Tag Archives: Hobbies

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Happiness is..

Yep, a picture is worth a thousand words…and so is the hand work of this crafty gal…

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Filed under Counted Cross Stitch, Hobbies, Photogrpahy, Picture of the Day

April Showers Brought…, by Beverly Hicks Burch

April Showers Brought…

By Beverly Hicks Burch

It hasn’t been a dry spring here in Bama. We’ve had our fair share of showers in April…and May and so far even in June. This is good news considering the drought situation we endured a few of years ago.

According to my favorite weather people, James Spann and his crew at ABC 33/40, it looks like the wet stuff might hang around at least until Monday. James is my favorite weather anchor. I missed his coverage when I was an ex-pat living out of state. He’s what I call a “salt of the earth” person. I’ll never forget his coverage of the tornado outbreak of 1998. I’ve been watching James for years…I remember when James had hair!

Just this morning, Tall & Handsome looked out the bathroom window as he was brushing his teeth and he said, “I love our little garden.” Our little container garden has definitely benefited from all those showers! We’re already reaping rewards, enjoying herbs like mint, cilantro, parsley and several kinds of basil. On Memorial Day we used a couple of our home-grown jalapenos. Talk about a kid in a candy store…New Mexican born guy + home-grown peppers = happy hubby:)

It rained again yesterday so I took a little time this morning to survey the “garden”. Things are still growing along! And I can hardly wait…

Tomato gardening tips:

1. When blossoms appear on your tomatoes and peppers, be sure to spray them with blossom set. This prevents the blossoms from falling off before the fruit has time to develop and set.

2. This is a “Mr. Lovelady” tip. Mr. Lovelady was my surrogate granddaddy and had a backyard garden every year. He and Mrs. Lovelady patiently and lovingly taught me a lot: as your tomato plants grow, pinch out the “suckers” that begin to grow in the “V” point of the limb branches. This growth is unnecessary and will actually reduce fruit production.

Mammoth Jalapeno

Mammoth Jalapeno Pepper

Regular Jalapenos

Regular sized Jalapeno

Red Bell Pepper

This will eventually be a red bell pepper…

Greek oregano

Greek Oregano



Oh Mint how you've grown

Oh, Mint! How you’ve grown…


Raindrops…proof positive…on impatients

© 2010 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under ABC 33/40, Alabama, Container Gardening, Gardening, Gardening Tips, Herbs, Hobbies, Horticulture, James Spann, Lovelady, Peppers, Photography, Plants, Weather

South by Southwest…in pictures, by Beverly Hicks Burch

C’est fini! Yep…it’s a done deal yall…that puppy is finished. Click on over to Around the Block with the BamaSteelMagnolia to get a look and the first quilt project Tall and Handsome and I collaborated on…Enjoy!

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Oh Henry…Rachel that Is, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Autumn in TennesseeImagine you’re speeding down an interstate. You’re traveling at 55, 65 or 70 mph on you way to work, vacation or some other desired destination. You’ve had a pretty smooth trip so far, a little bump here and there. Along the way you’ve had to use a road map or atlas to help you find your way or direction. Then, just as the trip appears to have smoothed out, right smack dab in the middle of the road you hit a big, huge brick wall. Your vehicle would most surely suffer damage and you would suffer injury to body and soul. And most decidedly, your trip would be stopped dead in its track.

If you’re a genealogist, amateur or professional, you know there are genealogical “brick walls” and they can stop your genealogical trip and research dead in its track for years…at least on one line of research at a time. I would venture to say most of us who dig into our roots have experienced this some time or another. And, if you haven’t, consider yourself blessed indeed, for the genealogy fairies have truly smiled on you!

I’ve dealt with this frustrating phenomenon at least three times, but the one I’d like to discuss here is one near and dear to me…and the one I’ve been searching for the longest. My brick wall is the elusive mountain girl named Rachel…Rachel Henry.

Rachel was born in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee, probably in Sevier or Blount County on 7 September 1830. When Rachel was born, the US Census Bureau didn’t enumerate the name of every member or person living in a household at the time a census was enumerated. Only the head of the household was enumerated by name…and that was usually a male. The bold move to list by name every member in the household on the census wasn’t made until the 1850 US Federal Census. As a result, there is no record of Rachel in a family on a census in 1830 or 1840.

By 1850, I find two references to a “Rachel Henry” in the east Tennessee area that would fit the general profile of my mountain girl. Both girls were born about the same time…and are found just one county apart. One Rachel can be found living in the Sevier County home of one Alexa. Bollinger, 88 and his family. For the time, Mr. Bollinger seemed to be a man of means because his worth was enumerated as $1,000. Was Rachel a servant…a friend or relative in this family? The other Rachel can be found on the Blount County census living in a home with what appears to be a widowed mother, Nancy, and several siblings. Living on either side are two more families that share the Henry surname, and one house down a Thomas family.

So, from the time of her birth until the time she married Abraham Hicks on 6 October 1859 in Blount County, Tennessee my Rachel’s life is a glaring mystery. I know nothing about her parentage and her life before Abraham. It’s almost as if Rachel was a wood nymph who walked out of the blue haze of the Smoky Mountains and started a life among mortals.

Whether Rachel sacrificed an ethereal life for a life of ease or a life of hardship is unknown, but I do know this much…Rachel’s son, Hughes T. (Thomas) Hicks was my great-grandfather and that makes Rachel my great-great- grandmother. Like Alice in Wonderland, Rachel’s story gets “curiouser” and “curiouser” in the circumstance of her first-born’s coming into this world. For you see, Hughes was born 3 October 1856 in Blount County, Tennessee. Yes, you did indeed read that right…1856…three full years before Rachel and Abraham Hicks were married.

Humm, you say…a hint of Appalachian scandal? Well, I’m not so sure, and yes, there has been conjecture galore I’m sure in the last 150 years plus since the said event. There are a few blanks I can fill in…and a few of the assumptions that were made over the years I can dispel.

First, when I started researching my paternal line, the Hicks family, I recalled hearing something about an adoption some generations ago…it was my granddaddy’s father I was told. I had no idea where that would lead me or stop my research…I was blissfully new. I managed to trace my roots back to my great-grandfather, Hughes Hicks, and was having a grand ol’ time doing it. And then, I came to his parents…whoa…it was not only head scratching time…it was brick wall time. The marriage of Rachel and Abraham and birth date of Hughes was the obvious place…the origin of the mystery…would no one claim Rachel because of this? Was it a scandal?

I discovered that Abraham had been married before Rachel and at first I was crest fallen. Had my great-great grandmother been a “scarlet woman” who had a child out of wedlock with a married man? My knack for the tedious hung in and with more digging I discover Abraham’s previous wife was Elizabeth Pence Blair. Abraham and Elizabeth married in 1832 and together had eight children. Some people believed that Hughes was Abraham and Elizabeth’s child, but this isn’t true because Elizabeth died 29 July 1854 of what may have been cholera, and that was almost two years before Hughes was born. So, Hughes’ birth was long after the death of Elizabeth, Abraham’s first wife…no foul there, as the kids say today.

A cousin once interviewed someone who said Hughes father was “one of those McMahan boys from Sevierville”. Is that or was that based on fact? Who knows? That statement was made years after the fact, but I can conjecture. Here are some ideas I have, but to date, that’s all they are…ideas and me just trying to fill in the blanks.

Rachel may not have been born a Henry. She could have very well have been previously been married before Abraham Hicks and Henry was her widowed name and Hughes could have been born to a previous husband. If that’s the case, then I still have a brick wall and Hughes’ biological paternal parentage is still a mystery.

The mountains and its folk were isolated from the rest of the world. That’s hard to imagine today. I can get in my car and be in the mountains in less than an hour…we can connect to the people who live and work there now by phone, and internet in a matter of seconds. In the 1800’s, it was a different story…it could take hours to go a few miles. The communities that were nestle in the nook and crannies and valleys of those mountains sometimes had to struggle to live. They didn’t have the amenities and luxuries of life we do today. We freak out if our cell phone signal drops…back then, once they DID get it, a whole community had to share one phone line. Churches were few and far in between. Many communities had to make do with a riding circuit preacher who made a route and came through ever so often to hold services and perform weddings, christenings and what not. It wasn’t unheard of for some couples to set up house “common law” style and make it official when the Reverend came through. I often wondered if this was the case of Rachel and Abraham and if Hughes was Abraham’s biological son. People had certain naming habits and patterns back then. Hughes’ middle name was Thomas…Abraham’s father’s name was Thomas. Was that a coincident?

Abraham and Rachel Henry Hicks had several more children. They were: (1) Adam born 1860 in Blount County, Tennessee; (2) Andrew Hicks, born 1863 in Blount County, Tennessee; (3) Tennessee Hicks, born 1865 in Blount Co., Tennessee; (4) Susan Hicks, born 1868 in Blount County, Tennessee; (5) Meshach Hicks, born 14 Feb 1869 in Blount County, Tennessee and possibly (6) Mason Hicks and (7) Nancy Hicks.

Whatever the circumstance, Abraham gave a mountain girl named Rachel and a toddler named Hughes a life. And as a result two of the most wonderful men who ever lived were born…my granddaddy, Jonas and my daddy, Oakley…and I’m alive and was born as a result of an act of kindness, and what I like to think of as an act of love. Right now, if I were to do a DNA test, I don’t know if the results would reveal a true Hicks link…or a Henry link…but I do know this…I am who I am…and it started in those mountains in east Tennessee…

Someday before I die, I hope to scale that brick wall and find what’s behind…

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved.

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About Roots…Families, by Beverly Hicks Burch

I thought you might be interested in seeing a little bit of what I’ve written on one of my genealogy websites. I recently had to write an introduction for the website and this is what I wrote…

Welcome to the Hicks-Burch Family website…from Tennessee to New Mexico and back! Within its borders you will find the families, roots and origins of Bev’s McGee/Hicks families and Reggie’s Allison/Burch families. Reggie and I merged our two families on 30 Dec. 2003 in Hamilton, AL on the joyous occasion of our marriage.

You may be surprised to know the above surnames are not the only 4 family names you will encounter. Keep in mind that in genealogy, as you go back each generation, the number of direct ancestors you have doubles. Confused? Don’t be, it’s really quite simple! You have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, 32 great-great-great-grandparents…you get the point. Now, each one of those individuals has a different surname (or last name as we commonly call them)…unless of course your from east Tennessee and then you might have some kissing cousins in there!

Roots are funny, interesting things. Before my disabilities limited my activities, I was known to get my hands dirty…with real dirt. I gardened…not yard work…but gardened. Probably not many of you know I almost have an “A” degree in horticulture. Anyway, I learned about roots while working with plants. There are different types of roots. Some roots are shallow…they run on the surface…they’re not very deep…an azalea comes to mind. Other roots run deep and are strong, like some trees…or have taproots…like that dandelion you can’t get rid of in your yard. Well, Reggie’s roots are surprisingly Southern. The Burch family migrated from Georgia to Texas and later to New Mexico. The Allison family seems to have originated in South Carolina and migrated later to Arkansas, Oklahoma and on to New Mexico. So, I guess we could say Reggie’s roots are like that azalea or even better a vine…they ran across the ground and spread out in several directions. My family on the other hand is purely southern. We tend to stay put once we get where we’re going…once we got to the good ol’ USA. We have taproots. So roots can be deceiving. (I’ve often jokingly said that’s what happened to my first marriage. My ex seemed to have thought his family spontaneously procreated on southern soil. There was big trouble in little China when I found out that his family were carpetbaggers from Pennsylvania who came south to Tennessee after the War Between the States. Things were just never the same…those darn carpetbaggers! )

Anyway, jump in and enjoy the site and add your two cents!!

So…that was it…the introduction to one of my genealogy websites. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do some genealogical blogging here, too. I look forward to the possibilities. If you have any questions related to genealogy, please feel free to leave a comment. Like quilting, it’s another passion of my life.

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved.

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Just a Bit of What I Do, By Beverly Hicks Burch

I decided to put together a slide show and share some of my quilts. What I have included is just a “bit”…a small amount of my work. About two years ago, my husband was transferred to our current location in, and as a result a lot of my work is still in storage…as are the tools of my craft. We just don’t have the space at the time for me to spread it all out. Hopefully in the near future that will change and I can photograph more of my quilts…and finished even more…I have a lot of those UFO’s…what quilters call unfinished objects!

In the mean time, the slide show includes some of the quilts I mentioned in my previous blog “Why I Quilt”. I have included some insert views of the Maverick quilt when it was a work in progress. Enjoy!

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved.

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Why I Quilt, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Physically, it started in 1986 when I was a young mother, but the roots go back further. It really started with a startling splash of color…red, purple, yellow and black are the most memorable colors radiating from the center of a Lone Star or as some people know it, the Star of Bethlehem. I don’t remember the first time I saw the quilt. It was my mother’s quilt and it was made for her by her paternal grandmother, my great-grandmother Rebecca Shaffer McGee.

Rebecca, “Becky” McGee was called BoBo by her grandchildren. She was born late in 1874 in Lawrence County, Tennessee, the daughter of George Washington Shaffer and Margaret Minerva Kelly Shaffer. BoBo was quite the woman of her time…a testament that strong women have always existed. There was no need for BoBo to declare “women’s liberation”…she had nothing to be liberation from…just life to live. She was a midwife in Lawrence County, and from what I understand delivered most of her grandchildren. She had a green thumb she passed on to many of her descendents…my mom included. I have vague memories of BoBo. I was very young the last time I saw her and she was in a wheelchair by then. BoBo left us in 1971 at the age of 97, leaving behind many fond memories and a large family that loved her.

In my eyes, BoBo was an artist…a textile artist…a folk artist…call her what you want, but an artist none the less, weaving together her colors and cloth to create memories and magic. I seem to recall hearing she made a least one Lone Star quilt for each of her grandchildren. I’ve seen my mother’s and aunts’. It was my mom’s…that wonderful splash of color that inspired me at some point in my life…instilled in me that desire to quilt…so, in a roundabout, long distant way, BoBo was my muse.

So, with that said, back to my day in 1986…it was late fall. I was still living in my first house and renovations had been going on for several years. Back then I was quite the “do-it you-self-er”…maybe traces of my great-grandmother in me…who knows, but, I’ve climbed scaffolding as least two stories high to paint the outside of the house. I’ve also painted the outside of the house by droplight at night time…just to “get `er done”. One of my most vivid memories is sitting on the scaffold late one dark night, painting the frame of the living room window. The droplight was the only thing I had to share my thoughts when all of a sudden there was a loud boom and the whole house shook and the window rattled. I jumped down off the scaffold and my ex and I met each other about half way in the middle of the yard, both wondering what had happened, but not knowing. We had to wait until the next day to find out. Evidently an unusually large meteor had streaked across the southeastern US and left a visual impression and a sonic impression. We had missed the visual impression because of the generous tree canopy in our yard.

In 1986, we had put parquet in part of the house and for some reason, I decided that was a good time to learn how to quilt. Yes, Virginia, I am a self-taught quilter…kinda sorta…more on that later… I had been kind of “crafty” up to that point. I had done the macramé thing, the crochet thing and I had gotten quite good at counted cross-stitch, even to the point of incorporating some of my pieces into pillows, etc. As a result, I had some resources at my fingertips that eventful weekend. Because quilting had been in the back of my mind, I even had a book or two lying around on the subject. (I was “self-taught” in a lot of things because when you have limited resources you learn to do them yourself and save the cost of paying some one else to do it for you.)

So, I did a little research, picked a pattern I thought would be good for a first-timer and jumped in with…both feet! The pattern of choice was the Rail Fence…it seemed simple enough, and I decided on a small wall hanging size. I knew this much…I would say I had some conceptions, but knowing what I know now about quilting, I’d have to say I had some misconceptions. I knew there was a top, something in the middle, and a back part. I thought your stitches had to be big and had to be been seen (“toe catchers” as they’re called) …I have big ol’ bodacious knots on the back and I folded the back towards the front for my binding. But, when I was finished with that puppy, I was one more proud gal. I made hanging loops, attached them to the top, got a café rod and for years that wall hanging hung in my bedroom.

Years later as my quilting progressed and refined I would look at my first little project and wince…but, later, I began to look at it with a different eye. I had learned that just about everything I had done was wrong…but, it was my start, my jumping off point…and I also saw some things I did right. The main thing…I began!

I began to get involved in the local quilting communities. I began by visiting my local quilt shop and I realized that using the best tools that I could afford was to my advantage. The women at the shop were very helpful and had pointers and guidance. Next, I got involved in quilt guilds, a great resource for quilters. Then, in November 1991 I got up the nerve to enter my first quilt show…one of the best known in the area I was living in at the time. I entered several quilts and would have been delight with an honorable mention. Needless to say, I was floored when I walked in the last day of the show to view the show and be there to pick up my quilts. Hanging on all of my quilts were ribbons…and one was a best of show! Well, that was like giving drugs to a junkie…and I was hooked.

I stayed active in the quilting community for a long time…up until my last cancer and my auto-immune disorders continued to run amok. I was the co-founder and President of the Heart of Dixie Quilter’s Guild in Birmingham, AL and was the establishing editor of their newsletter. It was while at the Heart of Dixie that an old friend made reappearance from time to time…my first wall hanging. As new quilters and beginners came to the guild, I would hear them talk in awe and sometimes discouragement about their own quilting. They would say things like…”my stitches are so big” “my quilting will never look like your’s” and so on. So, on occasion, I would bring out my trusty little first project and give a talk on “Here’s where I started…and here’s where I am…” In a way that little wall hanging has kept me rooted…and kept me humble.

Quilting has given me a lot…added a lot to my life. For example, in the 1990’s when things were so unstable in the Middle East and the Gulf War started, I’ll never forget watching a war start and seeing it brought into my home, in “living color”, in real time, to the dinner table. It was surreal. Not like the radio and news reel days of WWII of my parents or even film clips of Viet Nam on the evening news of my teenage years. No, we watched as Bernie Shaw, Peter Arnett and the late John Holliman broadcast as the bombs dropped…we saw the anti-aircraft streak through a dark sky on the other side of the world…while we had chicken casserole and English peas.

I sat at a frame working on a quilt in the family room at the time, and as the news played on minute by minute, hour by hour, threat by threat, bomb by bomb, I sat at the frame…stitch by stitch. My ex was pacing the floor, popping Rolaids like M & M‘s. He finally turned to me and asked, “How can you sit there and do that?” My mind and heart were crying “How can I not be doing this?” So, I answered him, “This is what keeps me sane…what keeps me calm and normal.” The quilting had a calming, rhythmic motion…like rocking a baby. My ex decided maybe he needed to learn how to quilt and so, during the Gulf War, a new quilter was born. I found a stencil for a ten inch block, traced it off, sandwiched it together and basted it, gave him some hand quilting lessons and he was off. He quilted he way through the war…

A few years later, quilting brought me my best friend…Robin. She had seen some information on the guild, called me about it, came for a visit, liked it and the rest is history. Robin is one of those what you see is what you get kind of people and I love her for that. She’ll try anything…legal…at least once and if she sets her mind to something…hold on!! Robin’s sense of humor is one that even Hollywood couldn’t match…it’s priceless. Think…umm…Lewis Grizzard, Jeff Foxworthy, Sweet Potato Queens, Grace Under Fire and Cold Sassy Tree rolled into one wonderful package.

When I met her, she worked in surgical records, but she was going to school, and did for several years…and now she’s an elementary school teacher. Some people may wonder how we got to be friends…I guess we’re the right juxtaposition. We just clicked…I’m the self professed “girly-girly”…I’m fru-fru…I love bling; Robin has run her own dairy, and in her own words, “put on hip boots and shoveled…” well, you get the picture…the gal can clean a barn!

Robin just happened to be at the hospital the day the HMO decided it was time to kick me out one week to the day after I had had 60% of my left lung removed because of cancer. I was running a fever that day, and my surgeon had decided to go out of town and leave me a mild pain reliever…no antibiotic. The staples had not been removed from my incision and just overall, there was chaos in my room. As the nurse removed my staples, Robin couldn’t help but see the incision…I was cut front to back from just under my left breast around my side all the way onto my back almost to my spinal column. It was an identical incision I had to my first surgery in 1982 on my right side. When Robin saw what I was going through, in typical Robin fashion…and using a quilting metaphor…she said, “Well, Beverly, now you have matching seams!” I’ve told Robin on more than one occasion that she is an answer to prayer.

When I went through a difficult divorce in 2001, I found it hard to quilt at first. I had taught my ex to quilt, had collaborated with him on several projects, helped him on many of his projects, bound each of his projects for him and we had gained certain notoriety in our area as a quilting couple. After I meet my current husband something wonderful happened. We courted long distance and as we got to know each other one thing he did was to encourage me to start quilting again. I found a project I had started and got to work on it and over the course of time I finished it…with a renewed fervor for my art. I finished the quilt after we married…it took me that long…I had a few detours…but I dedicated the quilt to him…my new muse for quilting and writing. It’s the first of my finished Maverick series, entitled: Maverick I: To New Mexico.

So…why do I quilt? Well, other than the above reasons? Its part of me…it’s who I am…it’s what I do. I love the feel of the fabric, the feeling of accomplishment after I finish a project. I love the planning, the design, the color, the way the scissors cut the fabric, the way I can put on good music and think while I quilt…and with that said, I guess its `nuff said.

© Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved. maverick-i-1.jpgmaverick-i-4.jpgFrom San Atone to Y2K by Beverly Hicks Burch


Filed under genealogy, Hobbies, quilting