Relics & Bloodlines — Flea Markets or Front Lawns?

I’m not much of a garage sale gal. I’d rather sleep in a bit on Saturday mornings.

But with all the history in the attics of our region, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that a “junker” could stumble upon a precious piece of American history — sorta like the guy who discovered a copy of the Declaration of Independence  at a Nashville shop?

Nearly every time I visit the Fort Smith National Historic Site or the geneaology section at the Fort Smith Library, one of my pals there is showing me something a resident brought in — photographs, original accounts of the Goin’ Snake Massacre involving U.S. Deputy Marshals following the Cherokee Tribal trial of Zeke Proctor.

Heck, you don’t hafta go to a garage sale or stumble onto an inanimate object to know history lives in these parts.

Last week I stood on the lawn at the Clayton House with a direct descendant of Ned Christie, who was a good friend of Zeke Proctor. Christie was a member of the Keetowah Society. And right next to Mr. Christie on the lawn at the Clayton House was my friend Al Whitson, a direct descendant of the only one-eyed deputy to ever have served in Judge Parker’s court. It’s always been speculated — but never confirmed by author Charles Portis — that Rooster Cogburn in True Grit was modelled in part after Cal Whitson.

By the way, the sons of outlaws and descendants that afternoon at the Clayton house were more popular than the governor of the State of Arkansas, Mike Beebe and the director of the U.S. Marshals Service, John Clark. Those guys are wonderful but you can see a sitting governor or a presidential appointee anytime. It ain’t every day you see bloodlines from history living and breathing and talking to each other.

So if the $2.98 Declaration of Independence story has whetted your appetite for treasure hunting, here’s a nifty tool for ya.

River Valley 411

All the garage sales in the area are listed — through classified ads. You can search by zip code or town, pull up what’s advertised, and even print yourself a map of where the place is.

You can even search for rental properties in much the same way.

On Fridays, print out the sales you wanna hit, Saturday morning set the alarm, run by your favorite coffee house, and off you go — in search of a place to live or evidence of another place in time.

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