Saturday, June 18, 2011

Family Secrets????



Somewhere down there, White Pine, TN is land once owned by my forefathers.  I spent the latter part of the week digging through historical records in Dandridge TN and Newport TN trying to find out just where they lived and in fact, just exactly what their names were.  I’ve researched this for years and for several decades have wanted to get here… be here and snoop in person.

There was a secret.  It went something like this (to protect the innocent and those who think continuing to keep this secret is important… I won’t use names):  Great Grandpa might have accidentally killed someone and fled the law and changed his name.  OK great.  But they let me search for the wrong name for a decade before they explained to me why I couldn’t find that name.  Finally they give me the right name and all I run into are brick walls.  If Grandpa’s goal was to hide and not be found… he succeeded.   But yesterday, I found his father’s will.  He had four living children at the time he wrote his will and he was so displeased with them, he only gave them each a dollar and all the rest of his real estate to his second wife (not their mother). 

Land records show he owned a lot of land.  They also show his second wife was selling a lot of it after his death.  But, curiously, a newer memorial gravestone (not old enough to be their original) says both of them died in 1892.  How could she be selling his land after he died, if she died at the same time?  I’m going back next week and see if I can find the probate records.  Should be interesting.

But who died/was killed and how and what’s the rest of that story.

And as for kayaking, I met a man in the Archives in Dandridge, TN this week, who is going to help me figure out where their land was on the river, they owned 1/2 of a ferry landing… and help me find current owners… and maybe put my kayak in there and actually kayak on ancestral lands/waters.  How cool is that?  I passed what I believe was that Ferry landing yesterday… it was right past the spot in the picture above.  One thing about Tennessee, they don’t have a shortage of long, narrow and winding roads.  They are few places where I can pull over with my van and trailer in tow.  I might be looking for a place to drop the trailer while I explore.

But if feels good to be here and I think after waiting for this for decades, I will go away content, regardless of what I learn.

Last night I spent the night in a rest stop.  Today we had a marvelous thunderstorm, and I napped, did genealogy, popped popcorn, made mocha royal, napped some more with the sound of rain on my rooftop… and when the storm stopped did a little housekeeping. The whole while I kept thinking, how good is this?  Is this perfect or what?  I feel so very fortunate to have my health back, and be on the road again, and have my mobile computer lab and my wonderful SwankieWheels.  It doesn’t get any better than this, until tomorrow. 

I am Blessed!


Rest in peace Great Great Grandpa!
(Beth-Car United Methodist Church, Leadville, TN)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

S.O.S. Message to my Followers.

They tell me I’m a pretty good artist so here is a question for my followers:  Would you be willing to buy (say for a minimum of $15) a sketch of yourself, your loved one, or a favorite pet… in exchange for a donation for gas… NOW? I’m feeling frantic, broke and desperate.
Here are some recent sketches:
David Hair, Sr., Dalton GA, June 2011.
And o’ cuzzin’ Dick Tracy, Dalton, GA, June 2011.
And my first trip out as a vandweller was to the Slabs, CA.  I met Mike and Heidi (if you are a Vandweller… you know who I’m talkin’ about). That was the week I installed the roof vent in my own van.  Mike supervised as best he could from the sidelines as he was not feeling well.  The day or two after I got the fan in, Mike was hospitalized.  Camp kinda fell apart after that and I felt helpless and useless… so I gathered what few painting supplies I had on hand, went up the hill where the two old tanks are (if you have been to the Slabs, you know what I’m talkin’ about)… and painted this little sign for them (kinda my way of praying):

2010_02_az_to_slabs_ 005
And they got married I think the following year??? Or was it the same year????  Anyway… ol’ Roadie got a makeover and got renamed Taj.
Decided we needed a sign so Vandwellers could find us at the next gathering and so painted this one… or here is a part of it anyway… I’ll post the whole sign when I find it.
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That would be KatieTwoKnives’ dog, Mutt, and behind him is Bob Wells’ old trusty Homer.  I love those dogs. Oh, here is the whole sign.
So, can I do a sketch for you?  They will be 8 1/2” by 11” and I’ll send you the sketch by email as soon as it is done.  You will need to pay the postage… should be the flat rate envelope… I’ll double check the price.
My son is a skydiver.  He wanted a painting for Christmas one year of skydivers at sunset.  So here’s the one I did for him.
I’m stuck in NC with more Calfee family research to do, only $60 left, almost out of gas, and no income until 7/20.  Had some major expenses in May and June (along with ending up in the hospital) and wanted to find some way to honestly get a little more income, as soon as possible.
My question to my Followers is:  How much is such a sketch (pencil) worth???  What do you think?  I’m thinking a minimum of $15, and postage on top of that.  I would appreciate all comments and truly appreciate any advance payments.  For those who have helped me in the past, you get a free sketch on request. Send me a photo or two, the full face kind, the more wrinkles the better (in the person, not the photo) and I’ll have the finished sketch back to you via email in a couple days and by USPS mail as soon as funds are received.

See a Gallery of my Art Work.

This would help me so very much.  If you are able to help me, thank you in advance, very very much.
Charlene Swankie (

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
Visit me on In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles in Spring 2017. In training now for the hike.