, Kentucky.

The opinions expressed by columnists and those providing comments are theirs alone, and may not reflect the opinions of Russell Computer Systems, Inc or any employee thereof.