St. Francisville – Rosedown Plantation

So, on Thursday, I went up to St. Francisville in West Feliciana to look for some marriage certificates at the courthouse. While there, I decided to visit a plantation house in the area. Like many others, I don’t often act as a tourist when I am at home. This is something I have been trying to change

It is a fascinating place. Built in 1835 by Daniel & Martha Barrow Turnbull for little over $13,000, it is now a state museum and is run by LSU after the last relative passed in 1950. Martha Turnbull was a noted horticulturalist and her diary has been a great source of information on the subject. Originally the plantation contained 3,455 acres, of which only over 300 still belong to the property. Around 145 slaves worked the property. This plantation, along with several other plantations Turnbull owned, meant that he was one of the richest men in not only Louisiana, but the United States.

Daniel Turnbull passed away in 1861 and his wife Martha in 1896. They had three children, of which 2 sons passed before Daniel. Their daughter and son-in-law (from another prominent family in the area) moved the plantation and raised 10 children. Many of the slaves became sharecroppers after the war.

Genealogy note – Although I am not related to the Turnbulls, I do have a connection to them in my family history. Sherwood Bonner Raby (1st cousin of my 3rd great-grandfather, Dawson B. Kinchen) was an overseer at the Bayou Grosse Tete plantation for James P. Bowman, Turnbull’s son-in-law. In LSU’s special collections at Hill Memorial Library, there is correspondence between the two over S.B. Raby’s protestation over his 1856 termination as overseer and Bowman’s complaint of Raby’s treatment of slaves.


So, I finally went to the doctor at Lolly Kemp out in Independence. He confirmed that it was asthma and gave me inhalers with steroids. It is working out great and my health is finally improving. Woohoo! Only after 8 months of suffering! But, now that I know what several other doctors have failed to discover about my winter illness, I can hopefully get this easily licked when it crops up in the future. And it will.

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to my old man. I love him, more than I can usually express. I, like many men, have problems expressing my emotions. But, let me say here that many of the things that I love about myself are characteristics reflected from him.

Still Sick

About 4 days or so ago, my illness flared up again. I started coughing with major sinus congestion. I have been laid up at my brother’s house. My new sister-in-law thought I was having an asthma attack, as my wheezing returned to life with a vengeance. I am planning to go to the doctor, although I don’t have insurance. I never fell under the Obamacare mandate because I live abroad so much. No, I will have to pay out of pocket, as I have been too cheap to have gone before.

Passing of a Scholar

I learned a few days ago that Pro. John A. Tvedtnes of BYU passed on June 3, 2018. He was 77 years old. He was a prolific writer, publishing many books on the ancient Near East and its relationship with the Book of Mormon. He was until his retirement in 2007, the senior research scholar at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU. His work on the Book of Abraham was especially important to me, as I have long held a deep interest in that work. His biography, written by his friend Daniel Peterson, is here.

Major Phone Surgery

My phone’s battery had been on the fritz for over a year. It would last about 3 hours or so and then die at 45-50%. This seems to be something endemic to Huaiwei Nexus 6p phones. Other than this issue, I love the phone and don’t want to buy a new one. I tried to have it fixed in Taiwan, which you would have thought would be easy over there. Unfortunately, they do not care to work on mainland phones. I decided to wait until I got back in the US to fix it myself.

I bought a new battery and tools on Amazon for $14. My sister-in-law, Heather, has some experience working on phones, so I let her give it a try after a review of the procedure on Youtube. Unfortunately, while opening the case, the screen and thingie behind it cracked. No one’s fault, but I bought a new Huawei Nexus 6p off Ebay for $138. I was going to just use the new one, until I remembered that I had an interview with Aunt Jean on it. So, I cracked open both of them and performed major surgery. I got it down to the base innards and combined the features I needed into one phone. Youtube was great for this. That site can teach you how to do almost anything.

Update 6/17: New battery and screen is working like a champ. Love it.

Leaving Taiwan

Leaving Taiwan was in some ways a great thing, yet in others terrible. I made many great friends at the Taipei Ward – Bishop Weddle and his family, Bros. Frost, Sevey, Linton, Pendleton & their families. the ladies and gentlemen of the single adults. Jean-Francois & Vivian Morin and the Sheffers in particular. Love those guys. Except when Jamison Sheffer brings up football…dude doesn’t know what he is talking about. I will also miss the senior missionary couples who took me under their wing, in particular the Funks and the Browns. All great people, far too many to name here. <3 I also got to spend more time with my meimei (little sister), Masako, as she arrived in Taiwan in February for work. I loved spending time with her.

I met a lot of wonderful people and yet it feels like a great waste as well. I spent so much time being ill that I was not able to accomplish the purpose of my time in that beautiful country. I was too sick to study or work, so I saw my savings draining away to the point that I knew I had to go back to work. I did not get to spend time visiting the island and getting to know the people as I wanted. I spent most of my time lying in bed, hoping that my illness would pass. I have weak lungs and Taipei’s combination of wet & cold winters conspired to bring me low. I became ill around the beginning of December, with what I thought was the flu, something that should have dissipated after a week or two. Unfortunately, it proved more tenacious and stayed with me for over five months. Like a idiot, I avoided going to the doctor (medical care is cheaper in Asia) because I don’t like going to the doctor. It flared up repeatedly and still to this day lays me low.

Yes, leaving Taiwan has caused me to fill emotionally split. I have not felt such homesickness before, except for my first time abroad. Without my work or studies to occupy my time, I came near to climbing the walls of my tiny bedroom. Yet, I enjoyed the little moments spent with friends or teaching a class at church. I am split, true, but am really happy to go home.

Nelda Jean Graham (1933-2018)

I found out last night that my Aunt Jean, my mom’s oldest sister, passed away (in what was morning in Louisiana). She had been sick for a while and recently went into a hospice. Members of my family tell me she passed away without pain and in her sleep. She, and indeed all my mom’s sisters, is a noble lady and I know that God will reward her accordingly. Her husband, Jack Graham, passed away away in 2015. Now of my grandparent’s children, only three remain.
Her obituary:

Nelda Jean Milton Graham, a resident of Walker, passed away peacefully at her home on Monday, May 07, 2018 at the age of 85. Visitation will be held at Seale Funeral Home, Denham Springs on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 beginning at 9:00am. Rev. Merlin McCon will conduct funeral services at 11:00am. Burial will follow in Hiram Stafford Cemetery. She is survived by her son, Bobby J. Graham and wife Helena, daughter, Patricia “Patti” Graham Dunn and husband John W. Dunn, III, three granddaughters, Danielle G. Awkerman and husband Chad, Aurielle G. Boeker and husband Barrett, and Stephanie G. Saltz and husband Willie, two great-grandchildren, Graham and Opal Boeker, four sisters, Marie and Wayne Stafford, Billie and Melvin Estess, Madge Cotton, and Marlene Milton, and numerous nieces and nephews. “Good morning and it is a good morning. My day began with my meeting and greeting my Lord to praise Him and thank Him for all His blessings. Then I greeted my husband Jack, my father and mother, Bill and Bertric Milton, brother George Milton, sisters, Carol Hooper, and Linda Williams, nephews Melvin and Mark Estes and lots of relatives and friends. As you know God didn’t promise a life of ease. I’ve had my share of ups and downs but He was always there and always so faithful. So, to those I’ve left behind, I say remember me with love and a smile. Well, maybe a tear or two, but please don’t grieve. Just know that when St. Peter answers your knock at the Pearly Gate I’ll be on the other side waiting to welcome you home. Till then all my love. Nelda Jean.”

I love you, Aunt Jean, and look forward to seeing you again.

Weekend Hanging Out with 妹妹

So, I was again able to hang out with my 妹妹, Misako, yesterday. My time in Taipei is drawing to a close. While I would categorize it as a failure for my plans, due to my illness here, I have to say that I enjoyed my friends in this city. Masako and I have been friends for around eleven years and we have some important similarities: the most important one is the love of books. On our meeting Saturday, we went to two bookstores and enjoyed ourselves immensely. She is currently employed by a cultural institution associated with the Japanese government. She works quite a bit, so it is a treat when I am able to see here. We are hoping to go out again in two weeks, after she returns from a trip to Tokyo.

We also went to Taiwan University. It is an unusual campus, with a mix of old and new. There was a semi protest going on there with yellow ribbons carrying protest slogans wrapped the central area. I admit to finding this a little unusual, as my entire Asian university experience has been on campuses in China. Protest is not exactly tolerated there if it goes against the government as this one did. It was very interesting. To be honest, I don’t pay much attention to local politics so Masako had to explain it to me. “-

I have no pictures because my phone’s battery has the life of a snowman in a volcano. I am going to have to replace the battery. I tried to have it done here in Taipei, but I can not find anyone to touch a Huawei phone.

Trip to Thailand

On April 25th, I had to again leave Taiwan because I did not procure a visa. This time I elected to go to Thailand and visit a friend of mine. When I told friends in Taipei about the visit, they were pretty jealous but they don’t understand how much I detest the beach. Nope, I went to play with my friend’s 5 children, ranging from 8 years old down. Unfortunately, my friend Mike (he works for the State Department) had to work most of the weekend, so it was me and the children. Sure, his wife Nora was there too but one can only divert their attention so much. :-)

That Friday, I worked on an article for the Livingston Parish Genealogical & Historical Society, of which I am a member. On Saturday, I went to a cub scout meeting where they made rockets (constructed with bottles and launched with compressed air & water) and I helped two of the children make rockets. It was a cool event. On Sunday, I went to church and had a great lesson on Numbers. I enjoyed going to a Sunday school where I was not the teacher, which allowed me a different perspective. Although out the weekend, I enjoyed home-cooked food and only ate out once with the family and one of Mike’s friends from Virginia. I did enjoy a tall fruity drink as well, since any visit to Thailand would not be complete with out it.

As stated, they have five children, the 4 oldest which are boys. I enjoyed all of them and was especially happy to be able to play with this cutie, Adela:

She looks so much like her momma!